Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017): This IS The Star Wars I’m Looking For (Non-Spoiler Review)

porg yelling.jpg
[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise and follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she develops her newly discovered powers of the Force while the First Order does battle with the Resistance. The film stars Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro and is directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper).

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

When it was initially announced that director Rian Johnson would helm a new Star Wars trilogy before Episode VIII released, excitement and hesitation simultaneously settled in for me. Clearly, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy herself adored what Johnson did with The Last Jedi which translated to them entrusting a brand new trilogy to him, however the uncertainty arose because I thought, “man what if I hate what he does with Last Jedi?!” I’m in the camp that firmly believes the more, the merrier – If I hear they want to release 3 new Star Wars flicks a year I say hey, that’s great! Would we possibly get some films set during the KOTOR era? The one goddamn era every single fan has been pining for since the release of those legendary video games….

Coming out of my screening of The Last Jedi, I am ecstatic to say I officially cannot wait to see what Johnson brings to a new trilogy because I absolutely adored Star Wars: The Last Jedi

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney] |
As someone who liked The Force Awakens very much, there was something lacking within it. Last year’s Rogue One was actually my favourite recent SW installment of the two because it felt like a Star Wars film that I’ve never seen before. It pushed buttons that have never really been pushed before and, after watching it twice in theatres and once at home since, I wondered whether another Star Wars film would have a similar effect on me. I still need a few watches of Last Jedi to see whether it definitively surpasses Rogue One in my rankings but one of the first things I said when I exited the theatre was “… I think I liked that more than Rogue One.” 

From its stellar opening sequence to its final moments, I was hooked throughout. I appreciated the fact that there were actual space battles occurring utilizing some of the best digital effects the industry has to offer. Although the usage of the beloved lightsaber is used sparingly, it is depicted effectively. When the humming of the saber penetrated my ear holes, I felt it. I savoured it. There are certain instances where characters are using the sabers and I wanted to slow down time to properly ingest everything I was witnessing. It’s one of those instances where, as you’re watching it, you make an addition to your internal checklist saying “remember to check YouTube every single day to see if someone upload this scene on there.”

The implementation of the humour was actually one of my favourite aspects of the film. What is commonly seen in the additions to the MCU (Thor: Ragnarok being the latest), many of the jokes featured in their superhero story fall flat during the more dramatic moments of the films which undercut the emotional impact certain scenes have. The Last Jedi features a number of comedic beats inserted throughout that I felt worked effectively in the scene. I found there being a perfect balance (wink, balance) between the humour and dramatic moments particularly during one instance where we’re introduced to a crew of Judgmental Fish Nuns who are basically the embodiment of myself. 

fish nuns the last jedi.jpg
[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the arcs of all the main crew progress and I absolutely adore the route they went with the iconic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Learning more about why he became the person he is in Episode VIII, 30+ years following Episode VI and the effect the Jedi/Force had on him was spectacular to see. He is an embattled, melancholic and agonized individual who has experienced some major shit throughout his journey that started him out as a simple farm boy destined for greatness. How he chooses to “train” Rey (Daisy Ridley) only furthers my excitement for seeing how the next generation of Star Wars characters handles their respective responsibilities within the galaxy. Rey is easily my favourite character of this new trilogy and I love how Ridley embodies her vigor and spirit. Of course, it’s always an emotional roller coaster seeing anything related to the late, great Carrie Fisher and I thoroughly enjoyed the decisions made for her legendary character, Princess Leia.

There isn’t really anything critical I can say about the rest of the stellar cast – Oscar Isaac as Poe DAMNeron will forever be my favourite thing ever. John Boyega‘s Finn matures exponentially in Last Jedi and I just love seeing it. An issue I originally had with The Force Awakens was Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and I wondered how he would do as he grew more comfortable in the role 2 years later. He is definitely better in Last Jedi particularly toward the beginning of the third act but, again, I wasn’t too much of a fan of his portrayal during the first two acts. Domhnall Gleeson AKA The-Guy-Who-Is-Starring-In-Everything returns as the ambitious General Hux and I very much enjoyed watching him gleefully express both his joyful moments and immense frustrations when dealing with the Resistance. Kelly Marie Tran makes her debut as Rose Tico who was a charming addition although certain components of her relationship with a character felt a bit forced. Laura Dern also made a fantastic addition to the Star Wars crew as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. She can honestly have amazing chemistry with a potted plant so I thoroughly enjoyed every time she was on screen and I adored the lore of her character. I took issue with a particular decision Holdo makes that could’ve easily been avoided, although I understand why she felt the need to make it. Overall I felt the relationships developed between certain characters were executed well.

[Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney]

How Were The Other Aspects Of The Last Jedi?

Johnson knows how to film the sweeping, epic shots that make an impact watching it on the big screen. The Snoke room and everything that happens in that red room of terror is absolutely marvelous. I enjoyed the inclusion of the music much more in Last Jedi than I did Force Awakens; a brief, fleeting moment involving just Rey as her Theme plays in the background is one of my absolute favourite moments of the entire film. There’s also a fantastically killer sequence involving her and another character toward the end of the film that I cannot say more about for fear of spoiling! There is also a disgustingly wonderful tracking shot inspired by the very first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Wings (1927) that made me way too giddy when I initially noticed it. 

As we all know, The Last Jedi‘s divisive has been known in the online world and I am in the camp who thoroughly enjoyed where the story went and how they chose to develop these characters. While it isn’t without flaws, the ultimate enjoyment and pure satisfaction I felt coming out of the theatre and writing about it now makes me ecstatic for Episode IX and the Johnson-helmed trilogy.

Side note that doesn’t really pertain to the filmCan we PLEASE though, real talk, f’real be blessed with a “Duel Of The Fates“-esque pulsating, orgasmic-inducing song for at least one of the upcoming Star Wars? While I hold a genuine disdain for a number of components of the Prequels, every human on Earth can agree that that song is one of the best things to have come out of it. You’re welcome for my great suggestion, Disney.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.


featured image source: Lucasfilm/Disney

star wars films.png

Ex Machina (2015)

ex machina cinemagraph gif.gif

Nathan: Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters. It’s a movie, man. You don’t know that movie? A ghost gives Dan Aykroyd oral sex.

Starring: Oscar Isaac as Nathan Bateman, Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb Smith, Sonoya Mizuno as Kyoko and Alicia Vikander as Ava, dir. Alex Garland.

cinemagraph source: technoir
‘Ex Machina’ distribution: A24
Cinematographer: Rob Hardy (Shadow Dancer, The Testament Of Youth)

Check Out The Following:

Nostalgia’d Review: Drive (2011)

This Week, Ryan Gosling Decides To Race His Way Into My Heart With Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive!

drive movie ryan gosling gif.gif
[Credit: FilmDistrict]
Standard: All right. So I illegally walked over to a seventeen year old girl. And I walk up and I say, “Hello, Miss. What is your name?” And she didn’t say anything.
And then I said, “Well my name is Standard Gabriel.”
Then what did you say?
Irene: I said, “Where’s the deluxe version?”

Based on the 2005 novel by James SallisDrive follows the unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a criminal-for-hire-getaway driver, as he forms a bond with his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son while her husband (Oscar Isaac) is in prison. When dangerous circumstances arise, the Driver is tasked with utilizing his talents to stay alive. The film also stars Bryan Cranston as the Driver’s well-meaning employer, Shannon, Albert BrooksRon Perlman as a pair of mobsters who love utilizing profamity to express themselves – I am all too familiar with that idea – and is directing by the stylistically stylish Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon).

The Driver Is A Phenomenal Character



If you are familiar with director Refn’s work, you know many of his characters are not given elaborate backstories which allows the audience to learn as much as they need to learn as the film progresses, nothing more nothing less. He is a big believer in the concept of showing and not telling. Whenever we see the Driver interact with others, he expresses himself in two or three words, maybe seven if he is feeling frisky. We know he moved to Los Angeles a few years ago and began working for Shannon at the garage, the aforementioned Shannon being one of the few in his life that he feels comfortable enough to say more than a few words to.

