5 Reasons Kylo Ren Is a Good Villain

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker opens soon.  The wait is finally over. The Skywalker family will wrap up with this end to the storyline (though not the series).  And audiences will get to take one last adventure with Rey, Leia, Lando, Chewie, Finn, Poe, C-3PO, and R2D2.

It also means another visit from the dark side’s Kylo Ren.  A lot of fans have issues with this newer character.  I, for one, though, am a fan.  So I present to you my defense with this list of reasons why Kylo Ren makes a good villain.  (Note:  This post contains SPOILERS for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.)

1.  Adam Driver is a talented actor.

The filmmakers didn’t choose an unknown actor to portray Kylo Ren.  They hired one of the best  young character actors working in Hollywood.  He’s worked with everyone from Noah Baumbach to Spike Lee to Martin Scorsese.  You may not agree with all of his acting choices, but he knows what he’s doing.  The man is an Oscar-nominated actor.

2. Kylo is human.

Kylo’s vulnerability makes him an interesting villain.  His emotions and his anger make  him more relatable than an indestructible killing machine like Darth Maul or Boba Fett.  When he tells his father, Han Solo, that he’s torn apart, you can feel it.  Being a young, passionate villain who is still in training also makes Kylo a perfect foil for Rey.

3. Kylo is a tragic figure.

My high school English teacher defined a tragedy as a story about the fall of a good man.  Kylo starts out as one of Luke’s students and ends up killing his own father in cold blood.  It’s like something out of Shakespeare or an ancient Greek drama.  The person Kylo worships, Darth Vader, is also a tragic figure.  Vader was also a young boy who trained to be a Jedi only to turn to the dark side, unable to overcome his own fear and anger.  Kylo’s fall from grace makes him that much more evil and that much more compelling.

4. Kylo isn’t Darth Vader. 

J.J. Abrams could have just given audiences the second coming of Vader, but where would be the fun in that?  The whole point of Kylo is that he’s not Vader, that he idolizes Vader but falls short of becoming him.  Kylo’s lightsaber is a perfect symbol of that.  It’s a jury-rigged device, a home-made contraption that sometimes seems slightly on the fritz.  Like Kylo, it’s unstable and dangerous because of that.  (And, because, you know, it has three blades and stuff.)  Because he’s his own person, Kylo is able to make choices and even mistakes that surprise us.

5. Kylo is conflicted.

The main plot of Force Awakens is about finding Luke Skywalker.  However, the subplot is about the battle for Kylo Ren’s soul.  Despite the evil inside him (he has a whole village slaughtered at the start of the film), Kylo does not completely belong to the dark side.  Leia senses good in him.  Snoke warns him against being seduced by the light side.  Kylo himself feels the pull towards the light, praying to Darth Vader’s mask to show him the power of the dark side.  When Han tries to convince him to abandon the dark side, Kylo genuinely seems to consider it.

Kylo’s relationship with Rey is also complicated.  He doesn’t merely want to destroy her.  During their lightsaber battle at the end of Force Awakens, he tells her she needs a teacher and offers to show her the ways of the Force.  In The Last Jedi, he briefly joins forces with her to kill Snoke.  Then he offers her the chance to rule the universe with him.  A shot in the final trailer for Rise of Skywalker hints that they work together again at some point in the storyline and there might even be some redemption for Kylo like there was for Vader.  Kylo’s internal struggle is more interesting to watch than a bad guy like Jabba whose nature never changes.

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Don’t miss your favorite villain’s big moments.  Use the RunPee app when you go to the movies.  We always have Peetimes for the latest movies including Knives Out, Frozen 2, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  (search for our reviews on the website.)You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee, and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – The Irishman

Martin Scorsese worked on The Irishman for twelve years.  The budget for the film kept increasing until no studio would touch it except Netflix.  Scorsese’s last film, Silence, was critically acclaimed but a box office failure.  And it got snubbed at the Oscars.  So the question hanging over The Irishman is, “Is it any good?”

I was lucky enough to see the movie on the big screen during its limited theatrical release.  It is one of Scorsese’s most compelling and watchable films.  Even though the movie has a daunting running time at three and a half hours, it seems to pass quickly.  I watched it at seven PM on a Friday night after a long day at work, and had concerns about being able to stay awake, pay attention, and follow the plot.  But I had no problem.

The movie tells the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and his life of crime.  Crime boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) takes him under his wing early on and watches out for him.  Eventually, he assigns Sheeran to protect union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

The characters and the story draw you in.  As Sheeran becomes pulled farther and farther into the criminal underground, so do we the audience become pulled into the story.  DeNiro and Pacino are both at the top of their game.  It’s great to see them working together for the first time in an A-list film since Heat.  However, it’s Pesci who walks away with the movie and possibly with the Oscar.  There’s a certain dignity to his portrayal of Bufalino.  He’s the quiet anchor of the film: a complete 180 from his role in Goodfellas.  And a perfect bookend to his career.

