Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Movie Review: The Shape Of Water (R – 123 minutes)

If you are a fan of Guillermo del Toro’s work, many parts of this film will feel familiar.  He has several trademarks, and they are all evident in this movie.  Chronos, the Devil’s Backbone, Mimic, Hellboy 1 and 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, and even Pacific Rim all have similar touches here and there – but always a haunting beauty that is very present in The Shape of Water.

The story focuses on Elisa Esposito – a mute janitor working in a government lab in 1960’s cold-war era Baltimore. She spends her days cleaning the lab and chatting (well, signing) with her co-worker and friend Zelda, and her evenings hanging out with her neighbor, Giles, in the apartments they have over a movie theater.

One day, a government special agent brings a creature they captured in a South American river to the lab for study.  This agent, Colonel Richard Strickland, is obsessed with getting whatever secrets possible from the creature before the Russians do.  Now, I’m not sure why that’s key, or what secrets an amphibian man could possess, or why the Russians would be interested – but hey – that’s the story.  

Strickland is cold and cruel, trying his best to swiftly ascend through the ranks of his organization by brutalizing the creature during their sessions.  One of the scientists working on the project, Dr. Hoffstetler, advises trying to be more gentle and learning from the creature, but Strickland is more concerned with cutting it open.

While cleaning the lab, Elisa forms a bond with the creature – teaching it a few signs, and finding the gentleness of him soothing and attractive.  When Strickland gets a deadline to kill the creature, Elisa masterminds an escape with the assistance of Giles, Zelda, and Dr. Hoffstetler.  Once she has him in her apartment, their bond grows even stronger (spoiler alert – yes, they have sex), and she eventually plans to release him back into the water and his freedom.

The movie is again, like del Toro’s other works – hauntingly beautiful and weirdly elegant.  It’s an odd niche that del Toro has carved out for himself, but the craftsmanship is excellent.  The color in the movie is expertly used to enhance the story.  The sets are lovely, from the lab to the apartments, everything is perfectly crafted. The music by Alexandre Desplat is also just weird enough to be beautiful and pair well with the visuals and story.  Overall, it is another stunning adult fairy tale from del Toro that will stay with you long after you see it.  The cast is carefully picked to perfectly bring each role to life.

  • Sally Hawkins is not someone I was familiar with prior to seeing this movie (and now suddenly it seems she’s everywhere, or maybe that’s just the plethora of Paddington 2 marketing?). She is so tiny and delicate, but does an amazing job of conveying Elisa’s strength and compassion. 

  • Octavia Spencer plays Zelda, and yes, the role feels like one you have seen her in before – somewhere between the Help and Hidden Figures, but since del Toro wrote this role with her in mind, that makes perfect sense.  She is brilliant as a no-nonsense woman who eventually falls into helping with Elisa’s romantic nonsense adventure.

  • Richard Jenkins plays Giles in such a lovely way that you really feel his lonely sadness, but also his exuberance at helping Elisa when she sets her mind to freeing the amphibian man. His scenes with the ‘pie man’ that he is quietly flirting with are just heartbreaking.

  • Michael Shannon is horrific as Strickland.  I’ve seen him interviewed and I know he’s a nice guy, just a little strange, but man, no one plays terrible guys better than he does. You really cannot wait for Strickland to get his and yes – spoiler alert – he does, but it takes way too long!

  • Micahel Stuhlbarg plays Dr. Robert Hoffstetler, a scientist who is doing his best to be true to his own nature, but also his various employers. He does such an amazing job that he really stole most of the scenes he was in for me.

  • The clear star of this movie is Doug Jones as the amphibian man.  Doug has been multiple creatures for del Toro over the years – the most memorable being the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth and Abe Sapien in the Hellboy Series.  He’s a phenomenal actor, and it’s wonderful to see him finally getting some major recognition for this role. He manages to give the creature a beautiful heart and soul that is obvious despite the species barrier.

Overall, the movie is magical and you need to see it – I will warn you, because someone was kind enough to warn me, that yes – the amphibian man does eat one of Giles’s cats! But don’t worry, it’s handled pretty well, and wasn’t as upsetting as I was expecting.  Major spoiler alert here – but I just read a theory I found really interesting – Elisa has three perfectly lined scars on either side of her neck.  We are told in the course of the movie that she was found by a river, and the scars are the result of the injury that caused her to be a mute.  The theory I just read speculated that in fact they were just undeveloped gills, and she was the offspring of a creature similar to the amphibian man.  This would make sense with the ending, since he’s got some healing re-growing touch ability.  Whether or not that’s the case, it’s still a lovely thought, and puts a beautiful end on the movie.

