It’s Christmas time! But, it’s also still 2020. So, that probably means it’s going to be one of the worst Christmases ever. Why not double down on that and watch some of the worst holiday movies ever made? That’s the plan at least. This is the fourth entry in Dyl’s Worst Christmas Ever.
Today’s movie is called The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. And, well, let’s be real for a second. That title could totally be in reference to COVID. Luckily though, this movie was made back in the 1960s before such a word was even known. But, this movie still speaks to today’s problems quite well. You see, Santa Claus is having financial problems. The North Pole has been bought up by a cranky old man named Prune and Santa can’t afford the rent. So, he hires a lawyer in an effort to try to help get rent before Christmas Eve. Otherwise, he’ll have to cancel his yearly trip, effectively making Christmas moot that year.
Here’s the thing though: I actually don’t think The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t is all that bad. Sure. It’s dated. Some of the special effects don’t hold up all that well. The songs aren’t terribly memorable. And, it can be a bit cliched. The only thing that really stands out as horrible is the elves. They’re wearing weird old lady wigs despite clearly being men and are led by one of the creepiest characters I’ve seen. But, if you told me this was a beloved holiday classic, I’d believe you. It seems like the sort of thing you’d watch as a kid and not realize how bad it is until you’re older. Now maybe I’m just too far into this challenge already. I may be losing my sense of reality. But, I left my viewing with no much more than a shrug. I wasn’t repulsed. I didn’t laugh at it. There’s nothing that seriously offended me. It’s just a not great, typical, forgettable Christmas movie.
In fact, I think the biggest crime The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t committed is the fact that it was filmed in live-action. If this were an old Rankin/Bass stop motion movie like Rudolph or The Year Without a Santa Claus, I think it’d be really really good. In fact, it’s got a lot of the staples of that era of specials. The lawyer feels like the delightful narrator. Santa is equal parts jolly and clueless. Mrs. Claus is setting him straight. They’ve got songs every five minutes whether it makes sense or not. And, there’s a mustache twirling villain who is campy in all of the best ways. He was easily my favorite character. He sings a song about why he hates children and it more or less boils down to that they get more attention than him. He doesn’t understand why he’s not spoiled but they get to be. Which, honestly, same. Anyways, I can definitely see him fitting in along the Heatmiser or Snowmiser. Plus, you can get away with a lot more in animation. A lot of bits that look silly in ridiculous when a human being does them looks natural when done by a cartoon character. The ending of this movie in particular would have improved tremendously through the more simple art form. Of course, you’d need to cut down the runtime but that wouldn’t be hard either. There’s a lot of filler in this hour and a half movie. Half of the song lyrics and dialogue is just repeating the same phrase over and over anyway. Cutting half of that would make it an appropriate length for a tv special.
And, well, that’s all I have to say about The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. It’s definitely not the travesty some of our other movies have been. In fact, it’s almost kinda average. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this should be added into everyone’s Christmas rotation. But, it’s not bad enough to pull out and laugh at either. It’s forgotten for a reason. There’s nothing that makes it stand out. It’s perfectly slightly below average. Not the best. Not the worst. Forever destined to sit towards the middle of the Christmas movies list. Can you think of anything sadder?
Welcome back to Dyl’s Worst Christmas Ever! For those who haven’t been following along at home, I’m making my way through some of the worst Christmas movies ever made. Why? Because this Christmas is going to suck anyway. Might as well double down on it. So far, we’ve seen Santa Claus face off against Martians and the devil himself. But, in today’s movie, Santa faces off against a different, slightly more innocent threat. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first set the table for Magic Christmas Tree.
It’s a very strange movie. It’s about a boy who finds a magic Christmas tree that’ll grant him wishes. And, of course, he learns a lesson along the way as some of his wishes backfire. But, it’s a hard one to break down what’s so bizarre without going plot point by plot point. So, let’s jump into it.
We start off where not a ton of Christmas movies do: Halloween. A group of kids, shot in black and white, are sitting around and talking about what their plans are for that evening. One of them suggests taking a look at the neighborhood haunted house. While exploring it, he’s the only one that is captured by the witch who lives there. She asks if he’d be willing to get her cat, aptly named Lucifer, out of her tree. He agrees, but falls out of the tree and hits his head. When he awakens, everything is suddenly in color, because, well, Wizard of Oz is really popular. They even try to do the “We’re not in Kansas anymore” even though he’s definitely in the same place he hit his head. Then, the witch decides to reward him for his efforts with a Christmas ring that’ll grant wishes. Unfortunately, it also has the most complex set of instructions to get those wishes I’ve ever heard. On Thanksgiving, he has to take the turkey wishbone, bury it, say some magic words, then a tree will appear. In front of the tree, he has to twist the ring around three times and say some words in Latin. Then, the tree will finally grant him his wish. That’s a lot of instructions! You might as well just throw my wishes away. I’m never going to remember all of that for the two months this process takes.
But, this boy does. And, boom, a magic tree appears in his front yard. What follows is so unimportant that, honestly, if I didn’t write about it, you wouldn’t be missing anything. However, it takes up like 15 minutes of this movie’s one hour runtime, so it’s a pretty hefty chunk. See, we kinda forget about the Christmas magic for a bit, as we watch the boy’s parents do daily household activities. His mom talks on the phone for a bit. We hear almost an entire conversation’s worth. And, his dad decides to mow the lawn. Cue insanity as he struggles with the mower. The gag really isn’t funny but whoever made this movie definitely thought it was, because it carries on for quite some time. It ends though when he runs face first into a brand new pine tree in his yard. Confused, he tries to chop it down, but it won’t budge. It’s like a freaking Looney Tunes segment. I could easily see Elmer Fudd in this role. Then, he gives up but not before tripping one last time because jokers gotta joke.
Then, finally, we have a magic Christmas Tree, which magically teleports into the house. Why it didn’t just appear there in the first place, I’ll never know. I guess because we would’ve missed the hilarious yard shenanigans then. But, that doesn’t matter now! The tree is here. It’s time to get to the wishes. In a weird move, the kid wishes for unlimited power as his first request. But only for an hour for some reason. It’s probably good for humanity that he did though. Because in that hour, he definitely creates some mayhem. First of all, it’s night time. But, the first thing he does is make the sun come up. What kind of ramifications would this have? Are we permanently a few hours behind or ahead now? What does that mean for our heavily scheduled lives? What about nature? What did it do to Earth’s rotation? None of this is answered of course, because we just skip right ahead to more nonsense. Because the boy just roams the streets creating chaos. He makes vehicles drive away without their owners, causes a couple to fight, and terrorizes both the police and the fire department. I think this is supposed to play out like some whimsy Mary Poppins-eque playtime, but it looks more like a scene from Carrie. Like, this is definitely a serial killer in training. It made me so uneasy.
It gets worse though. For his second wish, the boy wants Santa Claus all to himself for the evening, which just so happens to be Christmas Eve. So, the tree kidnaps Santa Claus. (Cue The Nightmare Before Christmas music for the third movie in a row.) And, you might assume that I’m over exaggerating when I say that. I’m not. Santa is clearly very uncomfortable with being there. He’s more or less pleading to be let go. But, he’s not allowed to move and the boy isn’t budging. It’s really terrifying. So, now we’ve got changing the world to your whim, terrorizing innocent civilians, interfering with law enforcement, and kidnapping. That’s quite the rap sheet this kid is accumulating. He’s definitely a supervillain.
In the climax of the movie, we see this kid walking in the wilderness with a gun. Who knows what he’s planning on doing with that? We’ve seen him make his way up to more and more extreme crimes. Is murder next? An assassination? Is Santa in danger? Luckily, we never find out. Because, out of nowhere, a giant appears. Or, at least, that’s what the boy calls him. He’s maybe six feet tall. But, for the context of this movie, he’s a giant! And he’s looking for an ungrateful child to enslave. Yes, he tries to kidnap our “hero” and use him as an actual slave. Luckily, the boy whines about it until he promises to fix the crimes he’s committed. So, the giant lets him go. But, the scene isn’t over. Because suddenly the giant breaks the fourth wall and starts talking to the audience. He threatens to kidnap them instead if they don’t behave! I haven’t been this creeped out by a fourth wall break since I watched Cats last year. What were they thinking? You know some little kid started crying when they saw that. Heck, I’m 28 and I was a little freaked out.
