The Star Wars Saga: The Franchise From Top to Bottom 0 220


This is a guest post by Maria Ramos.

Star Wars fans worldwide are psyched for the impending release of the newest installment in the film franchise, Episode VII – The Force Awakens. This much-anticipated film is set nearly 30 years after Return of the Jedi. With the premiere of The Force Awakens fast approaching, it’s a perfect time to marathon the Star Wars films of years past. Which movies should you spend your weekends re-watching? We’ve examined the merits and shortcomings of Episodes I-VI and ranked these epic films from top to bottom.

1.) Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)


The Empire Strikes Back is perhaps the darkest film in the Star Wars saga. Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker continue their fight against the omnipotent Darth Vader. Luke’s training with Jedi Master Yoda and the debut of Boba Fett are just two of the many treats viewers have to look forward to in this installment of the series. The film’s tremendous battles and epic plot twist both serve to make Empire one of the most unforgettable films of all time.

2.) Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars A New Hope

Episode IV, the original Star Wars film, became a pop culture phenomenon immediately upon its release in 1977. George Lucas’ magnificent directing coupled with John Williams’ legendary score revolutionized cinema forever. The Rebel Alliance‘s quest to take down the Death Star captivates audiences to this day. The scope and beauty of the Star Wars universe coupled with the introduction of unforgettable characters such as Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi make Star Wars an enduring classic.

3.) Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)


Though not as strong as the first two films in the series, Return of the Jedi remains an enthralling tale of love and war. Amazing action sequences and new antagonists, including malicious Emperor Palpatine and crime lord Jabba the Hutt, make this film one of the most memorable in the Star Wars saga. Luke and Anakin both undergo major changes throughout the course of the film. Unlike most movies in the franchise, Jedi ends on a positive note, commemorating the end of the original film trilogy.

4.) Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)


Despite being the best film in the more recent Star Wars trilogy, Revenge of the Sith fails to achieve the greatness of the original film trifecta. The film traces Anakin’s fall from grace and his defection to the Dark Side. The film’s major weaknesses lie in its awkward, stilted dialogue and mediocre plot line. The addition of General Grievous and the unrealistic relationship between Anakin and Padme drag the film down. Though Sith has its weaknesses, its spectacular battle sequences and special effects still make it a film worth watching.

5.) Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)


Attack of the Clones is among the weakest of the Star Wars films. The film follows Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they investigate an assassination attempt on Senator Padme Amidala. The ten-year jump between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones coupled with Hayden Christensen‘s moody characterization of Anakin Skywalker make the film hard to watch. Jumbled dialogue and limited character development plague this film as well. Despite its weaknesses, the Coruscant chase scene and the visually stunning depiction of the Battle of Geonosis rank amongst the most memorable scenes in the Star Wars saga.

6.) Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)


The Phantom Menace is by far the most painful Star Wars film to sit through. From the dreaded appearance of Jar Jar Binks to the mediocre acting of Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker, the first film of the second trilogy suffers from a number of fundamental issues. Arguably the worst part of The Phantom Menace, however, is the film’s dreadful plot. The film details the problems associated with trade agreements and political disputes. By replacing passion and warfare with tedious dialogue and negotiations, Menace loses the spark that made other Star Wars films so great. The film’s fantastic final duel is one of the only saving graces of Star Wars: Episode I.

The Force Awakens & the Future of Star Wars


Episode VII: The Force Awakens will introduce a new set of enemies led by the nefarious Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a new and mysterious Force-wielding villain. In addition to new characters, The Force Awakens will feature revamped interstellar factions and previously undiscovered worlds.

Since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, the Star Wars franchise has seen many spin-offs and reincarnations. New animated programs such as Star Wars Rebels and mini-series like Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales can now be caught on cable TV (more info). In addition to new episodes in the Star Wars saga, a separate film series known as Star Wars Anthology is in the works, with the first film, Rogue One, scheduled for a December 2016 release. The first film in the anthology will tell the harrowing tale of a rebel group attempting to steal the plans for the Death Star; later films in the series are expected to delve deeper into the stories of Boba Fett and Han Solo.

One thing is certain: the Star Wars franchise is experiencing a mammoth second renaissance. Fans are guaranteed to have an abundance of new films to enjoy in the years ahead.

Source: Ain’t It Cool (header image)

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Review: Cineworld VIP Experience 0 859

I’ve been a Cineworld customer for many years now and an Unlimited member since my Uni days back in 2008. As a blogger (here and elsewhere) and film critic for The National newspaper, it’s been an invaluable and extremely cost-effective way of seeing as many movies as I can.

The recent refurbishment at the Renfrew Street location – hats off to Cineworld for keeping the cinema open as best as possible while all of this was going on – has promised big changes to how you can experience a trip to the movies. First the superscreen, then the fun novelty that is 4DX. But now they’ve added something of luxury that truly takes things to the next level.

