Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

death-star-rising-rogue-one-star-wars
Ominous, menacing, gorgeous. Rogue One has the best use of the Death Star.

Star Wars is stuck in a Death Star rut. Why is Lucasfilm so attached to Planet Killers? A New Hope opened with a super-weapon. They probably felt they had to up the stakes forever after. How many Star Wars movies feature a Death Star — or something like one?

It’s been on my mind since Star Killer Base in The Force Awakens, because being geeky is what I do.

Cruise with me through the galaxy far, far away and gander at the Death Star type weapons used in each film.

rogue-one-star-wars-deathstar-explosion
A tragic, truly ugly-cry climax in Rogue One.

Death Star appearances, by production order: (spoilers ahoy through Rise Of Skywalker)

1. A New Hope

I ‘hope’ you remember there’s a Death Star in this movie. In the very first Star Wars film, the Death Star drives the entire plot. Poor Alderaan was exploded to smithereens by it. The climax is dedicated to blowing it up. Is a Death Star just a platform for a really big laser? It’s not exactly explained, but we get some more details in Rogue One.

2.     Return of the Jedi

The plot of the third Star Wars film isn’t all about the Death Star. It’s all about the Death Star II.  😉 But seriously, the Death Star II is bigger and badder than its predecessor, and built in record time. They probably fixed the exhaust port leading to the reactor, but that didn’t matter since the station was unfinished enough to fly into. Other plot things happened (had to have Ewok Time, you know), but vast stretches of story were spent on/fighting around this Planet Killer, or trying to turn off its shields. It’s a trap!

3. Revenge of the Sith

Remember that insectoid race on Geonosis? (The prequels are too plot-thick to explain, so I won’t go there.) Before they evacuated their planet, they’re seen closing a holo of Death Star schematics, taking their data, and caboosing out of there. Yes, the first Death Star took DECADES to make, in-universe.

4. The Force Awakens

Don’t make me laugh. StarKiller Base? It’s just a different kind of Death Star. Apparently this one can take out whole systems in one shot, and the core planets of the New Republic were vaporized. Trillions of voices crying out in terror? I love The Force Awakens, don’t get me wrong, but too many people noticed the lack of originality. They could have used the needle ship that blew up actual stars (from one of the discarded EU novels) if they needed a scarier weapon…but then we couldn’t stage entire set pieces on it.

5. Rogue One

If you watched the Erso family’s story, it’s all about the Death Star. And frankly, this is the single best use of it. While it doesn’t unleash its full destructive capabilities to destroy planets, we see first hand the fear of being targeted by even a fraction it its might. It was glorious and terrifying. This was a solid and very appropriate use of the Planet Killer. It felt novel, in a series already long in the tooth. Rogue One gets the RunPee Award for Best Use of a Star Wars MacGuffin.

6. The Last Jedi

Ha! You thought you were safe here. No Death Stars to be found, right? Wrong. Remember that big canon the First Order dragged across the salty, red-soiled planet of Crait?

Yes. It’s a Death Star weapon without the space station attached. Listen to the dialog. Finn didn’t have a chance in Tartarus destroying it with his attempted suicide run, but I was a sucker for his moment anyway. It was stupid, but he meant to sacrifice himself for a larger cause, and there his arc basically concluded. At the foot, literally, of another (in essence) Death Star.

7. Rise of Skywalker

Whew, getting bored yet? Almost done.

Every set piece on the ruins of Death Star II looked grand. Like the movie or not, you have to admit these were gorgeous scenes: both the fights outside the ruins, and the mental anguish in the old Throne Room sets therein. This would have been fine. A thoughtful coda to the Empire’s obsession with Death Stars.

But then Rise of Skywalker screwed the pooch by magically unleashing an entire fleet of new Star Destroyers, EACH equipped with handy underslung Planet Killer canons. We see it used to explode…what planet was that? Anyway, it seemed like thousands of Death Star equivalent weapons were now casually attached to every Imperial (okay “Final Order”) capital ship.