Anyway, the kid rushes home, where Santa and the tree are just kind of hanging out. Then, he starts crying and wishes that everything would go back to the way it was before he kidnapped Santa. But, let’s be real. He didn’t learn his lesson. He just doesn’t want to be a slave. Of course, the tree doesn’t care though. The wish is granted. And, in a twist that would be very surprising to anyone who hasn’t seen The Wizard of Oz (one of the most famous movies ever), the boy wakes up on the ground outside of the witch’s house. The world is back in black and white. He was dreaming the whole time. She gives him milk and cookies as a reward before he heads home. And, they all live happily ever after. Except the kid is probably still a homicidal maniac. The End.
So, yeah, this is a pretty dark tale. It’s a wonder it ever got made. And, according to Wikipedia, it used to be sold on a two pack VHS with 1959’s Santa Claus, which we covered in a previous write-up. So, that package must’ve just traumatized children to their core. But, of course, the plot isn’t the only bad thing about this movie. It’s also horribly made. A speaking character will often only be halfway in the frame. A song will be playing in the background, only to completely restart when a cut is made. There are random cuts in the middle of scenes, probably because they didn’t want to waste too much film after a mistake. And, the acting is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. The kid in particular is pretty dang awful. He’s yell acting the entire time. If Tommy Wiseau spoke better English, I would think this was him as a child. On a technical level, this is probably the worst movie I’ve seen so far.
So, how does it stack up otherwise? Is this a “so bad it’s good”? Can I put it on at my hipster Christmas party? I’d definitely say this one is in contention. Like I said, it’s definitely the worst made movie I’ve seen so far. The acting is quite cringy. And, the story is extremely weird. Plus, that scene where he breaks the fourth wall will probably be a highlight with the right crowd. Best of all though, it’s only an hour long. That’s almost the perfect length for enjoying something ironically. I think the VHS company knew what they were doing when they paired it with Santa Claus. They’d make a really good, festive, drunk, strange viewing pair. I’m definitely glad I made the investment. It’s a weird flick I’ll never forget. And, also, hopefully never watch again.
For those of you who missed my last post, since Christmas 2020 looks lined up to be one of the worst of all-time, I figured I’d make my way through some of the worst Christmas movies ever too. Yesterday, we covered the 1959 Mexican film Santa Claus, which has the jolly one fighting against the forces of Lucifer himself. I highly recommend that write-up. It was a lot of fun. Today, we’ve got another “Santa Vs” movie coming our way, but this time the forces are a bit more extraterrestrial.
The title of this one kind of gives you everything you need to know. It’s Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Santa is going to fight some Martians. Well, kind of. He never actually fights anyone. He’s kind of just a willing victim to the Martians. But, that’s not nearly as flashy of a title: Santa Claus Willingly Works for the Martians. But, the plot is more or less what you’d expect. The people of Mars are having trouble with their children. They have no joy in their lives, because apparently being a Martian frickin’ sucks. There’s nothing fun for them to do. But, the kids have become obsessed with Earth programs featuring Santa. In a strike of genius, the parents decide that they need to kidnap Santa (que The Nightmare Before Christmas music again) and bring him to Mars where he can make their children happy. Santa kinda just goes along with it, not really putting up much of a struggle. And, of course, there’s a villain who is opposed to the whole “make Mars children happy” plan. He’s just a mustache, so you know he’s evil. And, that’s pretty much it.
Unlike yesterday’s entry, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians isn’t really a “so bad it’s good” movie. It’s kind of just a bad movie. Saying that you’re going to watch it or that you have watched it is actually more fun than the experience itself. It’s a really exciting title for a pretty dull movie. If you told me this was a Christmas episode of a crappy Star Trek ripoff, I’d buy it. It’s the type of thing you’d come across on TV Land, pause for a second, laugh about how weird pop culture used to be, then flip onto the next channel. There’s no way it’d hold your interest past the first commercial break. Which, well, kind of makes it hard to make fun of. It’s more or less just straight bad. There’s not a lot of wtf moments and the pacing is incredibly slow. Santa doesn’t even meet the Martians until almost 40 minutes in. But, there are a few noteworthy moments that need to be brought up.
So, like most 60s sci-fi, a lot of the humor here comes from the low budget. Everything just looks fake. But, where Santa Conquers the Martians seems to get hit essentially hard is the costume department. Holy. Crap. These costumes are atrocious. Luckily, Santa looks pretty alright. The Martians though… woof. First of all, I think they only could afford one tube of green makeup, because they were not very liberal with the application of it. Even the main characters have a white skin popping out. I’ve seen community theater plays with better makeup departments. Also, they have what looks to my 2020 eyes what appears to be Among Us crewmates on their heads. Seriously, on their helmets, you can make out the little viewing window and some tubes and antenna. They’re little crewmates! Yo, green is sus. But, then, on the rest of their buddies they’ve got these incredibly tight outfits that show off everything. And I do mean everything. I’m surprised they let these guys around the children actors. I wouldn’t even say the Martians got the worst end of it though. There’s a robot, briefly, who looks like he’s made of cardboard. And, then, best of all, there’s a polar bear. Oh my god. I’m never going to forget this polar bear. He’s just a guy with a typical mascot polar bear costume walking around on all fours. And it’s supposed to be intimidating. It’s not. It’s hilarious. You know what. Maybe this is worth viewing just for this moment… Nah. This scene is on YouTube. Just look it up there. It’ll make your Christmas season a bit brighter.
Lastly, I gotta talk about the ending. Sorry if you don’t want spoilers. You can skip ahead. As you’d probably expect, the acting in this movie is quite bad. There’s one moment when Santa first meets the Martian children that plays out a bit awkwardly. You know that scene in Austin Powers where Dr. Evil clearly wants to do an evil laugh even though there’s no reason to. So, him being the boss, everyone kind of just goes along with it awkwardly. Yeah, this moment between Santa and the kids feels a lot like that. They’re just having a swell old time laughing for no reason, even though the kids clearly don’t understand what’s going on. But, that’s not even the moment I wanted to talk about. I just got distracted when bad acting was brought up. Anyone, the very last scene of the movie, of course, features the downfall of the villain. And, the way it’s done is quite entertaining. Taking places in Santa’s Mars workshop, it’s an intense, climatic battle between all of the children and this grump. The kids use every toy and bubble maker against him. He gets pelted with balls and bubbles and toy airplanes and bubbles and darts and, well, bubbles. Fortunately for the actor, none of this really looks like it hurts all that much. Unfortunately for him, he’s supposed to be thwarted in that moment. So, he’s got to treat it like it’s the worst thing ever. He does this by kind of just spinning around, screaming and covering his face. Like, he definitely could’ve fought back or hid or, really, any number of things. But, he just takes it like he’s powerless. Then, to top it all off, the soundtrack literally does the sad trombone thing. I’ve never actually heard that in a movie. It’s glorious.
But, other than those handful of moments, I was mostly just bored by Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I can’t recommend it. Shocker, I know. This one is kind of just bad in the way a lot of old science fiction is. It’s weird, but not super weird. It’s poorly acted. It’s low budget. But, damn, it sure is slow. There’s not a whole lot of fun to be had here. Even if you’re looking for some good ol’ fashioned holiday laughs, I wouldn’t put this on. Definitely go with Santa Claus instead. That’s the much more entertaining option. But, I’m not giving up yet. There’s got to be something worse out there. And, we’ve still got a whole month to find it. Oh boy…
Ready to have the worst Christmas ever? Yeah, me neither. But, it’s bound to happen. 2020 has been universally pretty shitty of a year. It’s cancelled holiday after holiday. Now, it’s got its sights set on Christmas. And, with the way this virus is booming, it looks about ready to take the shot. Yep. This is going to be a pretty shitty Christmas. So, I thought “why not double down on it?” Instead of watching and reviewing all the cinematic Christmas classics that literally everyone and their mother knows, I’m going to dive deep down in the muck. I’m talking the shittiest of the shitty. I want to find the absolute worst Christmas movie that’s ever been made. It’s going to be quite the challenge. But, I’ve dug through the internet, made a list, checked it twice, and, from Thanksgiving weekend all the way up to Christmas day, I’ll be reviewing these dumpster fires. It’s not going to be easy, but someone’s gotta do it. Will this challenge turn me into the Grinch or will it double down on my love for the holiday classics? There’s only one way to find out. Grab a cup of spiked hot cocoa, break off a piece of fruitcake, and let’s jump into it.