I’m talking about the much anticipated VIP Experience, which is housed on the top floor of the humongous cinema. Straight away when you walk in you’re greeted at the doors by staff into a private lounge area with various comfortable seats and stools dotted around. There’s plenty of room – an impressive capacity of almost 160 people – so you don’t feel like you’re being crowded as you wait for your film to start. There’s a nice laid back atmosphere that’s quite hard to put your finger on without experiencing it for yourself.

VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields
VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields

Most impressive of the pre-showing experience, however, is the food and drink on offer. There’s a gourmet buffet to choose from prepared locally by a chef, featuring everything from pizza to fresh salads to cake bites. There’s also a stocked bar (not an open one, sadly, but reasonably priced!) and the usual cinema snacks like popcorn, nachos and hot dogs. It feels like something that you could really make a trip of, treating it as a date or family night where you count it as a meal as well as seeing a movie.

VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields
VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields

By far my favourite aspect of the VIP experience – I saw The Accountant on this occasion, which I’ll be reviewing next week – was the actual screening rooms themselves. It used to be that there was one big hall on the top floor with two smaller, frankly not-so-comfortable ones squashed together down the corridor but that is no more.

The new rooms are state-of-the-art, chic and intimate but still suitably spacy. Most importantly, as far as I’m concerned, there are large, leather La-Z-Boy chairs that recline for ultimate comfort. There are also little swiveling tray tables to hold all your snacks and drinks – a nice little touch. As comfortable as the new seats Cineworld has installed in the regular screens are, I have to see the reclining ones this experience offers are far superior.

VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields
VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields
VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields
VIP at cineworldPhotograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572© Martin Shields

The VIP Experience is a little pricey – £29 for standard ticket, £19 with an Unlimited card – but I would definitely say it’s worth it considering all the things you get with it, especially if you’re treating it as a big night out. Be warned though – once you’ve tasted it, you might not want to see a film any other way!

Deadpool and the Anti-Hero 0 172


While the concept of the anti-hero is nothing new, the popularity of this archetype in recent decades certainly seems to be. Found as far back as ancient Greece and Rome, the anti-hero is simply someone who operates under some sort of moral ambiguity or who has some character flaws that keep him or her from being seen as a traditional hero.

Yet, for all of these flaws, we as an audience are drawn more and more to this type of character in everything from a watered down version in Disney films such as Tangled to hardcore offerings through television shows such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones – just to name a few. With the movie Deadpool currently in cinemas, we can give some new love to this most recent inductee of the anti-hero club.

Television, in particular, has offered up some of the darkest and scariest places and storylines of its history, with audiences eating it up and screaming for more. An anti-hero such as Walter White in Breaking Bad is someone we are simultaneously repulsed by and drawn to. Being forced to deal with a flawed healthcare system is something most of us can relate to fairly easily, and we applaud a character for fighting back in what he sees as the only means available to him, even while disagree with the lengths he goes to within the series. We sympathize with Walter, even when we don’t always agree with his choices.


The same holds true for anti-heroes of past decades, with audiences embracing the concept of “The Man with No Name” from the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western Dollars trilogy of the 1960s and Michael Corleone of The Godfather fame. These characters are accepted along with their flaws because there is something about them and their situation that we can relate to and sympathize with. It’s the same reason that Han Solo tends to score higher on lists of the most popular Star Wars characters than Luke Skywalker, the series’ traditional hero, and why the original trilogy often tops lists of the best of the franchise.

Apparently, the double standard is alive and well within the anti-hero popularity phenomena, though, with audiences much more willing to accept men with flaws than women with them. We expect our female characters to support their flawed male counterparts and be instrumental in their development, but to not need someone else to develop themselves. Catwoman is one of the few exceptions to this idea, remaining a popular female anti-hero and thankfully still available for viewing through Netflix and DTV.

Marketing behind Deadpool plays on our sympathies and our curiosity by playing up the flaws in conjunction with the strengths. We can sympathize with the idea of someone previously used and rejected making a comeback with witty and sarcastic humor and some serious fighting skills. The character Deadpool gets to say and do what many of us would like to have the nerve to say and do to those that abuse, reject, or ignore our potential, turning his Special Forces skills to a mercenary lifestyle.

From Mad Max to Deadpool, our love for the anti-hero continues to grow as we’re given more opportunities to vicariously live out our fantasies of living in a complicated and conflicted world by acting according to our own flawed moral code – regardless of the legal or moral expectations. As long as we continue to fight the current structures of our society, the anti-hero will likely remain our favorite hero of choice, taking a stand and doing things we wouldn’t dare do ourselves but wish that we could.


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