Title: Star Wars: Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker
Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Naomi Ackie, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher
I have to wonder if J.J. Abrams, asked himself once the final cut of The Rise of Skywalker was completed, "How did I get here?" I lived through the Special Edition era of Star Wars. I lived through the prequel era of Star Wars. The Disney era of Star Wars, has been a weird one. Set aside the standalone films for a moment. I know people really like The Last Jedi. I am not one of them. The more I watch that film, the more I hate it. I think J.J., hated it from the beginning. The Rise of Skywalker feels like a desperate attempt to course correct into the story that J.J., wanted to tell from the start. Throw in the tragic, untimely, death of Carrie Fisher, and all bets were off. The story here is rocky. Things are rushed during the first half, especially the dynamic between Rey and Leia. It's obvious this entire trilogy had a different trajectory in mind; or no trajectory at all, if you want to be really cynical about it. However, I can see the seeds of what J.J. really wanted to do. And then there is everything else that happens. There are enormous leaps that are attempted, and you're either going to buy them, or not. Despite some of the rocky story, I found myself really enjoying this. Somehow, the film still finds a way to be immensely entertaining. I even really like Rey, whom I haven't been a big fan of as a character. Things are done to Kylo Ren, that I didn't think I would ever buy either, but still somehow worked for me. The entire cast is solid here. The film still works as a whole. How you gravitate towards it, will depend on how you feel about the other two I think. If you liked the direction of The Last Jedi, you will probably hate this. And if you're willing to forgive some of the leaps, you will probably like this. Setting all of that aside, I do like some of the crazy insanity that's going on in the third act of this film. And I still think overall, it's a satisfying end to this trilogy. I had a lot of fun with it. The flick's clumsiness is glaring though, and that's a shame. We've come a long way since the nostalgia bait of The Force Awakens. I never thought we would end up here. Oh, and John Williams is the real hero here.
Title: Knives Out
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford
Knives Out can be a chore to sit through. There's a lot to like, and quite a bit that's frustrating. Rian Johnson, seems to over complicate things here, where he doesn't need to do so. Sure, it's a whodunit, but a lot of times things happen that just seem like filler. A lot of Knives Out comes across like Johnson, is trying to be smarter than the audience. However, it's not THAT smart, and it's a bit over-writing for the sake of over-writing. The social commentary happening here, can feel really forced, and it took me out of the film at times. This also bogs down the movie, and it can feel a bit boring. That being said, the entire thing works because of the cast. There's a lot of stunt casting happening here, which helps to throw the audience off the trail. With a lot of movies like this, usually we have one, or two pieces of stunt casting which give the entire thing away. Here, it works, and the performances are all top notch. Daniel Craig, is wonderful here. He is the glue holding this together. His delightful, southern, detective, is fantastic. I would love some kind of spinoff, with his character. I want to see more of him. Like, now. Despite my issues, I had a good time with the film. All in all, Knives Out is an often times charming, funny, modern, mystery, with some rocky roads. The less you know about the plot, the better.