Black Panther: Review and Analysis

Production Aesthetics – 9/10 Tribal African inspired sets and costumes are eclectic, but effective, and always visually interesting. This film is superior in aesthetic value to the majority of superhero flicks, presenting things that are rooted in the familiar, yet unfamiliar, as opposed to Thor, which is much more fantastical compared to the Norse aesthetics that supposedly inspired it.   Cinematography and Special Effects – 8/10 The special effects are generally very effective, but there are plenty of seams to be found within the impressive visuals, from odd-looking war rhinos to CG stuntmen that look more like dull plastic than…

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review (No spoilers)

I put this review out on YouTube the day of release, but I haven’t been keeping up with dvspress except for fiction (lately, at least), so in case you missed it, here is my spoiler-free consumer-focused review of  Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.


Basic Breakdown:

Production total – 8.7/10

Aesthetics: 9/10 – Delivers the OT aesthetics in sharp detail, use of specific colors is effective.

Effects: 9/10 – Excellent CG and cinematic effects. The movie is comparable to the prequels fidelity if a bit less baroque and unconvincing with some of the cg characters.

Sound design (abstain) – The theater was not set up properly and the sound peaked constantly, but I think the sound design was likely a great improvement over the Force Awakens.

Cinematography – 8/10 – The cinematography was good, and generally shots were well-edited and showed the action clearly, though even at two-and-a-half hours the editing felt a little too tight. A descent iteration of contemporary editing strategies.

Story Total – 3/10

Characters/Acting: 4/10 – Andy Serkis and Mark Hamill deliver strong, convincing performances that take up too little screen time. Every other performance was bad, and was accentuated by terrible dialogue, missed humor (and indeed humor that was wildly out of place in a Star Wars film), and poor casting. None of the characters act in a normal, human way, and all the characters lack any sort of consistent moral beliefs. The female characters, in particular, were offensively incompetent and bitchy stereotypes, clearly made by a gamma male who doesn’t believe in the feminism he is trying to portray.

Plot: 2/10 – Nothing in the plot makes sense in the greater Star Wars universe, or especially with the setups of The Force Awakens. Nihilism is the main theme, probably unintentionally, as Rian Johnson is clearly incapable of understanding basic moral action, virtues, or common sense. A large portion of the movie (~45 minutes) is completely pointless, undermines the mcguffin of the movie (The First Order can track through lightspeed, and yet characters lightspeed away to have a jaunt in a casino planet). The entire plot would have been avoided had any character acted like a normal, well-adjusted human being.

General Effect – 2/10

Aside from a few “Star Wars” moments, the movie is a disaster and an insult to fans. Rian Johnson, with one single work, sweeps away decades of world-building in the Star Wars universe. The hero of the Original Trilogy, Luke Skywalker, is revealed to be a villainous, cowardly and pathetic human. The mystery boxes of Force Awakens are used to insult fans by making fun of them waiting for reveals that would make the nonsense of the previous movie make sense. In a break of the fourth wall, a character tells the audience to “let the past die, kill it if you have to,” essentially telling them off for being fans or being attached to older Star Wars movies. New Force powers are pulled out pockets at will as gotchas, with no prior vision of them in earlier movies and no explanation of how any character learned them.

Rey, the Mary Sue of the first movie, is at the end of the movie able to surpass Luke in every way, including beating him in a duel, having just learned about the force a week prior (as this movie takes place right after TFA).

The entire affair is deeply insulting and I believe will harm the long-term value of the franchise.

Final Score: 4.5/10

I recommend this movie for people who want a cinematic special effects experience with Star Wars aesthetics, but don’t care at all for a good story and generally don’t have an attachment to Star Wars in general.


