The Worst Spider-Man Movie Of All Time

Just a Friendly Neighborhood Reminder

WARNING: Mild spoilers for all Spider-Man movies from 2000-2019 (excluding Spider-Man: Far From Home), MCU movies with the character (including Avengers: Endgame), and a LOT of language due to unyielding rage. This is definitely a more “negative” post meant to be angry-funny, so I apologize to readers that aren’t fans of that. I DO want to thank you all for the immense support on my last two posts about The Battle of Winterfell and the X-Men. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d write again during my hiatus, but since I started doing “once a month” in April I’ve been met with more views and positive feedback, so thanks for reading. Look forward to more nuanced and/or entertaining pieces every month!

Spider-Man is an extremely personal character for almost every nerd in the world. Saying that “my favorite superhero is Spider-Man” is the geek version of saying “my interests include traveling, dogs, and The Office” in the sense that no shit, everyone likes those things. However, there’s way more nuance and emotion behind fans’ love of the character of Spider-Man. Who knew that the superhero whose relatability spanned generations would be an awkward underprivileged nerd who chooses responsibility and tries his best, but is constantly hit with reality and uses humor to cope?

A certain charm of Spider-Man is that regardless of his numerous and seemingly incessant struggles, Peter Parker tends to just be “the best of us”. In the MCU alone, this is seen through many moments across the movies including telling Tony Stark that he couldn’t go to Germany because “he has homework”, blasting off into space to fight Thanos because “he can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighborhood”, and carrying the Infinity Gauntlet across a chaotic battlefield. This shows us that the young Peter has a heart of pure heroism that rivals even Captain Steve Rogers’, which is arguably why Tony (and audiences everywhere) is so fond of Peter. Even Tobey McGuire’s portrayal of Peter Parker ( in Sam Raimi’s trilogy) had its own campy charm, and Spider-Man 2 (2004) itself is hailed as one of the most successful and acclaimed comic book films of the 2000s. 

In the midst of these versions of a Silver-Screen-Spider-Man, unfortunately we had to deal with The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). Two years ago I did a series called “Hype for Homecoming” (this was a very different blog back then) and I wrote this absolute mess of a piece breaking down just how much The Amazing Spider-Man pissed me off. I basically went off on how Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was an unlikable creep, they promised us Spidey would be funny but only gave us one real scene (which was in the trailer), it was incredibly inconsistent with tone, and that there was no heart to the movie because its purpose was to set-up another one. 

Today I will do what I have been wanting to do for a long time now, and set in stone that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a dumpster fire, and the worst Spidey movie ever conceived. It is 2019 and this is somehow still not accepted as universal fact, when it 100% should be. It triggers me when I see a power-ranking of Spider-Man movies and this one is not at the bottom. This is not only a bad Spider-Man movie, it is also just a bad movie, period. 

To be honest, my hatred of this movie didn’t start right away. I remember seeing it in theaters and thinking it was “okay”. It was only years later, when I re-watched every Spidey movie to prepare myself for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), when I realized that this was so bad because I genuinely could not even finish it. This script has absolutely no fucking idea what it wants to accomplish. It gives off the impression that Sony wanted to do cool stuff with the Sinister Six but were compelled to make two set-up movies and treated them like an inconvenience. They tried to make them different from Sam Raimi’s in minuscule ways, portray that in trailers, and then they didn’t care what the hell else was going on as long as they got to throw everything in there that said “be sure to come back when we do Sinister Six and Venom”. This results in an incredibly unfocused narrative and zero semblance of a cohesive plot. 

“Well ackshually, Spider-Man 3 (2007) is the worst Spidey movie because that’s just so obviously the worst, right? Remember the Peter Parker jazz hands?!” 

Okay, sure, but you know what? At least the jazz hands make me smile in hindsight. At least I know what Peter’s whole deal is and all the stupidity at least falls into a structured story. At least the villains have some fucking realistic motivations. At least there’s some tension as to what’s going to happen. At least the final fight with the Goblin + Spidey team-up is cool. I don’t give a flying fuck about your web shooters, or your precious quips, or how handsome Andrew Garfield is, I don’t see any value in a Spidey movie which leaves me confused on the story and the characters! I can sit here and rant for hours about how there’s nothing to take away from this nonsensical clusterfuck, so let’s get to some specifics before this post becomes as disorganized as the movie itself.

PETER PARKER’S PARENTS

If you look at the marketing for the first movie, there was an empty promise about “The Untold Story”, bringing Peter Parker’s actual parents into the mix and using them as plot devices to connect the dots. That marketing made much more sense in this movie instead because it barely came into play in the first. Even in this one, the subplot was “resolved” in the most unsatisfying way possible. We OPEN this movie with some kind of knockoff Dark Knight Rises “Bane on a plane” sequence where Richard Parker is trying to upload some video explaining his disappearance, only to be attacked by an assassin of sorts. One can assume that this is probably going to come into play and be a huge plot point going forward. Especially because Peter does some Charlie Day shit and makes a stereotypical “conspiracy theory” wall, only to tear it down later, throw a graphing calculator at the wall, breaking it to reveal subway tokens…which then leads him to a secret underground train where he finds the super secret video that his father uploaded in the opening sequence…yeah, I know. Wow. 

Anyway, the BIG REVEAL is that Richard made the genetically altered spiders and that Norman wanted to weaponize them and there were ethical differences between the two. Except WE ALREADY FUCKING KNEW THAT FROM THE LAST ONE THROUGH SUBTEXT AND HEAVY IMPLICATION. If you wrote this entire story-line out of both movies, literally nothing else would change! 

GWEN STACEY AND HER RELATIONSHIP WITH PETER

Gwen Stacy is a phenomenal character in the Spider-Man mythos, and Emma Stone is a great actress, which is why this portrayal of Gwen is just tragic. She has no real purpose other than to be this intense reminder of guilt for Peter that he constantly ignores (because again, Peter is barely even a hero in this series). She had like ONE throwaway thing in the last movie about how “she’s lived the life of a cop’s daughter so she worries about Peter”. It was a sweet moment that continues to not matter as all the intelligence and independence we know and love Gwen for just goes right out the window. 