Just no. No, no. Make it stop! The stakes were already high —  we didn’t need this. The Death Star ground was no longer fertile, salted and scorched by too many retreads. A Dreadnaught/Imperial Destroyer is overpowered enough. Just one is enough to inspire panic (see the cameo appearance in Solo).

If Lucasfilm removed the ships’ canons from Rise of Skywalker, it would have gone a long way towards fixing the movie, which I otherwise (aside from Palpatine) enjoyed. Enough, already.

Star-wars-death-star-battle-return-of-the-jedi
Return of the Jedi makes the Death Star II look great. But it’s already a dead horse Lucasfilm never stopped beating.

The Mandalorian, and Death Star Weaponry

I hope the Disney+ series The Mandalorian stays far, far away from Planet Killers. The show happens after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens, so we don’t know what Palpatine is doing right now (he’s busy becoming a Zombie?). So far,The Mandalorian is such a crazy success because it stays away from almost everything told and retold, with just the right amount of Star Wars fanservice. I have faith showrunner Jon Favreau won’t bother with super-weapons. He seems fairly attuned to what Star Wars needs right now to get the fan base back on board.

Can we have a movie about something else now?

So, out of 11 movies, a Death Star appears in seven films. Except for a cameo appearance in Revenge of the Sith, Planet Killers drives the plot. This is so unnecessary and repetitive that I have to wonder two things: 1. why not just stick a Death Star in every movie and call it Death Star Wars? Or 2. aren’t there other stories to tell in a universe otherwise fleshed out so well?

Did I miss an appearance, reference to, or other sighting of a Planet Killer?

I did an entire series rewatch, but wasn’t specifically looking for weapons of mass destruction. Is there another Death Star allusion somewhere? Maybe with some stormtroopers shooting the shit, a passing reference in the Senate, or rebel officers in a throw-away line about a shadowy rumor. Tell me what I missed in the comments below!

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

Star Wars Analysis – What does balance in the Force mean?

2019 Peeple’s Poll Movies – Year in Review

2019 - Peeple's Poll result count graph

The Peeple have spoken! Avengers: Endgame was the highest rated movie of the year — by far.

FAQ – Peeple’s Poll

Below is a breakdown of the Peeple’s Poll results for the top 30 movies in 2019. Not only did Peeple give Avengers: Endgame the highest rating of the year, they did so by a huge margin. Endgame scored 4.5 points higher than Ford v Ferrari. By comparison, you have to go 18 movies down the list to find a gap of 4.5 points below #FvF.

Peeple’s Poll top 30 movies of 2019

Title Before Movie After Movie Difference
Avengers: Endgame 90.1 92.2 2.1
Ford v Ferrari 77.4 87.7 10.2
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood 79.3 87.5 8.2
Spider-Man: Far from Home 80.0 87.2 7.2
Downton Abbey 79.6 86.9 7.3
Toy Story 4 81.9 86.3 4.4
Harriet 74.8 86.3 11.5
Little Women 77.3 86.0 8.7
Knives Out 77.0 85.6 8.6
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 80.2 85.5 5.3
The Best of Enemies 71.6 85.2 13.7
They Shall Not Grow Old 80.3 85.0 4.7
Jojo Rabbit 76.7 84.9 8.2
The Upside 74.5 84.8 10.2
Captain Marvel 78.9 84.6 5.7
Frozen 2 78.0 84.4 6.4
On the Basis of Sex 74.9 84.2 9.3
The Peanut Butter Falcon 73.0 84.1 11.0
Rocketman 78.4 84.0 5.6
A Dog’s Journey 69.4 83.6 14.2
Brittany Runs a Marathon 73.7 83.1 9.4
Yesterday 73.0 82.9 9.9
Hotel Mumbai 74.3 82.6 8.2
Dark Waters 74.1 82.5 8.5
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum 79.0 82.5 3.5
Aladdin 72.0 82.4 10.4
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 76.4 82.4 6.0
Richard Jewell 71.8 82.0 10.2
Joker 77.6 81.8 4.2

As you would expect, the breakdown of the post-movie rating for movies forms a nice-looking bell curve.

