Alrighty then, since I spent all of the last post talking about our main girl, let's take a look at the men in  the cast. Particularly, Kylo Ren and Finn.

I've already mentioned how I like the direction being taken with Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) as the new main villain. He has proven to be powerful and skilled for sure but he overcompensates big time. It was almost comical for me to see him take off the mask to reveal the normal, not at all intimidating, person underneath.  From his interactions with Supreme Lord Snoke (Don't worry, I'll talk about him later) he appears to still be an apprentice so he's not matured in his ways of the force yet. He wants to be seen as a force (pun absolutely intended) to be reckoned with and respected but doesn't think his 'normal' self is good enough for that. He is getting rid of every trace of the weak, light-side 'Ben' and replacing it with what will be the all-powerful Kylo Ren.

So why did he go bad? What could have made the son and nephew of the most notorious good guys in the galaxy turn to the dark side? Part of me believes it has something to do with Kylo's insecurities. From the tantrum he throws when given bad news and the weird pep talk he has with the remains of Darth Vader, it looks like he doesn't feel adequate even though he can stop a freaking laser mid-air. So he wants to be more powerful, but why? It's evident that he no longer cares for his true family, or at least doesn't associate himself with them anymore, so protecting them (a la Anakin in Revenge of the Sith) is out. Could it be that he wants to become more powerful than someone, his Uncle Luke perhaps? Maybe he was told a twisted version of the story of Darth Vader, one where the Jedi messed everything up in his life. It's also possible that while Luke was striving to rebuild the Jedi Order he neglected Kylo in some way that made him bitter, therefore making him susceptible to the seduction of the Dark Side.

It's also possible that something happened between Return of The Jedi and Force Awakens that shook Kylo's belief in the ways of the Force. Did his parents or Luke have to make a hard decision that he didn't agree with? Maybe he feels responsible for some tragedy that occurred off-screen, though I feel that Han would've mentioned it when trying to talk him down on the Starkiller. Unless Han isn't aware of his involvement in the tragedy...there are way too many possibilities, to be honest.

No matter the reason, I guarantee that Kylo's thirst for power and control is the main reason why he's forsaken his past and turned to the Dark Side. I also predict that he wants to find Luke in order to fight and destroy him to complete his training. Think about it, Kylo killed his own father to go further to the Dark Side, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if one of the 'tests' would be to kill Luke as well. Get rid of the last Jedi (as far as we know) to destroy Light Side for good.

My guess is that Snoke somehow got a hold of Kylo and used the legacy of his grandfather, Darth Vader, to turn him to the Dark Side then fed his insecurities by promising to make him more powerful than he could ever be under the tutelage of Skywalker. From there he had to have turned on his uncle and, if Rey's flashbacks are any indication, slaughtered all of the students Luke had attempted to train. After that Luke disappeared, to hide from Kylo or from his own shame of what had happened.

As for Snoke, I'm positive that Han was right when he told Kylo that he was being used by the Supreme Leader to achieve his own agenda which is the same as what Sidious wanted, control the galaxy through the Dark Side. Snoke and Kylo have different goals in Force Awakens when you think about it. Snoke wants to destroy the last of the Resistance while Kylo wants to get the map to go after Luke. It's almost like Snoke gave Kylo an errand to keep busy while he worked on the REAL task at hand. He doesn't seem to care about the map as much as destroying the Resistance and gaining ultimate control. Now that the Starkiller has been destroyed, Snoke is going back to Kylo as a 'plan B' or fallback to achieve his goal. This makes sense to me because Snoke doesn't seem very upset at Starkiller's destruction but instead tells General Hux to find Kylo Ren so they can complete his training. Maybe the next time we see Kylo he'll be at an even crazier level of powerful!

Quick thing about Snoke: He's not Darth Plagueis, guys. I won't go into long explanation of who that is (But if you're curious HERE is the link to explain) but basically everyone thinks it's him because the music that accompanied his tale in Revenge of The Sith plays again when we see Snoke. First of all, no one in the crew seemed to even know who that character was when questioned about it at panels. Second of all, Andy Serkis, who plays him, specifically stated it was a new character in the Star Wars universe when interviewed about Snoke. Also Plagueis was killed by Sidious! We're not in the Marvel universe guys, people can't come back to life all willy-nilly in a galaxy far far away!
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With this one exception of course.
As for the flip side of turning to the Light Side, we need to talk about Finn. If you think about it, Finn starts off, not by turning from the Dark Side, but by running away from it. He gets his first taste of death and destruction and seems to realize that none of it is right, so he runs because he's seen firsthand what the First Order is capable of and it's too overwhelming for him to even think about fighting back. His arch is quite fascinating to me not only because of the transformation he makes, but because it raises so many questions about how the First Order operates.

We aren't told much about his past in the film. He reveals that he had worked primarily in the First Order's sewage system before joining the Stormtroopers, which makes his change of heart on the battlefield make sense. Supporting an ideology and enforcing it are very different things. When we first meet Finn he goes to the side of a fallen Stormtrooper who dies in front of him after smearing blood on his mask. This is his turning point. Could the fallen Stormtrooper be someone he had known? Was it a friend he had while working in sewage that wanted the chance at being a Stormtrooper, same as himself?
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And if so, how in the hell could Finn have told them apart from the others?
We get a glimpse into what being a Stormtrooper entails when Phasma tells Hux about Finn's rebellion. They pull up a holographic file of him which shows a very young boy version of Finn, which means they had trained him his whole life. Could he have been taken from his birth family? How do they recruit exactly? It wouldn't surprise me if they took tons of children from helpless planets to be used as soldiers to absorb laser fire. And up until Poe decided to call him 'Finn', he's been referred to only as FN2187. That was his name people, the only identity he might have ever known! Captain Phasma also mentions that she had planned to have Finn go through a bout of what sounds like brainwashing via First Order propoganda, so there's no doubt that this is something every officer would have to go through every day. So the First Order is a galactic version of what the Nazis were hoping to become.
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Never would have guessed, right?
She also mentions that him busting out with Poe and escaping was his first ever offense, so up until then Finn was just one of many grunts doomed to be blown up in the all-powerful space station they had to run. I can absolutely see Finn being an ignorant worker vying for the chance to become a Stormtrooper in order to defend the ideals he had been taught for as long as he could remember, only to have them shattered when he sees the real-life consequences.

