Star Wars-Practical Effects Vs. CGI

I know I talked about Star Wars last week, but I’ve just got to say something about the war that seems to be going on with the effect preferences for the films. When the original trilogy came out, CGI didn’t really exist, so naturally, everything was made by the extremely talented crew, and it looked astonishing, every costume, creature, set piece, etc. This is one of the reasons the films became so popular. The special effects for the time were practically unheard of.

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The prequels were made sometime later and used basically all CGI. This caused a great outcry by many people, no doubt because it insulted the awe the fans experienced the first time they saw the originals, thus irritating their nostalgia. Never mind the fact that 99% of the movie looked far better, it wasn’t the same as the beloved originals.

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The difference in effects I happen to like very much however. Each trilogy has a unique feel to it, largely in part by their special effects. The original trilogy had a much darker feel, and all the man made things fit that theme perfectly. You got the vibe that the world was a lousy place to live in due to the emperor’s rule and the dark magic around Darth Vader, who himself was completely black. Everything meshed together and made the movies very enjoyable.

The prequels were the opposite. Here we had the Republic in control, everyone seemed happy and less danger was scattered throughout the worlds. The galaxy seemed to be thriving and all the beautiful CGI effects added to this just as the physical effects played to the originals. The colors are all so vibrant, the world’s gorgeous, the lightsabers looked a whole lot better. Again, the effects worked so well for the theme of the movie that it came as a shock to me that so many people were complaining. CGI made everything look so much more alive as well.

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Look at Yoda in the original version of Episode 1. He was a horrendous looking puppet that had to go around in a flying chair. But when it was redone, he was CGI and looks amazing. Thanks to CGI, one can now believe Yoda to be a powerful Jedi warrior.

But not every can come to terms with change and technological advancements.. Though personally, I feel if you are going to judge a movie by it’s effects, then I feel you aren’t really enjoying the movies at all, good effects or bad, it means if so much of your attention is focused on such things, the story itself, the chunk of the movie to say, has failed to grip you.

But anyway. Disney buys Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise and then answers the cries of the fans and the solution we get is a horrible mish mash of CGI and practical effects. And it is just awful. The CGI looks great. I would say 90% of the movie is CGI, because sorry practical lovers, the world has moved beyond slow, costly practical effects and film makers are restricted badly due to the limits of human construction and all that. With CGI, literally anything is possible. So obviously, in the evermore competitive world we live in, movies have, particularly in the genre that is Star Wars, filled with intense battles, diverse worlds and creatures, and all sorts of flashy things going on, have advanced to a stage not possible with practical effects. It is not hard to see that CGI is a must to make these movies the most they can be. That is why George Lucas made 4-6 first afterall. The lack of CGI made his visions for 1-3 impossible.

So as I said, we have a mish mash in 7 and 8. For the most part, it is fine, but there are so many puppets I noticed when I just watched episode 8 for the second time that just look so terrible and out of place. You can’t place puppets in a CGI world with more than half the surrounding creatures CGI as well. They stand out like a very, very sore thumb. Plus, they don’t even look good. At least in the original trilogy, mostly everything looked believable and amazing. In the casino scene in episode 8, there’s just puppets sitting at tables that look like they were just pulled from a ventriloquist’s arm and plopped at a table. They look SO BAD and it pulls you out of the fantasy that is Star Wars.

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Another horrid example that comes to the front of my mind is some stupid bird on Jakku in episode 7. It looks good when standing still but when it moves, dear God does it look bad.  It moves like a stupid puppet and not a bird, leaving you with a disgusted feeling because you are pulled out of the world thanks to such horrid “effects.” If you want to makes practical effects, great, but they have to act, move and feel real. They failed here and several other places.

This brings me to my next point. CGI really does make everything look more alive. Animators can make things move more realistically, this doesn’t go just for creatures but for the X-Wings and other ships. A model of a ship is limited vastly on how it can move, but with CGI you can do whatever you want, and the ships look better too.

Sure older CGI doesn’t age well usually, but it still looks better than the crap practical ones they are making now. And that’s not to say practical effects don’t age well either, because many don’t as well.

So I ask what is the point of holding on to nostalgic feelings and all that if it means hindering the potential that a film could truly be? These companies are going out of their way to please fans like this, but these fans are never going to be happy anyway because obviously they are so absorbed by the originals that nothing anyone can ever do will ever please them! This all wraps around back to my nostalgia prevents progression post.