The relationship between Peter and Gwen is so on & off that it feels like they’ve gotten together/broken up somewhere in the double digits. Regardless of how nauseating this somehow “shittier than Twilight” romance is, this really SHOULDN’T BE an on and off thing, right? If your girlfriend’s dad’s last wish was to leave his daughter out of your vigilante shenanigans, you REALLY shouldn’t be constantly trying to make the relationship work and outright stalking her. I understand the need for romance in this, but couldn’t the main “subplot” have been that they’re trying to be friends? Couldn’t Peter have been distant, leaving  Gwen to make her own decision as to who she wants to spend time with? I don’t get why plot is constantly pushed through Gwen, as she has interactions with BOTH villains before they become villains, and shows up at nearly every dangerous situation Spidey finds himself in. 

Aside from that, her death just felt super cheap, like it became REALLY apparent how dirty they did her character. I get that they were trying not to make a “damsel-in-distress”, but that means giving Gwen her own thing and taking charge of her life, not just literally saying the words “ITS MY CHOICE TO BE HERE PETER”. If you had two villains, you could’ve easily had Gwen at Oscorp figuring shit out/dealing with one of them the entire time. I feel like all the time they spent on these tween-love scenes between Gwen and Peter is time they could’ve spent actually developing Gwen.

HARRY OSBORN

Oh great, another of my favorite characters done in the shittiest way possible. What’s worse is this is the script’s fault AND the actor’s fault. Even considering how we know now that James Franco is a creepy dude, I’d still defend him as “my Harry Osborn” because Dane Dehaan is just awful in this role, and the character itself here is even worse. Oh, by the way, Norman Osborn is just totally a non-issue because he’s dead…because of some retro-viral-something-or-the-other that’s taken years to kill him, slowly deforming him into what appears to be a goblin (love the subtlety here). Anyway, because this stupid disease makes no sense, Harry apparently has no time and it seems like he’s going to die in a matter of months? Also if Peter and Harry were friends beforehand, how was Peter so confused about everything Oscorp related in the last movie?? You don’t know your way around the facility at all, but you’re best friends with the heir of the corporate empire?

Perhaps the biggest bullshit regarding Harry is this BEYOND STUPID spider blood plot line. Apparently as Harry starts to research what could possibly cure him, he comes across information that leads him to believe that the radioactive spider’s blood is the cure to his goblin illness (which at this point looks like an infected hickey). So he asks Peter to “ask Spider-Man” and Peter visits him as Spider-Man just to say “nah sorry bro”. I can not emphasize how many times I legitimately thought this movie was written by two college screenwriting majors shroomed out of their minds. 

They also choose to resolve this by having Harry’s assistant basically tell him “hey there’s some weird stuff in the basement” and Harry gets a vial of the spider blood he craves (is this an appropriate time to mention that Sony’s doing a Morbius movie starring Jared Leto? Look up Morbius if you don’t know and just imagine that shit-show hitting theaters soon). Just as Peter predicted, this injection accelerates his disease and makes him look like a Goblin too…but he’s suddenly fine because he HOPS INTO THIS MAGICAL GREEN GOBLIN SUIT THAT STABILIZES HIM. If you had the technology all this time to keep this disease at bay…??? Oh my GOD this shit makes no sense whatsoever! 

So of course, naturally, he’s suddenly super good at being the Green Goblin right away, mastering the glider and everything. Then he goes to find Spider-Man for..reasons..and immediately deduces that its Peter and then shit happens and he’s gone. To top it all off as one final middle finger to the audience, Harry’s last scene shows someone inquiring about his life expectancy. He responds by saying “it comes and goes”. REALLY? REALLY??? God this is almost as bad as Peter’s last line about promises in the last movie!

ELECTRO

I think I’ve mentioned creepiness in this post more than any other I’ve written. That being said, even Max Dillon is a weird creepy dude obsessed with Spider-Man after one brief interaction. I always advocate for a good depiction of mental health issues in film, and for the life of me I can not figure out what they were going for here with Max’s psyche (thanks, psychology minor). As its been pointed out on the internet before, if anything, they were going for a modern version of Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever (1995). Another shining example of comic book movie incompetence, wonderful.

As for Electro himself, the writers were clearly making up his powers as they went along. From the electric blasts you would expect, to fizzling out, to fast-traveling via electrical outlets…to…creating his own leather suit? I definitely had a “shockingly bad” pun that I was going to use somewhere here, but I don’t even want to take the effort to set it up anymore. It’s not like this movie made any effort to give us a decent antagonist. Also, of course, his motivation is ridiculously unclear. He’s obsessed with Spider-Man one minute, Spidey tries to calm him down in his first attack, then suddenly he has an inexplicable hate boner for Spidey. Speaking of which…

SPIDER-MAN HIMSELF

There’s this scene in a montage where Spidey’s just doing his thing, and he saves a dorky kid from some bullies. The kid’s science project is broken in the process, and Peter picks it up and repairs it. He then walks the kid back home, talking to him about the science project the way there. It is a damn shame that they showed that they clearly understood something about the character with such a gorgeous moment, only to demonstrate a total lack of understanding the character for the remaining duration of the movie. For the most part, my complaints are the same from the last one: Garfield’s portrayal of Peter is just not likable, and they made him into this faux-edge-lord whose own incompetence is half the reason things are bad around him. Oh, but so handsome, right? That’s all that matters, right? At least he told some jokes like Spider-Man always does, right? Yeah well while he’s telling jokes in this opening scene with Rhino, MORE PEOPLE ARE DYING. Peter doesn’t stop what he’s doing to be sarcastic while shit is going down just to get his two cents in, did you think he was Deadpool? Peter actually wants to save people first, his humor doesn’t get in the way of that…it’s more so meant to frustrate and mentally disarm opponents in a fight. Even if they timed it better, the humor just felt incredibly forced. I don’t think I laughed ONCE this movie upon re-watch. The suit looks way better this time though, so good job there I guess.