While Finn had lots of humor infused with his character, I still want to see the inner turmoil of what he has gone through in the next two films. There is a lot to work with there and not all of it would need to be dark or depressing. He's coming to the 'Light Side' after all. By the end of the film he's already stopped running and fights back, even if he ended up getting his butt handed to him. Though that was an excellent use of Lightsaber for not being a Jedi. Well done, sir!

What could happen to him in the next films? I'd imagine he'd want to find Rey, as she's a big part of why he made the decisions that he did, but what else? Would he stay with the Resistance and build upon the bromance he has with Poe? He's proven to be a quick learner both behind a ship blaster and a lightsaber. Could he become a pilot? Or, dare I say, a Jedi?
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God, I hope so.
Think about it, out of all of the other Stormtroopers he just couldn't kill in the name of the First Order and while he had to use the lightsaber for self defense. I'm not saying it would be impossible for any regular Joe to pick up a lightsaber and keep himself safe, but the lightsaber is a weapon that requires lots of skill and training to use and Finn was able to keep up with one of the Knights of Ren for a while. It's said that what makes a lightsaber even more effective is a user with a strong connection to The Force. Could Finn be destined to become a Jedi like Rey? Was their meeting on Jakku more than just a coincidence?

We'll know in the next films, which we'll have to wait even longer for. In the meantime, I think I'll go watch The Force Awakens a few more times while it's in theaters.

What are your theories on the Force Awakens? Did you notice anything interesting about the film, story, or characters that I didn't mention? Write about it in the comments below!
 
 
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away....there were SPOILERS!!!!

Get ready people, the flood gates have opened!

There's so much I'd like to discuss about The Force Awakens, so let me start out by listing spoilery things I really liked about the film.

1.)  *{[]]]]],]]}={ ====================

Kylo Ren is a nice change of pace for a Star Wars baddie. When it comes to villains in the Star Wars universe, diversity is pretty scarce. Are they wearing all black, covering most if not all of their face, or have a creepy voice? Then they're a villain. There's nothing wrong with broad stroke character traits but after years of the same type of antagonist things got stale. Now Kylo Ren does have the same traits when we're introduced to him, what with wearing all black and having a mask with a voice modulator, so he hits all of the 'checks' for a Star Wars villain but something new was thrown into the recipe, personality. Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine have an intimidating presence to be sure but that's really all there was to them; they were scary and wanted to do evil things, that's it. With Kylo Ren we can see insecurity underneath the mask. Even before he reveals himself to Rey you can see that he's unpredictable and kind of a brat with how he reacts to the failure of his men and himself. He has power to be sure but he doesn't know how to control it or his feelings and boy does this kid have a lot of feelings. I felt his character added an interesting element to a tired trope and I'm anxious to see what they do with him as the sequels roll out.

2.)  [[0][0][0][:]<======================

Han and Leia's relationship wasn't a 'happily-ever-after'. The smuggler and space princess had chemistry and obvious feelings for each other in the original trilogy, but if you really take their personalities and careers into account it would make sense that things would be rocky between them. It would've been really easy for the filmmakers to show Han having settled down having become a bureaucrat working with his wife, missing the old days but being content with what he has now. That's not Han Solo. It makes total sense that they'd have fights so bad that he'd try and go back to smuggling with Chewie to have a go at reliving his glory days. You can see that they care about each other but for one reason or another it just doesn't work. Having your son turn to the dark side must put a damper on the relationship as well.

3.)  (T?[|]!!!!!!';['}|(######################

I'm glad they didn't go overboard with the references. There ARE references to the original trilogy but it didn't get to be annoying. Like when the plot to blow up the new Death Star, 'Starkiller', is realized Han only says 'How do we blow it up?' to remind the audience of what happened many years before. The reference isn't hitting us over the head, just giving us a knowing smirk.

4.)  ([[[[[]o[+-{IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID

When Rey first touches Luke's lightsaber we can hear the voices of many characters from the past speak to her. Sir Alec Guiness says her name (They took it from a sound bite of him saying the word 'Afraid') and we hear things from Yoda, a younger Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor is confirmed at having recorded dialogue for them), and a younger Luke. Whether you decide to acknowledge the existence of the prequels or not, you have to admit that including elements from them helps with the mythology surrounding a legendary object like this lightsaber

5.)  (l%%%l{O}l=[]>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The lighting is actually very clever if you take the time to notice. Watch Han Solo's death scene again and pay attention to what happens on Kylo Ren's face. It's pretty cool, trust me.

Now for the big stuff, theories! Remember, the only sure thing to take from this is that everything that I say or speculate about my very well be wrong. The whole idea behind having theories is to discuss and debate (in a friendly manner!) with other fans about what could happen next in the series and build up hype. So if you disagree with me or have something to point out, please do so (Politely!) in the comments.
Now for the big stuff, theories! Remember, the only sure thing to take from this is that everything that I say or speculate about my very well be wrong. The whole idea behind having theories is to discuss and debate (in a friendly manner!) with other fans about what could happen next in the series and build up hype. So if you disagree with me or have something to point out, please do so (Politely!) in the comments.

You want to know what's funny about all of us developing these theories? The creators don't even have a clear idea of the characters past or future. Kasdan and Abrams only wrote for the first movie, nothing else. They're handing it over to Rian Johnson who will write the next two films and direct only the second. Rian Johnson has only just decided which of our speculations will end up being correct!

