Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I have grown up with Star Wars. I was nine when I saw the first film (then a self-contained film called Star Wars in which Han shot first) and it was like nothing I had ever seen before. I was hooked and rushed to the cinema when the Empire struck back and was thrilled when the Jedi returned. I sat through the (best forgotten) prequel trilogy more out of nostalgia than anything else and felt that sinking feeling when you see a franchise grinding to a miserable end.

Then Disney took control and, it has to be said, the House of Mouse really do know how to make a film. For me, The Force Awakens was an excellent reworking of the original film and The Last Jedi turned the franchise towards a new direction, leaving me both optimistic about where the next film could go, and slightly concerned about where it would go.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was everything I hoped for and then some.

Right from the start, the film delivers edge of your seat action scenes that leave you wanting to high-five whichever random person is sitting next to you. The dialogue is just as snappy as ever and the characters are all suitably engaging and keep you rooting for them throughout.

This being the end of the final trilogy, there are plenty of nods to what has gone before. None of this is overdone and, instead, it brings a sense of closure to this ending of the trilogy of trilogies and this makes The Rise of Skywalker a very fitting end to the nine film saga.

It is also a truly spectacular film.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a cinematic spectacle that raises the bar for whatever comes next. As such, it really does deserve to be seen on the largest screen you can find with the loudest sound system available.

And, if you haven’t already seen it, prepare to be blown away.

Darth Maul: Apprentice

It’s that time of year again, when we eat, drink and celebrate the release of another Star Wars film. We shall be seeing The Last Jedi this afternoon, but in the meantime I stumbled across a rather good fan film from German company, T7 Production.

Darth Maul: Apprentice is a 17 minute film that speculates about where Darth Maul came from and how he became the character that we see in The Phantom Menace.

The first minute or so sets up the premise and, to be honest, this part felt a bit clunky. This is primarily because — for me — the technologies on display didn’t really feel sufficiently consistent with what I tend to expect from the Star Wars universe.

That said, though, when the film gets going it really is spectacular.

Obviously, because this film is set before The Phantom Menace, it isn’t hard to see how things will end, but watching Darth Maul reach that ending really is gripping. This is especially true of some of the scenes involving Svenja Ju as the Jedi Apprentice. She puts in a particularly strong performance which makes for a genuinely powerful ending.

But that’s enough waffle from me. Darth Maul: Apprentice is available on YouTube, or you can watch it below.

Darth Maul: Apprentice

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Now we have a Star Wars film that is not part of the Star Wars saga. Rogue One is a self-contained story that tells of the events leading up to the ebents of the first Star Wars film. This is the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who steal the plans to the Death Star that eventually end up in the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Along for the ride are a reprogrammed Imperial droid (Alan Tudyk) with a nice line of snark (and who also gets the best line in the film) along with Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) as a Force wielding monk (not a Jedi) who proved to be a real favourite for all three of the boys. Our core crew is rounded out with Chirrut’s companion, Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed).

It’s a testament to the film that, ny it’s end, I was rooting for each and every one of these characters.

The film does sag a little bit in the middle, and suffers from a bit of a CGI induced uncanny valley moment (it’s done well, but you’ll know it when you see it) but the battle that it all builds up to more than makes up for this and provides some genuine edge of the seat moments.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not the best science fiction film ever made, and it’s not the best of the Star Wars films. But it’s a damn good film and one that is well worth watching.

As a final note, having just rewatched the trailer, it needs to be noted that the special effects and set design are both superb. Not only do they fit, very effectively, with the aesthetic of the original film but they also work to emphasise the sheer scale of the Empire.

This may not be an epic story, but it does a great job of underlining the epic nature of the universe it inhabits.

Fear is the path to the Dark Side

According to Computer Weekly, Brits waste millions on idle mobile phone apps. The report claims that UK smart-phone users spend 747 million on applications that are used once and then forgotten about.

The report quotes Mark Pearson, managing director of MyVoucherCodes, the site that carried out the study that came up with the numbers:

As cool as having an application that turns your handset into a light sabre is, think about whether you are going to be using it beyond the initial download – if not, it is probably money that has not been particularly well spent.

An app that turns your phone into a lightsabre is like insurance. You would hope not to need it, but it would be invaluable if you ever do run into a Sith lord.