Irene’s son, Benicio is another person the Driver feels comfortable enough to hold an entire conversation with, particularly when discussing the moralistic aptitude of a television shark. It is because of the few tidbits we are given about the Driver that makes him such an intriguing character. We know the very basics about him and want to learn more about how he managed to perfect his driving and hammering skills.

drive hammer gif.gif
[Credit: FilmDistrict]
He feels like a regular human yet there is something superhuman about him – if that makes sense. Refn illustrates this idea by revealing that the nature of the Driver character is meant to be more than what the surface conveys:

“… The Driver was meant to become a superhero, and he’s denied all these things—relationships, companionship. And why would he be denied that? It was because he was meant for something greater.”

There are certain moments where he manages to pull off the seemingly impossible and I genuinely wondered how the fuck did he do that?? This idea certainly lends credence to the notion that he is a powerful being in a hyper-realistic world… And that is what I love about it! Since Gosling is spectacular in the role, you want to see more of whatever it is he is doing even if that means suspending your disbelief that this man is not your regular human. His eyes speak wonders by staring at whatever he happens to be staring at; whether it be glaring into the eyes of an enemy or gazing at the ridiculously gorgeous nighttime LA roads.

I never thought I would be ecstatic at the prospect of someone being colour blind, however Refn attributes his inability to seeing mid-colours as a reason why all his films are very contrasted:

“… If it were anything else I couldn’t see it.”

The Gorgeous Cinematography of Drive:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No Surprise Here: The Soundtrack Is A Character Itself

Refn regular, Cliff Martinez composes the synth-heavy score for Drive and the soundtrack features a number of amazing artists including Desire, my favourite track of the film (“A Real Hero”) by College and Electric Youth and, of course, the song most associated with the film: “Nightcall” by Kavinsky. For those that have never seen or heard anything about Drive, the opening title credits for the film – following a beautifully tension-filled opening sequence – will intrigue you at least a tiny bit to check out what the film is about:

Favourite Scene! (SPOILERS)

Alright, do you want to know the exact moment where I felt the most excited to see what would transpire in Drive? The first seven minutes of the movie. Refn does not waste any time in getting straight into the action and by “action,” I am not only referring to zooming car chases and destruction. Why I appreciate Drive as much as I do is because it doesn’t have to resort to the seemingly hour-long car chases to grab my attention. The film is very much a character piece, an aspect to it I’m sure a few were unfamiliar with when they initially went into it (more on that below).

[Credit: FilmDistrict]
As the beginning sequence unfolded, I expected that bombastic car chase to ensue since I have become accustomed to that occurring in virtually every car-based film I have seen. As a character piece enthusiast, imagine my surprise when the 2:30 mark happened and instead of barreling down the road to an imminent car chase, the Driver pulled off to the side and turned off the car lights.

  • The Subversion Of Expectation. As mentioned, I did not expect at all for the Driver to pull to the side. I fully expected some type of chase to occur since he accelerated out of the spot and headed toward the road. When they were on the bridge with the helicopter looming over them and were seemingly caught, I then said to myself “okay NOW the chase will happen…” He pulled into a garage and Grand Theft Auto-style waited until the heat wore off. Finally he exited and pulled up to a red light, cop car straight ahead waiting for his next move, “alright now that chase will happen…” The Driver pulls off his ingenious plan that made me fall in love.
  • The Incorporation Of The Radio. Throughout the sequence, I wondered why the shit this guy was so fixated on the Clippers game. TURN THAT DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROA– Ohhhhhhhh… Oh. That’s dirty. And great. Dirty and great all over.
  • The Lack Of Bitching From The Guys In The Back. The classic trope of the people who burst into the car when they are in a rush and yell at the driver to “hurry up! Go faster! Get us out of here!” Motherfucker, the person in control of the vehicle is more than aware that they need to drive. You screeching in their ear what is equivalent to saying “the sky is blue!” is not helping anyone. These guys got in the car and allowed the getaway driver to do what the getaway driver should do… Get away.