2019 - Peeple's Poll result count graph
The average beforemovie vote is 70.4 and aftermovie is 75.8.

Here’s a few interesting data points from the Peeple’s Poll.

  • Uswritten and directed by Jordan Peele, had the misfortune of being the highest rated movie that didn’t meet expectations. It got a respectable 79.6 post-movie rating, but the expectation before the movie was 81.5 — a difference of -1.9. I think Jordan Peele should take it as a compliment that people have such high expectations for his movies.
  • The Beach Bumstarring Matthew McConaughey, is the lowest rated movie in 2019. Not only did it have a horrible expectation of only 57.4, but it even failed to meet that by getting a 49.0 post-movie vote — down 8.4 from expectations.
  • Captain Marvel had a very respectable 78.9 before-movie vote and a 84.6 after-movie vote (+5.7). That’s not particularly noteworthy, unless you look at Captain Marvel’s score at IMDb.com (6.9) and RottenTomatoes.com’s  user score (49%). What’s up with that?

Do Peeple who use the RunPee app just like Marvel movies more that average? Probably not. There was a concerted effort by a few men’s groups to suppress the audience score at both sites because Bree Larson (who plays Captain Marvel) is outspoken about women’s rights. It’s impractical to rig the scoring in the Peeple’s Poll because a user can only vote once, and they must spend a Peecoin just to vote. So there’s a barrier to submitting a vote. That’s by design, because I’d rather have quality votes rather than quantity.

  • It’s not just about how good a movie is, but sometimes how much better a movie is than expected. If you really wanted to be surprised by a movie this year, then I hope you saw Run the RaceIt scored a whopping 14.9 points above expectation.

With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the movies that beat expectation by double-digits this past year.

Title Before Movie After Movie Difference
Run the Race 63.0 77.9 14.9
A Dog’s Journey 69.4 83.6 14.2
The Best of Enemies 71.6 85.2 13.7
Breakthrough 67.8 80.9 13.0
The Art of Racing in the Rain 69.1 81.4 12.3
The Aeronauts 67.6 79.6 12.0
Harriet 74.8 86.3 11.5
Dora and the Lost City of Gold 63.7 74.8 11.1
Abominable 68.7 79.8 11.1
The Peanut Butter Falcon 73.0 84.1 11.0
Playmobil: The Movie 59.4 70.0 10.6
Aladdin 72.0 82.4 10.4
Richard Jewell 71.8 82.0 10.2
Ford v Ferrari 77.4 87.7 10.2
The Upside 74.5 84.8 10.2
Yesterday 73.0 82.9 9.9
Note: Yes, I know that 9.9 is less than 10, but I loved Yesterday and wanted to include it since it was almost there.

All things considered, it’s hard to overlook just how excellent Ford vs Ferrari was. Overall it was the second highest rated movie, going by post-movie vote, but also scored 10.2 points better than expectation.

That said, Avengers: Endgame had an expectation vote that was higher  — by far — than any other movie had post-movie vote. It’s kind of hard to improve on such grand expectations, yet it did.

Of course, a lot of movies didn’t meet expectations. Here’s the complete list:

Pet Sematary 68.3 67.8 -0.5
A Madea Family Funeral 66.8 66.1 -0.7
Hellboy 64.4 63.6 -0.7
Little 67.6 66.8 -0.8
Cats 61.4 59.9 -1.5
Us 81.5 79.6 -1.9
Serenity 62.6 60.6 -1.9
Ad Astra 72.8 67.5 -5.3
The Lighthouse 70.6 64.0 -6.6
The Dead Don’t Die 68.2 61.3 -6.9
The Beach Bum 57.4 49.0 -8.4
Black Christmas 61.6 53.0 -8.6
Uncut Gems 75.3 65.9 -9.4
Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable 76.0 62.0 -14.0

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Peeple’s Poll this year. And please let me know if you can think of ways to improve our voting system. We read every email and comment our fans send us.

