Month: February 2019

Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume 1 (2003)

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Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The prequels aren’t bad.

Okay, fine, scratch that.

The prequels are bad.

But they aren’t only bad.

I like to think of it this way; If the Star Wars prequel trilogy was just three bad movies, no more, no less, I wouldn’t know who Kit Fisto is.

It’s this guy.

Much digital ink has been spilt about how George Lucas, once he got the chance to make the prequel trilogy and had the clout to do it without having to listen to a single solitary other human being, revealed himself to be a talentless hack who was lucky enough to have some really talented people to collaborate with the first time around.

That’s not true.

Sorry, scratch that.

That’s not entirely true.

The prequel trilogy sees Lucas’ worst faults as a film-maker on display; a love of cringe-inducing, borderline offensive comic relief, little to no inclination or ability to get believable performances out of his actors and the little matter of being one of the worst dialogists on the Hollywood A List.

But he does have skills, not least a knack for world building and for crafting character arcs that tap into deep, universal themes.

One of the great misconceptions about The Phantom Menace is that it’s boring because it’s about politics, which is like saying that Westerns are boring because they feature gunfights. Politics is one of the most inherently thrilling subjects that fiction can tackle, particularly in times of unrest (Christ, have you looked at the news at any time in the last ten years and thought it was a snoozefest?). The movies themselves may be largely terrible, but the world they conjure, an ancient and increasingly corrupt democracy slowly sliding into fascism against the backdrop of an impossibly vast conflict spanning the galaxy, is incredibly fertile and (if I’m honest) a good bit more interesting than the war between the squeaky clean rebels and the boo-hissable Empire.

The subject of today’s review is an odd beast. Released in 2003 when Attack of the Clones was still steaming on the sidewalk and Revenge of the Sith was just a relatively watchable glint in Lucas’ eye, Star Wars: Clone Wars was a series of shorts released online filling in the adventures of Obi-Wan and Anakin set between episodes 2 and 3. The series was overseen by Genndy Tartatovsky, creator of Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack and master of having characters do something very, very slowly while a violin chord plays and I’ve looked everywhere for the name of that thing but it doesn’t seem to have a name so whaddyagonnado?

These cartoons were a huge hit, winning awards and critical acclaim and with fans the world over joyously proclaiming them to be the one good thing to come out of the prequels. And then George Lucas came along and said “Nope, none of this is canon. I’m doing a new Clone Wars series. All in CGI. And do you know who’s going to have whole episodes devoted to him? Jar Jar Fuckin’ Binks, that’s who. You’re welcome.”

And the fans were all: “…………………………………………………why do you keep doing this?”

Star Wars: Clone Wars (CW) has a weird relationship with its sister show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TCW), launched in 2008 under the supervision of Dave Filoni. TCW had a really rough roll out, with Lucas making the truly baffling decision to release the two-hour pilot as a stand-alone movie meaning it would draw inevitable comparisons with the original trilogy. Season 1 rarely rose above the level of competent kiddie fair and the fandom wailed for poor, wronged Genndy. But then, something odd happened. TCW started getting better, and kept at it, expanding on existing characters, introducing new ones and telling some of the best and most compelling stories ever told in this universe. If you saw Solo and were confused as to why Darth Maul seemed in rather rude good health it’s because TCW realised what a waste it was to have killed him off in Phantom Menace and brought him back. After initially meeting only scorn, TCW’s prestige in the fanbase is such that it was actually genuinely difficult for me to research this review because Google kept assuming I was looking for information on the later show.

So CW has gone from critical and fandom darling to almost forgotten afterthought. Which is more deserved? Which show is better? Will I ever find a better way to end an introduction than asking rhetorical questions?

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20/20 0scar Winners!

So, obviously, when I said “I’ll post the results of the 20/20 Oscars on Oscar Night” I meant “I’ll contract food poisoning and spend all day violently vomiting and wishing for the sweet release of death”. But hey, better to do that because of spoiled chicken than seeing Green Book win Best Movie, right?