9 out of 10 – I’m taking off a point for the cat.  See it, it’s adult fairy-tale movie-making at its finest.

Bonus – cast interviews!
Behind the scenes:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Movie Review: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle (PG13 – 119 minutes)

Jumanji was originally a creepy story written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg and released in 1981.  Essentially two kids find a board game, take it home, and start playing.  The game starts brining dangerous jungle things into their house, and the danger will not stop until they finish playing.

This story was adapted to a movie in 1995 directed by Joe Johnston and starring Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt, where they started playing when they were little – but as soon as Alan got sucked into the game, Sarah ran off, not finishing the game, and leaving Alan trapped inside of it.  Many years later, Judy and Peter begin playing the game and are shocked when an adult Alan pops out of it – having lived the last 20 or 30 years inside the jungle game.  They finish the game, and it returns everyone to not only where they came from but when they came from – giving Alan the opportunity to live his life.

In this update/reboot/sequel, a man finds the game while jogging and takes it home to his son, Alex, in 1996.  Not interested in board games, Alex tosses it aside to play his video games.  Jumani – in what I can only assume is a fit of rage from being tossed aside – transforms into a video game.  Alex picks it up the next morning to play it, and is sucked into the video game. 

Years later, in 2017, four high school kids have breakfast-clubbed their way into detention and while cleaning out the basement, find the Jumanji video game in a box labeled “donations”.   Fridge is the football star, Spencer is the smart nerd, Bethany is the self-absorbed pretty girl, and Martha is the smart, driven student. To pass the time, they pick up the video game and begin to play – each choosing an avatar, but noticing there is one that cannot be chosen – indicating it is already in play.  They get sucked into the game, and take the form of the avatars they chose.

Fridge becomes the zoologist Franklin Finbar, Spencer becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse, and Bethany becomes Professor Sheldon Oberon.  They quickly realize what happened, that they each have three lives, and that they each have special skills. 
Working out the goals of the game, they learn how to use their skills and their teamwork to get a jewel back from the evil Russel Van Pelt and return it to the ‘jaguar’s eye’ in the center of the game.  Along the way, they meet up with the fifth player – Seaplane McDonough who is Alex, and has been in the game for 20 years, living in a shelter originally built by Alan Parrish (Robin Williams’s character) when he was trapped in the game.  Eventually (spoiler alert), they return the jewel, and free themselves – returning Alex to when he was taken.  They each learn to be a little bit better of a person after their adventures.

This version is directed by Jake Kasdan, who is known for more comedies (Orange County, Bad Teacher, Walk Hard, Sex Tape).  It is certainly very funny in parts, and shooting in Hawaii makes it look phenomenal.  I will say that since it has a very ‘Uncharted’ type – vibe, video-game-wise, I felt that it missed some opportunities with the game aspect.  It could have had all the AI characters less colorful, with only the items and the people you are allowed to interact with in full color – something that is used in many games.  There were a few other items like that where they could have really upped the gaming aspect of the movie – but it certainly doesn’t suffer from not doing that.  The point of the movie is the interaction between the cast.
  • Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson plays Dr. Smolder Bravestone and does an amazing job of portraying a smart, tiny, video-game-loving nerd inside the body of the Rock.  He’s thrilled with finding out his skills and the body he ended up in, so much so that he hesitates on ending the game, not sure he wants to go back to his own body.  The Rock is skilled at action comedy, and he’s wonderful here.

  • Kevin Hart plays Franklin Finbar, and is equally wonderful as a guy who is used to being huge and powerful and is now frustratingly trapped inside the body of Kevin Hart – and is really just Bravestone’s weapon-carrying sidekick. The relationship between Hart and the Rock is fantastic and honestly, I would watch them in almost anything.

  • Karen Gillan is also exceptional at comedy and I’m happy she’s getting to do more of it (if you didn’t watch Selfie – Hulu that now).  As the timid Martha trapped in the kick-ass body of Ruby Roundhouse, she gets to find her own power as she pummels her way through the game, and also ironically gets taught a lesson in being judgemental from Bethany.  Also – I really loved her outrage at the impractical, skimpy video-game girl outfit that Ruby is wearing.