Our first Christmas adventure comes from 1950’s Mexico in the form of Santa Claus, which Wikipedia has informed me is sometimes called Santa Claus vs. the Devil. And, if that doesn’t sell you on this being a “so bad it’s good” movie, let me just inform you that the plot is only the tip of the weird iceberg here. The whole time I was watching this masterpiece of disaster, I just kept thinking about how much better it’d be if I were watching with friends. It’s that kind of movie. One to get drunk and laugh at. The movie was covered by Mystery Science Theater 3000, so you know there’s a lot to unpack here.
First of all, this version of the Santa myth is maybe the weirdest I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t live at the North Pole. He’s from another planet entirely. Details are scarce on why though. Is he a human or an alien? Is he actually god? How did he get there? How did his workers get there? We don’t know! This movie has no interest in explaining anything to us! Speaking of his workers, they’re not elves. Instead, he’s got a small collection of children from around the world that help him. We know this because there is a fairly long scene at the beginning of him introducing each country’s residents to us in song. And, being from 1959, it’s about as sensitive as you’d imagine. Think of Disney’s “It’s a Small World” but longer… and more racist… and the singers look like they’re being forced at gunpoint. Within two minutes of this movie’s runtime, I was already yelling “oh no” at my tv. But, it gets worse the more you see of this Santa’s workshop.
And, Santa’s reindeer are absolutely terrifying. Instead of actual animals, he uses robots that you have to crank up like a toy. And, the directors chose to show this by having them be these horrifying animatronics that wouldn’t look out of place in Five Nights at Freddy’s. They’ve got these dead eyes and clunky movements and I just don’t like them. But, don’t worry. That’s not the scariest technology Santa has lying around. He’s got to watch the kids somehow. In this universe, he uses a supercomputer to keep track of who’s been naughty or nice. And, wow. I… uhm… I don’t even know how to properly explain this…. It’s got a face. There are two monitors that make up it’s eyes and then, well, big ass lips. That move. In a very unsettling way. It’s like something out of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, if that show didn’t have a sense of humor and was even darker. I mean… just look at this thing.
But, don’t worry. Santa himself is just as terrifying as the world around him. I’m sure the dubbing didn’t help, but I definitely think they picked the wrong actor to play Old Saint Nick. He’s really throwing off some psycho vibes here. If you told me he had bodies of his former helpers buried in the back, I’d believe you. He’s always laughing. And, I know what you’re thinking. Santa is supposed to laugh a lot, right? Yeah. Sure. But, he’s also supposed to stop sometimes. This one doesn’t. He’s constantly chuckling at something. And, I’m not talking about the merry ho ho hoes either. This guy has a maniacal laugh. He’d be right at home amongst the Disney villains. But, that’s not all. He’s also just an awkward guy. There’s a scene where he has to hold a roughly ten year old child and speak to him. It should be a touching scene, except this actor decided to cradle him like a baby. The kid is way too big for that. Santa’s hands are in weird places. They’re too close. The kid looks uncomfortable. Because he’s not used to being held like that, he’s more or less plaking in Santa’s arms. It’s all bad. And then there’s the spying. Again, not unusual for Santa. But, damn, this one makes it seem so creepy. He looks in windows like he’s Michael Myers, not Santa. There’s no twinkle in this dude’s eyes. He’s just scary.
And, of course, there’s the plot. Satan himself, Lucifer, has sent a demon named Pitch to take down Santa Claus.Pitch does this by trying to get a bunch of children to betray Santa, mostly by berating them. There’s one little girl in particular that he’s especially rude to. All she wants for Christmas is a doll. So, how does he try to convince her to turn on Santa? By haunting her dreams as a terrifying blank faced, dancing, human sized doll. It’s terrifying. And, definitely gave at least a couple thousand kids nightmares. (Wikipedia actually credits this as the possible origin of the term “Nightmare Fuel.” Neat.) Other than that, it’s mostly just a group of three boys he’s trying to convince to kidnap the Santa Claus. (Cue Nightmare Before Christmas music.) When this largely fails, he uses a pitbull to chase Santa up into a tree. Because, apparently, Santa’s reindeer turn to dust when exposed to sunlight. Which, in turn, would leave Santa stranded. And he’d starve. Because he eats clouds and not food. I promise you I’m not making any of this up. Again, WHAT IS SANTA? Again, is he an alien? A god? Is that why the devil is fighting him? Where did those children on his planet come from? Obviously Earth, since they’re from different countries, but how did they end up working for Santa? Have the reindeer always been robots? Why do they turn to dust? What’s with that computer? I hate it. This is so weird. The myth of Santa has always left interesting questions, but never any this bizarre.
And, of course, all of the things you’d expect from a bad 50s science fiction movie are here too. The acting is bad. Like I said, Santa is creepy. I didn’t get into the demon too much, but he’s way, way over the top in his campiness. None of the kids look like they want to be there. Heck, during the musical numbers, a couple of them are literally just sitting there doing nothing. The dubbing makes absolutely everything worse. The songs especially suffer. They’ve been so lost in translation that they don’t fit the melody or rhyme anymore. And, as you can probably guess, the special effects are horrible. Not only do the lips and the reindeer move in terrifying ways, but the miniature sets all look super fake too. You can see the strings on everything. The costumes look like they just went down to the local Spirit Halloween. It’s great. And horrible. Pretty much exactly what I was looking for.
And, that’s the only way I can really recommend this movie. It’s definitely one to laugh at. Treat it in the same fashion you would The Room or Troll 2. It may be just a tad too long for some to really enjoy. (There’s only so much horribleness the human body can take after all.) But, every time you think it’s grown stale, they throw another curveball at you. So, I’d definitely recommend this one for the next “so bad, it’s good” viewing. Dress festive. Get a bunch of friends together. Make some alcoholic Christmas beverages. And, have a nice time roasting this movie over an open fire. It’ll be delightful.
Back in March, which feels like a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away, as the world started to collapse, I, like almost everyone else, decided that it was time for a distraction. Instead of learning how to bake bread, speak a foreign language, or anything else useful, I decided to fall back on one of my favorite franchises of all-time, Star Wars. I started giving myself a little dose of George Lucas’s universe every single day. Just enough to keep my head up high. I made my way through all twelve movies (for probably about the millionth time) and then fell back into the tv shows (some for the first time). Then, with the announcement of The Mandalorian Season 2, I rushed through the final chunk I had left. And, I do mean rushed. I choked down Resistance in about a week, which I do not recommend for a couple different reasons, and The Mandalorian Season 1 in about two days, which was a glorious experience. Overall, it was a fantastic distraction, as I’m someone that at least likes 85% of what Lucasfilm’s Star Wars branch has presented us. I’ve still got A LOT of Star Wars books, comics, and video games to get through. But, at the same time, this seems like a perfect spot to take a break and reflect on some of my favorite characters. Plus, The Mandalorian Season 2 comes out today! So, in honor of that and the seven month journey I just took through the timeline, here’s my list of favorite characters from the Star Wars galaxy.
But, first, as always, a couple of notes. These are my personal favorite characters. They aren’t necessarily the most badass or even the best written. They’re just the characters I’ve had the most fun with in my Star Wars experiences thus far. Also, for the most part, this is going to be just based on the movies and tv shows, as my expertise in the other fields isn’t as high as I want it to be right now. Speaking of, I have not seen any of The Mandalorian Season 2 yet. So, if Ahsoka went on a killing rampage in the first episode slaughtering The Child and Mando and it’s not mentioned here, that’s why. And, lastly, this list is for fun. It’s not that serious. The Star Wars fandom is already split enough. I’m not looking for anyone to shit all over my opinions. If I wanted that, I’d log onto Reddit. Like I said, this is my fun, very biased list. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m looking to block all opinions either. If you want to talk Star Wars civilly, I’m always down. I just don’t want to talk to those Star Wars fans. We all know who they are.
Anyways, without further ado, here it is my favorite characters from a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.