AS IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH ON THE UNCLEAR PLOTS & SUBPLOTS, HERE ARE MORE

  • Aunt May – So apparently she’s trying to be a Nurse? I don’t know but that’s in there a few times and…I mean sure, but also why? 
  • The Sinister Six – Boy it is really hard to rewatch this movie and all the S6 setup when you know that it’s not going to happen because it all got cancelled. Speaking of which…
  • Rhino – Paul Giamatti, what the fuck are you doing? I know Rhino is supposed to be dumb as bricks, but he’s such a cartoon in a movie where apparently I’m supposed to be focused on struggles and dead parents and stuff? Oh also that super cool shot of the Spidey v Rhino fight in the trailer? Yeah, it’s just that. That’s where the movie cuts off. Fuck you, movie.
  • Felicia Hardy – Harry Osborn’s assistant, Felicia (played by Felicity Jones!), is listed in credits as “Felicia Hardy”…aka another character from the lore that many know as “Black Cat”. Why do I get the feeling that Black Cat was supposed to be here and just wasn’t in the final cut because someone in the writer’s room finally said something about how bloated this movie is. On that note…
  • SHAILENE WOODLEY?? – Many don’t realize this, but Woodley was meant to play Mary Jane Watson in this movie until all her scenes and any mention of the character got deleted. Which just further begs the question of how much shit were they trying to put into this one movie? The final cut was 142 MINUTES LONG, AND YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE WERE ORIGINALLY EVEN MORE CHARACTERS AND SUBPLOTS??

If there’s any takeaway from this post other than “movie bad”, it’s that cinematic universes need to be carefully orchestrated. You can’t just throw everything at the wall at once and give no sense of delayed gratification, and you certainly can’t waste time on a plot-line that doesn’t matter. Instead of trying to accomplish a billion different things for the sake of a franchise, maybe try to accomplish one thing first and just make a good/fun movie. There’s no point in creating an overarching story for a pay-off if everything else leading up to it makes no fucking sense. Things have been very good for Spider-Man fans lately, and one can only hope that the character isn’t used as a soulless cash-cow ever again like it was in this series.

I Wish X-Men Was More Popular

I Hope They Remember You

WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS FOR ALL MOVIES IN THE FOX X-MEN FRANCHISE, most recently including DARK PHOENIX. If you prefer not to read, turn away now.

Remember when comic book movies were God awful? Shall I remind us of Daredevil (2003), Catwoman (2004), or Fantastic Four (2005)? Shall I take it a step further and remind us of Elektra (2005), Ghostrider (2007), and my personal pick for the undisputed worst one I have ever witnessed in my lifetime…Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003)? Despite the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in the 2010’s, we can’t deny that the medium as a whole has suffered its “dark ages”. However, even in that range, there were gems that critics, fans, and audiences paid good money to see multiple times. I’m talking about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005), and when we have the conversation of early-mid 2000s comic book movies that paved the road, we absolutely have to include Fox’s X-Men Franchise.

It began in the year 2000. Y2K was proven wrong, America dealt with a controversial General Election which was eventually ruled in favor of the GOP (some things never change, huh?), Tiger Woods was still a relevant athlete, Eminem released “The Marshall Mathers LP” (which many listened to via Napster), Friends was still on the air…and Bryan Singer (big oof in 2019, I know) just directed X-Men.

The X-Men are known for being an ensemble, but they are typically led by Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), portrayed by Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen respectively. Audiences were also introduced to Halle Berry’s Storm, Anna Paquin’s Rogue, and Hugh Jackman’s iconic Wolverine. The first movie received generally positive reviews, was followed by the critically acclaimed X2 (2003), and the infamously bad X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Seeing as how the movies were indeed making money, and since Fox had the rights to the characters (a simpler time), going beyond the trilogy seemed to make the most sense. Unfortunately, this led to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), a “laughably bad movie” river that critics on the internet ran dry within weeks of its release. I actually also got a chance to review the movie and pitch my idea for it on The Doctor Script Podcast, which you can find here.

I would definitely not be surprised if you read that last paragraph and forgot about the existence of half of those movies. This is mostly because the “modern” X-Men franchise took off after the original trilogy and Wolverine spin-off, when Matthew Vaughn directed the phenomenal X-Men: First Class (2011). The younger versions of Professor X and Magneto, masterfully portrayed by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively, kicked off more movies that eventually brought us to where we are today, the end of an era with Dark Phoenix absolutely bombing at the box office. As a fan of the franchise I saw the movie myself, and while I can’t say it was good, I don’t think it was unwatchable or terrible. I honestly just think the general audience forgot about or got bored of the X-Men. It’s pretty plain to see that the franchise wasn’t meticulously planned out like an MCU situation, and while there’s some semblance of a canon, audiences often find themselves having to overlook things and watch some of the later movies in a vacuum especially after the wildly successful branching-off of Logan and Deadpool.

Despite all of this, there was one part of Dark Phoenix that I noticed and actually wanted to explore, and that is what inspired this post. In a world where humanity was originally frightened and hostile towards mutants, Professor X has created a team that has become popular with the general public through acts of service, he even has a direct line to the White House that the President uses for emergencies. Raven, however, comments that a lot of this relationship for the mutants is giving and not getting anything in return, except for Xavier’s countless awards and accolades. Xavier retorts that this is the only way mutants will be accepted into society, and that messing with this relationship even once will result in mutants becoming public enemy number one again. Meanwhile, Magneto is far away in a government-approved shelter providing a home for lost mutants who would rather live isolationist lives.

In 2019’s political climate, where the treatment of minorities seems to be a constant talking point for elected officials, this aspect of the X-Men is absolutely perfect to explore. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Marvel Comics architect Stan Lee used his medium of comic books to try and make a difference. He created the world of Wakanda, which almost everyone is familiar with today. “Those stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or color of their skin,” Lee said in this video published by Marvel in 2017. “The only things we don’t have room for are hatred, intolerance, and bigotry.” It is entirely true that the world of the X-Men was created to serve as a subtle nod to the struggles of minorities and to explain those struggles in the comic book medium (subtle in the sense that they replaced “minorities” with “mutants”).