One of the most common theories that keeps popping up is that Rey is the long lost child of Han or Luke. I've seen it everywhere and completely disagree. First of all, it's too obvious. Family relations have been something of a theme in the SW 'verse but discovering that everyone is the long lost relation of someone else would become boring and ridiculous very fast. From the work I've seen from Johnson, I think he's going to take a very unique route with the sequel and it probably won't be Rey being a Skywalker. But if you need more convincing I'll take you through my thought process.
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Who am I?
What do we know about Rey? We know that she is likely not originally from the desert planet Jakku, or as I like to call it 'New Tatooine'. She was dropped off their as a young child by someone we don't know and from her reaction in the flashback, this was a person that she either cared about or felt safe with. She grew up as a scavenger for ship parts, earning very little and surviving as best as one could in her position. Her traits and eagerness to help Finn and find 'The Resistance' suggests that she has some wanderlust or at least wants to be gone from the waste of a planet. But she also thinks that whomever left her as a child will be coming back for her on Jakku, though this belief is gone by the time the third act of the film starts.

So if Han and Leia left her on that planet, what were their reasons? Seeing as Leia is living quite safely with the Resistance it would make little sense to send Rey away for safety. If it was because Kylo needed her for something then wouldn't he be more intent on finding her than getting into her mind to see the map. And if they are siblings wouldn't they be able to recognize each other? Rey is left on Jakku at an age where she'd be able to remember someone as important as her own brother, not only that but Kylo Ren would have been much older in the film if they took her away from him because he turned to the dark side. Let me explain.
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That thing needs a tune up.
Now, I'm not sure how old Rey and Kylo are supposed to be but the age difference doesn't seem to be very big and in real life the actors are about 9 years apart in age. Either way, if Rey had been sent away after Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side, Kylo would have had to have been old enough to have been trained as an apprentice by Luke and then be seduced. For all of that to happen, I'd think that Kylo would have at least been in his mid teens to an adult when he started following Snoke. If they are close to the same age, then she would have been hidden away at an age much older than we see in the flashback. If there is an age difference similar to the one they have in real life then she still would have been old enough to remember her big brother and recognize him when he took off the mask. 

Plus, with everything that happens between them in the movie and with all of the use of 'The Force' wouldn't one of them at least sense a connection? Kylo Ren recognizes when Han is nearby and Darth Vader recognizes Luke as his son when he had never met him before, even Luke admits that somehow he had 'always known' that Leia was his sister. I find it hard to believe that neither of them would not be able to see the other as a blood relative with a super strong connection to The Force.

As for her being Luke's daughter I'm still not convinced. Once again, she'd be old enough to recognize those she'd come across in life and an aunt, uncle and cousin would definitely be amongst those people. If he sent her away after Kylo Ren turned, once again, there would have been some kind of recognition from one of them. And why would Han or Leia not say anything to her? She's just as eager to be reunited with the person who left her on Jakku so them looking for Luke would help out everyone. And, I must reiterate, two people with major Force powers would have been able to see the family connection between them when they meet on that dramatic cliffside. Rey would have made some kind of exclamation or tried to embrace him if he was really her father, think of her loss of Han who was a father figure and her need of having that family back.

But more than anything, I don't think anyone we know is related to Rey because of what Maz tells her in the cellar of her cantina-I mean-castle. After Rey is drawn to Luke's lightsaber and sees the flashback Maz finds her, having an idea of what Rey had just seen and heard, and she tells her that the person who left her on Jakku was never coming back. Do you think Luke, Han, or Leia would be capable of simply leaving her without even checking up or going back when the danger they're facing has been destroyed? It isn't a kindness to leave her in a place that will only use her to further selfish gains when they all definitely have access to better hiding places. And with Luke's background on being stuck on Tatooine, it's doubtful he'd be fine with leaving his kin in the same predicament.

And don't any of you start throwing around even crazier theories about memory losses or mind wipes or any of that. Everybody's memory would have had to have been wiped for any of the 'daughter theories' to make sense. Han's, Leia's, Kylo Ren's, as well as everyone they were close to would have had to have magically forgotten! Plus when you played a huge part in bringing down The Empire, you'd be famous across the galaxy and so would any kid you have! It would only be a matter of time before a Resistance Officer would make a passing remark on Rey being related to them.

So who IS Rey? I can't say for sure but I have some theories of my own. In a past post I talked all about the possibility of Rey being a clone from Darth Vader or Luke and still think that may have some bearing. You can read more about it HERE. Another theory I have is that Rey may have a connection to someone from the Dark Side of the force, it would make more sense for them to leave her on Jakku for good and would explain her connection to the Force. Maybe she plays a part in Supreme Leader Snoke's past?

Something else I noticed that may or may not be a clue to her possible background was a small doll you can see for all of a second in her AT-AT house. It has the likeness of a Rebellion fighter pilot and looks homemade and old. Could this be something she kept after being left on Jakku? Did she make it afterwards from piecing together limited knowledge of the pilots who flew the ships she scavenges? Who the heck knows! Rian Johnson probably does, actually...

Woah! This became much longer than I thought. Know what that means?

Look for a Part 3 for Star Wars theories! Coming Soon!
 
 
Merry late Christmas! Or Happy Holidays, whichever is appropriate for you. Hopefully, you all did some fun and exciting things on your days off like I did. Like, oh, I don't know...

SAW STAR WARS!!!!

That's what I did, anyways. It was the sixth time I'd gone to see it! If you're like my mom and sister were when I talked about my movie plans then you're probably wondering why I would go to Star Wars yet again. I'll answer you the same way I answered them, 'because it's fricking awesome'!

As you may have guessed, this post will be me giving a gushing review of the movie everyone has been waiting for for years, but I understand that not everyone has seen it yet. Whether you want to avoid the crowds, can't afford it yet, or are too cautious after the abominations known only as 'The Prequels', I understand and respect your decision to wait. Which is why this review will be spoiler free! This may be one of the hardest things I've had to do on this blog, but I'll give it my best shot!
The Force Awakens
Does it need a podracer?
The best thing about The Force Awakens was feeling like I was actually watching a Star Wars film. It was saturated with the same spirit and sense of adventure we got from the original trilogy and gave me all the feels in the nostalgia department. Star Wars movies are supposed to take you on the ride of your life and while it may not be quite up to par with the originals, the ride was still entertaining as hell!