“Mouse, did you even see Green Book?”

“No, I was making a cheap joke. I’m sure it’s just grand.”

Actually, if you’re interested, here’s my opinion on all the nominees:

Blackkklansman: Saw it, loved it.

The Favourite: Haven’t seen it but the trailer gave off a definite “Death of Stalin” vibe so I am in.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Occasionally rises to “guilty pleasure”.

Vice: Haven’t seen it, impressions are bad.

A Star Is Born: Haven’t seen it, heard great things.

Roma: Ditto.

Black Panther: Yeah it’s great but with the benefit of hindsight I don’t think it should have won. It wasn’t the best superhero movie ever. Heck it wasn’t the best superhero movie released this year. Double heck, it wasn’t even the best superhero movie this year featuring a black Marvel superhero and an all-time great hip hop soundtrack.

Best comic book movie ever. Fight me.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a historic record righted. Please give a warm welcome to our host, Kevin Hart!

“1999 was a great year for the art of movie-making…”

“Mouse? How did you get Kevin Hart?!”

“I dunno. He was going real cheap and I didn’t ask questions.”

“…in conclusion, this is what my life has come to. And now the winners.”

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Alright, alright, jeez…

Firstly, a big howdy-doody to new patron Brooks Chupp, legendary silent movie film star and rumoured paramour of First Lady Grace Coollidge.

Now you may have heard that the Frozen 2 and Aladdin trailers have dropped so let’s see if we can guess the plot and save ourselves the price of a pair of cinema tickets.

  • Okay, Elsa has gone mad with power and declared war on the ocean King Cnut style.
  • Meanwhile Anna discovers that the ocean’s allies, the nefarious blue diamonds, have launched a sneak attack on the castle in Elsa’s absence.
  • But all is not lost, Christof, who, despite his love for Anna has married the queen of the reindeer to cement a dynastic alliance, rides with the reindeer army to liberate Arrendale from the icy pointy clutches of the blue diamonds and send them back to Homeworld. But at what cost?
  • Lots of leaves. Loooots of leaves. I think Disney are betting that leaves are the new snow. Getting a very autumnal vibe from this. Or as you Americans call it, “fallish”.
  • Anna just straight up cutting a bitch.

Okay, I mostly dig this. I was afraid that this was following in the footsteps of Frozen Fever and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and this definitely seems to have more somber, high stakes tone. Love the colour pallette too, and hearing Idina Menzel (I think?) try her hand at the Sami chanting from the first movie was a real kick. So, yeah, cautiously optimistic.

Let’s see how quickly we can kill that.

Oh boy. So can we first get this out of the way: They have “Arabian Nights” playing in the background, Jafar and Aladdin standing in front of the Cave of Wonders and then Jafar dropping the name “Aladdin” like it’s supposed to be a massive reveal. Like, who the hell else is it going to be? Ariel?

As to what happens in the plot, my guess is: THE EXACT SAME THING THAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST ALADDIN ONLY WITH A FEW EXTRANEOUS SUB PLOTS AND MAYBE RAJAH WILL BE GAY NOW #DIVERSITY.

Look Disney, if you’re going to KEEP FUCKING DOING THIS at least remake the ones that would actually benefit from a remake. Atlantis. Black Cauldron. Treasure Planet. You know, the ones that had good concepts that just needed better execution.

Also:

Image result for will smith genie

I dreamed this thing many years ago when stricken by a terrible fever and now it’s real and out in the world and I think this is the the end for all of us. I think we are doomed. Good bye.

 

Announcing the Unshaved Mouse 20/20 Oscars!

People in the past are idiots. Look at them there, waging pointless wars, dying of diseases that we can now easily cure and not appreciating the genius of Van Gogh. Bunch of putzes.

Here in the future of course, we know better. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back in time and show those darn pasties how do to do things right? Well, here’s the next best thing.