But don’t get me wrong, some stuff still looks great, but it still for the most part seems so out of place in today’s world.

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Is Star Wars: The Last Jedi Better the Second Time Watching?

The more one watches the same film, the more their opinion changes, or so I’ve noticed. You may like a movie better each time, or like it less, noticing things that you may have missed the first few times viewing it. Also, once you know what to expect, you can go into the movie with a suitable mind set and severely lowered expectations.

amazing spider man 2I recently discovered just how much an opinion can change when I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the third time. The first time I watched it…in theaters…I thought it was awful garbage, save for the 3 scenes Spider-Man was in it. It doesn’t help that I saw two movies in the theater that day, Captain America: Winter Soldier was the first I saw, about a half hour before ASM2. That, being one of the best super hero movies of all time, might have really crushed Spider-Man’s movie looking any good at all.

The second time I watched it, I was prepared for it’s disappointment and I actually found it good, though nothing great. This might be because I watched the other 4 Spider-Man films before it, and I find Sam Raimi’s trilogy to be far superior to the two newer ones, which may have shown me how lacking ASM2 was, much in the same way Winter Soldier did.

But the third time I watched it, I only watched Amazing Spider-Man before it, and this time around, I found the movie to be quite excellent, like an 8 out of 10 excellent.

So with this knowledge, I hesitantly bought The Last Jedi, a film that completely ruined a series I adored my whole life. What made me even more hesitant is that each time I watch The Force Awakens, I like it less.

So did I like this film more or less?

I would have to say more. And I didn’t watch it with any other Star Wars movies, where as the first time, I watched all 7 leading up to it. I didn’t hate the parts with Luke in it as much, and the casino scene didn’t seem as long as I remembered.

Do I like the movie now? No, not really. By itself, I have to say it is a solid movie, but when you remember it’s connected to 7 other movies, I can only just shake my head. When I remember Luke is acting so un-Lukeish, then those scenes become worse to me. But I tried to forget the other movies and I almost liked it. Sort of…

The plot is still boring, the lack of anything interesting going on is still annoying, but the movie is easy enough to sit through and that is all that counts.

Though there are 3 points in the movie that I swear the characters are talking to the audience.

star-wars-the-last-jedi_0The first is when Luke tells Rey “What? Did you expect me to walk out with a laser sword and face down the entire First Order?” Not an exact quote but something like that.

This feels like the writers calling out the fans who wanted to see Luke kick some serious tail with unbelievable Jedi power. It’s basically telling us to shut up, that’s not going to happen, and just for thinking that, we aren’t going to make him do anything and then kill him for no reason at all. So hah! Dumb fans.

The second instance of the characters talking to the fans is when Kylo is yelling at Rey to forget the past. He is really telling us to forget about the other movies and all the lore and characters and everything that the main plot of Force Awakens was built around and focus on Rey and Kylo and their relationship and growth of power. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!

I sadly don’t remember the third instance, but it’s in there!

It is painfully obvious that the original characters were only put into the movies to sell tickets, and now they are killing them off as fast as possible. Carrie Fisher saved them the trouble of having to kill off Leia, but you can bet Chewie is probably going to blow up in the Millennium Falcon with R2 and C-3PO in the next movie.

But anyway, yes, it is better the second time around, so now I am wondering if third time’s the charm…

Ironically, though I liked it more the second time, I have even less interest in seeing Episode 9 now for some reason.

Series Ranked: Star Wars Lightsaber Duels

I would love to do a series ranked on the actual Star Wars movies, but my opinion of which I like better than others always changes each time I watch them all, so it is kind of impossible to do. So instead, I will rank all the lightsabers duels from worst to best, as that is more clear cut.

#13

Luke Skywalker Vs Darth Vader

The Empire Strikes Back

Dagobah

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This isn’t a real fight, but a quick test of Yoda’s that I still don’t understand 25 years later. But I just put it in to be thorough. Their sabers clash twice and it’s over.

#12

Obi-Wan Kenobi Vs Darth Vader

A New Hope

Death Star

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The first duel to ever take place on film between two Jedi. An amazing feat for the 70’s, but it really is rather dull. But given that it is the first, it is excusable. These two have clearly gotten rusty in the past 20 years.