The story itself was familiar and took elements from New Hope but threw in enough twists and new material to make it fresh and exciting! I'm not saying that it's scene for the scene the same as New Hope, by the way. The journey is fundamentally the same but the terrain has changed over the years. By the way, the original cast is back and seemed to give a damn!
han and leia
That's always good.
The characters are my favorite part of the new films, probably because I was so ecstatic that they finally got them right! A big part of what made the first Star Wars films so popular and lovable were the engaging characters like the underdog hero, 'Luke Skywalker', or the rogue/thief with a heart of gold, 'Han Solo'. They were relatable and fun to watch on screen and so are the new cast we are introduced to. Now while I liked these new characters, I also have a small nitpick about them. They weren't fleshed out enough for me. Maybe if they had more motivation to start their inevitable journey or were pushed harder? I just felt like I didn't know them as well as I knew Luke, Leia, Han or even C-3PO once the credits rolled in A New Hope. Once again, it's a small nitpick and the only problem I had with the film.

Lastly, the special effects both practical and digital were amazingly well-balanced in this installment. One of the many problem I had with 'The Prequels' was that everything looked too sterile or that the screen was crammed with too many things to look at. While TFA looks great there's also something raw about the shots that just scream original Star Wars and nothing is ever cluttered on screen. We're shown what we need to see, the characters and their drama and the battles from the POV of whomever we're rooting for.

Ho boy, it's taking almost all of my energy not to go into spoiler territory. I think I'll save that for later this week (Yep a part 2 will be coming soon!).

But really, you should go see The Force Awakens. There's a reason why it's broken blockbuster records across the globe, after all. The world of Star Wars is iconic and TFA is a film that goes above and beyond it's recent predecessors and breathes new life into the franchise! Who doesn't want to see a resurrection...with lightsabers!

Did you see it? How many times? 3D? IMAX? Love it? Hate it? Let me know below!

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Millions of fangirls are sharpening their fanfic skills for these two...
 
 
Well, it's mid-November which means Thanksgiving (Yay!), Black Friday (Boo!), and of course the newest addition to the Hunger Games film series and, this time around, it will be the last. There will be tons of terrible withdrawal from fans, I assure you. Unlike the Potter series where the author decided to write a trilogy of prequel movies to keep their world alive, Hunger Games looks like it's going the direction of The Hobbit/Tolkien franchise where we'll be giving the series and those that created it a wet and blubbering goodbye.
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* sniff * The pain is real.
My own introduction to the dystopian series started before the films came out and the book series itself was coming to its peak of popularity. It was a pleasant surprise to read a Young Adult book that kept the typical easy-to-read format, yet didn't dumb itself down or not take its audience seriously. It didn't focus on the primary focus of the series, being that a boy and girl from each 'district' must kill each other until one remains, but looked more at why a dystopia had come to this point. The popularity it had garnered with the teenaged audience who had only years before fawned over the somehow famous Twilight series was encouraging without a doubt. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that The Hunger Games is one of the best Young Adult series of the past decade.

The strongest point of the entire series rests on the shoulders of its relatable, strong female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. She immediately proves, when we meet her in both the books and the movies, that she is not your typical teenaged heroine. She is a responsible individual, both out of necessity and love for her family. We learn that her father died in a coal mining accident which sent her mother into a deep depression, leaving Katniss to provide for her mother and younger sister at a young age. Even when her mother recovered, she hunted to make sure they (including other less fortunate families) got fed. When her little sister, Prim, is chosen in the lottery that decides who participates in the 'games', Katniss takes her place knowing her sister has little chance of surviving. Her self-reliance gives her an excellent advantage in the games, but her willingness to reach out for help from those she trusts when it's needed most also helps her to survive. That balance mixed with her determination to fight for what's right gets her back home.
Before I go on, I'll address something that I know many of my fellow geeks are itching to comment about. The Hunger Games is almost exactly like Battle Royale. I'll concede that. The plot of the first book is nearly identical with a few elements changed around. But there are things that are not addressed or explored in Battle Royale that Hunger Games delves into, not just giving it a different enough voice but making the audience more uncomfortable. Battle Royale is certainly violent and unflinching when it comes to showing what's basically kids killing each other but Hunger Games makes those running the games and being entertained so unnervingly similar to its own audience, they are ignorant and materialistic in ways that we can't help but think of ourselves. Hunger Games makes a strong statement about the attitude and habits of our society by exploring real-world problems that need to be addressed, especially with our younger generations. Where Battle Royale stopped, Hunger Games digs deeper.

If I had a nickel for every time Hunger Games has been put under a microscope for the themes it explores, I would be on my own personal island making the cast of the Firefly act out more episodes for my amusement. The series takes a jab at some rather unsavory things about our media-centered nation as well as global issues that are being discussed amongst the worlds greatest minds.

It's not hard at all to see that Hunger Games is unhappy with our media culture, from the gaudy talk show with an over exuberant host to the reactions of an audience who have the audacity to feel anything for the people they are going to send, essentially, to their deaths. This same audience gets fed coverage of the 'games' and surrounding districts that is heavily biased and only feeds their own selfish desires. Sound familiar?

Many political implications could be taken as well. The audience of the games that I was talking about all live in 'The Capital' where they live off of the resources that come from surrounding districts who often live in poverty and under a police state. They are a perfect example of the higher class looking down on the lower class and doing nothing. While horrific things happen to the people who are responsible for getting them food, clothing, and pretty much everything they require in their worry-free lives, they watch a game where these very people die one after the other for entertainment.

In real life, we certainly don't allow people to be killed in such a manner, but we watch people get killed everyday all over the world for multiple reasons on our TV screens. All while passing unfair judgements, criticizing, or feeling empathetic shortly before forgetting them altogether.
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Geez, I'm depressing myself. Here have a pic of Katniss and Peeta's couple name.
I'm actually going to end my ranting here because this is all starting to feel too heavy for a typical blog post, but let me end with one last thing. The books took me on an emotional and thought provoking roller coaster that millions of other teens have now ridden. The movies presented visuals that are scarily close to what we see on the news everyday. My hope is that in a country where many of our younger generation are, generally, seen as being self-centered morons who only care about who becomes the next winner of 'The Voice', the Hunger Games series (both book and film) will be a well-made and gripping slap to their faces. The problems they see on the page or on the silver screen are not just fictional and there most definitely needs to be a revolution. Guess who lead the one in Hunger Games? A young woman who followed her conscience and wouldn't stand by while the world watched itself burn.