We are unfortunately living in somewhat of a resurgence for outwardly bigoted behavior towards minorities. This includes unfair over-incarceration, outright murder by law enforcement, family separation laws, and attempts at banning entire countries from entering a nation that was built by immigrants (many of whom didn’t even come here by choice)…so literally everything Prince N’Jobu and Erik Killmonger were furious with in Black Panther. Make no mistake, my personal favorite and arguably most interesting part of any X-Men story is exploring this dynamic: The Government’s fear-mongering of mutants for political agendas, the mutant community’s inner-conflict on how to deal with their oppression, and the different methodology on how to achieve the same goal demonstrated by Professor X and Magneto.

Rumors are constantly spread about how Professor X was based on Martin Luther King Jr, making Magneto based on Malcolm X. While this has never been outright confirmed, the basic concept rings true. Professor X wants to work with humans and show that mutants have a lot to contribute to society. Magneto views this as being a glorified janitor for humanity’s screw-ups, and he doesn’t share the same hope that his counterpart does. This dynamic has a lot to say about the minority experience, and it is also a look into how modern day activists go about enacting social justice. Essentially, this single theme would enable a creator to bring audiences a movie that not only portrays the nuance of how minorities of various backgrounds feel (Professor X grew up quite privileged, whereas Magneto was a Holocaust survivor), but can also serve as an analysis of our modern protest culture and the political correctness movement itself.

Many are already aware that Fox no longer has the rights to these characters, as they have been bought by Disney to now fall under the MCU umbrella. While Marvel Studios has stated that fans will have to wait a while to see the X-Men on the big screen again, and while the purchase of Fox’s assets by Disney have caused a lot of unrest in the industry, I have high hopes that the same studio that brought us Black Panther and Captain Marvel can focus on this powerful dynamic between Charles and Erik. I will always fondly remember Stewart/McAvoy and McKellen/Fassbender as these characters, and I implore anyone reading this to take some time and do the same.

Of course, Marvel/Disney could always just choose to give us more of the Phoenix Force, more of Wolverine’s personal conflict, and more dick jokes with Deadpool. Or they could choose to use these characters to give us something real, thought provoking, and culturally relevant. One can only hope they give us the latter.

Recommended Viewing:

  1. X-Men: The Animated Series*
  2. X-Men: First Class
  3. X2
  4. X-Men: Evolution*
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

*Television series, available for purchase on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes.

Endgame & Game of Thrones: Using One to Explain Where the Other Went Wrong

Perfectly Balanced in the Worst Way Possible

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME & THE THIRD EPISODE OF THE EIGHTH SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE READING WITHOUT HAVING SEEN THE ONE(S) YOU CARE ABOUT.

This weekend was always meant to be an anticipated and emotional one for nerds and fans of pop culture in general. On the silver screen, an unprecedented narrative across 22 films and 11 years was coming to an end. On television, viewers (including those who have waited since 2011) were finally going to see a built-up threat shrouded in mystery and mysticism become a tangible adversary for humanity. No one could deny the hype behind both Avengers: Endgame and The Long Night.

Despite being wildly different fictional universes that require different suspensions of disbelief, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Game of Thrones (GoT) have more common ground than one would think. The obvious one being that both are based on source material from books. While Marvel Comics was founded in 1961, A Song of Ice and Fire’s first book, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996.

The constant retcons in comics and the nature of comic writing as opposed to fantasy novel writing allowed the MCU some freedom to bring the story into a modern and more streamlined setting. They didn’t have to follow the source material page-for-page. They simply had to do the characters right and pay homage where it is due. As long as you’re doing that and still telling a good story and sticking to your theme, it’s completely okay to put a scene where an overweight Thor yells at some gen-Z degenerate who is bullying Korg on Fortnite. It makes more sense than what happened in The Long Night, at least.

Fantasy novels are different, especially when you’re trying to finish an uncompleted book series on television. You don’t have to include every single minute detail that an author will take the time to do, but you still have to commit to the main beats of the story and the theme. That’s where the issue with The Long Night lies.

A Song of Ice and Fire is fundamentally a story about how war, petty political squabbles amongst noble houses, and monarchs who put their needs above the realm ultimately plunge said realm into an endless cycle of chaos and innocent lives being taken. The final test is a supernatural threat that gives humanity a choice between unity and death. If you recall the first few pages/episodes of the story in a specific chapter/scene from Daenerys Targaryen’s point of view:

“‘The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends,’ Ser Jorah told her. ‘It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace.’ He gave a shrug. ‘They never are.’”
– George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones (1996), Daenerys (III)

For my Parks & Recreation fans out there, also recall when Ser Ben Lighstorm Ben Wyatt was being the lovable nerd he is, and responded to being teased about his love of GoT by saying “It’s about telling real life stories in a fantasy setting”. As funny as that moment was, he was spot on.

GRRM’s story has often been proclaimed as an allegory for our real-life socio-political environment. While ours has gotten insane as of late, which allows people to often force metaphors that were not originally intended (i.e. Trump = Joffrey), GRRM absolutely meant the threat of the White Walkers to be an allegory for climate change and has confirmed this. Surprise, environmental issues aren’t a new concern, we’re just dealing with it very poorly. Hell, President Jimmy Carter was haunted by the energy crisis much like Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was haunted by the Long Night, both trying to lay some groundwork so that future leaders can lead the fight (History and ASOIAF buffs can nitpick that, but I hope that made sense as a very general metaphor).

The point being, there is a supernatural threat that can’t be beaten by humanity being divided and by conventional means. On top of that, you better believe that the threat does not discriminate the way we do…it’s coming for all of us.

So what’s the point then? Look, when I digest fiction I look for three main things: storytelling, themes, and characters. Despite my nitpicks in Avengers: Endgame, after this weekend it became clear to me that the minds behind the MCU cared about those things and meticulously planned out everything they could. The minds behind GoT absolutely did not care.

