Movie Review: “Star Wars: Episode V-The Return of the Jedi” (Irvin Kershner, USA 1980)

Introduction

Just as a fun project, I’m going to watch all previous Star Wars films except for Episode I and write reviews. I’ve seen the original trilogy before but I’ve never seen Episodes II and III. However, even the original trilogy I have not watched for a very long time, so this is definitely my first look at them with adult eyes.

I do not own the films, so I will not be watching the despecialized editions, though I would certainly prefer to do so. I really hope that Disney doesn’t continue Lucas’s refusal to release the original theatrical versions, because the corny digital additions really stand out as awful. I hated them in the mid ’90s and I’m not feeling any better about them 20 years later. Since they really stand out, I’m essentially going to ignore them in the reviews and just say here that they’re terrible, cartoonish, and unnecessary. And yes, I feel safe saying that even before I’ve finished re-watching them all. The prequels obviously do not have this issue–Lucas got to fill them with digital ugliness on first release. Continue reading

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Movie Review: “Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope” (George Lucas, USA 1977)

Introduction

Just as a fun project, I’m going to watch all previous Star Wars films except for Episode I and write reviews. I’ve seen the original trilogy before but I’ve never seen Episodes II and III. However, even the original trilogy I have not watched for a very long time, so this is definitely my first look at them with adult eyes.

I do not own the films, so I will not be watching the despecialized editions, though I would certainly prefer to do so. I really hope that Disney doesn’t continue Lucas’s refusal to release the original theatrical versions, because the corny digital additions really stand out as awful. I hated them in the mid ’90s and I’m not feeling any better about them 20 years later. Since they really stand out, I’m essentially going to ignore them in the reviews and just say here that they’re terrible, cartoonish, and unnecessary. And yes, I feel safe saying that even before I’ve finished re-watching them all. The prequels obviously do not have this issue–Lucas got to fill them with digital ugliness on first release. Continue reading

TV Series Review: “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” (Toby Haynes, UK 2015)

In 2004, Susanna Clarke unleashed her debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a sprawling, 1000-plus-page epic fantasy on the world. Neil Gaiman hailed the novel as “unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years,” a time period that notably includes The Hobbit and all of The Lord of the Rings. The novel was an enormous success, with Clarke’s writing compared favorably with any in the history of the fantasy genre (and indeed it surpasses even some of the most celebrated) and her created world, one very different from any previously seen, hailed as one of the most intricate and deeply-constructed since Tolkien.

The novel was a dark version of historical high fantasy, set in an alternative England of the early 19th century where magic and a connection to a magical realm ruled by faeries is historical fact. “Magicians” are those who study the history of the craft, until one man, Gilbert Norrell, reveals that he is capable of performing magic of the type magicians have previously only studied. Norrell undertakes to return magic to his country but warns that the historical connection to faeries is dangerous and cannot be resumed due to the awful nature of those creatures. However, when Norrell’s quest meets with jeers and laughter from his government, he turns to exactly the magic he warns against, making a deal with a faerie to perform a feat beyond his skills–a decision that will eventually undo him. Another magician, Jonathan Strange, eventually arises, but questions Norrell’s hatred of faerie magic, which Norrell is never willing to explain. Continue reading