*Cue super powerful John Williams score*
25. Kanan Jarrus
I know this one isn’t going to be my most popular pick. Since it premiered on Disney XD in 2014, I know a lot of people in my age group or older straight up skipped Star Wars Rebels. It’s really a shame too because Rebels is one of my favorite pieces of Star Wars media. I think it perfectly balanced tying into the original trilogy and Clone Wars, while also existing as its own independent tv show. Plus, the members of the Ghost crew are all wonderful characters who need more love within the fandom. I almost expanded the list to include more of them on here. But, my favorite member has to be Kanan Jarrus. To me, he perfectly encapsulates the sacrifice most of our galactic heroes undertook. During the Clone Wars, his training was cut short after his master was killed during Order 66. Like many others, he went into hiding. No one knew that he had trained to be a Jedi knight and that’s the way he liked it. But, as they say, with great power comes great responsibility and he started to make things difficult for the Empire. It wasn’t long after that before he met Ezra Bridger, another Force sensitive kid looking for a mentor. Throwing his relative safety out the window, he, of course, started training Ezra. This led to many clashes with the Empire, up to and including Darth Vader himself. And, thus, the Ghost crew joined the rebellion. Kanan didn’t necessarily want to do it, but he was committed to his friends and it was the right thing to do. I’m not going to go into the rest, because I really don’t want to spoil this show for people. However, those that have seen it know that the amount he sacrifices for his friends and the galaxy doesn’t stop there. He really is the definition of putting aside your personal interests and beliefs for the greater good. He could’ve lived a nice, quiet life dodging the Empire but instead decided to put it all on the line for a spark of hope. And that’s just super cool. He’s definitely one of my favorites.
24. Darth Sidious(AKA Sheev Palpatine)
I swear I can feel you questioning my decision to rank Papa Palpatine this low. I really can. After all, he’s the ultimate villain, right? He’s the main boss. The guy that shows up at the end of all three trilogies to mess shit up. But, here’s the thing: I was never really excited to see him show up. I remember watching Return of the Jedi for the first time and being disappointed that THIS was the guy in charge of Vader. And his standing never really got much better for a long time. He was the guy who sparked something evil in Anakin. That’s the interesting thing he did. He creates exciting characters. He’s not one himself. Of course, all of that changed when I watched Clone Wars. That was the first time I really grew to appreciate Sheev Palpatine, not as a Sith Lord but as a politician. Holy crap is this guy terrifying. The degree to which he was playing both sides is brilliant. He really was going to come out on top either way. Every single droid, clone, Jedi, Sith. They were all pawns in his game of chess. It’s absolutely insane to think of how much pain and suffering one man inflicted on a galaxy of people. And that’s BEFORE he became its ultimate dictator. This guy is a genius in the worst possible way. So, by the time he showed back up in IX, I didn’t even question it. Of course he’s back. You can’t kill this asshole. He’s 12 steps ahead of everyone at all times. As I get older and more into politics, Palpatine just becomes scarier and scarier.
Also, you’ve got to appreciate the dude’s uncanny ability to become a meme.
23. Babu Frik
Listen, don’t judge me. I’ll admit it. I don’t really have a lot to say about Babu Frik. But, to be fair, Star Wars hasn’t had a lot to say on the topic yet either. All I know is that The Rise of Skywalker introduced me to an adorable 9 inch tall dude that spoke with a heavy accent and tons of attitude and I fell in love instantly. I mean… just look at him. There’s a minute long clip on YouTube that literally features all of his screen time and it’s glorious. Every time this dude goes “Hey Hey” I laugh. Lucasfilm, if you’re listening and I know you are, we need more Babu Frik in our lives. Like a whole Disney+ series. Please.
As I’ve said before, I have not read many of the Star Wars books, but I have checked out a couple of them. One in particular I really enjoyed was Heir to the Empire, the first book in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn series. Thrawn instantly grabbed my attention as a badass, no nonsense Imperial commander. Of course, that story is no longer canon. However, the good news is that Disney isn’t completely just ignoring the Extended Universe. They are picking and choosing some of the best parts and bringing them over to a more streamlined (at least for now) timeline. So, Thrawn was brought back into canon in Rebels. And, damn, did he deliver. Instantly, he was again the calm, cool and collected badass villain who constantly outwits our heroes. But, he’s also a sadistic bastard who takes no shit from anyone. I love everything about him. His look. His voice. His demeanor. I’m always a fan of the overly suave villain and he definitely fits that mold. Luckily, I still have a lot of Thrawn to catch up on, so his story is far from over for me. Plus, his ending was pretty open-ended on Rebels, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him again. With Benedict Cumberbatch in live action maybe? Again, please, Lucasfilm.
21. Ahsoka Tano
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a character, in the history of pop culture, grow on me like Ahsoka Tano. Honestly, I hated her at first. She was so freaking annoying. I remember watching the Clone Wars movie for the first time and groaning almost every time she was on screen. There was almost nothing redeeming about her character to me. I hated that she called everyone by a lame nickname. I hated that she questioned every single decision her elders made. She was just the worst. But, as the show went on, she grew up. She became progressively less whiny (as people tend to do). And, she started becoming a real badass. By the end of the first run of Clone Wars, I was completely invested in her story. I couldn’t believe they left it on the cliffhanger they did. Luckily, she’s since made a comeback in several forms. And, she’s grown into what I would consider one of the best Jedi Knights we’ve seen on screen. I feel like we’ve been through a lot with Ahsoka. I love the journey Dave Filoni has taken us on with her. And, I absolutely can’t wait to see how her story progresses in The Mandalorian.
20. Din Djarin (AKA The Mandalorian)
First of all, Din Djarin is, hands down, the best father in the Star Wars universe. The care he shows The Child, who he was originally his bounty, is unparalleled. Not only does he sacrifice literally almost everything to keep the little dude alive, he’s also shown to have very soft, tender moments with him. Like, when he unscrewed the top of his gear to give The Child as a toy! So freaking cute. They’re the best. And, it’s not just the adorableness of “Baby Yoda” that won him over either. He’s a genuinely good guy, as we can see by him saving that village from the raiders. But, it’s not all lovey dovey with Mando either. He’s quite the badass. The way he fights instantly put Boba, Jango, and every other Mandalorian we’ve seen to shame. His combination of stealth, long distance, and close range combat might just make him one of the best warriors we’ve seen in Star Wars. And, it’s not like he just impresses for a moment at a time either. This dude brings it every. single. episode. An extreme badass with a heart of gold? Yeah. Din’s definitely making my list.
19. Lando Calrissian
Not gonna lie: I did not appreciate Lando Calrissian enough as a child. Who the heck was this guy? Coming into the trilogy halfway through. Flirting with the girl Han is clearly into. Then, turning our heroes over to the Empire? Are you kidding me? But, he’s since grown on me a lot as an adult. I understand that Lando was put in a really tough spot in Cloud City. He was tasked to protect these people and the Empire came in to threaten that peace. So, he made the difficult choice to turn in his friend. Unfortunately, the Empire did what they do and, well, the deal got worse all the time. Betrayed, Lando did everything he could to make up for that error. And, honestly, I think he more than repaid his debt. He became one of the greatest heroes of the rebellion and one of the more relatable Star Wars characters. And, that’s just in the original trilogy. We haven’t even talked about Donald Glover’s completely brilliant performance in Solo, which basically solidified Lando’s spot as the universe’s supreme sex god. Yeah. Lando’s definitely one of the coolest dude’s in the galaxy.
18. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hello there! It’s General Obi-Wan Kenobi coming in at #18. First of all, he’s got maybe the coolest vibe of all the prequel Jedi. Like, if I could only hangout with one, it’d probably be this guy. Second, he’s probably got the most consistent portrayal throughout his multiple series. From the original trilogy, the prequels, Clone Wars, and Rebels, he’s very much the same by-the-book, exhausted, yet still light hearted Brit. But, despite his continuing sense of humor, he’s got probably the most tragic story in the franchise. Of course, he lost his mentor at a young age. During the Clone Wars, he lost the love of his life, who he’s said he would’ve dropped out of the Jedi order for had she asked, to the same Sith Lord. Then, the ultimate betrayal, as his apprentice, a man he considered to be like a brother to him, turned to the dark side and helped wipe out the Jedi. The deeper you dive into Star Wars lore, the more that fight on Mustafar hurts. Obi-Wan had already lost so much and basically saw everything he had left disappear before his very eyes. Yet, he still didn’t give up, traveling to Tatooine to protect who he believed to be the fulfiller of the Chosen One prophecy. Obi-Wan’s is definitely one of my favorite stories to follow across the different movies and tv shows. I love learning more about his story. The Star Wars galaxy owes this dude so much and they probably don’t even realize it.
