Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Remember these names: Jyn Erso, Galen Erso, Captain Cassian Andor, Saw Gerrera, Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Îmwe, Baze Malbus and K-2SO. These names must be remembered because without these courageous and tenacious individuals who banded together to become a formidable team in the face of great danger, the Star Wars universe as we know it may be what it is now.


Image by LucasFilm and 20th Century Fox

The Rebel Alliance has caught word that the Galactic Empire is in development of a super weapon capable of destroying an entire planet and they recruit Jyn Erso, a rebel fighting her own fight, to gather intel on this super weapon because they have reason to believe that her father, Galen, is the architect of this weapon. Jyn aligns herself with Captain Andor and his droid companion K-2SO to find answers and perhaps a weakness to this super weapon before the Empire unleashes it and wreaks havoc upon the galaxy.

In order to give the Rebel Alliance a fighting chance against this devastating terror, Jyn, Andor and a small band of rebels embark on a dangerous recon mission to steal the battle plans of the Empire’s Death Star and deliver them to the Rebels in the hopes of finding a weakness to exploit. This is the plot of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

My love and admiration for the Star Wars franchise goes back to my childhood and that love and admiration still goes strong to this day. I’ve been anticipating Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ever since I’ve heard that it was in development because I found this concept of this story fascinating because it’s so pivotal to the original canon and I could not be more satisfied with the finished product; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is definitely the real deal!

My hat’s off to director Gareth Edwards and the screenwriting tandem of Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy for not only introducing new characters in a story that positions itself to well to the iconic first film but for tying in so many memorable faces and moments that are so key to A New Hope; Rogue One is fun, it’s smart, it genuinely gets into the heart of what the Star Wars franchise truly is: a war drama/underdog story where it sends a message that even a small force with enough fight in them can overpower a bully and as a fan of the Star Wars franchise, I can say that Rogue One sets the stage beautifully for the original trilogy while tying in a few aspects from the prequel series as well as borrow from other branches such as the animated television series.

If you are a fan of a diverse cast, than Rogue One definitely comes through in a big way with rock-solid performances across the board! Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, all very good. I was also pleased that the film brought back James Earl Jones to lend his voice once again to the greatest film villain of all time but I was awestruck that Rogue One took the liberty to digitally resurrect Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin and restore another character to surprise audiences at the end of the film-I won’t say whom!

Michael Giacchino came in at the last minute to score this movie and he did a fine job in my opinion. I think John Williams would be proud for what he managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Greig Fraser’s cinematography was up to par for what you could expect in a Star Wars flick, John Gilroy, Colin Goudie and Jabez Olssen’s editing was clean and transitioned seamlessly from frame to frame, Doug Chiang and Neil Lamont’s production design was fine, the makeup and costumes were eye-catching, the visual effects were top marks, this was technically well-assembled and the execution demonstrated that.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a movie that is probably destined to be the highest grossing film of 2016 and it is definitely a movie that is not to be missed. Take my word for it when I say that the Force is assuredly with this movie!


Movies of the Week: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and La La Land

Two of my most anticipated films of the year finally arrive in theaters this week and if the rumblings I’ve heard are true, I’m in for a very good week. First, let’s go back to a galaxy far, far away. We know about how the plans for the Empire’s ultimate fell into the hands of a young boy who worked on his uncle’s moisture farm by means of two droids but do we really know how? The spotlight will shine on a ragtag team of rebels undertaking a dangerous mission to steal the plans for the original Death Star to deliver to the Rebel Alliance in the hopes of creating an ultimate weapon of their own: hope. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story finally arrives into theaters!

Director: Gareth Edwards

Screenwriter: Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy

Cast: Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Wen Jiang, Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O’Reilly, Forest Whitaker and the voice of James Earl Jones.

What am I expecting to see?: Truthfully, I’m more hyped for this movie than I was for The Force Awakens because the plot for this film is more engaging to me than the continuation for the episodic installments. I hope that Rogue One is more engaging to me than The Force Awakens because this movie details the events that set the original Star Wars trilogy into motion and I want to believe that the Force is strong with this picture.