What are your favorite and worst films of 2019? Comment below!

Infographic of every Star Wars movie ranked by fans on IMDb and RottenTomatoes

RunPee’s “Anything Extra” Feature – The Details About End Credits Scenes

Is Joker a standalone or part of the DC Extended Universe?

JokerThe Joker (played by Joaquin Phoenix), is a standalone origin story, set in 1981 Gotham City, which tells the story of how the character Arthur Fleck , a failed stand-up comedian, turns to a life of crime and chaos.

The Joker is the first in a series of movies and comics DC is launching under the DC Black heading. DC Black stories are a bold new approach to let storytellers experiment with characters without being beholden to the continuity of the larger DCEU (DC Extended Universe). The idea is to create a series of standalone movies — one-offs, so to speak — that don’t relate to any other DC movies.

Basically, DC has given up trying to compete with the success of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and are going back to what they do best: tell dark stories about dark characters in dark places.

Ironically, the MCU is also experimenting with this form of storytelling, outside the bounds of continuity with the main MCU story-line, in their “What If…?” series, where they transpose different characters into different roles: such as “What if Black Panther was Starlord?” …or explore how things could have been different if a character had made a different decision. Like what if Steve Rodgers hadn’t become Captain America?

Disney Plus is working on this concept, but Marvel is still leaps and bounds above anything the DC has offered lately. We’ll see if this idea helps level the playing field.

Movie Review – Joker

Newbie Movie Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

11 Raunchy Comedies You Should Watch Now

superbad actors and seth rogen
Superbad is Supergood. And super raunchy!

The extremely R-rated Good Boys is helping close out the summer movie season this week.  I’ve been looking forward to Good Boys for months, ever since the trailer dropped.  They had me at Jacob Tremblay.  What could be more wickedly subversive than casting the sweet little boy from Room and Wonder in a teen sex comedy?

If you’re also chomping at the bit to see Good Boys, here’s something to help tide you over.  It’s a list of my favorite raunchy comedies.

The Kentucky Fried Movie

The title of the movie is a misnomer as it has nothing to do with The Bluegrass State.  This is an early film from the minds that would go on to make Airplane and The Naked Gun series.  The movie is composed of a series of sketches, the film’s centerpiece being a parody of kung-fu films.  I recently got to witness my girlfriend’s reactions to the movie as she watched it online.  For a movie made in the ’70s, a lot of the humor and shock value stand up.

 

 

Mallrats

It was difficult choosing which Kevin Smith film to include on this list.  Clerks was groundbreaking and battled against censorship.  Chasing Amy and Dogma are dear to my heart.  I adore Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back but it’s not as iconic as Mallrats to me.  And while Clerks 2 is certainly offensive, it’s not as classic.  There’s just something about the running gags in Mallrats that I really love.  (“Like the back of a Volkswagen?”)  From the fortune teller to the chocolate pretzels, there are plenty of raunchy moments.

There’s also a Stan Lee cameo before that kind of thing became common.  And he gets a speech.  And it’s a good one.

 

 

There’s Something About Mary

By the time I saw this one, most of the best laughs had been ruined by previews or my friends.  However, screenwriting guru Robert McKee gave me a new appreciation for the opening scene.  He used as an example in his comedy writing seminar.

Ben Stiller’s character goes to pick up his prom date and while in the bathroom, he gets stuck in his zipper.  The Farrelly Brothers take what could be a one-note throw-away gag and turn it into comedy gold.  I forget exactly how the scene goes.  But more and more neighbors keep stopping by the house or passing by the window and trying to help, just making Stiller’s embarrassment that much worse.  The stuck zipper is like a laugh button.  And every time another character shows up, the Farrelly’s press it.