17. Chirrut Imwe
I know that it’s not an original thought, but I’ve always seen The Force as a religion. The Jedi are, after all, essentially badass monks. And, there’s something about The Force as a religion that actually works for me. I’m not a religious person, but the idea that there is an energy that binds the universe together and can be tapped into with enough training is a beautiful one. And, other than Master Yoda, I don’t think anyone has quite demonstrated that beauty quite like Chirrut Imwe. He is not a Jedi. He’s had no official training. Yet, his connection to The Force is very real. He uses it to kick all kinds of ass despite his blindness. And, his faith in it is strong enough that he knows it’ll protect him on even the most chaotic of battlefields. He’s the embodiment of what The Force stands for. Proof that you don’t need to be born a Skywalker or even a Force wielder to tap into it. It lives within all of us. I don’t know. There’s something about that message that always will stick with me. Plus, like I said, Chirrut is quite the asskicker.
16. Qui-Gon Jinn
Qui-Gon Jinn is truly one of the most underrated characters in the franchise. Like all Jedi, he’s a very zin, monk-like person. However, unlike the others, he has a bit of a rebellious streak hidden under the surface. He does what he considers to be the right thing, even if it means going against the Jedi way. For example, he believed that Anakin was the chosen one, set to bring balance to The Force. And, when he was denied, Qui-Gon set out to train him regardless. Better yet, as this is happening, Obi-Wan urges him not to disobey the council again. So, this has happened before. Probably quite a bit. I love that he was willing to do the right thing, even if it’d ultimately hurt his standing with his friends and colleagues. I think that’s the coolest, most heroic thing you can do. Also, Qui-Gon is the one who discovered how to become a Force ghost, which turned out to be maybe the most helpful thing in the series. So, yeah, Qui-Gon is very cool, very underutilized, and super underrated.
15. Jyn Erso
Jyn Erso is one of the more compelling single movie arcs I’ve seen in a movie, let alone the Star Wars franchise. She starts off Rogue One as such a biter character. One who doesn’t trust anyone and is only there to look out for themselves after being abandoned by both her father and the rebellion cell she joined after his disappearance. However, that all changes when she gets a heartfelt message from her father, along with details about the Death Star and the failsafe he’d installed. (Shoutout to Galen Erso btw. What an absolute beast.) She then commits herself to the rebellion. Even though she knows that stealing the Death Star plans would be a suicide mission, she goes through with it because it’s the only chance of survival the Rebels have. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her, there would be no rebellion. They probably would’ve been wiped out by the Death Star. Luke, Leia, Han: They all owe everything to Jyn. She may just be the most important figure of that era.
As the rest of this list will attest, I am a massive fans of the Star Wars droids. I tend to fall in love with each and every one of them. BB-8 is definitely one of the best though. He just has so much personality without ever saying a word. There’s just something about the way he beeps and moves his head around that portrays every thought wonderfully. You can tell when he’s happy or sad . Heck, you can even tell when he’s accusing Finn of lying to Rey. It’s honestly amazing. Plus, he’s just a good friend. Whether it’s to Poe or Rey or even Kaz from Resistance, he’s always there to lend a hand. There’s a reason he’s become probably the most profitable character from the sequel trilogy. He’s just someone people would like to be around. Honestly, I know I can’t get enough of the little guy.
Remember when I said that I wasn’t looking to argue about this list with THOSE Star Wars fans? Yeah. This is why. I freaking love Rey. I think she’s one of the most interesting characters in all of Star Wars. She’s someone that’s just looking for her place in the universe. Abandoned as a child but told someone would come and retrieve her, she never really had a grasp on her identity. But, she eventually finds one on her own. She joins the Resistance, works with the Skywalkers, and works to turn Kylo back to the light. And, she’s doing this, not because it’s prophecy. She’s not the Chosen One. She’s doing it because it’s the right thing to do. But, still, no matter how much good she does, she still has that doubt of not quite knowing about her past. Still not knowing what her purpose in all of this is. Then, when she finally learns the dark history of her past, she doesn’t embrace it. She doesn’t let it define her. Finally a complete character, she turns to her new adopted family. Not just in the Skywalkers but in the Resistance overall. It’s a beautiful arc. One showing that your past and your family lineage doesn’t define who you are. I really don’t understand the hate that’s thrown in her direction. I think she’s a wonderful character and I think Daisy Ridley does a terrific job of brining her to life.
For my money, K-2SO is the funniest character in Star Wars. As a reprogramed imperial droid, he no longer has a filter. He says whatever comes to his mind. That, of course, leads him to be incredibly rude and quite blunt. And it’s freaking hilarious. But, also, there’s some charm to K2. Occasionally, he does say something heartfelt and it’s all the more endearing because you know he doesn’t lie. Like all the droids, he’s a good friend and a worthy companion. I really hope he’s in the Cassian series because I’d love to see more of him.
Man, that God for the animated shows. If it weren’t for them, Darth Maul would be a completely wasted throw-away character. Instead, he grew to become one of the most compelling characters in the universe. After surviving his defeat in The Phantom Menace, Clone Wars brought back Maul as a broken figure. One who had spent years being driven mad by rage. All he wanted was revenge on the one who had taken everything from him, Kenobi. Or, at least, that was the case until he once again me up with Darth Sidious to find that he had been replaced and was now hated by his former master. Completely betrayed, he became a figure of rage against the Empire as well. In fact, that’s what came to define Maul. He’s just a very angry guy. He is hatred. He is vengeance. He’s pain. He’s suffering. He is the dark side. And, man, does he look cool pulling it all off.
10. Ben Solo (AKA Kylo Ren)
As I’m sure you’ve pieced together by this point, I’m actually quite the fan of the sequel trilogy. I don’t believe the movies were perfect but I do think they served their purpose pretty decently. And, I think a lot of that has to do with the character of Kylo Ren. His character just feels so relatable and real to me. Like, look the Skywalkers! See how messed up they are? Now, imagine what the third generation in that family would look like. I’m guessing it would be a very conflicted, very angry child who still has that goodness and light within him. Of course he’s messed up. And, then, right as he was starting to tiptoe towards the dark side (something his whole family has done), he witnessed his uncle trying to murder him! Of course, he never really was very good at being a villain either. Snoke, Palpatine, and Hux all mocked him for his obsession with his grandfather, while he also fought with the fact that deep down he was a good person. To cover up for this, I feel he often went overboard in the evil acts. He thought that if he played the ultimate villain for long enough he’d eventually just become that person. And, then, in The Rise of Skywalker, we see that his love for his family and the words of Rey eventually broke him. He helped defeat Palpatine, helping to fulfill the Skywalker prophecy and, seemingly, close out his family’s story forever. I personally think it’s a pretty awesome end to the saga. And it’s all brought to us by the wonderful Adam Driver, who is easily one of the most talented actors working today. So, yeah, Ben’s the best.
9. Luke Skywalker
Speaking of Ben’s crazy uncle and complicated feelings, let’s talk about Luke Skywalker. When we first meet him, he’s a bored teenage farmer who dreams of something better. He just wants adventure and to help bring down the evil Empire. When he meets Obi-Wan and learns that his father used to be a Jedi knight, he devotes his life to brining back the Jedi order. However, it’s not easy for him. In fact, Yoda initially wanted nothing to do with him, sensing the conflict within. He’s far too emotional. He cares too much about those around him. And that emotion is what would haunt him for the rest of his life, even if his heart was almost always in the right place. For example, when he learned that Darth Vader was actually his father, he vowed to turn him back over to the light. But, after Luke rejected his father’s offer to turn to the dark side and Vader brought up the potential of turning Leia over instead, Luke momentarily lost control and almost killed him in anger. But, he eventually relented. The light won out, which gave enough time for his father to also be redeemed by saving Luke’s life.