#11

Obi-Wan Kenobi Vs General Grievous

Revenge of the Sith

Utapau

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This is a different type of fight due to Greivous being more droid than man. This actually benefits him as he is able to do nifty things real people can’t. But this proves no match for actual training it seems, as the whole scene is very short and really shows off Obi-Wan’s skills.

#10

Qui-Gon Jinn Vs Darth Maul

The Phantom Menace

Tatooine

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This is the first fight made after the original trilogy and it does not disappoint. It is an intense fight that showcases both duelers superb abilities. The only reason it is this low on the list is because it is sadly, very short.

#9

Luke Skywalker Vs Darth Vader

The Empire Strikes Back

Bespin

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The second saber duel in the original trilogy is a vast improvement over the first. They show off force aided combat for the first time, even if it looks a little silly at times, but it is cool to watch nonetheless. I very much like how Vader is toying with Luke at first, but Luke seems to improve the more he fights, thus Vader had to put some effort in to beat him.

#8

Mace Windu and co. Vs Darth Sidious

Revenge of the Sith

Coruscant

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At long last we get to see what Palpatine and Mace can do. It’s pretty awesome, but probably could have been better. Sidious kills 3 people who don’t even fight back…this could have been choreographed much better. Windu then shows off why he is called the most powerful Jedi with a saber, beating him almost easily. Some nice use of the dark side makes this a very important scene as well.

#7

Luke Skywalker Vs Darth Vader

Return of the Jedi

Death Star

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This is an intense duel between father and son, aided with great music accompaniment. While not that thrilling of a fight, the emotion behind it makes it very good, as well as Luke calling upon the dark side to win, but not giving into it.

#6

Fin/Rey Vs Kylo Ren

The Force Awakens

Starkiller Base

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This is a good fight. It gives us some nice action, though it is not nearly as exciting as the prequel fights. Though since none of the combatants are trained nearly as well as the Jedis of the past, and really, not at all for two of them, it makes sense. Kylo demonstrates his training by easily defeating Fin. Rey demonstrates how ungodly powerful she is by using both light and dark force. A cool use of scenery and lighting really add to the scene too.

#5

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker Followed By Yoda Vs Darth Tyranus

Attack of the Clones

Geonosis

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This is technically two fights, but since they are back to back and against the same Sith Lord, I’m throwing them in as one. When Obi-Wan and Anakin fight him, they get completely destroyed. There’s a cool light trick in the dark that is fun to watch, but otherwise is nothing that spectacular. And then Yoda comes along and fulfills everything I ever dreamed of. He easily overpowers Tyranus’ force powers and then proceeds to do some of the most amazing stunts in history, forcing Tyranus to retreat. Just awesome.

#4

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker

Vs Darth Tyranus

Revenge of the Sith

Invisible Hand

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This rematch is much more thrilling and shows Anakin favor the dark side considerably.

#3

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi Vs Darth Maul

The Phantom Menace

Naboo

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This is an amazing fight. Darth Maul, with his double-sided lightsaber pulls off some crazy stunts. The two Jedi do all they can to defend against him and it makes some amazing entertainment. Things really kick up a notch when Obi-Wan takes him alone, showing off what a great Jedi he will eventually become.

#2

Yoda Vs Darth Sidious

Revenge of the Sith

Coruscant

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The most powerful Jedi faces off with the most powerful Sith, another thing I wanted to see my whole life, and it did not disappoint. A great saber battle gives way to a match in force powers with fun use of scenery. Yoda seems to be the stronger of the two, but due to some bad luck the Republic falls and all the Jedi die.

#1

Obi-Wan Kenobi Vs Darth Vader

Revenge of the Sith

Mustafar

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Damn…just damn. This is by far and away the most amazing duel ever. Great setting, great choreography, great mood, high stakes. It’s all there. The fact that they use the exact same fighting style showing off how much Vader learned from Obi-Wan is so cool. They are essentially equally matched, but Obi-Wan keeps a “cooler” head and comes out victorious.

 

And there you have it! I hope there will be plenty of more saber battles in the future, which is why I desperately wish they move away from the spin offs taking place between 3 and 4 and do something more with Jedi.

Either way, I absolutely love every Star Wars movie and can’t wait for The Last Jedi!

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