Watch the scene and you’ll see what I mean.  They milk about seventeen laughs from the audience out of a single gag.  (And just when you think you’re safe, they actually cut to a shot of it!  So gross!)  Definitely a masterclass in writing raunchy comedy.

Plus, the end credits has one of the most joyous sing-alongs of any movie.

 

 

Superbad

This is the Judd Apatow produced forefather to Good Boys.  If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to ruin the joys of it for you.  Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Christipher Mintz-Plasse are hilarious in this teen comedy about friendship, and trying to acquire booze for a party.  This movie introduced Emma Stone to the world.

Seth Rogen and Bill Hader play possibly two of the worst cops in history.  This is the movie my ex-girlfriend took me to right before she dumped me, and I still love it.

 

 

 

Booksmart

Booksmart is Superbad for smart girls.  Two brainiacs try to cram four years worth of partying into one night before they head off to college.  Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein bring the funny in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut.

This is one of my new favorite comedies.  It didn’t get a fair shake in the theaters and I hope it gets embraced on digital, streaming, etc.  The drug and sex jokes are funny, but even the innocent stuff, like just watching their nerdy dancing on the way to school, made me laugh so hard.

 

 

The Sweetest Thing

Selma Blair has several moments in this film that still make me laugh just to think of them.  Only Christina Applegate and Cameron Diaz would be good enough sports to round out the cast for a romantic sex comedy like this.  This movie really must be seen to be believed.

Below is an impromptu musical number from the film.  It is NSFW.

 

 

A Dirty Shame

I’ve only seen a few John Waters’ films.  This one again features Selma Blair as a promiscuous character that Waters saddled with a giant pair of fake breasts.  Which is really all you need to know about the film.  It deals in sexual extremes.  Waters tried to fit as many sexual fetishes into the movie as he could.

I only saw this once in the theater 15 years ago.  But I remember laughing hard the entire time.  PSA: This is the only movie on this list with an NC-17 rating.

 

 

American Pie

First things first: parts of this movie haven’t aged well.  Privacy and consent are very important, everyone.  That aside, this movie is still dear to me and reminds me what it felt like to be a teenager.  The screenwriter abstained from masturbating while he was writing the script, so he’d feel the characters’ frustration. 

This movie introduced most of America to the term “MILF” and popularized the phrase “This one time, in band camp…

 

 

EuroTrip

This lesser American Pie wannabe makes the list for one major reason:  an early surprise cameo from Matt Damon singing the cruel, heartbreaking, and utterly catchy “Scotty Doesn’t Know”, during which Scotty finds out his girlfriend is cheating on him.  It’s a totally rewindable moment that redeems the whole film.

 

 

 

Austin Powers: Goldmember

The Austin Powers trilogy concludes with this film.  It’s my favorite for several reasons.  It has the star-studded Austin Powers parody/film-within-a-film that includes John Travolta and Danny DeVito among others.  It also features Michael Caine and a young Beyonce.

All the sex jokes and scatalogical humor are there as well.  The first two movies are fun entrees, but this is pure dessert.

 

 

Bridesmaids

What a gift Bridesmaids is!  It really set Melissa McCarthy‘s movie career on fire.  And it gave us Chris O’Dowd.  The dress shop scene proves women can do gross out comedy just as well as the men.

 

You can also keep up with all the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Movie Review – Booksmart – Whipsmart Nerd High School Anthem

Quiz – Melissa McCarthy – The Funniest Woman in Hollywood

The Top Six Richard Linklater Movies You Need To Watch Now

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Easter Eggs in Aladdin and The Lion King

Lion King: Timon
Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test!

Who knew classic, straight-laced, non-Pixar, Original Flavor Disney would start using Easter Eggs? It’s possible they’ve been doing this all along and I haven’t noticed, but usually there’s not a whiff of cross-pollination between, say, Princess properties. No nods to Snow White in Sleeping Beauty, for example, even though both feature winsome lasses in comas needing True Love’s Kiss. (Great plot resolution, folks. Sheesh.)