What are your thoughts on the Hunger Games? Did you catch any messages or themes that I didn't mention? Tell me about it in the comments. Also, are you excited to see the last addition to the series?
 
 
This week, I'm starting a new feature called "Casting by Phoebe" where I take an existing IP (intellectual property) that hasn't been adapted into a film or TV show and present to you, the actors that I'd like to see in the roles of the IP's major characters. It can be a video game, comic book, novel, toy line or anything else!

For this first one, I'd like to present my casting choices for a video game that nearly everyone loves, Final Fantasy VII. While the Final Fantasy brand has seen many semi-adaptations in the past including films like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, we've never seen a Final Fantasy VII live action movie and if they ever did one, the first one they should do is Final Fantasy VII as it has the most hard core fandom of all of the games. Heck, the fans somehow have manged to convince Squaresoft to remake Final Fantasy VII with updated graphics, so when it comes to a live action adaptation, never say never...

Although Final Fantasy VII has enough story to be probably be a TV series, I could see a movie studio like Sony, presenting a Final Fantasy VII movie in a cool three-part story ala The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. So without further ado, here are my selections.

Cloud Strife

Taron Egerton

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin, Kingsmen: The Secret Service
AGE: 26
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He is an actor that has a great intensity and can be humorous.

Tifa Lockheart

Tatiana Maslany

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Sarah Manning, Orphan Black
AGE: 30
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: She has a great range for this rugged woman and can kick butt as seen in Orphan Black.

Arieth Gainsborough

Elizabeth Olsen

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Scarlet Witch, Avengers: Age of Ultron
AGE: 26
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: Has the right look and can gain the sympathy of the audience when she dies.

Barret Wallace

Terry Crews

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Terry Jeffords, Brooklyn Nine Nine
AGE: 47
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He has the energy and sensitivity to pull off the role of a man with difficult decisions to make.

Cid Highwind

Garrett Hedlund

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Sam Flynn, TRON: Legacy
AGE: 31
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can pull off the swagger and voice for this oddball character.  

Cat Sith

Andy Serkis

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gollum, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
AGE: 51
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can deliver a dynamic and fun mo-cap performance of both Cat Sith and the Moggle that would be unforgettable.  

Yuffie Kisaragi

Luna Blaise

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Nicole, Fresh off the Boat
AGE:  14
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: She has the maturity and comedic timing to do this young sprites character justice.

Vincent Valentine

Will Poulter

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Gally, Maze Runner
AGE: 22
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: He can dig deep to play this dark immortal.

Red XIII (Voice)

Peter Dinklage

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Tywin Lanister, Game of Thrones
AGE: 46
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT:  He plays a lion already on GOT and had a rich voice that speaks with authority.

Sephiroth

Tom Hiddleston

BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE: Loki, Marvel's Avengers
AGE: 34
WHY THEY'D BE GREAT: Because, I mean, this would cause every fangirl's head in the wolrd to explode, right?
So there they are. Agree? Disagree? Let the arguments begin!
 
 
Last week in my post about underrated fantasy, I brought up a movie called The Witches so it should go without saying that I like media about the topic. In all the hoopla about vampires and zombies over the past few years, it seems like witches have been lost in mix and forgotten about. Back when I was growing up, witches were in almost everything and we had great TV shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch, movies like The Craft and the Blair Witch Project and there was that whole Harry Potter thing.

But recently, it seems like media makers are ready to shine a spotlight on witches once again with shows like Salem, American Horror Story: Coven, and most recently, this new film simply titled, The Witch. The trailer was just released today.
I'm not only excited to see the movie because as you know I'm a horror nut, and it has witches, but also because it may signal a shift back to real horror movies and perhaps an end to the lazy Blumhouse-esque 'found footage' horror films which have become the reality TV of feature films.

After I saw the trailer, I read that this film was screened at Sundance earlier this year and earned rave reviews. Hopefully it does well and we can finally get back to real horror films.
 
 
Hello, dear readers! Under normal circumstances I would be reviewing a film, which came out in theaters recently that's certainly of the 'geeky' persuasion. But that's not going to happen. If you haven't been to any entertainment websites lately or tuned out when your comic book fan of a friend started ranting about some movie they went to see this past weekend then I'll give you the low down. Fantastic Four (2015) sucked. I've never come out of a theater feeling underwhelmed, disappointed and angry all at once before now. Thank God my friend Lisa hooked me up with free tickets and I didn't have to actually pay for that drivel! But that's still time I will never get back.
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How come The Thing has no... 'thing?'
The tragedy that is the Fantastic Four franchise on film has been going on since the early 2000s and I could go on and on about it, but not right now. Not while I'm still reeling from the most recent and tremendous failure.

I'd like to try and focus on happier things for today's post, things that don't make me want to send an airstrike to 20th Century Fox Studios. So... here's some of the most underrated fantasy films you need to go watch.
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Smoothest transition ever.
The fantasy genre has always held a special place in my heart. As a kid, I practically drowned myself in countless worlds that housed mythical creatures and lands of magic whether they existed in books or on film. It was, and still is, a way to transport myself from our world to one where seemingly anything is possible. Somewhere where my student loan DOESN'T need to be paid off and big name studios don't make stupid-nope! Not talking about that anymore!

Anyway, because of my unquenchable thirst for everything fantasy related, I've had the pleasure of seeing many titles most of my friends have never heard of, to my surprise. Absolute classics from my childhood have faded into obscurity and I can't have that! Because all of these films are so special to me, they're not being presented in any particular order. One is not better than the other, nor is any more underrated than the others. We'll start off with:

The Witches

Based on a book by Roald Dahl, 'The Witches' is about an orphaned boy who goes to a seaside hotel in England with his grandmother, as she's recovering from illness. While there, he accidentally stumbles upon a convention of witches from all over England. Whatever just popped into your head when I said the word 'witch' doesn't come close to comparing to the creepiness and creativity that you actually see on screen. In this universe, witches vehemently hate children and frequently display that hate, whether that means trapping children in paintings for the entirety of their lives or outright trying to kill babies. Then they turn our protagonist, the boy I mentioned earlier, into a mouse. Once again, whatever you just pictured in your head isn't creepy or traumatizing enough compared to what I saw as a kid. You'd face a ton of opposition in today's day and age if you tried to market a film with a scene like that to kids.

