Tag Archives: John Boyega

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [Official Trailer]

Ok. Wow. WHAT. Those were my first thoughts after I first watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s official trailer. It is chock full of twists or what the trailer editors made us die-hard fans believe are plot twists. In this post I want to put down my thoughts and theories about what some of these twists could be, and then both Saul and I would love to hear your theories.

  1. During Snoke’s voice over, I came to wonder who is he speaking to? His words were, “When I found you, I saw RAW, untamed power and beyond that, something truly special.” During his monologue, the trailer mainly displays footage of Kylo. However, as Snoke’s words are echoing away, Rey appears, igniting her saber. We know from later in the trailer that Snoke and Rey finally meet and it appears Snoke tries to break her through torture. Why couldn’t Snoke’s speech actually be directed at Rey? Maybe he’s making it as he’s attempting to make her feel special since she sounds lost and seeking guidance. If you’re thinking “Snoke could not have ‘found her,’ she was on Jakku and after that she went to the find Luke. When could he have ‘found her.'” I’d reply, who put Rey on Jakku? Where did Rey come from? Who are her parents? Maybe Snoke is her father or creator much as Palpatine was Anakin’s likely creator. Or possibly Snoke stole Rey from her real parents and placed her on Jakku till he was ready to tap into her power. I admit this theory is far-fetched, so if Snoke was indeed speaking to Kylo, it sounds like he’s dressing down Kylo in disappointment. For instance, “You [Kylo] were so great when I found you, so full of potential. And you’ve done nothing with it.” Could this be the origin of Kylo’s return to the Light side? Maybe Snoke is favoring Rey over Kylo and drives Kylo back to Luke and draws Rey to him.
  2. Rey pleads to Luke: “Something. Inside me has always been there. But now it’s awake. And I need help.” We all know the Force is unbelievably strong in Rey after she dominated Kylo at the end of The Force Awakens. I believe it was in this fight that Rey realized her full power and even the existence of the Dark side, since hatred can be seen on her face after the defeats Kylo. Luke also quickly realizes her power and appears to abandon her because he doesn’t want to unleash that power like he did with Ben/Kylo. The trailer shows us the price of that mistake: his temple decimated in flames and his padawans slain. If Luke does abandon Rey, this act would be doubly powerful because she already felt disowned by her parents after they left her on Jakku and she’s begging Luke for guidance as a potential father-figure. Maybe this is the motivation for her turning to Kylo and possibly Snoke.

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Luke realizing Rey’s full power and potential for both Good and Evil

3. Kylo’s words, “Let the past die. Kill it,” intrigued me. This voice over occurred as he was supposedly speeding towards Leia’s flagship with a payload of torpedoes to kill her. I say supposedly because there were so many cuts that it’s impossible to know if Leia was actually on the ship Kylo was targeting. I believe, this voice over, once again, could be aimed at someone else at a completely different moment in the movie. Who is Kylo talking to? Luke? Leia? Snoke? Rey? I’m wagering he’s talking to Rey and attempting to sway her to the Dark side. I’d be curious if he was talking to Snoke. If it were Snoke, which past does Kylo mean? His past with his parents, Han & Leia, his time with Luke at the temple, or his Dark side tutelage under Snoke with the Knights of Ren? If he’s talking about his time in the Light with Han, Leia, and Luke then that means he’s just continuing down the path of the Dark side after murdering his father in The Force Awakens. He probably is considering blowing up Leia if that’s the case. If he’s talking about his time as Snoke’s apprentice then he could be renouncing his Darkness and returning to the Light. Smashing his helmet could be Kylo’s rejection of his attempts to turn to the Dark side. However, this action could also portray his hatred for his grandfather, Vader, who he was trying to mimic with the helmet. Maybe Snoke told him he ended up turning to the Light as he was dying and this enraged Kylo so much that he wanted to kill his past. There is not enough information in the trailer for us to know which path Kylo chooses, and I applaud Disney for not giving us any more.

4. My favorite line from the trailer was Luke’s. He said it as he was on his back, speaking to someone above him. My guess is that it’s Rey who is about to leave Luke. He warns her, “This is not going to go the way you think.” This statement harkens back to The Empire Strikes Back when Luke left Dagobah to fight Vader in Cloud City and save his friends. Yoda and Obi-Wan both warn Luke he is not ready to face Vader. I think this line is Luke warning Rey that whatever “this” is, that she is ill-prepared. Maybe she’s going to face Kylo or maybe it’s Snoke. In Empire, Vader tried to tempt Luke to the Dark in Cloud City. Maybe whoever Rey faces will make the same attempt, but will Rey be strong enough to stay with the Light? The ending of the trailer gives a deafening no as Kylo extends his hand.