  • Jack Black is fabulous as the pretty, popular girl trapped in Jack Black’s body.  He manages to make Bethany – who starts out completely unlikeable – interesting and layered as she starts to bond with Martha and explain a bit why she is the way she is. 

  • Nick Jonas plays Seaplane McDonough, and does a great job of being shocked to learn that he’s been in the game for 20 years, but also rejuvenated at the opportunity to finally get out.

  • Booby Cannavale plays Russel Van Pelt, who is really just video-game-evil-bad-guy. He’s great, creepy, weird, and entertaining. 

  • Rhys Darby plays Nigel Billingsley, an AI character who is essentially around to explain the plot and goals to the playing characters. But he does so with great charm.

  • Alex Wolff plays Spencer, Madison Iseman plays Bethany, Ser’Darius Blain plays Fridge, and Morgan Turner plays Martha.  These four have just a few scenes, but they do a good job setting up their characters and showing the growth at the end.

Overall the movie is charming, fun, and action packed.  The cast looks like they are having a blast playing these roles, and that really does help make the movie more entertaining. There are a lot of really funny scenes – and those are mostly with cast talking to one another.  This is definitely at movie that would have benefitted from outtakes over the end credits.  Here’s hoping the BluRay is filled with those!

7 out of 10  - Great family fun.
Cast Interviews:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Movie Review: Molly’s Game (R- 140 minutes)

I am not usually a fan of ‘based-on-a-true-story’ Oscar-y type movies, but I have to say – I really enjoyed this one.  Molly’s Game is based on a book of the same name, which is an auto-biography by Molly Bloom.  The sub-title of the book is “The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World.” Molly herself talked Aaron Sorkin into doing the movie, and after meeting her, he agreed to not only write the movie, but also direct it.  She also requested Jessica Chastain to play her, and once Chastain agreed, the movie started falling into place.

The story starts in the early 2002, Molly was ranked the number three female Moguls skier in the United States, and was on her way to qualifying for the Olympics that year in Salt Lake City.  Her father was a psychology professor and her mother was her coach.  Molly was ready, but had a freak accident on the slopes, resulting in a horrific crash that complicated results of a surgery she had already had on her spine. It shifted her plan for her life, which had been Olympics, then law school – so, in order to refresh herself before starting law school, she headed out to Los Angeles for some sun.
While out in L.A., her father refused to help her financially, so she started working as an assistant to a real estate agent who eventually asked her to help out with his weekly poker game.  Molly researched everything having to do with the game, and eventually worked up to ‘running’ the game.  When the real estate guy inevitably fired her, she was ready – and took his list of rich and famous friends to host a game in a hotel in L.A.  There, “player X” an unnamed movie star (rumor has it the character is meant to be Tobey Maguire), assists her by bringing in wealthier people for him to play with and win from.  When the bottom falls out, he pulls the game away from her, and she moves to New York to start again. 

When Molly was running games in Los Angeles, she was very careful to never break the law, she paid taxes on the tips she received for running the games, so stayed very legal.  Once she moved to New York - that changed.  She started taking a ‘rake’, which seems to be a percentage of the pot in order to cover any losses by big players.  She started taking drugs to stay up all night, and eventually got in with the Russian mob, as they started attending her games, without her knowledge. 

She ends up going to a lawyer to get some assistance after the FBI raids one her games and arrests most of her employees.  He works through her story and in spite of himself, ends up on her side.  He encourages her to take a deal to lessen what could be her sentence by ‘selling out’ the big names that played at her games, but she refuses, not wanting to compromise their privacy. 

As with any Aaron Sorkin written movie, the dialogue is fast paced, witty, and entertaining.  The movie is mostly people standing around and talking about poker, which is not something I find that interesting, but the way it is written and shot really draw you in to the story.  Like the lawyer, you find yourself on Molly’s side, even if you originally did not intend to be. The cast shines because the writing allows them to do so:

  • Jessica Chastain really carries the movie as Molly.  Even at the moments when Molly is at her most arrogant and unlikable, Chastain finds a way to keep her relatable.  It really is an amazing performance.

  • Idris Elba plays the lawyer, Charlie Jaffey, and from what I understand about the original meetings between Bloom and Sorkin, his character asks a lot of the same questions of Chastain’s character that Sorkin asked the real Bloom.  Elba is quietly confident – the accent is a little curious, but his determination to do the right thing for his client is impressive.