So why would you want to see it, then? Well, it doesn't flinch away from the evil apparent in the story. Too many things aimed at kids today are so bright and colorful, treating them all like they're made of glass.  If I came away from watching this as a kid and not only liked it but wanted to watch it again, than surely kids today can do the same. There's a lot of speculation over what the story inherently is trying to say, but in it's simplest form, The Witches teaches kids not to trust someone based on looks alone. While we have many stories that tell of beauty underneath what we perceive as ugliness, there are too few that talk about the ugly, dark, and terrifying things that can hide behind physical beauty.

Flight of Dragons

This is a gem from way back in 1982 and was produced by the legendary Rankin/Bass company. As you've probably guessed, it's an animated film. Though the animation is definitely dated, you can't deny that the style still looks just as gorgeous as it did when it was released.

I won't try and give you much of a synopsis because there's a LOT happening in this film and lots of names to put to lots of faces. Basically, there are wizards who need to create a realm of magic since science has become prevalent in our world. But of course, there's one wizard who wants to take over everything for himself and the rest of the wizards have to stop him, only there's a rule that wizards can't fight each other. So they use their own dragons and summon a polymath scientist from our world to help. Sounds crazy, I know, but you really got to check out the film before you judge. The most interesting aspect of the film, by far, is the constant dichotomy of magic and science. There is never really any questioning of which is better or right, just that they both exist simultaneously. If there is any film that I can point to for my becoming a nerd later in life, it's this one for sure.

The Secret Of NIMH

Don Bluth animated films rarely get the attention they deserve and The Secret Of NIMH is no exception. We follow a widow, Mrs. Brisby, raising her children one of whom is ill with pneumonia. Oh, and they're all field mice. They need to leave the field they live in before a farmer plows it, but her child can't leave the house while sick or else they will die. When she seeks council from the Great Owl he tells her to see the 'Rats of NIMH'. Once there she learns from the rat's mystical leader, Nicodemus, that her own husband, along with the Rats, were once used in medical experiments at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that somehow boosted their intelligence and lifespan. Because of her late husband they were all able to escape so Nicodemus grants her an amulet and the promise of help from the rats to move her home. But another rat intent on gaining power won't make things easy for them and his threat along with the loss of time threatens the life of Mrs. Brisby's entire family.

While this film can be dark and has many bittersweet moments, it has so much heart and intrigue that I couldn't help but get sucked into it as a kid. The animation is, once again, beautiful and the voice acting is on par and makes you feel slightly foolish for caring so much for a bunch of genetically modified rodents. If Disney films have taught us anything, it's that people love talking, endearing mice. That being said, it's a mystery to me why so few people know about it.

The Last Unicorn

Based on a book that was one of my childhood favorites, 'Unicorn' is everything you'd expect from the fantasy genre. Unicorns in themselves are an embodiment of all things fantastical. It's that symbolism that, in my opinion, makes this film so powerful. In this world, unicorns guard forests and help them thrive, one unicorn in particular hears that she is the last and must go out into the world and away from her forest to find out what happened to her kind. Along the way she runs into some unlikely allies through harrowing and sometimes humorous circumstances who eventually help her get to the seaside, where the unicorns were supposedly last seen.

Much to my delight, I've noticed many more people taking an interest in this film as well as the book it's based off of (as they should). The style of the animation is unlike anything I've seen since and is still breath taking. Don't even get me started on the voice acting! Acting greats like Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin and the legend Christopher Lee (R.I.P.) lend their voices to unforgettable characters. Out of all the films I've talked about so far, this is the one that still makes me cry every freaking time! It's so ingrained in that child-like part of me that I can't help but feel whimsical and carefree whenever I watch it. I guarantee you'll find a bit of that whimsy yourself if you give it a watch.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

This is actually a newer film as it came out in 2010. I happened upon it while perusing the foreign film section at my library and was happily surprised to find that it was pretty damn good. Adele is a resourceful, witty, and courageous heroine that was refreshing to watch in an adventure fantasy film. She's a famous explorer and author who is looking to find a way to cure her brain dead little sister by way of ancient Egyptian mysticism and after she retrieves the mummy of a famous physician from ancient times she goes to a scientist who has somehow found a way to bring old relics and beings back to life, including a pterodactyl featured in a nearby museum. But bumbling policeman, hunters, and a great number of other things continue to get in the way. By the way, she gets the mummy in an Indiana Jones-esque scene filled with action all while wearing a dress and heeled boots. Badass.

As you may have been able to guess, this is a French film, and their films tend to have a quality that most American audiences would see as...well, strange? Not that that's a bad thing, but it can throw some people for a loop. For instance, there are quite a few elements to this film that would seem aimed for kids in their silliness and whimsy, but then you get a random nude scene of Adele in the bath. It's brief and there's nothing sexual about it at all, it's just there. Many moments like that are strewn throughout the movie but that just makes it stand out even more to me, in a good way. If nothing else, you can watch the censored version with your kids so they can watch entertainment that's a bit more posh and refined than what's crammed down their throats in America.

Well, I feel much better now! There are tons more where that came from, but I've been rambling too long anyways. Oh well, guess I'll have to make this one a multi-parter. Have any suggestions for my next post on Underrated Fantasy Films? Tell me in the comments below!
 
 
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Deadpool is also about to loose his mind.
Yesterday saw the release of the much-anticipated Deadpool trailer both in regular and extra violent editions and everyone lost their minds.  In case you've been under a rock...
Over the last decade this D-List character from the 90s has gained massive popularity. Heck, at this point, he is to fangirls what Harley Quinn is to fanboys. Personally, I'm not really a Deadpool fangirl and may be the only one but I am familiar with the character as he has popped up in almost every Marvel comic book series at this point cracking jokes, killing, or talking to the audience. I see him as Howard the Duck 2.0 and think the character is better in small doses.
howard the duck deadpool
Howard the Deadpool.
Anyways, almost all the customers at the comic book shop today were all excited about the trailer and kept telling me how great is was gonna be and how Marvel is finally "doing it right this time" by giving us fans an "R" rated superhero movie.