The MCU also chose to go this route of storytelling due to what they did with Thanos. Tony Stark developed a severe anxiety disorder and PTSD after the Battle of New York. The main reason? He saw what was coming. He went into the wormhole to stop a nuke from hitting NY, he defeated the Chitauri and realized immediately that this wasn’t the end. Due to his fears of “we’re too late” and “what are we supposed to do about that?”, he created Ultron which ended up being an issue for the Avengers in and of itself. We see our heroes make mistakes all throughout the saga (there are so many characters, so let’s just focus on the two pivotal ones): Steve Rogers and Tony Stark broke apart the Avengers and they were spread too thin when Thanos himself arrived. The Russo brothers themselves have confirmed that the main reason the Avengers lost in Infinity War was because they were divided after Civil War. We saw a petty political squabble break apart our chances. We saw Tony jumping the gun without properly explaining himself. We saw Steve not thinking big enough to foresee the threat. Most importantly? We saw the Avengers lose.

In Endgame, they got a second chance (friendly reminder that in real life, we don’t get quantum realm shenanigans to go back in time and fix our mistakes). Not only did our heroes use this second chance, but they all overcame what was bigger than themselves. Tony Stark, a man who was criticized as only fighting for himself, truly thought about all of humanity and sacrificed his life to save billions. Steve Rogers, a man who was criticized as a self-righteous prick who forces fights because he can’t live without war, let go of his “soldier” persona and embraced simply being a good man. They let go of their personal baggage, stopped fighting each other, and succeeded against a world-ending threat in Thanos.

So why the long face when talking about The Long Night? To reiterate, A Song of Ice and Fire is fundamentally a story about how war, petty political squabbles amongst noble houses, and monarchs who put their needs above the realm ultimately plunge said realm into an endless cycle of chaos and innocent lives being taken. The final test is a supernatural threat that gives humanity a choice between unity and death…

…Except that supernatural threat now feels like a minor inconvenience, the people who put their needs above the realm are now in the right, and we’re back to war and petty political squabbles that are going to take more innocent lives. It’s an objectively terrible way to end the story.

With the Night King defeated in one episode, now we are left with Cersei Lannister and Euron Greyjoy being the biggest threats to the realm. Cersei’s incredibly selfish and stupid plan of denying the long night, waiting until the rest of the world dealt with it, and then plunging the realm into war again seems all but certain. Where is the breaking of the wheel? Where is the great supernatural threat of the White Walkers? What was the point of Jon Snow and Bran Stark’s arcs? What was the point of the Children of the Forest? So Old Nan really WAS just full of it, huh?

It’s almost insulting from a narrative standpoint. In the world the show-runners have created, the Long Night will go down in history as another “fairy tale the Northerners made up”, grumpkins and snarks as it was once said by Tyrion Lannister. This feels like the only people who won were the ones denying the threat. It serves as validation for people that put their inane drama over a united and cooperative human race. Not only is that not what GRRM presumably intended, but that also isn’t a world that I—and many people who are much better human beings than I—want to live in.

I’m no film student, and I’m no writer, but I don’t like to complain without providing solutions. A part of me genuinely thinks that this season would have been better if this episode was an incredibly tough battle where the living came out on top by being better tacticians (i.e. flanking with the Dothraki, Jon Snow using Ghost to scope the landscape just like Robb Stark used to do with Grey Wind, actually making use of a famously tough castle to breach, etc). You can still have fan-service moments like Arya Stark solo killing a Walker, Jon Snow running at a horde of wights with Ghost beside him and Rhaegal above him, Theon Greyjoy going out in a blaze of glory, and Lyanna Mormont defeating a giant. The end would be Bran Stark, who has warged into his ravens, realizing that the Night King totally skipped over Winterfell and went straight for King’s Landing. The ones who denied the threat are now suffering it, and the army of the living has to make one last stand despite their numbers being heavily depleted. That finale is where you would have your prophecies pay off, aka Valonqar and Azor Ahai, because this is still a fantasy story and the books deserve that homage.

One can only hope that the books handle everything a lot better (or, you know, ever even finish). As for the show’s message? Suffer more, common folk. The lords and ladies will continue to play the game of thrones and get us all killed, even after being threatened by an eternal winter.

I suppose Jon Snow isn’t the only one who knows nothing.

Guest Post: Formulaically Entertaining-The Purge vs Hotel Transylvania

Piece written and contributed once again by Uday Mehta, who you can support by clicking here.
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It’s a tired but only partially true cliché that Hollywood doesn’t have any original ideas. Of the top-25 grossing movies of 2018 (domestically through July), nine (Ready Player One, A Quiet Place, Rampage, I Can Only Imagine, Game Night, Book Club, Blockers, Tomb Raider, and Tag) weren’t part of a series, franchise, or cinematic universe (although Tomb Raider was a video game and Ready Player one was a book). There were only seven (Coco, Dunkirk, Get Out, Boss Baby, Greatest Showman, Split, and Wonder) in 2017, none of them in the top 10. You’d have to go back to 2006 – before Twilight, Divergent, Hunger Games, Planet of the Apes, Maze Runner, Hangover, Transformers, The Hobbit, and the entire MCU – when the only real franchises were Harry Potter, X-Men, and Pirates. That year, a whopping fifteen of the top 25 were originals, among them The Departed, Cars, Borat, The Da Vinci Code, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Click for some reason. We keep watching the same characters in the same movies; just in the last few weeks, we got Mission Impossible 6, Mamma Mia 2, Equalizer 2, Ant Man 2, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World 2, Incredibles 2, and the fourth Ocean’s movie. Even things like Goosebumps and Bad Moms are getting sequels. At least half of these movies don’t need sequels, another quarter of them are just bad. There are, fortunately, a select few which successfully make the same movie, but in a good way.

Both Hotel Transylvania and the Purge are several movies into their run, and will undoubtedly each return for at least one more. While you’d be hard-pressed to find movies that are more dissimilar, they are alike in one very important way – their sustained run of success despite mixed critical response, a lack of star power, a generally predictable plot, and an apparently limited demographic. Transylvania is an animated franchise that features an actor that everyone is tired of (Adam Sandler) voicing the lead, and is primarily intended as a family movie. Purge shuffles its cast every film (the biggest names being Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, and Michael K. Williams) and is rated R for disturbing violence. So why do they still exist?