But then Pixar came around, relying on fresh humor often aimed squarely at adults. Pixar wasn’t afraid to mix up their universes with dozens of Easter Eggs for sharp-eyed fans to spot, especially on re-watches.

The Pixar Theory, and Beyond

In fact, there’s an entire Pixar Theory devoted to the notion that every Pixar film — with settings from the dawn of the dinosaurs, through to man’s diaspora through space — is one long, related story. Eagle-eyed viewers pour over every frame of Pixar films to spot connections between them. I’ve looked for, and found, Rex from Toy Story as a wood carving in Brave. This lends credence to the Boo (from Monsters, Inc) Theory. These things aren’t accidents.

The Carlin Brothers do a great job illustrating the Pixar Theory in their longish video (below). I think some of it’s too reachy, but the idea is fabulous and I’m willing to go all in.

It’s not just Pixar that does Easter Eggs now. Every genre franchise, including those of Star Wars, Marvel Studios, DC, Dreamworks, Sony, and “beyond” use Easter Eggs as a matter of principle.

Then…Disney bought Pixar (and Star Wars, and Marvel too).

Live Action Disney Does Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs are finally appearing in even the sacred Princess films, which were always the most straight-laced offerings in the Disney Vault. But since we’re seeing Eggs now in the live-action/CGI remakes, maybe this is where Disney decided to test the waters.

I’m going to mention a few Easter Eggs I spotted in Aladdin and The Lion King, the most recently remade Disney films, which both have Princesses.

(I’m counting Nala here. If Simba is a King, then Nala is a Queen.)

Lion King: Nala
Totally a Disney Princess.

Note: I’m not going to even try to mention Easter Eggs in Ralph Breaks the Internet, which doesn’t qualify as a remake of a Disney Classic, and is honestly one long series of amusing Easter Eggs. Feel free to mention those in the comments below, along with any other Eggs you’ve spotted elsewhere.

ralph breaks the internet and princess venelope
Uncountable Easter Eggs. Do you realize how long an article would have to be to list them all?

Easter Eggs in 2019’s Aladdin and Lion King Remakes

  • Aladdin: This one is a self-contained movie reference. The Disney studio logo opens, showing a sailing ship on their river, then pulls back to see the Disney Castle. Then the movie itself opens on a sailing ship. I need to see this again now to determine if it’s the same boat.
    will smith as genie in Aladdin and the live action disney remake
    You ain’t never had a friend like Genie, in either version.
  • When Genie is dressing Aladdin in the desert, the magic carpet plays in the sand in the background. Over a series of shots, we see Carpet making a sand castle. In the final shot of this, it’s clear the castle is a sand replica of the Disney Castle from the studio logo, and Carpet shoots a stream of sand over it that looks like the shooting star we see at the end of the logo sequence.

I didn’t even notice what Carpet was doing on my first watch. But it’s obvious now and very clever. (Logo sequence below is from 2011, but shows the castle and star.)

  • Aladdin: There’s a great nod to Shrek when he turns Abu into a donkey. Shrek is the tentpole of DreamWorks, a competitor, which is interesting. Genie utters a line like, “No, too obvious,” — pretty amusing, and only makes sense if it’s a subtle dig on Shrek.
  • Aladdin: My sister is an even bigger fan of Disney than I, and we went to see Aladdin together. She noticed Jafar had a lion sculpture on his desk that looked like Uncle Scar from The Lion King. I’d love to hear if anyone can confirm this.
    Lion King Scar
    Scar is actually his nickname. I looked it up. It’s a little cruel that Mufasa calls him that in public.
  • Aladdin: I can’t say for certain if this was intentional, but when Iago (just Parrot in the remake) becomes Giant Parrot, there’s a sequence suspiciously like one in Jurassic World
  • The Lion King: I only saw the remake once, but found one very obvious Easter Egg. It’s when Timon calls out to the hyenas to come and eat them (Timon and Pumbaa are acting as ‘bait’ for Simba and Nala) — it’s the beginning phrase of the big showstopping number Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast. I laughed out loud at that one. Timon even uses a mock French accent as he says dramatically, “Be…our…guest”: it looks like he’s about to burst into song, as the music swells. Then the chase begins. It’s a super fun moment.
    Lion King: Pumbaa
    Delicious pork bait.

