Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Former scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones). Galen and his wife are just trying to raise their daughter and have her grow up in a peaceful environment. That is until everything spirals out of control and the evil Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) takes him away from his family. After many years have passed, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most dangerous weapon the galaxy has to offer, the Death Star. Knowing her father is the only one who knows how to destroy the Death Star, Jyn joins forces with Diego (Cassian Andor) and a Droid by the name of K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) to fight against the resistance and give “Hope” to the Empire.

When people ask me about Star Wars films and if is necessary to watch the others before watching a new one; I always respond with yes. Only for the obvious reason of being able to fully understand the story and follow along as it goes. After seeing Rogue One, I can gladly tell you to not worry about seeing other Star Wars films before this one. Even though this movie is essentially a prequel to A New Hope, it still acts as a standalone movie, which is one of the major reasons why this film succeeded in every way. Starting a franchise with now eight films may seem incredibly intimidating to someone who isn’t a movie nerd, like me, but I strongly believe that after seeing Rogue One you will happily look forward to watching A New Hope.

Rogue One is the new standalone film of the Star Wars franchise that we have not been used to seeing. Gareth Edwards gave us a film that often became dark and depressing, but still provided us with enough action to leave the theater more than impressed. The casting was great and I especially liked how much of Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO droid reminds us of C3PO with the humor. It would have been nice to see more of Mendelsohn as a character because he is just incredible in everything he is in, but we have to take what we’re given here. Jones really impressed me with her lead character because I wasn’t all that sure this was the right role for her considering others where she’s been the lead or somewhat of a lead character. Gladly she pulled this off and was fun to watch. I was all for Riz Ahmed being casted in this movie after seeing his performance in The Night Of, but he is not very memorable because his scenes are limited in Rogue One.

From the beginning of the movie they let us know that this was going to separate itself from the “Star Wars Movies” to the “Star Wars Stories.” Rogue One leaves you with a mark of its own and even though it is not the “fan pleaser” that The Force Awakens was it still should be more than satisfying to any Star Wars fan. This film is one that even if the other Star Wars movies do not exist, you could leave saying that was a really good movie. And that’s exactly what I love about this movie. The fact that we can put this movie by itself and it is becoming just as much of a success as other Star Wars films is something that is making me very excited for what is happening with this Star Wars franchise. Seeing what’s in store for the next “Star Wars Story” movie is something that I really look forward to and if it’s anything like Rogue One, it will be an awesome flick.

Overall, Rogue One is intriguing, exciting and at often times dark, but still delivers on what you would want to see from a Star Wars film even though its stands by itself. Rogue One is filled with well-written and well-acted characters that leave you with probably the most memorable Star Wars film to date.

Grade: A

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True Story (2015)

Here’s one that came out a few months back I finally got a chance to watch. Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is an exceptional Journalist who is pretty well-known and works at the New York Times. After making up a false story about child-slavery in Africa, Michael loses his job. Michael is trying to find any kind of work that he can in this tough time. He does, however, find a job that was not exactly what he was looking for, but attracts his attention and interest. Christian Longo (James Franco), is accused of murdering his wife and children. After hiding in Mexico under the name of Michael Finkel, he is arrested and brought back to the United States. The real Michael Finkel steps in and sets up some interviews with Longo because he feels like this would make a great book to write and he may be able to figure out what exactly happened the night Longo’s wife and children were murdered.

This is a movie that I have looked forward to seeing for quite a while because I love the cast, but I just kept putting it off for some reason. It turns out that I should have put it off even longer. This was a very disappointing film that had me bored throughout most of it. Even though the murder case was really interesting, I did not think that the movie was all that great. This is something that could have been a lot better and a lot more interesting. The whole movie was not a total disaster, but with such a strong cast I should be a lot more happy with this film than I am. This whole movie just struck me as a very boring drama that could have been much better with a different director and some better writing.

The cast did not disappoint me at all. The great thing about the cast is that they are what kept this movie going for me. I think Jonah Hill and James Franco delivered some great performances. I love that Jonah Hill is doing comedy, but is still doing these dramatic roles. He is an all-around solid actor who shows that he can do just about any role given to him. He is turning out to be one of the best actors out there right now. James Franco delivered a great performance as well. Without these two guys, the movie would have drowned even more than it did. Those two are the main reason this film did okay and was not a complete and total disaster.

Everything about True Story is just really messy and all over the place. Nothing about this movie had me excited in the least bit. I just think a lot about this movie is messy, sloppy and often over-the-top. This is director, Rupert Goold’s first movie and it clearly shows. That’s not to say there may be a bright future for him as a director, but the outcome of True Story is pretty typical for the first outing as a new director. I now it may seem like I despised this movie, but that is not the full case here. I just think it was too okay for what should have been a much better film. I do not think this is a movie you need to rush to see, but if you like some interesting stories and court cases, it just might be something you want to check out.

Overall, True Story does not deliver in the way it should. This has some great acting, but is mostly sloppy, all over the place and incredibly dull.

Grade= C (Okay)

The Theory Of Everything (2014)

Here’s a movie that won a huge Academy Award for Best Actor. Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) was a college student who was looking to serve a real purpose in life. He wanted to try to pursue something with Physics. Hawking just has absolutely no motivation to do so. This is until a woman named Jane (Felicity Jones) comes into his life and changes him into a new man. Jane could not possibly have come into Stephen’s life at such a horrible time. Stephen started noticing some things about himself that were going wrong and he decided to go see a doctor. The doctor told him that he was diagnosed with ALS, which is an untreatable disease that eventually makes him not be able to do anything besides sit in a chair. Jane has fallen in love with Stephen and decides that she wants to stick it out with him for as long as they have together. They get married and start a very hard life together. Jane feels that as long as they love each other, nothing will be wrong and she feels that she can handle taking care of a family and Stephen at the same time.

The Theory Of Everything tells a really great story about a man who is known worldwide as a genius. Stephen Hawking is such a smart man. It’s such a shame that he has to have this horrible disease that is untreatable. I thought this movie was well-directed and also well written. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a biopic because I don’t think they focused in enough on the brilliance of Stephen Hawking and what he did and was trying to do. The movie mainly focused on his relationship with his wife and their love for each other.

The acting in this was top-notch. Eddie Redmayne absolutely gave the performance of his career so far and without a doubt deserved the Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role. I thought Michael Keaton would win for his role in Birdman, but Redmayne gave us a memorable performance that will have people talking about for quite some time and also gave a better performance that Keaton. Redmayne gave us such a great performance that you forget that you are actually watching a film. Felicity Jones gave an excellent performance as well. She played a very intimate character as the wife of Stephen Hawking. Felicity definitely deserved the Oscar nomination.

Having said all that, the movie definitely did have some problems. As I said earlier, I wished this movie focused more on what Stephen was trying to prove and not just him and his wife. I felt as if the movie started to get boring with just focusing mainly on the relationship between Stephen and Jane. I just think they could have told the story of Hawking a little bit better than they did. The fact still remains that this is an exceptional film because of the acting. Redmayne just gave nothing but a remarkable performance.

Overall, The Theory Of Everything is a movie that is definitely deserving of the Oscar nominations and the win. The acting was superb and it is a remarkable movie to watch. I definitely think you should check this out.

Grade= B (Good)