The holy grail of sequels is 22 Jump Street (honorable mention to Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight), a meta self-referential comedy which openly joked about how they were making the exact same movie a second time, including an extended credits sequence that showed all the potential sequels they could do. That movie came out four years ago, and Channing Tatum has yet to sign on to a potential third project because he isn’t sure whether the joke will work a third time. And he’s probably right – barring an Incredibles-like decade-plus hiatus, a third Jump Street movie would probably be stale and uninspiring because there’s not a lot of places you can really go with the premise of ‘undercover cops’.

Conversely, both of these franchises rely on the strength of their premise to drive their longevity. Transylvania starts with a human vs. monsters conflict, leading to the establishment of a monsters-only five-star hotel where a collection of adorable monsters convene. Purge centers around a day where all crime including murder is legal, something which apparently brings down the crime rate during the rest of the year and allows the economy to flourish. Those premises – while not always executed to their full potential – are deserving of multiple movies just so the concept can be explored to its limits. It’s like the opposite of something like Step Up (by the way, did you know that the original Step Up movie with Channing Tatum had the worst-critical reception of all five movies?), where the movie centers around the idea of a dance battle, something that might be entertaining as a YouTube video but less so as an actual movie.

Due to the leeway each premise provides, both are fueled by the in-movie creativity, a creativity which doesn’t necessarily manifest in good plot, but the type that makes them an engaging watch throughout. Averaging out to be 90 and 100 minutes respectively, there are few moments which seem unearned or unimportant. Transylvania flexes its animation ability, using it to transform things like volleyballs and wedding rings into one-off monsters that can eat up scenes. The style is evocative of a Sunday morning cartoon, corny DJ battles and all (you can get away with that in a cartoon, less so in a live action movie like say, Guardians of the Galaxy). Purge makes good use of its jump scares, glowing green eyes, and pointed iconography, jumping between points-of-view to create a feeling of disorientation. Their evolution between movies, however, is where their true appeal lies. While the first Transylvania is pushed by the classic story of a forbidden love, the second switches to a generational family dispute. By the third film, Transylvania actually leaves the titular location, spending all but ten minutes of the movie on a cruise ship headed for annihilation. While all three maintain the human-monster divide, the way in which it is presented continues to be fresh. Purge starts with an affluent white family trying to make it through the night, then moving to a working-class bunch, and in 2016 to a politician trying to campaign for the presidency. The latest film, a cleverly placed prequel, tells the story of how Purge night came to be with a ton of social commentary (financial incentive for people to participate, minority population in Staten Island, government affiliation with gun organizations, people in hoods marching in the streets).

Of the seven combined movies, I’ve seen all of them. Sure, they have a finite ceiling, but a pretty high floor as well. They’re satisfying in their predictability, a known quantity that makes room for appreciation of the finer points of each.

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

It takes two to tango…

[THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS OR MAJOR PLOT DETAILS IN THIS REVIEW, ONLY WHAT WAS REVEALED IN TRAILERS AND INTERVIEWS]

If anyone has any suggestions for how to survive 8 whole months without an MCU movie, I’m open to ideas. Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good…

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the 20th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is a direct sequel to Ant-Man (2015), both movies being directed by Peyton Reed. It also serves as a nice catch-up with Scott Lang himself after the last time we see him in Captain America: Civil War (2016). We pick up with Scott on a house-arrest as punishment for being involved in Captain America’s crusade that violated the Sokovia Accords. Not only does this lead to a fallout between him, Hank Pym, and Hope Van Dyne, it also complicates his situation of wanting to be a better father to his own daughter.

Just like the previous Ant-Man movie, this one feels like a huge breath of fresh air after the MCU just came off of a much more intense movie, and it also does what I liked about the last one where it touches on how the drama of such larger than life figures like the Avengers can affect regular people like Scott who are just trying to do better. Its why I appreciate that the MCU went with Scott Lang instead of Hank Pym as their designated Ant-Man, as I feel Hank would’ve just been “science bros” with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, or be too similar of a character.

So how does the actual movie stack up in a year where Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War already have made their impact on audiences and the box office? Admittedly, it is tough to keep up the momentum from two groundbreaking films such as those, but Ant-Man and the Wasp succeeds in giving us a positive, fun, and real look into its themes of family, partnership, and friendship. There no other way to put it: This has probably been the most successful year for Marvel Studios creatively and financially.

To get some criticisms out of the way first, the movie follows multiple “antagonists” (not to be confused with henchmen, they actually had their own agendas) to go along with the main one, which fell a little flat for me in a year where we got such focused villains as Killmonger and Thanos. Its not that having multiple is a bad thing, but the movie had Hannah John-Kamen acting incredibly well alongside Laurence Fishburne, only to spend time with Walton Goggins playing a throwaway “bad guy” with poor motivation. I would’ve rather spent that time exploring the dynamic between the other two or giving the time to Randall Park’s FBI character, who knocked it out of the park for the comedic aspect of the movie. The best thing done by Goggins’ character was the set-up for Luis (Micheal Pena) to go on one of his signature monologues, which was even funnier than the ones he does in the previous Ant-Man.

Piggybacking off of that point, I think most of the actors disappeared into their characters in this one and that really made the movie keep its positive and up-beat momentum. Paul Rudd is fantastic as always, but I have to give major props to Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays Scott’s daughter Cassie. All of her scenes with Paul Rudd made the audience feel like their father-daughter dynamic was real. Evangeline Lily played Hope with less of a “faux-intense” feel and seemed more present as a character. I also liked Scott’s “crew” of Luis, Kurt, and Dave more so than the last time we saw them. Not only are their lines and delivery just better, but the humor feels organic in the sense that I can actually believe that these are three friends hanging out and joking with each other. The humor also didn’t undercut emotional moments as badly as it did in the previous Ant-Man, and there’s one scene in particular (no spoilers obviously) where there is a nice character moment that is being supplemented with humor due to the situation, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out at first…and it ended up being one of my favorite scenes after it was over because the choice of the humor made actually worked.

