why I stay away from modern movies

I’m about to launch into a diatribe about the state of the modern movie. Like so many movies, what I’m about to present won’t be new, but more than like a sequel to so many other similar criticisms of the current movie industry. I’m well aware of the amount of resources that go into making a modern movie, such as those from the MCU or the Star Wars franchise. And I know how much money they make at the box office. And yes, before you ask, I can’t reproduce any of it on my own. Hollywood, from the expenses involved to the bending of copyright law to their collective will against the common Joe, has seen to that. I don’t intend to let any of that stop me. I’m going to criticize one of the recent block-buster Star Wars movies, “The Last Jedi.”

I didn’t hit the multiplex to see “The Last Jedi.” I already knew that it was a swan song for Carrie Fisher, who died right after filming had wrapped up on “The Last Jedi.” I know a lot of fans who viewed the movie based on sentimental reasons alone, but I refused to see it when it was released precisely because of her recent death; I felt it a bit morbid. But TLJ just came out on Netflix, so I decided to take a look. And that’s when I couldn’t believe what I saw in just the first three minutes of the film. Let me show you what I saw in about the first three minutes of the film.
First, we have an image of a ship boarding a lot of smaller ships, which are all streaming from the surface of the planet below. Apparently they’re trying to get out of the area before something Terrible Happens. I wonder what that might be?
The movie changes viewpoint to the surface of the planet where we see everyone who hasn’t gotten off, getting off and leaving a lot of good supplies behind. They’re in a very big hurry. While the tension mounts, one of the characters utters an “oh no” and looks up to see a pair of Star Destroyers appear in space (complete with sound effects even). These Star Destroyers must be huge to appear this large from the planet’s surface during daylight, especially when we see in the next establishing scene they’re well clear of the planet’s atmosphere.
And here they are in all their glory, pointed right at the earlier escape ship. But wait, we’re about to be visually treated to an even bigger ship than the Star Destoyers.
That’s right. Here we see a Dreadnaught starship appear. We also get to see that there’s actually three Star Destoyers around the Dreadnaught.
And, of course, what would a Dreadnaught be without its planet destroying weaponry?

So here’s my problem with all of this. We have four capital warships show up above an enemy base with absolutely no defensive capability against this massed array of firepower. And yet, in the minutes that follow, they do manage to get away (sort of) and destroy the Dreadnaught in the process. And that makes no rational sense, even if I’m willing to suspend belief that such can ever exist in the first place. Here’s what I would have done, ignoring anything to do with real science and physics, and just concentrating on the logic of the battle:

  1. If I were in charge of the operation, I’d have had everyone┬árendezvous at a location well away from the final attack location, get everything coordinated, and then move my squadron of capital ships so that they appeared all at once over the intended target. Having the Dreadnaught show up late might have made for movie drama, but it showed poor planning on someone’s part.
  2. And while we’re at the rendezvous point, a plan would be put together with the intel on the enemy (and they would have had intel, especially if they knew where they were to start with). That plan would include an offensive operation to go into effect as soon as the squadron appeared over the target.
    1. Remember all those TIE fighters swarming out of the Dreadnaught? They would have been swarming out as soon as the Dreadnaught appeared over the target. Their target(s) would have been anything in front in space, which meant all those rebel ships coming up from the surface and the even bigger target, the destination transport ship taking them in.
    2. The Dreadnaught would have been ready to open fire as soon as it appeared as well. No waiting around. If nothing else, it would be suppressive fire with some attempt to range towards the final target, then fire for effect. Those are big guns; use them.

With all that going on, nothing should have been left to chance, or left alive to cause any issues. Everyone on the planet and in space should have been dead or dying within 10 minutes of the squadron’s appearance. You’ve got four heavily armed, massive capital ships against essentially nothing.

But there’s one character in this movie I have a special animosity towards: Poe Dameron. To start with, with any decent warship, there is no way a singly manned attack craft should have gotten through anything like a close-in weapon system, or point defense system. Modern Earth navies have them studded all over every respectable ship in their fleets, and have since the mid-1970s starting with the Phalanx CIWS. I heard the line of dialog about how the little X-wing was to small and nimble against the Dreadnaught’s CIWS, which I find totally ludicrous. This is the same stupid excuse that got the first Death Star killed (which I also found totally ludicrous). A half-decent CIWS, totally automated, especially with homing missiles, should have wiped out the X-wing before the various bridge crews were even aware of the X-wing in the first place.

Ah well, this is Disney after all. I managed to see most of the film by skipping through a lot more stupidisms (thank you Netflix for that capability). If there’s any comfort in feeling cheated for wasting my time, it’s that the next movie out of the Disney Star Wars movie chute, “Solo”, did pretty terrible by Star Wars money making standards, such that any future side movies are on hold. Perhaps “Solo” died on its own, or perhaps TLJ left a bad taste in more mouths than Disney realized. Who knows. But I do know this: I’m never watching another movie from the Disney/Star Wars confluence. Anything Disney buys or creates they eventually destroy because all that matters to them is the money being made, plot and/or story be damned. “Star Wars” is turning into another “Pirates,” with each new sequel more expensive, more heavily invested in visual glitter, and more creatively bankrupt the further you go.


The screen shots were made on my MBP with the latest Firefox. I tried to screen shot the same scenes using Netflix on both iOS and Android, but was blocked by doing so by the apps. Whatever…

ends and beginnings

Carrie Frances Fischer – 1956 – 2016

I mentioned the original Star Wars movie in the last post. What I didn’t mention is that I watched it a total of 24 times over a twelve month period. I did that because I was “starved” for entertaining science fiction that made an attempt to actually look like it had some chance of being real. The last decent contemporary science fiction file I’d watched was 2001, and that was nine years before in 1968. When Star Wars was released, it was like a oasis in a cultural desert.

The first I ever heard about Star Wars was right before it was released through critic Gene Shalit on the Today Show. Mr. Shalit was excited about Star Wars. Over about a week before it hit the theaters, he would do a number of stories and reviews of the movie. That got me motivated to see it the weekend of the release. I was immediately taken by the movie, so much that I took my dad and brother out the next weekend to see it. Folks now find much to criticize about the movie, but when it was first released, we all just accepted the entire movie and ignored whatever so-called flaws it might have (such as how a lone missile, with or without the Force, could blow up a major planet-sized weapon system called the Death Star). It was the idea of seeing all that tech flying around. Because movie tickets were only $2 back then and I wasn’t dating at the time, I watched the movie 24 times before it finally left the area.

And it was so much fun watching Carrie Fischer, as Princess Leia, the character with so much sass, who certainly wasn’t the screaming damsel in distress. If anything she was helping to save our ostensible heroes, such as when they were trying to get her out of the detention block on the Death Star and she shot their way out of it. She was a wonderfully fresh change to similar characters in other movies. I didn’t so much fall in love with Carrie Fischer the actress as Princess Leia the character.

To give you some idea what it was like to listen to Gene Shalit as well as the then-fresh faces from Star Wars, follow this link to the interview. It’s so much fun to watch it again.

I didn’t know Carrie, never met her, but I’m going to miss her none-the-less.