See My Favourite Scene Below:

The ‘I Have Been Duped!’ Lawsuit

Somebody on the Earth sued the distribution company behind Drive, FilmDistrict, for “[promoting] the film… as very similar to the Fast and Furious, or similar, series of movies.” In 2011, Sarah Deming of Michigan believed the film would be more in vein of Fast and the Furious instead of in the style of a fucking Nicolas Winding Refn movie and stated:

“Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film… having very little driving in the motion picture…”

She was also offended by the idea that the film features a criminal Jewish mobster who utters derogatory remarks against his people because THAT IS HIS CHARACTER:

“Drive was a motion picture that substantially contained extreme gratuitous defamatory dehumanizing racism directed against members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoted criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith.”

Deming wanted a refund for her movie ticket, in addition to halting the production of “misleading movie trailers” in the future. “The plaintiff intends to turn her individual case into a class action lawsuit, thereby allowing fellow movie-goers an opportunity to share in the settlement.”

‘Billy Madison’ [Credit: Universal Studios]
If I haven’t conveyed my opinion on this issue enough, I firmly believe this woman is a moron. Not for feeling like a trailer misled her but because she believed suing was a legitimate option. Certain trailers are misleading as fuck. Welcome to the world of the movie trailer. I was duped into thinking The Phantom Menace was the second coming of Christ and look at that shit pile.

Check Out The Trailer In Question Below, However Be Warned It’s Spoilerific:

Did the trailer of Drive make it seem like a super action-packed movie? Sure. Does that warrant suing for anything? Maybe in Fantasyland where unicorns are the authority and it rains chocolate kisses.

And don’t get me started on her claiming the film portrays Jewish people in a negative light. The film portrays criminals in a negative light… You know, BECAUSE THEY’RE CRIMINALS. I guess she also missed the whole point of Nino (Perlman) using the derogatory term to express just how shitty their family is… You know, BECAUSE OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

Five Years Later Update…

This lawsuit hasn’t let up. Thankfully for the judges with common sense:

“A judge in Oakland, Mich. rejected plaintiff Sarah Deming’s putative class action in March 2012, concluding that there was no misrepresentations of material fact even assuming the trailer contained subliminal anti-Semitism.”

Apparently following the rejection, the plaintiff tried to get the judge removed from the case for allegedly being anti-Semitic himself. That dispute went to a Michigan appeals court which, on October 15th, 2013:

“… [Handed] down a decision that stated in part, ‘Any affirmative representations the trailer made about being a racing movie were not inaccurate; the movie does contain driving scenes… Moreover, plaintiff, contrary to her hyperbole, does not refer us to any actual violence against, or even criticism of, Jews that has resulted from the film being shown.’

Apparently the plaintiff’s lawyer (Martin H. Leaf) has not given up on the idea that the film contains anti-Semitic messages so this saga will continue.

the happening confused gif.gif
‘The Happening’ [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

If you’re looking for a Fast And The Furious-esque picture, Drive that is not. If you’re interested in watching a visually pleasing character piece on a man who is so much more than just a talent behind the wheel, I highly recommend checking out Drive.

Drive receives a Matt Damon whooping it up in The Martian.

matt damon the martian happy gif.gif
‘The Martian’ [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Click Here For More Nostalgia’d Reviews!

featured image source: James White

Ex Machina (2015)


Nathan: Caleb, what’s your type?
Caleb: Of girl?
Nathan: No, salad dressing!

Starring: Oscar Isaac as Nathan Bateman, Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb Smith, Sonoya Mizuno as Kyoko and Alicia Vikander as Ava, dir. Alex Garland.

gif source: oddty
ex machina
Cinematographer: Rob Hardy (The Invisible Woman, Testament of Youth)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Poe Dameron: … So who talks first? You talk first? I talk first?

Starring: Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Damneron, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, dir. JJ Abrams… Ghezal’s TFA Review 🙂

gif source: technoir
Cinematographer: Dan Mindel (Star Trek, John Carter, ST: Into Darkness)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)


Jean: Do you ever think of the future at all?
Llewyn Davis: The future? You mean like flying cars? Hotels on the moon? Tang?