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The new The Last Jedi poster released yesterday with the trailer

I will end there. Each time I rewatch the trailer another tid-bit or line catches my eye or ear. Frankly, there is too little information for any of us to draw definite conclusions about the plot or outcomes of The Last Jedi. I am so happy Disney, Lucasfilm, Rian Johnson, and Kathleen Kennedy refused to give us fans much more than this.

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Benicio del Toro’s character, DJ

Personally, I still have plenty of questions. Like what did Snoke mean by “Fulfill your destiny.”? How does he know what Rey’s destiny is? Where was Benicio del Toro’s character, DJ? Where will Laura Dern’s character, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, fit in? What planet does the bad ass battle take place with the new AT-AT’s and the Mad Max land speeders? Why is Finn back in First Order fatigues? What is the spark that Poe is talking about? A trailer is supposed to raise such questions without providing answers. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t hypothesize and make our own plots and theories. Saul and I would love to hear yours. Please leave them in the comments below.

By Hagood Grantham

 

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Pacific Rim: Uprising

 

Outlook: Likely boring with the chance for some eye-candy action.

Release Date: March 2018

I almost exited out of the YouTube page halfway through this trailer. I LOVED Pacific Rim, and was stoked to see that Legendary Pictures released a trailer for its sequel. However, this trailer left a peculiar taste in my mouth: the taste of a forced reboot. The closest comparison I can draw it to is 20th Century Fox’s Independence Day: Resurgence  that came out last year before Saul and I founded Title Roll. If we had been writing reviews then, I would have proudly given the second Independence Day 0 out of 5 stars due to its lead actors’ wooden acting, uneven plot, and obvious forced creation.

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Idris Elba in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost.

This trailer smacks of Independence Day: Regurgitation: In both movies, the humans thought they had won a war against an alien enemy only to discover that the enemy was not dead, but came back stronger. The films’ leads were filled by skilled actors (Will Smith in Independence Day and Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam in Pacific Rim). However, none returned to their respective roles for the sequels. Another similarity that points to lazy writing both Smith and Elba’s characters’ sons are now the main characters, I’m sure seeking revenge for their “dead” fathers. And, of course, both movies’ plots center around “the fate of the world rests on our shoulders” mentality that is now too often voiced in trailers.

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John Boyega as Stacker Pentecost’s son, Jake Pentecost.

Even though Pacific Rim‘s plot also rested on “the fate of the world depends on our success,” it didn’t state that fact outright nor did the movie commence with that statement unlike Uprising‘s trailer. Instead, Pacific Rim opened with a rich history about the war between the Jaegars and Kaiju. As the movie progresses, its history becomes more detailed as the main characters fill it in with their respective pasts and how the Kaiju effected or destroyed their lives. I believe this was the movie’s main strength.

Also, the fact that Guillermo del Toro is not in the director’s chair makes me nervous. His movies are always incredibly beautiful which was another major pleasure point of Pacific Rim. This sequel’s CGI pales in comparison to the first movie. It resembles the pitiful, cheap, and light CGI that Lions Gate utilized for this year’s Power Rangers film. I’m not sure if this is due to del Toro’s absence, a smaller budget, or the skill of untested director, Steven S. DeKnight, who is taking over for del Toro. While DeKnight has vast experience as a showrunner for Spartacus and Daredevil, he has never directed a movie nor has he had any involvement with a major motion picture. While this is not a damning factor, it does not bode well for Pacific Rim: Uprising. 

The upsides to this trailer are obviously the Tupac remix, which was fitting for its war filled scenes, but what intrigued me most was the Jaegar v. Jaegar clip. I hope that this means there is some infighting amongst the Jaegar pilots. Hopefully this can lead to character development and a deeper plot that what this trailer revealed.

By Hagood Grantham

Detroit

Film Score: 3 out of 5 (Good)

Synopsis: Detroit’s harrowing depiction of brutality and oppression opened my eyes to the banality of racism and why minorities remain distrustful of the police. It will garner oscar nominations. Despite Bigelow’s visual style and bold performances from Will Poulter and John Boyega, Detroit overextends itself into a third act. The film sadly becomes a diluted true crime documentary whose content belongs in the end credits. Once the plot unravels, Detroit groans under its 2 and a half hour run time with characters that are either underdeveloped or extras overstaying their welcome. Fortunately the film’s earlier acts save it from joining this summer’s flops.

Only a war film director of Kathryn Bigelow’s stature could have made Detroit. Once the race riots began in 1967 Detroit, like Charlottesville today, symbolised America tearing itself apart. The film focuses on a few square miles of the city, but an apocalyptic sense of the country’s own struggles with race is ever present, acting as a stark reminder of what happens when oppression boils over. Bigelow’s intensely intimate documentary style quietly builds up the fraught atmosphere by grounding the story at the human level, as the rising tensions overwhelm the everyday lives of African Americans across Detroit. Once the riots spill over Detroit descends into a war zone where Bigelow’s previous work in Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker come into the fore. When the camera returns to the wreckage wrought by  the riots, citizens eye you suspiciously behind rubble or stand armed in alcoves. One scene could be a convoy in Iraq or Afghanistan as a police cruiser rolls quietly through a street in the dead of night while shop fronts engulfed by flame light its way, causing the children stood nearby to look like silhouettes. Against this maelstrom Detroit switches focus to the Algiers motel, a sea of calm where Detroit sheds its docudrama skin and becomes a horror film.

Believing that the Algiers hotel is hiding a sniper, both the Detroit police and national guard arrive, headed by policeman Phillip Krauss (Will Poulter) and his fellow patrolmen. Indifferent to the young boys and men around them, the patrolmen see the African Americans cowering before them as criminals who have yet to confess or subhumans who they can pin their heinous acts on. The horror is the indifference the white authorities show. Both the military and state troopers leave the Detroit Police Department to torture the unfortunate people within the motel annex. Will Poulter’s baby face combined with his seriousness brings a callous naïvity to his actions, making him all the more monstrous as he tortures and bungles and tortures some more. Krauss’ opposite is Melvin Desmukes (John Boyega), a black security guard whose sense of duty, however misplaced, leads him to the motel to look for the sniper.

Initially Krauss and Melvin are polar opposites as shown by the trailer. Krauss is ruthless and obsessed with finding the sniper while Melvin is torn between appeasing the police officers and saving the young men and women trapped in the motel. Instead Krauss and his fellow patrolmen envelope the motel scenes.Their desperation to find the sniper feeds their sadism, plunging the viewer into a stupor of howling intensity as tragedy slowly arrives. Bigelow so gleefully documents Krauss and company’s misconduct that Melvin becomes a noisy neighbour who slinks away when it all becomes too much hassle. It is unfortunate that Melvin is pushed aside in the motel scenes as Boyega brings a realism to the character, portraying him in earlier moments as a hardworking level headed mean trying to do right for those around him.

Melvin’s scattered arc, which pings around like a misfired pinball after the standoff at the Algiers motel, is not the only character who falls short. Julie Ann (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) are two white girls hanging out with friends at the Algiers motel. Caught in the wrong place by the police patrolmen, both characters are subject to patronising lectures and increasingly sexualised interrogations. Both characters are extras there to show how debauched the policemen are. Hannah Murray, famous for her role as Gilly in Game of Thrones, plays Gilly again but set in the 1960’s instead of Westeros, her face switching between outrage or surprise. Finally, the casting at times did not fit. The young men who have the cap gun in the Algiers motel were a lot younger in real life than the actors depicting them. Consequently their antics leading to the standoff in the motel appear idiotic, rather than it simply being young frustrated men acting out.

Detroit’s excesses show in the third act by going beyond its natural end after the motel is left behind. Bigelow does enjoy creating a epilogue for her films, with The Hurt Locker showing a few scenes of life back home. In Bigow’s fixation to document the whole affair at the Algiers Motel, Detroit becomes a tedious true crime come court room drama which should have been a separate film. The additional 40 minutes were a unnecessary additional bid for oscar nominations which tries to build outrage in viewers left numb by the motel scenes. Characters suffer as their arc become convoluted, especially Melvin who is placed in one horrible situation only to appear in another with no explanation.

Detroit is worth the price of a ticket because John Boeyga and Will Poulter hoist the film up. Yet like Okja and The Neon Demon, its meandering tale shows that Bigelow was given a bit too much money and independence when filming. Detroit should have been two separate films, one film focusing on institutionalised racism and a companion film dissecting the violence racism brings. This is a bold suggestion, but one which would have saved the story from being two halves of a separate whole.

By Saul Shimmin

For the trailer, see below:

 

The Last Jedi [Teaser Trailer]

Outlook: Face-melting excitement

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, & Kelly Marie Tran

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Hagood’s Review: 

To be perfectly honest, I cried when Rian Johnson introduced the trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. I am beyond excited for this movie. But I must steel myself and try to be logical.  I was equally excited for The Force Awakens and after three viewings of it, I must admit, I’m a bit let down. Rogue One was a much stronger movie and I’m hoping that Kathleen Kennedy and Lucas Film have learned that Finn’s modern dialogue/humor and a hackneyed plot do not belong in the Star Wars universe.

Now, to the trailer. It begins during Rey’s training. The first shot shows her scared and out of breath with Luke’s voice telling her to breath. This harkens back to Luke’s training on Dagobah when he entered the cave to face his fear. I’m sure Luke will not take his training of Rey lightly, especially after losing all his former padawans to Kylo and his Knights of Ren. He’ll want to overly train her so she can survive another bout with the new Dark Lord. Also, during The Last Jedi panel, Mark Hamill mentioned that Daisy was his “dog” then he caught himself and said “companion,” which I’m sure means Luke puts Rey through hell.

I was quite fond of the shot of Rey standing above the sea pit during another training session and the next shot of her training with the lightsaber as Luke looks on. Kylo’s crushed and smoldering helmet is certainly intriguing. Why did Kylo destroy it? Does he feel he finally realize that he needs to forge his own path instead of trying to follow Vader’s? Was he even the one who destroyed it?

Also, what are in the Jedi scrolls Rey touches? How did Luke get them? Didn’t the Sith destroy them after they executed Order 66? I was happy to hear Rian Johnson say that The Last Jedi will uncover more of Rey’s backstory. That was another one of my qualms with The Force Awakens. It just stated stuff (i.e. Maz having Luke’s lightsaber) without backing things up. Some mystery is fine, but I hope this movie substantiates such plot holes.

There was a distinctly Mad Max-esque shot on a desert plain that seemed to have AT-AT’s in the distance fighting Alliance (?) land speeders. This match-up will hopefully best The Force Awakens land-air battle between The First Order and the Alliance on Maz Kanata’s planet of Takodana. I found that battle to be an unfulfilling tease due to a great set-up but poor payoff.

Another question that arose for me was the fire scene at the end. Was that a flashback to the Knights of Ren destroying Luke’s training academy or in the present? Thankfully Kylo is back (my favorite character) and he seemed to be in the present because you could see the scar on his face that Rey dealt him.

Finally, what does Luke mean by “It’s time for the Jedi to end?” Does he mean they need to evolve like the Sith did when they transformed into the Knights of Ren? Or does he mean something completely different?

I loved this trailer. This is how trailers are supposed to be made. It gave away no plot, but instead raised many questions without answering them. Kudos to Disney, Lucas Film, Kathleen Kennedy, and Rian Johnson. I cannot wait for The Last Jedi. 

Saul’s Review:

Given the striking opening to this trailer, The Last Jedi may be the best directed Star Wars film so far.

In the teaser trailer, we see the First Order retaliate following their loss of Starkiller Base, mirroring The Empire Strikes Back. Captain Phasma walks towards a burning settlement while a rebel base is attacked. Clearly the First Order are going to be a far more ubiquitous menance in this film, instead of threatening the galaxy via a doomsday weapon hidden on a remote planet. It would be interesting to see the First Order begin to take over more of the galaxy, and finally expand beyond the edges of space. Hopefully, we will not lose old man Luke Skywalker due to the First Order’s wrath.

I have two questions following the trailer. Firstly, what will Finn’s role be? He briefly appears in what seems to be a medical capsule, but no other information is given. More importantly, does Luke’s belief that the Jedi must end mean that he is now between the lightside and the darkside? If he is, what new order will emerge?

For the trailer, see below:

 

The Circle (2017)- Teaser

The Circle is a drama coming out in March of 2017. It stars heavy-hitters Tom Hanks & Emma Watson with Star Wars newbie John Boyega, and  veteran character actors Bill Paxton & Patton Oswalt. The movie is an adaptation of a David Eggers novel of the same name. James Ponsoldt (director of The Spectacular Now)  both directed the movie and adapted its screenplay from the book.

Hagood’s Thoughts:

While this movie isn’t the first big data commentary to come out of Hollywood (think The Fifth EstateSnowden), it is the first to view big data from the perspective of a tech company. I’m glad this is happening because major tech companies like Facebook, IBM, Google and Apple hoard and exploit date to raise their advertising prices through more accurate user profiling. The general public seems only aware of the NSA’s data gathering, but ignorant of Silicon Valley’s. Hopefully this film will wake people up. I’m not saying data gathering is a negative thing, but I think it is something we all need to be cognizant of. Also, millennials need to be critiqued with how quickly we share our information online. Most of us do it without hesitation, and I believe it is something we need to think twice about.

While the star power is strong with this movie, the plot appears all too familiar. Big corporation saying they’re helping society, but in reality they’re participating in illegal activities. Hopefully this trailer is a misdirection and the movie’s plot does more than blindly follow this trope.**

**I’ve never read the book so I don’t know its plot details.