So, yes, Luke’s the ultimate hero of the rebellion. Thus, I kind of understand where people are coming from when they hate on how he’s portrayed in The Last Jedi. But, I would argue that Luke has struggled with his dark tendencies just as often as Anakin and Kylo have. The only difference is that his resolve has been stronger. He’s more focused on being a good person. He didn’t let Palpatine get into his head in the same way his father and nephew did. But, he did slip up. For a moment, he considered killing Ben when he saw the darkness rising within him. Once again, he saw all that he loved being threatened. Just like he did when Vader mentioned Leia. We, of course, know he wasn’t going to go through with murdering Ben. Unfortunately though, it was too late. Ben saw him, murdered the whole academy, and became one of the ultimate evils in the galaxy. I can’t fault Luke for then banishing himself to the outskirts of the galaxy. He was supposed to be the big hero. He’s the one who saved the galaxy from Sidious, but now he had just created a new monster. But, of course, because he’s the badass that he is, this slump didn’t last forever. He was eventually talked into fixing his mistake. He once again redeemed himself by helping to redeem his family. I don’t care what anyone says. I think that’s a beautiful story. I think it makes Luke so much more interesting. He’s not perfect. But, he’s a hero. He’s conflicted. But, he’s ultimately a good person. He loved his family and always wanted to do what was right by them, even if he may slip up sometimes. And, to me at least, that makes him a very compelling character.
Yoda is one of the most popular Star Wars characters of all time. He’s also one that we don’t know a whole lot about. He’s just the wise, older leader that everyone looks up to. And, he fits that role perfectly. I absolutely love listening to him talk. Like I mentioned, I equate a lot of Star Wars to a religion. In that regard, Yoda is like the Pope. He’s got the deepest understanding of the The Force and has an absolutely gorgeous way of describing it. If he were to put on a weekly sermon, I would never miss it. Plus, when it comes down to it and he absolutely has to fight, he’s a certified badass. Can the Pope catch Force lightning? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
7. The Child
Come on, guys! You should’ve seen this coming back in the Babu Frik write up! I am an absolute sucker for things of the adorable nature. And, honestly, I don’t think there’s any cuter in all of pop culture history than The Child (or Baby Yoda if you want to go with what we all actually call him). The night Disney+ was released, I stayed up almost all night with anticipation. The first thing I streamed, of course, was The Mandalorian. And, holy crap, when he appears at the end of that first episode, I instantly fell in love. Just look at the guy! And I love Mando and friends’ absolute ability to kick ass, but I’m mostly tuning in every week to see what this guy is up to. Every time I see him it’s like I forget all of my worries. But, every time he’s in danger, it’s the most the most stressful experience of my week. Heck, he’s so adorable that he makes something as evil as Force choking look cute. The Child is simply the best thing to happen to Star Wars in decades. (Spoiler: he’s actually the highest ranked character on this list not to come from the original 1977 movie.)
Chewbacca is the best friend we all wish we had. He’s the ultimate co-pilot for both flying and life. He’s got a rough exterior. Don’t piss him off. He might just tear your arms off. But, under that, he’s got a heart of gold. If you get on his good side, he’s your friend and protector for life. But, just because he’s tough, doesn’t mean he’s not sometimes afraid. He’s just as willing to let you know that what’s happening makes him uncomfortable. In fact, he shows a huge range of emotions. Sometimes he’s scared. Sometimes he’s cocky. He gets angry. He’s been sad. And, he definitely gets a bit sarcastic. All without ever speaking a word of English and having any actor under a thick, hard to emote in mask. It’s really a testament to Peter Mayhew how much we can relate to Chewy. Honestly, it’s not surprising that a lot of people name their dogs after him. Because, like those pups, Chewbacca really is man’s best friend.
I will never understand the hatred that is thrown C-3PO’s way. Yes, he’s a bit of a whiner, but I think, most of the time, he’s completely justified. The only time it ever really just on my nerves is when Han is frozen in carbonite. I feel like his constant yelling at Chewy takes a bit away from the emotional stakes of that scene. Other than though, I’ve always thought that Threepio was a fun and integral part of the Star Wars chemistry. I think his comments always break the tension in a very effective, funny way. He’s like a sassier, classier K-2SO. And you can not tell me that him being praised as a God by the Ewoks was not one of the funniest moments in Return of the Jedi. I don’t care what anyone says. C-3PO is an absolute delight. I can’t imagine what the original trilogy would be like without him. But, I guess someone has to be the butt of the joke and it’s a role Threepio fits quite well.
Like I’ve said time and time again. I am a big fan of the droids in Star Wars. Each and every one of them holds a special place in my heart. But, no one holds quite as big a spot as my boy, R2-D2. First off, he’s definitely the cutest one. His design is near perfect. He’s got quite the attitude. He’s basically the yin to C-3PO’s yang. While Threepio is prim and proper, always going by protocol, R2 is a bit rebellious. He’ll take a risk if it means saving his friends. Which, by the way, he’s saving everyone’s butts constantly. I bet you’d lose count if you went through the Skywalker saga and Clone Wars and tried to keep track of how many times this droid has been a massive help. He’s like a Swiss army knife of useful tricks and tools. In the Clone Wars, Anakin is criticized for not wiping the memory of his droid or using another. But, how could you when you’ve got a friend like Artoo. He’s super useful. He’s got a great personality. And he’s just so freaking cute. He’s simply the best. R2’s an absolute legend.
3. Leia Organa
Leia Organa is the first character I remember subverting my “damsel in distress” expectation. She didn’t just hang with the boys. She took charge of them. Captured by the Empire, she never showed them an ounce of fear, even as the held her planet hostage. She held her fierce and sarcastic attitude the whole time she was imprisoned. Then, when her rescuers seemed wildly inept, she wasn’t afraid to call them out and help lead the escape efforts. And, that’s all within her first few minutes of screen time in A New Hope. But, luckily, that intensity never really slows down, as she goes from Princess to General. She leads the rebellion, orchestrates the plan to save Han, kills Jabba, and, eventually, trains in The Force herself. Then, when all hope disappears, when even her brother gives up, she leads the Resistance. She continues to fight for what she believes is right. And, ultimately, she sacrifices every thing to bring her son back to the light. She is a true hero. I always say that the Skywalker family is full of whiny men and badass women and that all started with Leia. She really is one of the best characters in fiction and represents the idea that makes Star Wars, well, Star Wars.
2. Han Solo
I absolutely love the character growth we see Han Solo undergo throughout the Skywalker saga. He starts off as an egotistical smuggler who’s only ever really out for himself. He doesn’t think much. He just does whatever is best for him. But, eventually, he gets pulled deeper and deeper into the rebellion. What started as a simple, well-paying job ended up forever changing his life. After escaping the Death Star, he had no financial reason to stick around. But, he was inspired by Luke and Leia to do the right thing. Under all of that “shoot first” mentality, he was always a good person. Even when his life was literally on the line with Jabba, he could never commit the selfish act of pulling himself away from the rebellion. He was just too important to the cause. He’s a big part of why the Rebels were so successful. And then, after his son turned, he tried to retreat back into the smuggling world. He tried to leave the rebellion and the fighting behind. But, it was never meant to be that way now. He was a hero. He had to go back. It’s what he was destined to do. In many ways, Han is just like his son. He’s a good person who is trying to trick everyone, including himself, into thinking he’s not. But, just like Kylo, he’s failed every single time. Han’s a true hero and one of the best the galaxy has to offer.
Darth Vader (AKA Anakin Skywalker)
Even after five movies and three tv shows in a row where he plays no more than bit parts, Darth Vader is still Star Wars to me. I honestly am not sure there will ever be a point where he’s not. It’s not my fault though. The whole Lucas era revolved around this dude. Episodes I-VI are his story. And in some ways VII-IX are too. But, more than that, his story represents the core values of Star Wars so well. First of all, he was one of the most powerful Jedi in the world. His exploits in Clone Wars are among some of the more entertaining Force wielding moments of the series. Then, of course, he struggled with being pulled into the dark. As you can tell from my entries on Luke and Kylo, this is a very common theme within the universe. Tying to find the balance between the light and the dark IS what Star Wars is about. But, unlike Luke, he fell into the traps of the dark side. He was a full on villain, one of the darkest and deadliest the galaxy had ever seen. Just watch his scene in Rogue One. It’s terrifying! That’s another thing that Star Wars is always super strong in: their villains. Then, he personified another them common in Star Wars: redemption. The light within Anakin won out. He saved the day, helping to crush the Empire. And, lastly, Kylo idolizing him shows the importance of legacy. What you pass down from generation to generation is just as important as the life you lead. So, yeah, to me Darth Vader is Star Wars. He represents everything that makes this series special to me. He’s both one of the best heroes and one of the best villains of the franchise. He personifies the tropes of balance, redemption, and legacy. And, his design is just the coolest, which is wildly important in the Star Wars galaxy. For all of this to be wrapped up into one character, there’s no way Darth Vader could ever be anything but #1.