The movie has a few surprising moments of comedy.  Both of them are scenes involving Pacino and DeNiro, and are among my favorites of the year.  One comes late in the film during the third act, to relieve tension before the final battle.

The de-aging technology doesn’t look completely natural.  It occasionally makes the actors look like video game characters.  However, if you can get past that, there are some great performances in the film.

The movie is based on a non-fiction book titled I Heard You Paint Houses.  However, Sheerhan’s confessions have been contested.  We will never know the truth about most of the incidents depicted in the film.  However, it makes for an entertaining story and a cautionary tale.  This is among Scorsese’s best.

Grade: A 

The credits run for 9 minutes and there is nothing extra during or after the credits.

Movie Review – Queen & Slim

 

Movie Review - Queen & SlimOops, I did it again! Yes, another cop-ish movie. I told you before that this year is all about bad cops. Queen & Slim was entertaining. This movie is a spin off of the Bonnie and Clyde story, but with a little twist of soul, and a flame to the Black Lives Matter movement fire.

Considering that we already know the storyline, the movie progressed a little too slowly for me.

The Actors

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith did a good job in these roles. Bokeem Woodbine as Uncle Earl was a nice added touch of humor to a sad story of a couple’s first Tinder date that turns bad after a cop pulls them over.

And in Real Life

The crazy part of the movie was how people were reacting to the police incident; glorifying it as if that was motivation or life inspiration for some reason. To me, that incident had no ‘Obama hope’ in it at all. The whole incident was sad, the new norm, and quite disheartening, but to many in America, it was a “keep hope alive” moment.

I enjoyed the different stories within the story, revealed during the great escape. I learned a lot about the character’s lives and their pure motivations. It’s sad all their dreams were cut short for an unnecessary traffic stop.

Pay attention to the director’s change of mood and tone with the use of daytime and nighttime cinematography. Very good! The soundtrack is a must-buy. There’s some really great songs that lightened up the journey of doom, love, fear, awareness, enlightenment, faith, Samaritanism, and joy.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I too, am grateful, for many things in my Black life as well as MY journey, no matter how it ends.

TTFN (TaTa for Now)!

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: There are 4 Peetimes. I recommend the 1st Peetime.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Queen & Slim. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, some strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language, and brief drug use
Genres: Drama, crime, cop movie

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Will Make You Feel Loved Again

mr fred rogers neighborhood trolley
Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks) and Trolley.

I just came out from viewing A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. And this is funny: last night I watched the award-winning 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor. I like being a sort of completist.

Bear this in mind: I don’t like documentaries.

I can’t think of another documentary I’d watch on purpose if’s not about science fiction (for example, later tonight I’m watching the Galaxy Quest retrospective <— see, that’s sci-fi).

But the Fred Rogers documentary is really something special. Partly riding on nostalgia, and partly posited as a wish fulfillment for adults who don’t like who they’ve become, knowing Mr. Rogers loved everybody makes all the difference. And “everybody” includes me. And YOU.

I cried like a baby during the documentary to be reminded that someone likes me. Just exactly the way I am.

So I was excited to catch Tom Hanks’ dramatized version of Fred Rogers. What did I walk away with? A complicated set of feelings.

First off, Hanks was just lovely in the part. At times he sounded a little more like southerner Forrest Gump than Fred Rogers, but the actor freely admitted he never intended to mimic Rogers. He wanted to capture the essence. And in that, I believed him.

When he talked to the camera and told me he liked me, I felt liked. I felt accepted and appreciated. And ultimately, though the film was ostensibly about a jaded reporter and his dysfunctional family — which would normally bore me silly — the message of loving acceptance came shining bright, shining through. The message was sincere and sorely needed in this era of intolerance and hate-mongering.

This is timely. This is needful.

What I didn’t like

I wanted more Fred Rogers. More Tom Hanks. He felt sidelined in his own movie. 75% of the film focuses on Lloyd Vogel (a sort of real, sort of fictional character). Way too much time was spent with Lloyd, his wife, his father, and various family members (the baby was super cute, though). I wasn’t caught up in the ‘reporter angle’. And I’ve been a reporter myself, although in my case that didn’t cause rifts in my family. This is a story ostensibly about Mr. Fred Rogers. I was expecting Lloyd’s tale to be a side-plot.

I realize the movie had to ramp up the drama to be a box office success, but what I didn’t expect was that meant taking the spotlight off Mr. Rogers and his fantasy neighborhood. I am deeply grateful I watched the documentary first, to reacquaint me with Trolley, Picture Picture, King Friday the XIII, and of course Daniel Tiger, since the Tom Hanks film didn’t go there enough.  Those too few segments taking place on Fred Rogers’ show were weirdly positioned as a dreamscape. And now it seems I must find those old PBS episodes to feel loved and cherished again.