Needle Ash – Chapter 7, “Knives of Darkness” part 2

Back to Contents “What now?” Michael said as they walked back, raising his voice to carry over the sound of shouts and claps, spears on shields, and the sounding of war horns. They entered a vast stretch between the first formations, waving. General Butler stood waiting for them in his full armor, and his visor up. He wore a smile that wrinkled his old face further. “We drink and be merry,” Edward said. “We’ll leave three companies on guard at all times, still, for their could still be betrayal or, more likely misbehavior in the ranks.” “A little tolerance will…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 7, “Knives of Darkness” part 1

Chapter 7: Knives of Darkness   Sharona pushed herself closer to Michael as the center of the mattress sagged on its tired ropes, threatening to smother her. Their faces were so close that they could no longer see each other as more than a blur. The muffled sounds of passions pressed just as hard as the mattress, and Michael had to give out a whispered groan. Sharona breathed in Michael’s ear, “This is what you intended, was it not?” “I didn’t expect it to go so quickly.” “She’s apparently very good at her work.” “That remains to be seen… or…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 6: The King and the Queen, part 2

Back to Contents “Proof even a fool can do something right,” King Edward said as they trotted back to camp. “Your outburst might have put a seal on this ceding of territory.” “What?” Michael said. “You’re not seriously considering having Johan marry that woman, are you?” The king chuckled. “He would, if I said so, for I am his king, and we would still gain a kingdom. As consort he would have the real power anyway, being a man and a military leader.” He looked to Johan. “Sounds interesting, eh?” “Most definitely.” “What about Julia?” Michael said. “Michael,” Johan said…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 6: The Queen and the King, part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 6: The Queen and the King Michael stood beside his horse, putting on his gloves. He wore a colorful doublet of blue and green, a fine set of satin trousers and his riding boots which, as he had neglected to bring formal shoes, were shined with cooking oil as per Guissali’s suggestion. He watched the pavilion tent in front of the gates having its final stakes hammered in. It was as neutral a location as could be managed; just beyond reasonable firing range from the city walls and equally far from the fortifications of the Artilland…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 5: Ferralla, part 2

Back to Contents “It was necessary,” Michael said. “I didn’t say anything,” Sharona said. The were riding out past the Ferrallese army encampment, their troops having left it abandoned save for a few cowardly men who refused to bar the way forward. “The look on your face said that you didn’t care for our dispatchment of the captain.” “I don’t believe it was the only solution, ‘tis true,” Sharona said. “I broke his leg so we would not have to kill him. Otherwise I would have done something to simply kill him quickly.” “If we didn’t kill him, the army…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 5: Ferralla, part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 5: Ferralla   The sun was shining brightly on the plain as Michael, Sharona, and the handful of servants and guards they had brought worked their way slowly down from the rocky pass separating Ferralla and Artalland. The sparse dry oaks on the leeward side of the mountain were little shelter, and soon everyone in the party was loosening collars and removing jackets to cool off. Langelo came riding awkwardly toward them from up the road, his horse (borrowed from one of Michael’s retainers, who slept happily in the wagon) second-guessing his commands and turning this…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 4: Turns, part 2

Back to Contents “Are we even now?” Michael said. He had let Calot follow the road at his own leisure, but the beast had chosen to walk beside Rabble-Rouser, Sharona’s claimed destrier. Neither of them had spoken to each other yet. The morning had worn on, a light grey rain falling on the traveling cloaks that obscured the face of each, making the silence tolerable for longer than Michael had expected. “You’re quite a bit taller than me, actually,” Sharona said  at length, her face hidden in the heavy wool of her cloak and her head unturned. Michael shook his…

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Needle Ash – Chapter 4: Turns, part 1

Back to Contents Chapter 4: Turns   Michael’s boots echoed in the gallery, washing his ears with sound as his eyes took in the familiar sights of the citadel, fresh and sharp amid the churning worry in his stomach. Great windows of colored glass stood high above, drowning the hallway in warm light. He passed by the portraits and statues of his ancestors, tributaries to the great river that was his family’s passage through time. The Third Dominion had grown its order and passed away, the Divine Empire had been shattered irreparably, and yet the house of Harthino and their…

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