And that’s it. There’s my 2 favorite Star Wars characters. As you can probably tell, I really love this franchise. It’s one of the ones I’ve spent the most time in. And, unlike a lot of the fandom, I genuinely enjoy most of what’s put out in this universe. I’m always down to learn something new about my favorite characters and/or discover a new favorite.
So, let me know what you think. Am I severely underrating someone? Did I overrate The Child? Who is your favorite? What’s your favorite movie? Show? Book? Video Game? Like I said, I’m down to have a civil conversation about Star Wars. I’m just not looking to argue.
If not, I hope you enjoyed this write-up as much as I did making it. Thanks for giving it a read. You’re the best and may The Force be with you, always.
Starring: Janelle Monae, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, and Gabourey Sidibe
Plot: (I don’t know how to explain the plot without spoilers.)
Review: Don’t you hate when you can see how a movie could be good, maybe even great, but it just never quite lives up to that promise. It’s especially aggravating when literally everything is right there. That’s definitely the case with Antebellum. The plot is interesting. The acting is great. The set design, costumes and cinematography is all perfect. It just… falls flat in it’s execution. It’s really a bummer.
First off, I’ve got to admit something. I think a lot of the impact of Antebellum was taken from me, because I already knew the twist going in. I didn’t read it online. I didn’t have a friend accidentally let it slip. I just figured it out based on the trailers. For a movie with marketing focusing on the “what’s going on” factor, it really wasn’t that hard to put together. In fact, it’s so easy that I was surprised the ads were pushing the “twist” so adamantly. It seems dumb to show so much if you’re looking to sell it on that front. Pull a Cabin in the Woods and only show us scenes from the first act of the movie, if you want to hide stuff. Because, as it stands, the marketing definitely hurt my enjoyment of the movie.
But, even if the twist was intact, I’m still not sure I would’ve enjoyed Antebellum very much. The whole thing just felt kinda shallow. I saw one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes say that, unfortunately, not every horror movie with a message can be Get Out. And, that just made me really sad because this definitely could’ve been that if someone super talented were behind the camera. Like, say, I don’t know… a Jordan Peele for instance. Or, heck, even a Steve McQueen. My problem is pretty much all in the way everything feels. I never bought that we were seeing an accurate depiction a plantation in the confederate South. The vibes just weren’t right. This isn’t 12 Years a Slave. It felt like a tv movie version they would show at a history museum. And, I think it kind of suffers for it. Plus, the horror and mystery elements aren’t even that good. I never once was even a little creeped out. Again, comparing it to a better movie, it’s no Get Out. And, lastly, the characters, other than Monae’s just feel flat. The villains are just evil. The other slaves are mostly background. And, well, no one really feels all that fleshed out. Now, imagine Jordan Peele’s take (or really anyone else who’s willing to put in the work) where we’ve got a super serious, Oscar worthy drama about slavery and we start to gradually learn that something is amiss here, until it eventually evolves into a full on horror flick. That’s definitely a movie I’d rather watch and kinda the movie I was expecting. Instead, we got this… which feels almost cartoony at times. I almost wonder if they rushed this to feel “relevant.” Oh well.
I’d in no way call Antebellum a complete disaster though. Like I said earlier, there are some things that work. Janelle Monae gives a pretty solid performance, as both her character on the plantation and the one in modern day. While it failed in its execution, the idea behind the movie is pretty good. And, everything really does look fantastic. The plantation looks era appropriate. The costumes are good. And, the cinematography really is impressive. There were quite a few absolutely beautiful shots. It’s a shame they were wasted on something so overall unimpressive.
Am I being too hard on Antebellum? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s just not fun to watch a middle of the road movie when you know it could’ve been something special. If given to someone who was willing to put the work in, rewrite the script once or twice more, and then taken it super seriously (and advertise it differently please), I think we could’ve gotten a great movie. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality we live in. Instead, Antebellum is just there. It’s not very good. It’s not bad. It just exists.
TL;DR: Antebellum feels like a lot of wasted potential.
Starring: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson
Plot: A small town teenager is brought into a web of broken souls, dirty preachers, and serial killers.
Review: The best way I could find to describe The Devil All the Time is “Coen Brothers lite”. Now, that might sound like an insult but I promise it’s not. I have great respect and love for the Coen brothers. So, invoking their name is a pretty high compliment. And, The Devil All the Time definitely earns it too. If you’re into movies like Fargo or No Country for Old Men, I think you’re going to enjoy this one too. Of course, don’t forget that I purposely put the “lite” on there. This isn’t as good as those movies, but it feels very similar (with the humor toned down dramatically).
I really loved how big The Devil All the Time felt. This is a movie with just a ton of plot in it. Tom Holland’s role is unquestionably our main character, but we probably only spend maybe a fourth of the movie with him. In fact, we don’t even see Holland until 47 minutes in. This is a huge story. It’s one of those tales that reaches out in a bunch of different directions before bringing everything back together in the end. It’s expertly done too. Each story and character is memorable. By the end, you really get a feel for the heft behind each character’s decision. You end up knowing these people inside and out. That makes the climax pay off even more than it already would’ve too. It’s kind of like if Game of Thrones had a more satisfying ending and was about a bunch of low income Midwesterners. (Sorry. I hadn’t dissed Game of Thrones in a couple months and needed to get it out.)
Of course, a good plot can only get you so far. You need a talented cast to really sell it. And, boy, does The Devil All the Time have an amazing group of actors. Up and down the cast list is super impressive, big-ish names that are known for being incredibly talented. They deliver too. Seriously, this movie is filled to the brim with great performances. Every single one sells the plight of their characters brilliantly. Like I said before, you can really feel what these people are going through and why they’re making the choices they are, even if you disagree with them.
All of the cast deserves as much praise as they can get but I’ve got to give a special callout to two actors in particular. Tom Holland killed it. This is the biggest serious role I’ve seen him in yet and it’s fantastic. He’s got a lot of baggage and heartbreak to carry around for the entire movie and nails it to a devastating degree. And, then, there’s Robert Pattinson. What can I say? The dude is so incredibly versatile. In this, we get to see his dark side as he plays the creepy, asshole preacher. There’s one sermon in particular that is just slimey and gross, especially in the context for why he’s delivering it. It had my skin crawling. It’s no surprise that both of these dudes are super talented, but it’s nice to see two actors at the top of their game continue to bring it time and again.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed The Devil All the Time. There were a couple of times where I was wondering why we were following certain characters, but everything came together super well in the end. It feels like an epic, even if it’s not world ending stuff. These characters and their stories will stick with me for quite a while. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for just a ton of really good stories that come together to create something even better.
TL;DR: The Devil All the Time is quite ambitious in it’s storytelling, which pays off with a satisfying ending and great acting.
Plot: After an especially hard break up, Lucy starts an art gallery full of tokens of loves lost.
Review: I haven’t completely made up my mind on The Broken Hearts Gallery yet. I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly good movie, but I did enjoy it. It’s cliched and overwritten, but I still felt connected to the characters. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a big softy, but I think I enjoyed this, on the surface, kind of average movie more than I was supposed to.
I do have to say that I enjoyed all of the characters. They’re all extremely likable, charismatic characters brought to life by charming, mostly up-and-coming actors. It’s hard not to fall in love with them just a little bit. Geraldine Viswanathan, who impressed in Blockers a few years ago, shines as the super energetic, charming female lead. You definitely end up sympathizing for her and wanting everything to work out. Then, we’ve got Dacre Montgomery (from Stranger Things) as the guy she’s trying to hook up with that just won’t give love a chance. It’s all stuff we’ve seen before but the characters definitely make it work. Plus, there’s an excellent supporting cast of names that you may not know but who’s faces are familiar. Her friends in particular are great. They’re played by the hopefully soon to be stars Molly Gordon (from Booksmart and Good Boys) and Phillipa Soo (from Hamilton). They’re probably the two characters I’ll remember most from this movie actually. They’re friendship was so unique and honest and heartfelt. If this were a tv show pilot, I’d probably keep watching just to get a few more doses of that relationship.