That's when I had to stop them and remind them that there has been other Marvel movies with "R" rated Marvel movies. One, the Blade Trilogy and The Punisher & Punisher: War Zone. How quickly people forget...
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I think the reason people have forgotten is that Marvel/Whoever Has The Rights, haven't done an "R" movie since 2008 and to today's 'now generation,' 7 years is like 700. While the Blade and Punisher movies were quite successful, the more popular characters that played in the PG-13 space constantly overshadowed them so studios invested in those characters.   

But now, with the oversaturation of spandex clad superheroes, movie companies, including Marvel, are now having to look at new ways to make their movies appealing to ever harder-to-please audiences.  With the release of this new hard edge Deadpool movie I think we may be on the horizon of more "R" rated superhero movies and it makes sense.

Here's why. The kids that grew up in during the rise of the super hero movies (including myself) in the early 2000s are now adults and are still hungry for super hero stories, but that are more 'mature.' While they have gotten "R" rated comic book movies like Kingsmen and Kickass, they really want to see characters they love from the pages of the books on screen like the Joker, Magneto, Lobo, or Hulk.

You don't even want to know how many times a month I hear from my comic shop customers how "flipping awesome" an "R" rated Wolverine would be and I agree although, I think that one in particular is still a longshot.
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See what I did there.
So while I may not be 100% excited for the Deadpool movie, I am excited to see Marvel/Fox take a chance with such a popular character and give their audiences what they have been clamoring for, a more violent, swear word filled version of the 'merc with a mouth' and hopefully, this will lead to more movies "R" rated movies featuring popular characters from other companies, because as they say "variety is the spice of life."

What comic book characters do you think deserve an "R" rated movie? Leave a comment below.

 
 
The Civil War and Infinity War is coming. If there's anything Marvel Studios has been trying to hit us over the head with the past few years, it's that statement of fact. So it makes sense to introduce the audience to all of the players, particularly every member of the 'soon'-to-be-complete Avengers team. The most recent addition in the movie verse is Ant-Man!

I'll admit right off the bat that I didn't follow his storyline too much, or Wasp's. Even when I was younger I couldn't take the idea of him seriously. Changing your size while retaining your normal strength is one thing, but controlling insects (while making sense being that size) is something else entirely. And kinda gave me the creeps.
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Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew!
But I felt the nerd obligation to see the film in theaters so there I went. Honestly, the trailers did make me interested. It seemed like they would take the concept of Ant-Man as the standalone hero and make it work for a feature length film. The result? It was...meh.
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Logo via Marvel Studios

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, but 'meh' is all I can really say about the whole thing. I honestly forgot that I had seen the movie a few hours after I got home, definitely not the norm when I usually go to see a Marvel film. I think that the main problem stems from a lack of creativity or spark of imagination in all of the wrong places.

The plot was one we've seen a million times and I don't feel that it fit well within the world of Ant-Man and the so-called genius scientist and technician our main characters are supposed to be. They show off Scott Lang's skills when he cracks Hank Pym's personal safe, but then try to make me believe that Pym baited Lang in the most convoluted way imaginable instead of simply contacting him directly. Pym could've hidden inside the house or even in the vault and asked Scott to help him right then and there instead of letting him just walk away with the suit. If Scott said 'no' to helping him then he could use one of his ants to plant something on him that he could say Scott stole. Then we'd still have the jailbreak scene, it would make for a cool introduction to the suit, and Lang can be guided how to use it the entire time by Pym. Solved! In the film there's no way Hank would know what would happen to his suit which is one of a kind and would be extremely dangerous if put in the wrong hands. What if Scott ended up selling it to get the money that he desperately needs? What if he never took the suit at all, being too disappointed at the lack of valuables? As for Scott, who would randomly put on a weird motorcycle suit and push buttons that could literally do anything WHILE you have the damned thing on?

Anyways, the rest of the film goes the way you'd expect it to, which isn't a good thing. After a training montage, Ant-Man gets ready for a heist, an idea which excited me as Marvel has never gone that route with a hero before. But the whole thing was underwhelming and asked me to care about things that they never bothered to make me care about in the first place. An ant that Scott named gets killed? Bummer. Scott and Hope get caught kissing? Oh well, good for them, I guess.

When it came to the acting department, Paul Rudd seemed to have a hard time finding his footing as a superhero the whole film. I think he's more than capable of pulling off a role like this and he did come close many times, but he wasn't given enough to work with in my opinion. Evangeline Lilly broke through the monotony a few times whenever she and Michael Douglas (playing her father Hank Pym) had scenes together and I genuinely liked how the two played their strained relationship. But in every other scene her character lacked, well, any character. Michael Douglas was by far the best actor of the ensemble. Being the veteran that he is that's not too surprising, though.

The villain, Yellowjacket (aka Darren Cross), was by far one of the weakest I've seen so far in the Marvel 'verse. His only reason for being the bad guy is because he's gone insane. Not from some traumatizing event caused by the hero (Yeah, Hank snubbed him but it never felt like it effected him to THAT degree) but because of some particle thing that happens just from being around the technology that made the Ant-Man suit. So why hasn't Hank Pym or his daughter gone insane? They've undoubtedly been around that technology far longer than he has! I'm pretty sure a line is said in passing somewhere where they say that he was already a bit crazy but that's a really weak premise to base any bad guy on. I'd get it if Cross's evil plan was more focused on destroying Hank Pym but from the very beginning he's more focused on making these suits weaponized so they can sell them to the military and of course Hydra as we learn later. He didn't even look particular villainous or intimidating, though throughout the movie I felt like he belonged in the wrong comic book franchise.
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I will defeat you Superman! Oh-I mean Ant-Man!
The best part of the film had to be the fight scenes. With such a specific power I was hoping they would get creative with the choreography and do something different from what we're used to seeing and they always delivered.

But...that's it.