    Only a few other people in the audience laughed, though, so they clearly missed it. If I’d seen The Lion King opening night, you BET the die-hard fans would have exploded into wild appreciation. (Disney superfans are fanatic. These are the people that dressed in ballgowns during the remade Beauty and the Beast on opening night.)

That’s All, Folks

Unfortunately, that’s all I have right now from The Lion King. I’ll be looking for Eggs if I catch it again at the theater. On first viewings, it’s hard to notice background events. Naturally. Easter Eggs delight and reward us during subsequent watches.

I’m glad Disney’s decided to join the new century finally and break down their 4th wall here and there. (Maybe acquiring Deadpool was a good influence!)

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

Movie Review – Aladdin (2019) – A Live Action Remake, Good for the Target Audience

 

 

Did YOU Survive The Snap? You may as well get this over with…

Thanos Snap

It’s been a year ago now, at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Almost as soon as Thanos got his “mitts” on every stone for the The Infinity Gauntlet, he snapped his giant purple fingers and snuffed out half of all living beings in the universe — people both  good and bad, rich and poor, young or old, in a process utterly random and without distinction, race, worthiness — anything. In fact, you are probably dead.

I, for one, AM dead. Gone: snuffed away, dust. My cold, grim, no nonsense message:

“You were slain by Thanos, for the good of the Universe.”

The Snap. 50-50 odds. Now it’s your turn to find out once and for all.

Want to know if YOU survived The Snap? This one little unadorned link will tell you, for good or ill.

Did Thanos Kill Me?

Go ahead. Click the purple link.

But once you know, it’s permanent. No matter how many times I try this site, they still tell me I’m ashes. They remember.

You may as well take a deep breath and know. If you’re dead, like me, our only hope is the Avengers  — and Captain Marvel — can bring us back on April 26th, the opening night of Avengers: Endgame.  At least RunPee will have Peetimes ready to go, so if you’re still alive, the three-hour runtime won’t make your survivor’s guilt worse.  🙂

#AvengeTheFallen

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

Avengers Infinity War – what does the post credit scene mean?

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Is Bumblebee a prequel or a reboot?

bumblebee is a quiet and yellow transformer bot
Everyone’s favorite Transformer Bot.

Prequel or reboot. Or, soft-reboot — whatever that is.  Just where does Bumblebee fit in the Transformers universe?

Officially, Bumblebee is a prequel, set in 1987. But when you watch the movie you better wear your best retcon glasses, because there’s a lot that just can’t fit with the story we already know. For instance: in the first 2007 Transformers, Sector 7 discovers the existence of Transformers (from the Beagle 2 Rover camera footage three years earlier). So, there’s that. And obviously, there’s no reference to Bumblebee’s 20 years of experience here on Earth.

[pullquote]The news is that Paramount and Hasbro would like to build a shared cinematic universe around Transformers, G.I. Joe, and maybe even pull in the Micronauts and Visionaries.[/pullquote]

This is an ongoing issue that all franchises face. It’s very easy for them to collapse under their own limitations. I’m not sure why anyone is even debating the issue. It isn’t like all the Transformer movies up to now aren’t already forgettable.  Just sweep them under the rug and start over.

All of the previous Transformer movies clearly tried to be gigantic ensemble high-stakes epics. (That’s what Michael Bay does.) [pullquote position=”right”]What Marvel taught us is it’s best to lead up to that ensemble epic with a few stories that build the foundation first.[/pullquote]

Maybe they are taking the same approach with Bumblebee, to start small and build up to an epic. We’re on-board.