The next film that I hope to see this weekend is of interest to me because Damien Chazelle made one of the best films I’ve seen in years. The acclaimed writer and director of Whiplash has a new picture that is set to soundtrack of a completely original musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, portraying a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress. La La Land has been poised as the film to beat in many awards circuits and the opportunity has finally presented itself to me, to judge what the fools who dream can do.

Director: Damien Chazelle

Screenwriter: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, J.K. Simmons, Jason Fuchs, Finn Wittrock, Josh Pence and Rosemarie DeWitt.

What am I expecting to see?: This has looked like the film to beat for some time now and it was showered in glory at the Critics Choice Awards as well as the Golden Globe nominations (which I will post shortly) and by God, this looks absolutely gorgeous! Damien Chazelle blew me away with Whiplash, I hope that La La Land lives up to my own lofty expectations.

Review: Doctor Strange

If the final superhero feature of 2016 had a mission to enchant audiences with its star-studded cast and dazzling psychedelic kaleidoscope visual effects, then Doctor Strange succeeded in its intent.


Image by Marvel Studios

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as a smug neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange who thinks he has all the answers until a car wreck shatters his livelihood. He discovers a way to restore the use of his hands not through medicine, but through the mystic arts when he travels to Tibet and meets a sect of sorcerers led by a mysterious being called The Ancient One, who expands the concepts of his reality by introducing him to other realities beyond his wildest dreams.

I was excited about the cast of this movie because Doctor Strange is perhaps one of the most talented cast of actors Marvel has ever put together. Unfortunately these actors, I felt were way too big for these roles and the performances of Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams, are adequate, the actors themselves were way too big for these characters, who barely scratch the surface of their comic counterparts.

Director Scott Derrickson with screenwriters Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill did what they could to make Doctor Strange as much of an enjoyable Marvel Studios experience as possible and as far as the film goes visually, it is worthwhile however the writing of Doctor Strange feels forced; the characters are rendered weak and one-dimensional because they are part of a plot that doesn’t elevate them, that tries too hard to be funny in some places and the action itself is fleeting.

I will say though that the plot, though shallow, does enough to establish the title character is this ever expanding Marvel Universe but ultimately, I was uncomfortable watching Doctor Strange; maybe it was the seat I selected due to this stupid “select-a-seat” option when I bought my ticket but Doctor Strange just felt awkward to me while I was watching it.

Visually and technically, I think Doctor Strange was aces. Ben Davis’ cinematography and Sabrina Pilsco and Wyatt Smith’s editing worked very well in this film, I particularly liked the time loop sequences with the apple and Dormmamu, those were very clever. The kaleidoscope visual effects were dazzling; watching the mirror dimensions distort and bend the streets of New York almost induced a vertigo episode in me; I’d recommend seeing this film in 3D.

I also liked the costumes of Alexandra Byrne and the makeup for making the characters look as close to their comic counterparts as possible. Michael Giacchino’s music did what it could to give this picture as much dimension as possible but it somehow faded to the background because the visuals took the appeal of this movie more than anything else.

I wanted Doctor Strange to wow me and the formula to do so was there and yet I wasn’t practically impressed. Looking back, I think Doctor Strange was all smoke and mirrors and no substance.

What’s disappointing is that this is the last superhero spectacle of 2016 and in my summation, the superhero features of 2016 were all bombs, except one and that one reached heights only a select few in its genre could. Doctor Strange is supposed to be a sorcerer, a master of magic but in order for magic to work, a degree of deception is necessary and I could read the spells of Doctor Strange as easily as I could read a traffic sign.

There was no deceptions or secrets or surprises that Doctor Strange had to offer me and I think that this is a cinematic equivalent to a parlor trick. There was nothing even remotely supreme about this sorcerer or how this film was put together and while it is fun to look at, the results leave me resolute in the idea that Doctor Strange could have been a lot better considering the parties involved in the production and the audience as well.

Movies of the Week: Doctor Strange, Loving and Hacksaw Ridge

Yes you read the header of this post correct! I believe that this will be the first time, I will cover three films in one weekend on this blog and I will provide reviews on all of them! Buckle up everyone because this November is going to be packed with some of my most anticipated films of the year, not to mention potential contenders for next year’s Oscars are going to be out in full force and the start of November begins with a BANG!

Esteemed-yet-arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange suffers a calamity of a personal nature and travels to the ends of the Earth to remedy his pain but the world of science cannot help him. At his lowest point, he opens himself to the mystic arts to awaken his true potential and he becomes pivotal to defending the world as he knows it from a maniacal necromancer. Doctor Strange finally arrives in theaters this weekend!

Director: Scott Derrickson

Writer: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg and Benjamin Bratt.

Expectations: This installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is visually delirious and features a star-studded cast! I have high expectations.

My second featured film for this week is a historically groundbreaking tale that has forever altered the landscape of American society. Many years ago, it was considered unconstitutional and perhaps immoral for people of different races to cohabitate as man and wife and yet Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter joined together in the bonds of matrimony and when word spread about their marriage, society was quick to dub their action as a scandal yet they did nothing wrong. Loving is a true story about two people who changed the world by simply falling in love in the face of societal adversity.

Director: Jeff Nichols

Writer: Jeff Nichols

Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Martin Csokas, Michael Shannon and Chris Green.

Expectations: This movie has the makings of a genuine Oscar contender if the story is captured as tenderly as the trailer suggests.

The third and final featured film of this week is a work from Mel Gibson and follows the story of a man who became a legend during World War II without firing a single shot. Hacksaw Ridge is essentially the story of Desmond Doss, a young man who enlisted in the army to serve his country but what sets Doss apart from other soldiers is that he refused to arm himself; he joined the army to save lives and went into warzones without a weapon, earning the sneers and disrespect of his fellow soldiers but earned their respect by sheer courage, determination and the drive to save lives.

Director: Mel Gibson

Writers: Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Matt Nable and Richard Roxburgh.

Expectations: I’m hearing whispers that this could be a major player during awards season and Mel Gibson aims to deliver a powerful film. I don’t want to be disappointed.


God Bless Comic Con! Why? TRAILERS!!!

I just knew that I would be blogging something today. Didn’t know how, but I knew. At first I thought I would throw up a surprise review on Star Trek Beyond, which IMO wasn’t all that; I’m not a Trekkie, I fail to see the appeal in Star Trek but I’m being honest, fans of the franchise will get a kick out of Justin Lin’s addition to the franchise and its attempt to appease its audience with classic nostalgic tones but for those non-Trekkies like myself: meh.

In case it hasn’t dawned on you: San Diego Comic Con is underway. It is in this time where fellow nerds, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-lovers, practically people I can get along with confluence together to ooh and ahh all of the new grounds being broken in the worlds of comics, video games, television, films in the coming weeks, months or years even. You can always count on Comic Con to deliver something to wet your pop-culture appetite. While I was distracted by Star Trek Beyond, I returned home to catch up on what I’ve missed and I have missed much!

Kong: Skull Island

When Godzilla roared his mighty roar, someone at Warner Bros. and Legendary must have realized that this could be the beginning of something truly extraordinary but the creatures Godzilla faced did not pose enough of a challenge for the giant! Who could possibly stand against such a foe? The answer: KONG! An expedition led by Captain James Conrad, takes a team of explorers onto an island laden with danger and reigning over this treacherous-loaded-paradise is a creature who has existed long before the time of man but formidable and fearsome enough to hold dominion over his world and he won’t bow before anyone who dares stand in his way! Behold the trailer for Kong: Skull Island!

Kong: Skull Island is written by Max Borenstein, Derek Connelly, John Gatins and Dan Gilroy and is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The film stars Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Kong becomes King on March , 2017.

Doctor Strange

Just when I FINALLY calmed from seeing that ridiculously trippy trailer from Doctor Strange, they set this on us! I’m not complaining it looks spellbinding all the same! BY THE EYE OF AGAMOTTO ENCHANT US!

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg and Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange is written by Jon Spaiths, directed by Scott Derrickson and will land in theaters by November 4, 2016. WOW!