Ultimately, Ant-Man didn't have any real soul to it. It lost it's main voice as soon as Edgar Wright was out of the project and the script got three more writers working on it. Too many voices for any project means the end result will be a muddled mess and that's exactly what happened to Ant-Man. My hope is that Ant-Man will finally find his place amongst the rest of the Avengers in future movies, very much like how well the Hulk has been working in the Avengers franchise despite the lackluster films he'd been featured in before.

What did you think of the film? Am I missing something? Tell me in the comments below.
 
 
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Young George Lucas. Kinda foxy...?
Being that last weekend's box office was dominated by "Jurassic World" and "Inside Out," it got me thinking about the legacy of George Lucas. Like most people in the world, I've always had a love/hate relationship with the guy. A few have even taken this 'relationship' this to the extreme, as a few years back someone made a documentary on the topic about Lucas called "The People vs. George Lucas."

True, while the prequels weren't what most people wanted, but does that warrant all the things that Lucas has contributed to the world of cinema obsolete? I say no. Why? Because if you look close enough, you'll see his influence is everywhere in modern cinema whether you like it, or not. The first examples, the recent box office champs, Jurassic World and Inside Out both would not exist, without the work of Lucas. You see, Lucas’ special effects company, ILM, created all the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park film, way back in the 90s without a company capable of creating such awe-inspiring creatures, we wouldn't have a Jurassic World today. Even Inside Out owes a debt of gratitude to Lucas as Pixar, was a Lucasfilm company as early as the mid-80s. While Lucas didn't found the original incarnation of the Pixar company, he helped to water it, grow it, push its limitations and eventually hand it over to one Steve Jobs and the rest is history.

These aren't the only examples. Lucas' fingerprints can be seen all over the American movie landscape and this week, I'm going to highlight a few to help defend a genius that is now looked upon as a crazy old wizard that lives in a secluded part of Northern California.

Music:

Before the release of his 60s comedy, American Graffiti, popular music wasn't used much in feature films. Usually, films would have a score create for the soundtrack or have songs specially commissioned like in a James Bond movie. Lucas, in an attempt to be different and create a unique soundtrack for Graffiti, opted to use the songs that he used to listen to while crusin' the suburban San Francisco streets. Since no other filmmaker had ever thought of that before, he was able to license the pop songs of the 60s for next to no money. Well, after American Graffiti was a massive hit at the box office, and auteurs from far and wide took note of how pop music could enhance their screen stories, they all began to use pop songs in their films and still do today. Quentin Tarantino is famous of his ability to blend images and pop music, but without Lucas, he'd have no blueprint on how to do it.
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Where was I in '62? Not alive.

Special Effects:

Star Wars. Enough said. Really though when this came out in 1977, people's heads exploded as they had never seen such advanced visual effects used period, but more specifically in an action/adventure movie. With the progress made by Lucas and co. in the special effects world, it soon became possible for filmmakers like Ridley Scott to make Alien, Steven Spielberg to make E.T., and David Lynch to make Dune, just to name a few. More importantly, Lucas created the model of a filmmaker owning their own FX company to have more control in creating their vision. This can be seen today, as Peter Jackson owns WETA Workshop and James Cameron owns Digital Domain companies that were vital in creating the on screen magic we remember from such films as Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.
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Sadly, this scene caused as many as 3 million minds to be blown in 1977.

The Universe:

Marvel gets a lot of credit for creating this 'universe' concept but in reality, an argument can be made that Lucas was there first and was thinking of this concept and applied it while most of the Marvel Entertainment executives were still in short pants. When the original Star Wars was released in 1977, Lucas, whether in a blaintant cash-grab or not (probably, yes) allowed the now infamous Star Wars Christmas Special to be produced for CBS that was meant to be a direct spinoff and official canon. Because it turned out like bantha doo-doo, said idea was abandoned, but my point is that it was attempted. It didn't quite stop there either as many Star Wars universe cartoons (Droids and Ewoks), books (Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the Han Solo Adventures) and event a live action TV movie (Caravan of Courage) were produced through out the 70s and 80s that attempted to expand upon the Star Wars Universe for a public hungry to consume all it could of the galaxy far, far, away.  Oh, there were those other films, too. You know, the ones with the word 'Episode' in front of them that told one 'bigger picture' story. While the spinoffs and smaller media series stories failed to unify a solid state Star Wars story, Lucas did display his ability to show others that he was willing to think beyond the big screen and invented the 'Universe Model' version 1.0 for Marvel and now others, to build upon.
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Nope. This isn't getting complicated at all. [Sarcasm]

Ring Structure:

I recently stumbled upon this website while cruising for some Ep. 7 news. It's called Star Wars Ring Theory and in great detail, the author expounds upon a theory he's crafted about how all the main 6 Star Wars films are interconnected using an ancient 'ring' storytelling structure. I read the whole thing and the author does present some pretty remarkable evidence that if true, not only gives one more appreciation for the prequels, but also would be the very first time anyone as ever attempted to try this structure in the film medium and if I've proven anything over the past few paragraphs, it's that Lucas is a man that likes to do things first. Please, I encourage you to visit the website and take in all the evidence for yourself. Then, maybe, like me, you too will see the prequels for more than just a jamboree of Jar-Jar. It even leaves room for a sub-theory on why the special editions are now needed with the realization of the prequels. While Lucas didn't invent the storytelling ring, his application of it in cinema may inspire future filmmakers to refine it and perfect it as so many of his other ideas.

Star Wars Ring Theory Website:
http://www.starwarsringtheory.com/
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From: StarWarsRingTheory.com
May times, geniuses are so far beyond the crowd, when they create, the masses don't 'get' their creations. It takes time for everyone to catch up to the ideas and concepts they present. It has happened time after time throughout history to artists from all around the world. Geniuses think outside the box and while Lucas has gotten lucky and been able to speak to the common man at times, he still has had a hard time communicating his ideas when it comes to movies. Maybe future generations will come to revere all his work and truly give him the credit he's due.

What do you think? Have I convinced you that Lucas is worthy to be championed as one of cinema's greatest filmmakers, or is he still a mean old man that ruined your childhood? Comment below.