31 seasons of loving acceptance, crossing several generations

The best moment on Neighborhood was — of all things — on a New York subway. Fred Rogers, recognizable TV star and all,  loved taking the Subway. In one scene, people in the subway car gave him the side eye at first, wondering if this was actually Rogers himself. Quickly deciding he was, everyone  (including two hardened NYC beat cops) sang his famous Won’t You Be My Neighbor song out loud to honor him.  I’ve read this actually happened.

You could see Hanks channeling the joy and gratitude of this beautiful experience. Rogers touched so many, in several generations.

Do you realize the show ran for a mind boggling 31 seasons? How many mothers, fathers, and children grew up hearing his message of tolerance and self-forgiveness? Grew up realizing we are not broken, and are all deserving of unconditional love? That we are liked for who we are.

Did anyone tell you this lately?  Do you tell this to the people YOU love?

As I said above, I didn’t care for the focus on the reporter and his family. I realize part of this was based on a real-life experience, but it was just your basic family drama, seen a gazillion times before. Yawn. I’m glad Lloyd learned what heroism really is, but it was all so telegraphed. Yes, he forgives his father. His family comes to realize familial love and ends up happier.

But could we get back to the Kingdom of Make Believe now?

Full Disclosure:

It hurt to see Lloyd’s relationship with his dying father. It hit a little too close to home. My father has a disease that steals him from me day by day. He was always my hero, and now he’s a shell of a person who needs more care than my mother and I can handle. I wish I had Mr. Rogers around to tell me how to handle the difficult emotions this brings up.

Sorry. Maybe that’s too much to share. But, as Mr. Rogers makes a point of telling us in this film, being open, honest, and accepting of things like death is one of our greatest challenges. What he says, actually (and this is deeply hopeful), is that “anything mentionable is handle-able.”

I hope so. As Mulder would say, ” I want to believe.”

And yes, I did cry at the end. I was moved by this singular, loving, kind man. I’m a sucker. I just wished there was more Fred Rogers in it.

Noteworthy observation:

I wouldn’t have noticed this if I didn’t just watch the documentary, but Joanne Rogers (Mr. Roger’s real life wife) makes a brief cameo in the food diner scene. I almost expected her to say, “I’ll have what she’s having,” but that’s another background story for a different type of movie.

Movie Grade: B+

 

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

Movie Review – Knives Out

 

Movie Review - Knives OutKnives Out is an absolutely delightful mystery about some really horrible people. The stellar ensemble cast works wonders together and Rian Johnson’s tale doesn’t cheat — the clues are all there. And even if you figure out WhoDunnit before the end, you’ll still be thrilled at the fun you’re having along the way.

Knives Out is clever, amusing, and really sings best when it showcases the awful members of Harlan’s dysfunctional extended family.

Chris Evans, in particular, seems to relish playing a jerk after all those years as Captain America. And Daniel Craig is just this side of ridiculous as a Kentucky Fried Detective. (You know he’s loving this. Not a hint of Bond to be seen.) Jamie Lee Curtis chews her nasty dialog with glee, and even Don Johnson (yes, that Don Johnson) is a lot of fun. Everyone brought their best game. I have a feeling a lot of actors wanted to get in on this film, which writer/director Rian Johnson apparently spent a decade trying to make happen.

While parts of the movie recall this year’s Ready or Not (with another amusingly abusive family and murder most foul), Knives Out also bring to mind the classic mystery comedies Clue (from the 80s) and Murder By Death (from the 70s). Note that all four of these films feature lush, iconic, and mildly creepy mansions.

And now I want to collect daggers and make my own Game of Thrones-style seating area. Really. That is some demented shit. I loved this movie and suspect you will too.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: This was very difficult to get Peetimes for, as there are a lot of characters whose names kind of flit by, and it’s hard to tell what will or won’t be a clue later. I have 3 Peetimes, nicely spaced out, that won’t leave you lost. I Recommend the final one.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Knives Out. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Top 5 Whodunnits in Film

Movie Review – Ready or Not

Movie Review – 21 Bridges

Movie Review - 21 BridgesWow! If you are considering a life as a police officer, this year’s line up of movies do not make it an easy choice. You know how we are used to seeing “chick flicks” that male bash? Well, this year is all about calling out the pig in our men and women in blue. You see what I did there?! LOL

While the movie is somewhat predictable, the plot surrounding Officer Andre Davis was appealing, and created curiosity. Not to mention the contradiction where Andre was being ridiculed for his weapon discharging frequency in one area of the police department, but the same officers were also up to no good and not being called on the carpet for it.