I guess my only big thing is that the third act did the “MCU thing” in the sense that there was a lot happening, it got a bit messy, and it was only carried onward through the elements of fun and some surprise. Compared to what we’ve seen recently too, this one felt a bit inconsequential. That’s me nit-picking, because this still genuinely was such a blast in theaters and I actually look forward to another Ant-Man/Wasp movie later on in phase 4 or something to give us breathing room after the dramatic closing of the Infinity Saga that is sure to follow. If that’s the role that these characters are going to serve in the MCU, I don’t really have a complaint with that. It’s nice to take a break from super-geniuses, Demigods, sorcerers, and assassins to follow some very human characters.

Ant-Man and the Wasp gets an 8.5/10

Guest Post: Attempting to Fix Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

aka “Parks & Wreck” or “Andy Dwyer’s Day Off”

GUEST ALERT! This piece was written and contributed by my boy Taylor Ford, who had this to say:

“Thank you for reading! If you are interested in hearing more on how to improve your favorite movies, please search for my podcast “Dr. Script” we talk about the problems but also give solutions to the problems!”

Information for the “Dr. Script” podcast can be found on instagram @doctorscript and on Facebook here. They do some great work on that podcast and if you start listening now, a familiar name might be appearing in their next episode!

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“You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it.” This quote from the original Jurassic Park sums up the current state of the franchise. Let’s describe a scene from this current film, “a cloned daughter hides from a hybrid genetic creature in a private mansion in the woods.” Does that sound like a Jurassic Park movie or something you would find on the Sci-Fi channel? With less care and ideas not fully fleshed out, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fails to connect to the original themes of Jurassic Park. By script-doctoring certain scenes and concepts, I will attempt to improve Fallen Kingdom by connecting the story back to the original’s main argument.

What is the overall theme to Jurassic Park? The past four films set up the theme of God vs. nature and how humans cannot play God without creating chaos. Dr. Ian Malcolm states, “God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs, God creates man, man destroys God, man creates dinosaurs.” Keep in mind, in the past installments of this franchise, Ian Malcolm is always correct. Malcolm is the voice of reason and is never blinded by the ah and wonder of these extinct creatures; “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.” This is the structure of all four previous movies. Everyone starts off in ah or the theme park, and then slowly realize the responsibility that comes with recreating these animals.

The problem with Fallen Kingdom is that the film goes against this theme by siding against Malcolm. In the Senate hearing, we hear Malcolm’s claim that nature needs to decide whether or not these creatures survive. He states that God created these animals and God has decided to kill them again, and that humans cannot play God without chaos. This is the theme every other movie in the franchise was built around but our protagonist of this film, Claire Dearing, has the opposite point of view. She believes that the dinosaurs must be saved and does everything in her power to save them. Now how could we fix this part? By having this debate brought up to us in the Senate hearing. Let’s have Claire and Malcolm arguing their points back and forth. This would once again set up the theme of humans playing God, and the audience could see the opposing viewpoints more clearly.

The next point in the film I want to discuss is the group returning to the island. This is where the bulk of the movie should have taken place, and it should have focused on them in the park, with the new element of an erupting volcano, and saving these dinosaurs. This event then would mimic the biblical passage of Noah’s Ark. When looking at this story, Noah does play God by deciding what animals to save and which to not. Of course, Noah saves every species in the world, but he had the option not to. There are some interesting parallels between Noah and Claire that could have been better explored. They both believe they must save these animals, but at what cost? Owen Grady could also have a few snarky remarks on how Noah chose not to save dinosaurs.

The character of Maisie also tries to connect to the original Jurassic Park with commentary on technology. Malcolm states in the first film, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” This not only applies to dinosaurs but also includes Maisie and whole cloning plot line. Her grandfather, Benjamin Lockwood, wanted his daughter back from the dead and didn’t think about the consequences of playing God. But what are the consequences? It is strange, but compared to creating dinosaurs (who eat people), cloning a little girl does not seem as bad. Maisie ends up opening the door for the dinosaurs to escape (which will be discussed below) but her motivation is lackluster, as her reason for doing so is only because they too were created in a lab.

Maisie needs to have a larger problem as her motivation for freeing the dinosaurs. Give her something that would be detrimental to the rest of society. This way (if Lockwood had lived) he would realize his selfish act of playing God by recreating his daughter. Now Lockwood would either have to go through his daughter’s death again or doom all of humanity. This version would then connect to the original Jurassic Park by reaffirming that just because you can, does not mean you should.

But instead, the film went a different direction. The dinosaurs are getting gassed and Claire struggles with the decision to open the gate outside to have them survive. This is where Claire’s argument for saving these animals gets tested. Throughout the whole film she has believed that the dinosaurs need to be saved, but after seeing more destruction and thinking back to Malcolm’s argument, “Genetic power has now been unleashed, you can’t put it back in the box.” Claire decides not to push the button and with that her character arc is more clearly seen. From wanting to save these animals to understanding they must die. A better ending would have been while Claire decides to not save the dinosaurs, the Stygimoloch (Dinosaur with a hard head), slams the power box outside and opens up the gates, freeing the dinosaurs. In this version, we now see that nature has decided that dinosaurs should survive and keeps the old saying of the series relevant, “Life finds a way.”

 

So Low: A Box Office Story

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This

Let’s wind our clocks back to December 17th, 2015. This was the day that I, and fans everywhere, would finally see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which would soon become the highest grossing domestic film of all time (not adjusted for inflation). As of this piece being written, the top 10 in that list also includes Star Wars: The Last Jedi at #8, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at #10. All three of these films were distributed by Disney after their acquisition of Lucasfilm and its assets in 2012. It was safe to say that, at least in terms of revenue and popularity, all was well.

So what the hell could’ve possibly happened for it to end up like this?:

Capture

If you haven’t heard by now, Solo: A Star Wars Story was a huge box-office bomb. Even if you want to say that the movie has barely been out for a month, Look at those opening weekend numbers! It performed so poorly that Disney and Lucasfilm have, allegedly, put all other anthology films on hold. This includes, most notably: the slated Boba Fett film (set to be directed by James Mangold who helmed Logan, a fantastic film which I’ve reviewed here), and the highly anticipated (depending on the involvement of Ewan McGregor) Kenobi film.

I will repeat the question: What the hell happened?

Many have tried to answer it with some of the lazy criticisms you would expect: about the actor playing Han, about the directors quitting, about how “they’re doing it like Marvel”, etc….but it can’t be that simple. You mean to tell me even with Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke doing TONS of press beforehand, after post-red carpet reviews seemed vaguely positive, and after the Tomato-meter never went rotten, that a STAR WARS MOVIE would open this badly on Memorial Day Weekend? Before continuing, I’d like to take this time to briefly summarize my thoughts on the movie.

It was very okay. I think it was fun, had cool elements, and nothing stood out as glaringly negative, but it held no importance. I KNOW this story because I’ve seen The Empire Strikes Back more times than I can count. We know Han was a smuggler, we know how Han meets Lando, we know he is the way he is because he was betrayed, we know he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a game of sabacc. Any of the extra stuff (i.e. how Han got his dice or his blaster)…I didn’t really need. If I DIDN’T use my moviepass and actually paid full price for a ticket, I would’ve had some buyer’s remorse. I think if this movie was instead released as animation or a book, it would’ve been more appropriate, had more room to expand, and maybe even more praised.

Regardless of how I feel, this is still a Star Wars movie and those numbers are preposterous. So, once again, what the hell happened? We can look at this from a few angles:

THE LACK OF A TARGET AUDIENCE

When discussing Star Wars in any capacity, I believe it is fundamental to acknowledge the generational aspect of the franchise. By that, I mean the idea of “what was YOUR Star Wars“, a concept often used in discussing the 007 franchise or various Batman actors. Presumably: The Original Trilogy (OT) was first enjoyed by younger Boomers and mostly Gen-Xers, The Prequel Trilogy (PT) was prominent when Millennials like myself were growing up, and the Sequel Trilogy (ST) has found their solid fan base in Gen-Z.  It also should be noted that everyone eventually becomes very familiar with the OT, as it objectively contains the quintessential installments of the franchise. Millennials went to Blockbuster (RIP) to rent the older films on VHS (also RIP). Gen-Zers have their Gen-X parents showing them the OT to catch them up, as the ST contains the 3 main characters from the OT anyway.

Rogue One had the appeal to all fans: it promised that we would see a major point in the Rebellion’s effort that wasn’t expanded on yet. We know the Rebellion got the Death Star plans, but we had so many questions. What was the war like before that? Where was most of the fighting taking place? Why was there such a convenient hole in the Empire’s space station? Who stole the plans? Rogue One answered all of these questions and more, and since the characters didn’t have as much depth as the ones in the saga films, we could focus more on the conflict at hand and connect it to the OT easily.

A Kenobi film with Ewan McGregor would bring out the Millennial audience in full force. It could also bring out the other crowds because whatever Obi-Wan was doing between the PT and OT isn’t common knowledge (it is briefly touched on in the Star Wars Rebels animated show).

Similarly, the OT crowd will live and die as Boba Fett fans. When you ask me, the dude had roughly five lines and fell into the Sarlacc pit like an idiot. He could’ve been replaced by a talking flying bantha for all I care. However, a Boba Fett film still appeals to various markets because the OT crowd will be nostalgic and the PT/ST crowd will see something new.

So who was Solo meant for? They alienated the OT crowd who wont accept anyone but Harrison Ford as the character, the PT crowd doesn’t feel much nostalgia towards Han, and the ST crowd knows Han as old, defeated, and more of a plot device than a main character. On top of all of that, they made a movie that all three crowds already know the main events of. It only adds irony to the fact that Han’s son is now famous for his “Let the past die” line.

MISLEADING MARKETING

This disappointed me like crazy, and I know it all too well (remember when we thought Joker was going to be the primary antagonist of Suicide Squad?). The public was meant to believe that this movie was going to center on Han, Qi’ra, and Lando, with a lot of screen time for Chewbacca. Instead, it was more about Han and Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), and the others just felt like part of the larger setting for Han to be himself and be “mentored” by Tobias.

Word eventually got out that Glover and Emilia weren’t that prominent in the film, most likely Because of The Internet. The problem with that is that they were the “aces” the project had. I myself went on opening weekend almost entirely out of support for Glover, and when Lando had one cool scene, about 7 other lines of dialogue, and ends up being the biggest loser in the end, it pissed me off.

Qi’ra was just reduced to “Han’s girl”, despite being a new character with more backstory than Lando, Chewbacca, or Tobias. However all of this resulted in a few moments where the audience is forced to connect extremely vague dots, and the last time we see her on screen just ends up more confusing than anything. I suppose they weren’t in it for your character development, Princess Khaleesi.

BACKLASH AND FATIGUE 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since December 2017, you probably know that The Last Jedi was an extremely divisive movie. I’m not going to get into it because it isn’t even fun to talk about anymore, and fans have gotten toxic to the point of negatively impacting those who worked on the film (a topic further discussed in this episode of the “Overrated” Podcast).

The point here to be noted is that the ST films were slated for the Decembers of 2015, 2017, and 2019, giving fans ample time to digest each one and properly anticipate another. While the MCU releases films only months apart, it changes its setting, characters, and conflicts with every movie and simply connects them to each other, Star Wars has always been more of a “previously in our story…” type of deal. Many fans were opposed to the idea of anthology films such as Rogue One in the first place.

Regardless, Rogue One came out in December 2016, a year after The Force Awakens and a year before The Last Jedi. Solo came out in May 2018, and the fans are STILL processing The Last Jedi. I don’t understand why anyone thought it was a good idea to release Solo at that time, especially with trouble behind the scenes, and the clash against both Infinity War and Deadpool 2. Delaying Solo until December 2018 would’ve made perfect sense to me.

A MISSING SENSE OF WONDER

For most people, Star Wars has always been about the characters, the idea of the Force, the larger conflict, and the vastness of the Galaxy. Han himself barely got any development throughout this film, I can’t even exactly point to what he learned or if there was a major change in personality. So when a Star Wars film ignores characterization, has no mention of the Force, doesn’t connect to a larger theme or conflict, and barely explores the planets it takes place on…well, you get the idea.

The point is: Maybe someone should’ve told them the odds on this one.