The LEGO Batman Movie

I confess, I regret not giving The LEGO Movie a chance while it was in theaters. It did prove to be quite the delightful adventure. The film went on to enjoy a LOT of success in 2014, and in typical Hollywood fashion success usually equals sequels or spinoffs and in The LEGO Movie’s case, both. While the sequel is a ways off, a spinoff starring one of the films most popular characters is completely put together and fans are eagerly awaiting for the unveiling of The LEGO Batman Movie.

Chris McKay is the director guy in charge of assembly, who co-wrote the film with Seth Grahame-Smith and Eric Sommers, with the assistance of Jared Stern and John Whittington. Will Arnett will lend his voice to Batman, and rounding out the cast is Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Zack Galifianakis and Mariah Carey. The LEGO Batman Movie will hit theaters with excellent reflexes on February 10, 2017.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter’s magical age has come and gone but renowned literary genius J.K. Rowling has started a new story about a new magical hero. Famous magizoologist Newt Scamander’s arrival in 1950s New York City has coincided with strange happenings within the American wizarding community and these bizarre events have involved some form of magical beast or two. Scamander must put his expertise to the test to remedy the problem before the fallout falls onto the non-magical population. This is the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is written by J.K. Rowling, directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton. A new age of magic begins on November 18, 2016.

Wonder Woman

One can say she made her long-awaited debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, many can argue that she stole the show in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Either way, whether you liked Batman v. Superman or not-I didn’t-Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a revelation and a statement; badass heroes don’t have to be men. Before she stepped back into the light in that intense battle, she had a story and this trailer is a preview of said story about how Princess Diana of Thymiscara set foot onto the world of men, guided by Steve Trevor.

Directed by Patty Jenkins and written for the screen by Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Saïd Taghmaoui and Florence Kasumba. Wonder Woman rides into battle June 2, 2017.

 Justice League

Perhaps no movie will be under no greater scrutiny than the follow-up to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Judging by this trailer, Justice League is saying and doing all of the right things but trailers have been deceiving before. Essentially, Batman is recruiting a team of meta-humans including Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This team of extraordinary individuals with great power will combat a coming threat. Justice League is coming together.

Zack Snyder directs, Chris Terrio contributes the screenplay for this superhero ensemble piece starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Henry Cavill. Justice League bows into theaters on November 17, 2017.

I have never attended Comic Con before but one day I hope to go and be a part of so much nerdgasmic excitement! Any more trailers come out, I’ll bring them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and GOD BLESS COMIC CON!

Welcome to the Realm of the Sorcerer Supreme!

Image by Marvel

A brilliant egomaniac with a gift experiences great tragedy, loses everything he holds dear and through that tragedy, he embarks on a crusade to find the hero within. Sound familiar? It should, because it sounds like a particular stalwart in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I’m not talking about Tony Stark. The man in discussion happens to be a renowned neurosurgeon named Stephen Strange. Both characters sound similar and they embark on similar paths but Stark was saved through his technology, science. Strange was saved by the science that defies explanation. The mystic arts. Magic. After months of waiting, the trailer for Doctor Strange has finally arrived.

Written by Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill and directed by Scott Derrickson, Doctor Strange sports the most star-studded cast a Marvel film has ever fielded outside of The Avengers. Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character and he is supported by Oscar nominees Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, Oscar winner Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benedict Wong, Scott Adkins and Amy Landecker. The magic and mysticism begins on November 4, 2016.

Rogue One takes Star Wars to a Darker, Violent Level

In times of war, there are no rules. All is fair. Especially in a galaxy far, far away where conflict transpired a long, long time ago. Before the rise of Luke Skywalker, before Princess Leia Organa dispatched two droids to seek a legendary Clone Wars general, the Rebellion against the Empire raged on. The Rebel Alliance glanced upon intel about a mysterious and powerful weapon that had the potential to turn the tide in the grueling conflict. A small band of soldiers was dispatched to gather more intel about this weapon, at any cost imaginable. This is the Star Wars story that set major events in the original trilogy in motion. This is the first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stars Oscar nominee Felicity Jones, Oscar Winner Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen and Diego Luna. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story battles its way into theaters on December 16, 2016.