Every year the Oscars roll around and every year I mark the occasion by doing absolutely nothing. You see, despite being a movie buff I just can’t frickin’ stand the Oscars. I hate the whole dull circle jerk. I hate that the “right” movie almost never wins, and that even when it does it inevitably suffers a hipster backlash from insufferable  up their ass movie nerds like…well…me. But I also object to the whole idea. What was the best movie last year? I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. Because that shit takes time to sort out. It takes years of watching and re-watching and cultural commentary and perspective to mark a film as being a true classic. That’s why, this year, I am announcing the 20/20 Oscars, a (hopefully) annual event here on Unshaved Mouse. Every year we will look back on what was being considered 20 years ago and vote in the major categories and this time we will get it right.

So, 19 years ago the 71st Academy Awards were voting on 1999’s crop of movies. It was a pretty good year overall, with plenty of films that could benefit some hindsight. Vote below and we will announce the results on Oscar night.

Best Picture

 

The Breadwinner (2017)

This review was requested by patron Alex Hu. If you’d like me to review a movie, please consider supporting my Patreon.

Fuck Wikipedia.

I had one hell of an intro lined up for this one. I was going to open with a description of the Book of Kells, and detail how the blue dye illustrating this mediaeval masterpiece of Irish art had to be imported all the way from ancient Afghanistan. I would then tie that into a line from The Breadwinner where the character Nurullah describes how the ancient peoples of Afghanistan traded all over the world. Then  I was going to connect that to how director Nora Twomey’s previous film The Secret of Kells led directly into The Breadwinner, showing how Ireland and Afghanistan have, improbably, been transmitting ideas and beauty between each other for millennia. And how even between two incredibly distant nations there can be bonds of shared history and culture. How we are all, truly, one people.

And then I go to Wikipedia and discover that the theory of the Book of Kells being created with ink from Afghanistan has been debunked so never fucking mind then.

“Don’t know why I bother really.” 

Anyway, this is the third film of current animated hotness Cartoon Saloon. Like their previous two movies, this is an international co-production, this time between Ireland, Canada and Luxembourg.

“I helped!”

“Aw, you sure did.”

Directed by Nora Twomey  and produced by Angelina Jolie, The Breadwinner is based on the novel by the same name by Deborah Ellis. Upon the movie’s release in 2017 it was heralded as an instant classic and became the only non-American film to be nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2017.

Boss Baby was also nominated. Because the Oscars are meaningless nonsense.

But is it really that good? Does it really deserve to be spoken of in the same breath as classics like Boss Baby and Ferdinand (seriously, fuck the Oscars)? Let’s take a look at The Breadwinner or, as I call it, Mulan but Everything is Terrible.

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New patrons!

Another new patron joins the ranks of the few, the brave, the mice:

Sam Minden, star of the police drama of the same name which ran on CBS from 1957 to 1972. The show’s unique selling point was that it was not a “whodunnit?” like Kojak or a “howcatch’em?” like Columbo. Instead, Minden would use his knowledge of fashion to deduce the killer based on their designer outfit alone, becoming TVs first (and so far only) “whohewearin’whenhedunnit?”

New patrons!

Hi folks,

Two new patrons to introduce to you all:

Rudi Baeten, legendary Netherlands football player (1968-1974). He invented the concept of “Total Football” where players would undergo intensive psychological conditioning until they believed that they were footballs. Unfortunately, the technique ultimately took its toll on Baeten’s marriage when he abandoned his wife and three children and eloped with an imitation plastic Adidas Tricolore, with whom he spent the rest of his days rolling gently down a beach in the Dutch Caribbean.

Adam Davis was the 13th Vice-President of the United States for all of five minutes before the notoriously fickle James Buchanan jilted him in favour of John C. Breckinridge. Davis never forgave this betrayal, and when informed that Breckinridge had betrayed the Union and joined the Confederacy is said to have remarked “Well, what would you expect from that tramp?”