Let me say that the first shoot out was great! I’m not a violent woman, but I enjoy a good, well-played out gun show with lots of action, twists and turns, a BMW get away ride, and excellent imagery and tone. You know, the kind you’ve seen in Rush Hour and Bad Boys. I love just about anything with Chadwick Boseman and J.K. Simmons. I will admit, just between me and you, I was imagining Chadwick turning into the Black Panther during a few of the action scenes. IJS, don’t judge me. Wakanda Forever pee-ple!!

Remember, as you make decisions in life, make sure your choice is the right bridge you want to cross over, as consequences are always on the other side.

Oh, if you plan on taking your kids because they want to see “the guy” that plays Black Panther in another movie, this reel has severe violence, gore, and profanity.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t too difficult selecting Peetimes — except that none of them are very long — because the movie often cuts rapidly between scenes. I recommend the 2nd Peetime.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of 21 Bridges. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review - A Beautiful Day in the NeighbourhoodFirst of all, big kudos to the writers, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. They put together an amazing story which showcased the brilliance of the beloved Fred Rogers. Although the story was only partially true (the character of Lloyd Vogal was based on writer Tom Junod) the embellishments were there to emphasize the true nature of our….hero.

Tom Hanks, of course, did a spectacular job of capturing the essence of Fred Rogers. The tone of Tom’s voice was a little off, but every inflection and nuance was shown respect by this talented actor. For me, it was in the eyes of Tom Hanks that revealed the absolute perfection in which he portrayed Mr. Rogers. It has been said that Tom has the kindest eyes in Hollywood, and this characteristic translated beautifully into the eyes of Rogers. So beautifully that it should garner, at the very least, an Oscar nod for Supporting Actor.

This is not a children’s movie; they’d be bored senseless. Instead, I believe the target audience are those who grew up watching Mr. Rogers. Or, as it is in my case, had children who watched the show.

I give A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood a solid ‘A’.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I was able to get two good Peetimes in this movie. Both Peetimes have protracted scenes of very little dialog or complete silence as the characters have moments of deep reflection.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language
Genres: Biography, Drama, True life story

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

Ancestry.com has discovered that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are sixth cousins. That’s made all the more relevant due to Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in the critically-acclaimed movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Bringing a whole new meaning to getting into character.)

“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks told Access Hollywood when the show informed him of the relation.

According to Ancestry.com, Fred and Tom share a 5x great-grandfather (Johannes Meffert), who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century.

At first glance, that seems pretty astounding, but when you consider probabilities of family trees overlapping, it becomes less and less impressive the further back in time you go. For instance, there’s nearly a 100% probability that any two people of European decent share an ancestor from 1,000 years ago.

And of course, if you want to get pedantic about it, that banana you had for breakfast was your 108-cousin. 🙂

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

What happened to Pete Miles – Ken’s son in Ford v Ferrari?

ford-v-ferrariPeter Miles was 14 years old — almost 15 —  at the time of his father’s fatal crash. Shortly after his father’s death, Peter went to work for Ken’s friend Dick Troutman at the Troutman and Barnes custom car shop in Culver City, CA. Peter worked there for 14 years.

Peter joined Precision Performance Inc. in 1986. He started out as a fabricator, and then became a mechanic, before advancing to the position of crew chief. Peter was the crew chief for Ivan Stewart when Stewart won the 1991 Nissan 400 in Nevada.

In a 2019 interview, Peter revealed that the last time he went to Le Mans was in 1965 with his father Ken.

Ray McKinnon in Ford v Ferrari – where have I seen him before?

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

RunPee Sis’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

Movie Review - Jojo RabbitJoJo Rabbit shocked me. I hadn’t heard a peep about it, knew nothing going into it…and walked out in love with what I had just seen.

This movie was a work of art. Hollywood produces some great flicks to amuse us, and some not so great ones, ones where people can just get paid. JoJo Rabbit told a story from a perspective that hasn’t been done to my knowledge and was masterfully produced.

Every single character in this movie had that certain spark that’s hard to come across anymore…no matter if they were good or bad or ugly. These actors did something amazing, each and everyone of them.

This is something I thought I’d never say: Hitler was my favorite. OMG, every moment of his screen time had me in stitches!! This spin on him was so perfect that I’m going to watch it again. I’m going back tonight just to enjoy it.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: So much happens in tiny bursts that Peetimes were incredibly hard to find. It was hard to duplicate them for you. I was able to give you a sense of what’s happening, but the body language in this movie was very poignant and said so much in itself.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Jojo Rabbit. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language
Genres: Comedy, Drama, War

Read also Golden Man’s Movie Review of JoJo Rabbit, and check out the interesting comments going on! Did you realize there is an entire “Funny Hitler” movie genre, oddly enough? Remember, three of anything makes a collection:

Golden Man’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit