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Reviewing the Rise of Skywalker

Over the past week and a half, I have been re-watching every Star Wars episode released (so every theatrical film minus Clone Wars, Rogue One, and Solo). Why? In a recent interview, director J.J. Abrams stated that his newest film, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, isn’t just the ending to the recent sequel trilogy, but the ending to the entirety of the Star Wars trilogies. So, okay – he’s not just trying to wrap up The Force Awakens and Last Jedi – but Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi too?

I guess the former sounded too easy to him. No, I get it – if this truly is the last one (and I think it is), then there should be some ‘full circle’ elements going on that encompass the other trilogies. So…that’s what he went for. Did he do it? Yes, but the result is not pretty and sometimes downright painful. Let’s get into it: (warning: minor spoilers)

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Toy Story 4: Pixar’s Frankenstein

Toy Story 4 Frankenstein

You know, I’m going to stop doubting Pixar when it comes to Toy Story movies. After 2, I was skeptical of 3, and after 3 – man did I not think 4 was going to be anything special. Somehow, however, Pixar has managed to defy the law of diminishing returns and Toy Story 4 is as amazing (if not more so) than its predecessors. From its characters to its dialogue to its unbelievable sense of self-awareness, Toy Story 4 is an unexpected gem.

But there’s one thing in particular I want to focus on: Walking out of the theater, I got the sense that the story was more familiar than I had initially thought. I’m not calling Toy Story 4 a rip-off, not by a long shot…but it definitely takes a lot of inspiration from a very unlikely source. When I call Toy Story 4 Pixar’s version of Frankenstein, please know that I’m not talking about Forky – well, not just about Forky.

Toy Story 4 Frankenstein
Forky is the literal creation in a movie that is all about created or “unnatural” life.

Warning: Spoilers to follow. 

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What Makes a Good Godzilla Movie?

Godzilla King of the Monsters Poster

So, when I started writing my review of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I had difficulty. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say (I can always find an excuse to share my opinion), it was that the conversation around the film changed so rapidly. I’m part of several Godzilla fan groups on social media and almost overnight I saw the tone of the conversation shift from eager excitement to guarded, sometimes pointed defense of the film. The reason? Actually – there are 177 of them. As of the time of this writing, that is the amount of negative critical reviews present of Godzilla: King of the Monsters on Rotten Tomatoes.

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