  • Kevin Costner was the real surprise for me. He seems to just be getting better.  As Molly’s father, Larry, he is very hard and judgemental, and has very little screen time.  He shows up just when she is at her lowest, and in about a ten minute scene where he gives her ‘three years of therapy in three minutes’ brought me to tears.

  • Michael Cera plays Player X, and if it was Tobey Maguire in real life – you can absolutely believe it from his performance.  Smarmy and superior, he’s fine when he’s on Molly’s side, but the instant he turns on her, he completely trashes her.

  • Chris O’Dowd plays Douglas Downey, a regular at Molly’s New York game who helps her unknowingly get involved with the Russian mafia, and then is the one who gets her raided by the FBI.

  • Jeremy Strong plays Dean Keith, who seems to be a fictionalized version of the real-life Darin Feinstein, a co-owner of the Viper Room where Tobey Maguire first started the poker games.  He’s just terrible, treating Molly as useless and only there to do what he wants.

  • Graham Greene plays Judge Foxman who gets Molly’s case and actually has one of the most interesting bits in the movie, with very little screen time.

Overall, the movie was really interesting and really well-crafted. The performances were wonderful, and I am eager to see if it wins anything!  Definitely check it out – you don’t necessarily have to see it in a theater, but I think you’ll find it interesting.

7 out of 10 – Gained points for Idris Elba, and for Kevin Costner being a great actor?!?
Bonus - cast interviews!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (PG13 – 152 minutes)

Let me say up front – I loved this movie.  If you did too – great!  If you didn’t, that’s cool too! 

I’m not going to give you any intensive backstory on Star Wars, honestly you know what you need.  The first one was actually episode IV, and was released in 1977, written by George Lucas.  He completed his original trilogy with Episode V in 1980, and Episode VI in 1983.  He then went back and added three prequels starting in 1999.  Star Wars has an incredibly passionate fan base, of which I am a member (I have just shy of a dozen Star Wars-related tattoos).  I have read a lot of the expanded universe novels – both the old ones that are no longer canon and the new ones that are. J.J. Abrams released Episode VII: The Force Awakens in 2015, and this one is by Rian Johnson.  In between we got our first ‘stand-alone’ Star Wars story with Rogue One, which was essentially Episode 3.75 and was outstanding.

This movie picks up right where the previous edition left off.  The Resistance, now in panic mode thanks to the First Order destroying most of the New Republic at the end of the previous movie, has been tracked to their base and is escaping right out from under the nose of the First Order, led by General Hux.  Rey, having left the resistance at the end of the previous movie with the blessing of General Leia Organa, follows the map they found to Ahch-To, where Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is hiding, having gone into self-exile (what is it with fallen Jedi Masters and self-exile?).
From this point forward – I’m giving you a spoiler warning, because to really get into what I loved, and what I didn’t, I do have to discuss story points.  So, Spoiler Alert!  Seriously, see it first, then read this.

When Luke does take his father’s lightsaber from Rey, (which is the one he first got from Old Ben Kenobi, and lost in the lightsaber fight in Cloud City and Maz Kanata had in a trunk in her castle), he looks at it, and promptly tosses is carelessly over his shoulder and off a cliff.  That gives you a quick sense of what this movie is all about, in the best possible way.  He’s serious about sticking with his self-exile, and doesn’t want to help Rey. She has Chewbacca knock down his door, and informs him of Han’s death, but still he doesn’t want to help.  After much persuasion, he finally agrees to give her three lessons.
Meanwhile, The Resistance realizes that the First Order can track them through lightspeed – and they are attacked after their next jump.  Kylo Ren hops in his ship, and sensing Leia on the bridge of her cruiser, doesn’t blast it – but his wingman definitely does.  This results in her getting blasted into space with the majority of the bridge crew. She uses the force to save herself, but remains unconscious, so Vice Admiral Holder takes command, and preps the Resistance to keep running as they burn fuel – which doesn’t sit well with hotshot fighter Poe Dameron.  He listens to Finn and Rose Tico tell him about a plan to get on board Supreme Leader Snoke’s Dreadnaught to disable the tracking – the three of them touch base with Maz Kanata – she tells them they need a master codebreaker, and they can find one in a casino on Canto Bight, so Rose and Finn head there to find said codebreaker.

Luke gives Rey a couple of lessons, between which she is having weird telepathic communication sessions with Kylo Ren.  He expresses some frustration to her, and she yells at him.  He gives her one account of what happened when he destroyed the Jedi temple – while Luke gives her another version.  Luke confesses he did think about killing him, but wasn’t going to, but Kylo is convinced he was about to be killed and acted to save himself.  Rey finds a weird hole/cave on Luke’s island/former Jedi temple that she goes into to face herself, and doesn’t really find the answers she is looking for – while Luke encounters a former teacher of his own, reminding him that he should let the past go.

Rose and Finn do not find the codebreaker they are looking for, get captured, but then get free with the assistance of another mysterious codebreaker named DJ, and some kids who are tending to a stable full of fathiers – or space horses. They get back to the fleet – and break into the dreadnaught to shut down the tracking device. Holdo preps the evacuation transports to run from the large cruiser, which Poe has an issue with, to the point of mutiny.  Rose and Finn are unsuccessful, Rey heads to face Kylo – leading to all of them on the Dreadnaught while the fleet makes a break for the nearby planet of Crait, which used to be a rebel outpost.  Snoke reveals he was aware of all of this, and gets lippy with Rey, leading to an incredible action sequence where Kylo and Rey battle (not each other) in Snoke’s throne room while Finn and Rose have to fight their way out of the ship with the assistance of BB8. Meanwhile, Holdo goes down with the cruiser in an incredibly spectacular way, so that the resistance can make it to the planet. 
This leads to the final battle scene you’ve seen in the trailers, with the larger walkers attacking the fortress while the rebels attempt to counterattack, just as Luke shows up to assist.  The resistance makes an escape, with Rey, Finn, Poe, and Rose looking to lead them in the future as the First Order recognizes a new Supreme Leader in Kylo Ren.

I liked the Force Awakens well enough, I enjoyed all the new characters, but honestly felt like I expected everything that happened in that movie.  This movie caught me completely unaware. I did not know what was going to happen next, or where the story was going to turn. And just when I thought I did – the story did something else.  The new characters got far more to do here, and really came into their own. The legacy characters were elevated to a level they deserved.  In particular, I loved the complete toss away of the two huge leftover questions from Force Awakens: 
Who is Snoke? It doesn’t matter. He was set up to be the huge big bad in the previous movie, and here, he’s disposed of fairly quickly, and is used as a tool to establish Kylo Ren as the new big bad – and also, clarify that he is now completely irredeemable. The Force Awakens left some question as to whether he could be ‘saved’ or brought back to the light side – after this movie, nope. 

Second question: Who are Rey’s parents?  It doesn’t matter – they’re either someone or no one. Kylo says they are just junk dealers on Jakku who sold her for drinking money – and that could be true or he could be attempting to manipulate her.  At first, I was a little disappointed with that, I did want her to be related to the legacy characters in some way – but, after “letting go of the past”, and realizing the Force can manifest in anyone, I really loved that turn.  Rey doesn’t need a fancy bloodline as an excuse to be powerful – she simply is powerful in and of her own right – which is wonderful. 
I loved seeing Leia use her force powers, but I wasn’t thrilled about her waking up floating in space and zooming herself back into the ship. I would have preferred her using a force bubble to protect the bridge as it was exploding – but hey, I’ll take it. I loved Luke’s character – his grumpy brokenness at the beginning, and his confident coolness at the end. His moment of saying goodbye to Leia, reminding her that those we lose are never far from us was incredibly touching. I loved the scene of him stepping out to face the entire first order by himself, and simply brushing off his shoulder after Kylo fires every single gun he has at him. 

I enjoyed the scenes in the casino – but I wasn’t happy they dared to go to a casino in the Star Wars universe and Lando Calrissian was not there. You know he would own that place by now. 
Yes, the story overall is a bit of a downer - hell, by the end, the resistance seems to be down to just enough folks to fill the Falcon, barely, but it does end with hope.  Since Finn, Rose, and BB8’s side mission really ends up not working and having almost no bearing on the story, some have argued it was unnecessary, but I enjoyed it. I liked those two characters, and I liked them having an adventure together. I enjoyed the introduction of the stable kids, who come back in at the very end of the movie.  I’m not thrilled that we seem to have seen the end of Captain Phasma? I sure hope she’s back in some way, but I can’t imagine how.  I love the Porgs. I really loved all the creatures in this one, the fathiers, the crystal foxes (vulptex), but the Porgs are especially silly and wonderful.

