Tag Archives: John Boyega

203 – Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

(Our two-part discussion on the previous Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, is available here and here.)

The Star Wars saga ends – for the third time – with The Rise of Skywalker, a return to J. J. Abrams’ whimsical ways, following Rian Johnson’s creative and dramatic work in The Last Jedi. Disney and Abrams have clearly taken the vocal response of the franchise’s self-appointed guardians seriously, overwriting everything we liked about Johnson’s film, offering us mild, defanged plot developments and characterisations, but once we accept that, we find a lot of fun in this closing chapter’s sense of adventure and melodrama.

It’s clear from five minutes in, having been told three times that Rey’s parents, revealed to be nobodies in The Last Jedi, are actually hiding a secret that makes them very important indeed, that The Rise of Skywalker intends to do away with everything that made the last film so interesting and challenging. It’s a disappointment, but in declaring its intention to simply continue the soap opera and gallivant around the galaxy, the film needs to at least do a good job of that. And it does, José remarking upon how pleasurable it is to see a film of such high production values, and Mike finding that Abrams manages here to really capture the adventurous spirit of the original trilogy that he succeeded only in imitating in The Force Awakens, those core ideas of quests and gangs and brand new planets all working smoothly here. It’s an arguably surprisingly beautiful film too, light and dark dramatically interacting in geometrically precise shots that emphasise scale and power. And that melodrama between Kylo and Rey that we so loved in The Last Jedi, returns and develops here, the bond between them creating shared, tangible, intimate spaces just for them.

On the negative side, not only does the sense of corporate damage control never go away in the film’s refusal to make anything of The Last Jedi‘s developments, but weak, insulting attempts at inclusivity and representation also rankle, a gay kiss especially conspicuous for just how momentary it is, a shot of two extras crudely implanted within the film’s celebratory denouement simply drawing attention to its own tokenism. José suggests that the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando is a similarly insincere and lazy effort at racial representation, as his is a minor character in the original trilogy, undemanding of the send-off given here to Luke, Leia and Han, but as the only non-white character in Star Wars of any significance whatsoever, he’s brought along for the ride. And underneath it all, a real character, a big part of the gang in Episodes VII and VIII, Rose, has her role reduced to almost nothing here, an obvious response to the truly vile behaviour of the fans towards actor Kelly Marie Tran.

It’s a mixed bag overall, a film to watch with one eye earnest and one cynical, but we’re thrilled with its action, adventure and spectacle, and its central melodrama is evocative and rewarding. A good conclusion to the saga… until Episode XII, of course.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

27 – Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi – Second Screening

Mike and José return to a galaxy far, far away, in search of new perspectives and thoughts on The Last Jedi. Mike in particular has been itching to talk more about it since he feels he was unfairly lukewarm the first time. We ruminate on what makes Star Wars feel different to other sci-fi; how films feel tighter and shorter on second viewing; Han’s dice; confusion on the resistance cruiser; why we still disagree about Mark Hamill’s performance; whether a Jedi can survive in space; and the differences between the First Order and the Empire, and Hux’s construction as a figure of fun.

And in a shocking climax, José claims that Mike doesn’t know anything about love.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

26 – Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

If you don’t want it spoiled, look away now.

It’s beautiful to look at. It’s populated with rich characters. Adam Driver is filmed as a Byronic hero, desperately romantic and at his sexiest. Matt Moore joins us for this discussion and points to how the film focuses on female characters and interestingly alters the focus of the series. We discuss how the film represents a shift from an aristocratic focus on blood and destiny to a more democratic purview on social change everyone, of whatever race or ethnicity, can engage in. Mike came out of the film gleefully playing with a lightsaber only to sit down and slash through what he saw as the film’s weaker points, though he points out how Rian Johnson is the right director for the film and how, in spite of its faults, it truly does feel like a Star Wars film.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

4 – Detroit

Why Detroit is the best film currently on release. Is John Boyega a star? Does Kathryn Bigelow get the respect she deserves? Is race the political unconscious of American cinema? Why hasn’t a great film on such a timely subject found an audience?

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or at this link.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.