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, dir. the Coen Brothers.inside

Star Wars Episode VII: AWAKENED, THE FORCE HAS (2015) Spoiler-Free review


sw cast

The time has arrived. The wait is finally over. The new Star Wars is here… A NEW STAR WARS!  From the moment Disney bought Lucasfilm and the announcement was made that we’re ultimately going to be sucked back into the movie universe that so many of us love, speculations, leaks, criticisms, fanboyisms have all risen with the first ultimate test being how The Force Awakens stacks up… And let me tell you guys: Episode VII is one incredible ride.

Let’s get the pleasantries out of the way. The second that opening crawl comes up with NEW words and sentences you’ve never read before, emotions are high. Tears are shed. Snot is formed. 

I haven’t been enthralled in such a movie since watching my favourite film of the year, Fury Road. Each frame is filled with beauty, lushness, colour and familiarity (that is for you to see) that makes it such a comfortable movie to watch. It is the mashed potatoes of movies. You’re welcomed back into the Star Wars universe that you love and have been craving to be welcomed back into. I’m going to focus on the merits and negatives to The Force Awakens strictly for itself but mention of the Original Trilogy and Prequels will be made, it’s inevitable. That said, it’s fucking PARSECS ahead of the Prequels, don’t worry about that.

I’ve read a few people saying the story/plot in the Prequels are stronger than that of The Force Awakens and it’s really like WHAT. Look, the main plot that drives TFA is reminiscent of A New Hope… Alright let’s call a spade a spade, without delving too much into spoiler territory Force Awakens is essentially an updated, more bad-ass version of ANH. There are many familiar themes in Episode VII that parallels the previous Episode, however, JJ Abrams & co. have managed to shape it in a way that makes it entertaining and fresh. Trade negotiations & senate meetings are terrific and you know what? I would have liked for TFA to have a bit more explanation of the political climate in the galaxy and certain characters certainly could have been utilized better. I’m sure we’ll receive more from all accounts in the upcoming episodes.. BECAUSE WE’RE GOING TO GET MORE STAR WARS MOTHERFUCKAHHHHHS 🙂

Let’s discuss the newcomers to the Star Wars universe…

sw cast2
Boyega, Ridley, Driver, Isaac… They are simply terrific. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.. these two are going places.
  • Ridley as Rey is arguably the breakthrough performance of the year. I can’t imagine the amount of pressure this woman had to a) not only star in the new Star Wars in a decade but also b) in her first big, blockbuster film! Yeah, I get nervous pouring coffee for my manager.
  • Boyega as FN-2187 (aka Finn) is spectacular. The perfect blend of Han Solo & Luke Skywalker, the chemistry between these two leads is undeniable. 
  • Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) is one of my favourite actors working today. He is in the realm of the Hardy and Fassbenders. I honestly felt more of a genuine friendship between Poe & Finn in the first 5 minutes of them meeting than  Obi Wan & Anakin’s friendship in the entirety of Attack of the Clones. I’m sorry but no one gives a shit about the time you flew into the pile of Gungans on the island of Gundor.
  • Arguably the weakest link between the four is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. While masked, he possessed a certain air of mystery and intrigue to him… I just didn’t feel intimated by him at all when that mask came off. This could have been achieved as well unmasked had a stronger actor been cast. Not to take away from Driver’s acting ability but I couldn’t help but wonder how Isaac would have been as Kylo. 

    You all have looked up how good or bad The Force Awakens is. You know whether you want to experience it on the biggest of screens or in the comfort of your own home, although I’m sure you’d be spoiled eventually because internet bags of dicks are everywhere. It is not a perfect movie, however it’s pretty darn close to it. All I can tell you is if you’re familiar with the Star Wars universe, you will feel a sense of awe throughout the duration of the movie. If you’re not a fan of the universe, you’ll be insanely entertained throughout it… However, at the very least watch Episode IV: A New Hope. You’ll find a new favourite movie and have a greater appreciation for The Force Awakens.

I am way too hyped for the remaining two of this chart to be filled

If you’re looking for a movie that– ahhh fuck it. GO WATCH THE NEW STAR WARS! 🙂

Star Wars: The Force Awakens receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.