Top 10 Prequel Trilogy Moments

It’s been a few weeks now since Star Wars: The Last Jedi hit cinemas and sent the entire fandom into a frenzy. With every Star Wars fan seemingly at each other’s throats we figured that now would be as good a time as ever to divert away from all the negativity and take a look back over the best of Star Wars.

So here’s part 1 of a 3 part series looking back over our Top Ten Moments from each Star Wars trilogy.

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Going in chronological order we’re beginning our 3-part series at the start of the Skywalker saga. Back in a time before Luke, Leia and Han, our story begins with the slow rise of Darth Vader and the death of a young man called Anakin Skywalker.

Moment 10: Rise of the Empire, Revenge of the Sith

Our first entry on the list earns its spot more through its importance to the saga as a whole, rather than its content. Palpatine finally reaching the heights of power he had sought since Ep. 1 and beginning the formation of the Galactic Empire. This is a powerful scene that encapsulates the best of the politics in the Prequels, something that many would argue is severely missing from later Star Wars films.

Moment 9: Gladiator Battles, Attack of the Clones

Despite this being what many consider to be the worst installment in the Star Wars films, it did provide one of the most gripping and visually impressive action sequences out of all the films.

This is the only time that we have seen Jedi fighting in large numbers before, in any form of post-Disney canon, and regardless of the story surrounding it the action itself delivers. Jedi fighting shoulder to shoulder against overwhelming odds, before the eventual save made by the Clone army is a spectacle that is hard to forget.

Moment 8: Duel of the Fates, Phantom Menace

Moving from a more grandiose battle to the first Sith vs. Jedi battle we are treated to in the Prequels. The battle between Qui-Gon/Obi Wan vs. Darth Maul isn’t only visually impressive, but it presents us with one of the most well-known scores in all of Star Wars and it perfectly sets up the feud between Obi Wan and Maul which is further expanded upon in canon shows The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, as well as comics (Even if Lucas meant for this to be Maul’s end originally).

Moment 7: Imperial March, Attack of the Clones

Following the previously mentioned battle on Geonosis Yoda utters the famous line “Begun the Clone War has” as the creeping score of the Imperial March plays on in the background, foreshadowing the revelation that everything is playing right into Palpatine’s hands. For those who first saw Star Wars (A New Hope) in cinemas it is perhaps this moment that is one of the most rewarding. After hearing about the Clone War from Obi Wan you are finally witnessing its beginning, and whilst it would have been good to see more of the war itself outside of the TV series, it is still rewarding to see the very beginnings of the Empire’s army.

Moment 6: Order 66, Revenge of the Sith

Order 66 portrays not only the ruthlessness of the Sith, but also their cunning and ability to outplay their Jedi counterparts at every turn. Characters who we’d seen fight for 3 films were cut down by their own troops in a montage that is equal parts horrific and mesmerizing.

And let’s face it, we’ve all pretended to be Palpatine when he first gives the command to “Execute Order 66”.

Moment 5: Birth of Vader, Revenge of the Sith

Right off the bat it’s worth noting that this scene isn’t perfect, but I couldn’t in my right mind put the birth of perhaps the most famous film character of all time any higher up the list.

Seeing Anakin’s burned body being treated to by the droids, and finally covered in his iconic black suit was the sort of imagery that people had been wanting to see for decades by the time it came around.

The Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker had died (For now at least), and Darth Vader was finally born.

Moment 4: Opera House, Revenge of the Sith

One of the few scenes in all of Star Wars that actually provides us with backstory which has yet to be explored. Hinting at the death of his former master Palpatine tells a conflicted Anakin about the power the Dark Side can wield. It is a master stroke of storytelling, allowing the viewer to see the cogs turning in Palpatine’s mind, watching as he presses Anakin’s worries and makes the Dark Side appealing with every word he speaks.

Furthermore it caught the interest of an entire generation, who to this day are calling for further backstory and the on-screen debut of Darth Plagueis, the Sith who could cheat death itself.

Moment 3: Battle over Coruscant, Revenge of the Sith

Our final large scale battle of this list is the one which features the most impressive visuals, the best film direction and the one which finally shows us why 1.) Obi Wan considered Anakin to be such a great pilot in the original trilogy and 2.) Builds up their friendship beyond just Padawan and Master.

The battle over Coruscant is easily the most exciting start to a Star Wars film and any director going forward will have a tough time of matching the feat pulled off by George Lucas in Episode 3.

Introducing us to Buzz Droids, showing us the Clones in action, Anakin and Obi Wan working together, command ships in battle above a famous planet, it all worked perfectly.

Moment 2: Mace vs. The Emperor, Revenge of the Sith

The reveal of Darth Sidious and the exposure of his real power. Lucas spent the prequel trilogy building up Mace Windu as a “bad-ass” Jedi whose skills in combat were not to be tested by anyone. Then came along the hidden Sith, Palpatine himself. Immediately eliminating 3 Jedi, Palpatine kick starts the action in ferocious speed, and the battle never really lets up.

A final dialogue between Windu and Anakin serves to solidify the young man’s turn to the Dark Side as he echoes concerns about the Jedi, concerns which are still prevalent in the franchise today as they are echoed back by Luke Skywalker.

Not to mention it’s this scene which provides us with the meme-loving quote “UNLIMITED POWER!”.

Moment 1: You were my brother, Revenge of the Sith

An argument could be made that this entire fight is worthy of the No. 1 spot on our list. But for me the fight drags just slightly too long and becomes a tad preposterous towards the middle. But this moment at the very end, after Anakin has been defeated and lies burning on the floor is wonderful storytelling.

Obi Wan pulls at your heart strings as he watches the man he considered a brother lying on the floor, dying because of his own hands. And as Obi Wan confesses his love for him, Anakin retorts his hate for Obi Wan. It is the perfect ending to their relationship and wonderfully depicts the opposing paths they have chosen.

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Is Logan Oscar-worthy?

For those who haven’t seen the 2018 Writer’s Guild Of America Awards (WGAA’s) were announced earlier today, and included a welcome nod to Logan in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Which begs the question, is Logan worthy of a shot at not only the WGAA’s, but at the Oscars and wider award season?

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Coming at a time of Superhero saturation, Logan (Following on from the example shown by Deadpool) showed that it was okay to make a superhero movie that didn’t follow the conventional formula. Instead of being considered a mature film simply for the blood, gore and sex jokes that ran rampant through the 2016 surprise hit Deadpool, James Mangold crafted a story that dealt with difficult issues which affect millions of people in the real world. No, none of us have to deal with rampaging mutants and secret organisations hunting us down, but there are countless people out there who have to deal with the loss of loved ones, the deterioration of the human brain that comes with age and the love you feel as a parent or guardian. These were the tent-poles of Marigold’s story and the rousing success of the film show that they resonated not only with critics, but with the larger general audience of movie-goers.

So it’s safe to say that the work of Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green has more than earned its place among nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay. But is that where it ends for Logan? Or could we be looking at a dark horse for further Oscar contention?

I would argue, yes.

If you consider a screenplay to be the foundations of a house, then it is the direction and work of the actors on screen which determine the beauty and strength of the house itself. Logan’s screenplay may not have been so well received if not for the portrayal of the main characters whose lives we followed for nearly 2 and a half hours in cinemas around the world. I said it at the time of the movie’s release and I stand by it to this day, Sir Patrick Stewart deserves an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the ageing Professor Xavier. His depiction of a man who was slowly losing his mind, whilst maintaining the loving and caring qualities of the man we’d known from previous X-Men installments was deeply moving. A Best Supporting Actor nomination would be, to many, a well deserved recognition of Sir Patrick Stewart’s work in the film and a fitting way to end his time playing the ever-present Professor X.

So if we move forward accepting that both the screenplay and Sir Patrick Stewart deserve Oscar nods, is too far to argue that the glue holding it all together, James Mangold’s direction, does not deserve to be recognized also? It is perhaps the hardest of the 3 to argue for, purely down to the level of quality competition that Mangold would be up against. With only five nomination slots being available it is an incredibly tough list to break on to. But if the Academy were to announce James Mangold’s inclusion, I would find it hard to argue it isn’t deserved.

Whether or not Logan would win the aforementioned Oscars is a different story. But being included in the nominees is a prize enough in itself, and even more so when it comes to a genre of film that the Academy often turn their noses up at.

So kudos to Logan and all involved for kicking off the Academy season strong, here’s to further success in the near future.

Review: The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey
Writers: Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams

Yesterday we kicked off our film viewings for 2018 and quite frankly we consider the bar to have been set quite high. The Greatest Showman isn’t receiving particularly impressive reviews from critics, and it’s not the first time that I find myself in complete disagreement with the “professionals”.

The story of The Greatest Showman is at its core somewhat of a cliche, despite the narrative threads around it being a unique telling of P.T Barnum’s (Hugh Jackman) of what we would consider modern day show business and the invention of the Circus. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Michael Gracey takes what many films would consider too cliche and portrays them, whether it be through music or otherwise, in new and exciting ways.

The film itself has been in development since 2009, with Hugh Jackman portraying it as his passion project, having been on board since the beginning. The fact shows in the movie as the Australian juggernaut absolutely thrives in his role and you can almost witness his enthusiasm seeping into his cast members in various scenes throughout the film. Speaking of which, there isn’t a single member of the cast who put in so much as a reserved performance. I would argue that everyone in the film is either strong in this film or great. This is no more evident than in the gorgeously choreographed music sequences of the film, where even the most unimportant characters can shine if you spend long enough watching them. Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) and Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle) is a perfect example of this, as she is inherently a secondary character and yet her performances during musical numbers (And performance in general) is almost show stealing.

The characters themselves are, for the most part, well thought out and substantial. The film does a good job of making you care about these characters and whilst there are some characters who could have done with more backstory and motivations, Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and sadly the acts in Barnham’s circus being examples of those who lack in any meaningful backstory.

With that being said, even the most minor character has a role to play in this film and with a dash more meat to some of them it could have pushed the film towards even greater heights than I’m already prepared to say it has reached.

Finally, the main thing you will come away from the movie talking about isn’t the movie, or the characters, it’s the music. Whilst this will not come as a surprise to many of you, the music in this film was outstanding. Songs such as The Greatest Show, This is Me and Rewrite the stars will be stuck in your head for days and they’re certainly worthy of being placed among some of the other great musical numbers. I would be shocked if none of the above receive Oscar nods come February.

Final Score:

8/10 Porgs.

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Fences Review

Being a huge Graham Norton fan I watch his show every single week, I saw Denzel Washington talking about his latest and greatest film with Viola Davies. Having the two in a film together? A match made in movie heaven.

Fences has been performed on the stage since 1987 and became a hit. Denzel Washington, who starred in 2010 revival took the play and took it to the screen. The cast includes four other actors that joined him on stage in 2010.

Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) works hard for his family to provide them with food on the table and clothes on their back. Like many men he had a dream, he yearned to be a professional baseball player but was denied too old. His bitterness and resentment is taken out on his youngest son Cory (Jovan Adepo). The emotional damaged Troy refuses to come to terms with his loss. The movie deals with various issues from the 1950s, but most importantly the family unit making the story a truly gripping tale.

Quite deservingly the film was nominated for four academy awards including best actor and actress for Davies and Washington. A.O Scott of The New York Times describes Washington’s performance as ‘if you closed your eyes and just listened to “Fences” you would hear a verbal performance of unmatched force and nuance.’ Even the monologues from Washington make you hang on every word he says in the film. I was completely gripped from start to finish by his performance and I would recommend this film to anyone.

As said by Washington while on The Graham Norton Show, while performing the play on Broadway members of the audience would almost feel apart of the narrative and get up and express their emotions while the show was still happening. Including when Troy first brings his baby home, Washington said a woman in the audience got up and said ‘oh Denzel…’ While sitting in the cinema I understood what he was talking about, the audience’s reaction while in the theatre was extraordinary. The cries, the laughter, and the judgemental noises made were nothing like I have ever heard before while watching a film. The emotion may be overwhelming at times, but this may be one of the best films of the year due to the actor’s performances alone.