The main criticism I have with The Broken Hearts Gallery is with the dialogue. It’s too clever by about 30%. It’s one of those movies like a Juno or Lady Bird. You know, where every single line they say is clever, funny, and fast paced and no one acknowledges it. That type of dialogue always throws me off a bit. It always feels very written. Like, you can feel the writer perfecting it draft after draft. No one really talks like that. It’s just not natural.
But, I will say that The Broken Hearts Gallery did kind of win me over in the end. Like I said, I really enjoyed the characters and, within the final act, we learn some things about them that made the whole thing feel worth it. Character motivations finally clicked a bit and I was satisfied with having sat through it. Plus, I’m a big old romantic at heart and was won over by the cliched romantic comedy ending. I’m obviously not going to spoil anything… but you could probably figure it out on your own.
Overall, I did enjoy The Broken Hearts Gallery. The characters are likable. It’s romantic. I don’t know that I can recommend it to everyone. It’s still a little bit cliched and overwritten. But, if you’re looking for a cute date movie, you can do a lot worse.
TL;DR: Fun characters and a touching ending overshadow some too clever, cliched dialogue to make The Broken Hearts Gallery a rather pleasant experience.
Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin
Starring: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Ron Yuan, Gong Li, and Jet Li
Plot: Hua Mulan disguises herself as a man to serve in the Chinese army in the place of her elderly father.
Review: I’ve used a lot of words to describe the various live action Disney remakes. I’ve used magical (Cinderella), thrilling (The Jungle Book), silly (101 Dalmatians), safe (The Lion King), unnecessary (Beauty and the Beast/Aladdin), weird (Dumbo), uncanny (Lady and the Tramp), blasphemous (Maleficent), and just downright awful (Alice in Wonderland). However, there’s one word I never expected to use with these movies: dull. But, man, the 2020 version of Mulan sure is dull.
Now, before anyone defends this movie, I get it. The original, animated Mulan was considered pretty offensive in China. They didn’t like the fact that one of their greatest legends was Disneyfied, Eddie Murphy and all. But, that original movie had a lot of charm. At least among American audiences, it’s come to be known as one of the classics of the Renaissance era. The songs. The characters. The story. Almost everything about the movie is beloved. Strip all of that away and you’re not left with much. There is almost no charm to 2020’s version. They’re telling you the same story but it almost feels like a sparknotes version. I never once smiled or laughed or even cheered on our leads. I was just bored.
Nowhere is that clearer than with our main character. They’ve kind of butchered Mulan’s arc here. In this version, she never seems like a normal girl. She’s this extreme fighting machine with so much god-given talented that people in her village refer to her as a witch. By doing this, you take away any sense of sacrifice, danger or struggle. She’s no longer someone who’s doing the right thing because she cares so deeply about her family. She’s now a killing machine that felt it was her duty to save China. By doing that, Disney really did a disservice to one of their more relatable characters. The remakes have neutered some pretty interesting characters before but I’ve never seen something this egregious. I straight up don’t like this version of Mulan. She doesn’t interest me. It’s such a baffling descision.
Honestly, stripping the story of all emotional connections would’ve been bad enough, but 2020’s Mulan didn’t stop there. Like I said, for some reason, they decided to make it a story about, essentially, Chinese superheroes. Thus, Shan Yu was, apparently, not scary enough. No, they needed a villain on par with this new version of Mulan. So, who could fight someone with the skills of a witch? Why, an actual witch of course! Yep. There’s actual magic characters in this movie. She turns into a phoenix. She teleports. She flies. She becomes a swarm of bats. She does a lot of things. And it’s… really not good. Again, it completely changes the story. This isn’t about one village girl standing up to a terrifying force anymore. This is two super powered beings meeting up on the battlefield. Did the script to Mulan and Shang-Chi somehow get mixed up at Disney HQ? What is going on here? How is the animated movie with Eddie Murphy voicing a dragon somehow the more grounded of the two movies? When I heard they were nixing Mushu and the songs, I really liked the idea. As much as I enjoy the original, I was looking forward to a different take on Mulan. Something realistic and gritty sounded so cool. Even if they could just barely hit PG-13 under Disney’s standards. But, how did that concept turn into this? It’s almost the exact opposite! If you’re going to “make it closer to the legend” then do that! Come on! It’s not hard! I demand a redo!
On a technical level, I don’t really have a lot to say about Mulan. Everything kind of felt perfectly average in the way that most of these remakes are. The costumes were stellar. The set design was cool. The performances were kind of a mixed bag. Some were great. Others were pretty bad. The directing was a tad overdone (especially in the action sequences which were pretty bad), but also had some really cool visuals. I don’t know. Nothing was bad, but I wouldn’t say it was fantastic either. It’s all just kind of perfectly acceptable.
Overall, I’d say that Mulan is super boring. They took all of the fun and excitement out of the animated original. I never once smiled. I didn’t really have any fun. I was baffled by a lot of the changes. I wouldn’t call it a bad movie necessarily. If it wasn’t connected in any way to the animated flick, I may have enjoyed it more. It’s just not a pleasant experience when compared to the original. It’s probably my least favorite remake since Maleficent. I can’t see myself ever rewatching it. If you’re at all interested, definitely wait until it’s free on Disney+ in a couple months. Then, you don’t feel the pressure to finish it. Because it can be hard to get through. I know I struggled with it.
Damn it. This movie could’ve been so cool…
TL;DR: The changes made for 2020’s Mulan make the story and the characters worse, which results in a much less fun movie.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler, and Jillian Bell
Plot: Bill and Ted travel through time trying to find the song that’s going to save the universe.
Review: Bill and Ted are back, dudes! I honestly never thought I’d see the day. Even as Keanu and Alex brought it up over the years, I thought it was a pipe dream. There is no way a studio would dump funds into a belated sequel to a semi-cult classic. But, then, Keanu blew up again and, well, here we are. And, while far from perfect, Bill & Ted Face the Music is just what 2020 needed. Fun characters. Good vibes. Rocking tones. And, a heaping serving of nostalgia.
For the first 70% of Bill & Ted Face the Music or so, the plot is split into two distinct storylines. In one, we follow our lead characters from the other two movies in the franchise as they try to fulfill their destiny of saving the world. Then, we’ve got the other timeline with their daughters who are trying to help. Both have their pros and cons. But, I actually found myself more into the new characters. Don’t get me wrong though. I loved seeing William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq and Ted “Theodore” Logan again. Winter and Reeves fall right back into the roles perfectly and they’re just fun characters to be around. It was a lot of fun to see where they ended up going with their lives. However, their plot also gets a tad… repetitive. They’re trying to track down the perfect song by stealing it from their future selves. This involves a lot of future Bill & Teds (complete with a lot of makeup) and modern Bill & Ted talking to each other. I think it goes on for maybe just one scene too long. Despite having almost thirty years to think of a new idea, it feels like the writers could barely find enough for our duo to do for half of a relatively short movie. I never felt bored and enjoyed myself while watching it, but, once the movie wrapped, it did feel like they weren’t given that much exciting stuff to do.
But, weirdly enough, I did find myself super into the story that was being told with their daughters. I didn’t think I was going to be at first. It looked like the two actresses were just doing easy, SNL like impersonations of our favorite characters. However, they quickly grew on me and became my favorite part of the movie. Plot wise, they’re essentially doing a reboot of the first movie. Trying to help their dads, Billie and Thea (yes, that’s their names) travel through time to build the ultimate band to play the song that’ll save the universe. Yes, it’s a retread of the first movie but I still very much enjoyed it. It felt very much like Bill & Ted and that’s what I’m here for. Plus, this band they put together is a lot of fun and created some rocking tunes.
As for the tone, if you’ve seen the previous Bill & Ted movies, you pretty much know what to expect. They’re silly movies with charming characters that are bound to win you over. It’s nothing to be taken seriously or overthought. In fact, it was kind of the perfect pallet cleanser after Tenet. All of your favorite characters from the first movie are here. It only feels a little forced, unlike some sequels. Overall, I think fans of the series will be happy with this closing chapter.
I quite enjoyed this new adventure with Bill & Ted. Like I said, it wasn’t perfect. But, it made me happy. I liked seeing all the old characters and meeting some new ones. The jokes were funny. The plot was mostly good. And, the ending actually even made me tear up a bit. It’s definitely earned it’s spot right up there with the two previous excellent adventures. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back and watch the franchise from the beginning…
TL;DR: Bill & Ted Face the Music feels slightly forced at times, but is still a most excellent reunion.