I loved the overall message of moving forward, and that the force can and exist for anyone.  The last scene of the movie is the stable kids telling the story to each other, and when one goes out to sweep, he force-pulls the broom to his hand, just before looking out to the skies with hope.  Johnson did an incredible job of taking what was built before he came to the table – looking at it, and then making an exceptionally new story in the framework that was there – being unafraid to tear down that framework if necessary. It was ballsy, for sure.  Visually, the movie is stunning, the space battles are astounding, and the planets are lovely – especially Crait at the end with its dusting of white salt on top of the brilliant red mineral underneath – resulting in blood-red trails anytime someone disturbs the surface. The costumes were exceptional – no, I don’t know why Holder is wearing an evening gown in battle – but man, what a gown!  The look was great, the story, was great, but the cast blew me away.
  • Mark Hamill was the heart and soul of the original trilogy.  Where the others were uninvolved, and a little bit uninterested – Hamill was the one who knew the potential of Star Wars, and committed to doing what he could to pushing that potential as high as possible.  Here, he gets to do things we never expect from Luke – including milk a crazy sea-cow type thing, and then drink it (a scene both hilarious and disturbing). He also gets to explain why he is so afraid of continuing the Jedi order, but then realize that it will go on without him, and so give Rey what he can. Hamill’s performance shifts from one end of the spectrum to another, with every moment feeling honest and believable. He’s exceptional, and is finally getting the recognition he has always deserved.

  • Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Leia is strong and confident – even in the face of incredible losses.  I loved that she kept hope through the entire movie until just at the end – which only lasts for a moment, until Luke shows up to restore it. She’s as sassy as she has ever been, and the costuming was incredible. I will say that I felt nervous the entire movie – expecting her to be killed off at some point since Carrie Fisher is no longer with us, but I am grateful she makes it through – I like the idea of Leia at large in the galaxy, fighting injustice with an attitude.

  • Adam Driver plays Kylo Ren, and has more to do in this movie than just be a whiny bitch.  He was loosely defined in the previous film, but here – after eliminating everything tying him to the past, he can now truly become the evil and power he was meant to be.  He was creepy and almost-convincing while communicating with Rey.

  • Daisey Ridley plays Rey, and she is just getting better and better. She is determined to get what she needs from Luke, and when he won’t help her – she searches elsewhere.  Her revelation at the end of the movie as the force-source of hope for the resistance going forward just makes me excited for what comes next.

  • John Boyega plays Finn, and again has more to do this time.  His character continues to evolve, building his hatred of the First Order and his determination to do what he can to fight against it. I really enjoyed his building relationship with Rose as well.

  • Kelly Marie Tran plays Rose, and after the trauma of losing her sister in the opening battle of the movie, she sticks by Finn’s side to try to do what she can to assist the Resistance in its fight against the First Order.  She helps him realize that not everything is black and white, and that there are shades of gray in war – with profiteers on both sides.

  • Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron, and he’s a little more annoying in this movie – if he would just listen to orders, but no – he feels like he knows best and gets upset when those in charge won’t tell him every little piece of his plan. His heart’s in the right place, but sheesh – you don’t know everything dude.

  • Andy Serkis plays Snoke, and no – you really get no answers on who he is, where he came from, or what his plans are – and really, that’s fine.  He’s a storytelling device used to solidify the evil of Kylo Ren, and I like that.

  • Domhnall Gleeson plays General Hux, and he’s just there to be the egotistical leader of the First Order. I don’t get tired of seeing him get belittled and beaten.

  • Gwendoline Christie plays Captain Phasma, and she gets an awesome fight with Finn, but it’s not enough.

  • Laura Dern plays Vice Admiral Holdo, and I appreciated how she was a bit mysterious at first – can we trust her, or not?  By the end, she proved herself to be an incredibly capable military leader who was not taking crap from anyone. Also – she hyperdrives her ship through the dreadnaught in one of the coolest scenes ever.  Just awesome.

  • Benicio del Toro plays DJ, and seems mostly useless. Maybe he’ll return?

Overall, yes, you should see it – the action should please even non-fans. Yes, there’s a lot of noise from folks about how it’s “too different”, but those are the same folks who complained that the Force Awakens was “too similar”.  Look – it’s a new Star Wars movie, and you can form your own opinion about it.  I loved it, I loved the theme of letting go and focusing on moving forward – as well as the theme that you don’t have to be anyone special to do the right thing when it matters, and step into the heroic moment that presents itself.

10 out of 10 – took off a half point for no Lando, but gave it back for the porgs.

Bonus!  The LAMBCast discussing Last Jedi !