Movie Review – Bumblebee

Review: Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

Never tell me the odds!
There’s a 100% chance someone will have a bad feeling about this.

In the far away and long ago galaxy of Star Wars, everyone’s a prophet. Who hasn’t said they have a bad feeling about something? Well, except that one time Han said he had a good feeling. It’s the franchise’s longest-running gag, at least through the 10th film of Solo, A Star Wars Story. Updated now through Rise of Skywalker!

Here’s a definitive list of who and when a Star Wars character said “I have a bad feeling about this,” or “I have a very bad feeling,” or even “A really bad feeling,” listed in film production order (with Luke Skywalker getting bonus points for being the first to say it ).

[Links go to RunPee’s reviews, and here is our Star Wars movie ranking.]

Do you remember who said I have a bad feeling? Here we go…

  1. A New Hope – Said twice! First with Luke Skywalker, when the Millennium Falcon approaches the Death Star, and then Han Solo, in the trash compactor.
  2. The Empire Strikes Back – Princess Leia, on the asteroid with the Mynocks.
  3. Return of the Jedi – C-3PO to Artoo Detoo, approaching Jabba’s palace.
  4. The Phantom Menace – Obi-Won Kenobi’s first line in the film, to Qui-gon Jinn.
  5. Attack of the Clones – Anakin Skywalker in the gladiator ring on Geonosis.
  6. Revenge of the Sith – Obi-Won to Anakin, in their starfighters.
  7. The Force Awakens – Han, realizing the deadly rathtars have been set loose on his ship.
  8. Rogue One – K-SO2 to Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in the elevator scene (although he gets cut off at the end).
  9. The Last Jedi – This one is special and I had to look it up to be sure, but BB-8 says it to Poe Dameron, in binary. Director Rian Johnson confirms this. Notice that droids get the bad feeling line three times. (Who knew droids could feel?)
  10. Solo – This one stands out by having the inverse line, spoken by a young Han. In an aside to Chewbacca in the cockpit of the Falcon, he says, “I’ve got a really good feeling about this.” Go with it, Han! Things are going to get a lot worse, soon enough.
  11. Rise of Skywalker – Lando Calrissian gets the line in this Skywalker finale. Yay, Lando!

So, there it is. EVERY Star Wars movie has a variation on this portent of doom. Next time you pull a re-watch, keep your ears open for the iconic quote.

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

 

Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

With a metric ton of heroes, superheros, powered beings, and skilled fighters to keep track of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,  it’s easy to forget not everyone is an innately god-like, supersensory fighting machine. At least in the X-Men Universe things are simple: you’re either a normal human, or a mutant with super skills. (Or Deadpool, but we won’t go there.) 🙂

[pullquote]In the MCU, you don’t even have to have “powers” at all to be a superhero. You can be rich, or smart, technologically equipped, well-trained, or a genetically-blessed normal being[/pullquote] – and still be an Avenger, Revenger, Guardian, SHIELD Agent, or any other general “defender” group. 

Here’s a breakdown of the MCU superheroes we’ve seen ’til now and how their skills could be categorized. (Note 1: Spoilers ahead through Avengers 3: Infinity War.) (Note 2: Ignore the end of Infinity War and where some of these characters might be/not be.) (Note 3: I’m not listing anyone according to talent or power-ranking. That would be too complicated to get into and should be a piece unto itself.) (Note 4: This list only covers MCU movies. There’s no way to mention Marvel comics and have a reasonably manageable article). (Last Note: I have a few anti-heroes here, with some anti-villains rounding things out…but this article is mostly reserved for the good guys).

Got all that? Begin!

God-like Superheroes: Born This Way

Thor – The top of this list must start with Thor. He’s a god. Whatever Jane Foster said about powers vs tech, it’s clear that he was born a god, with the innate power to controll lightning. He’s got super strength, star-harnessed  weapons to help him fly and fight (wielding Stormbreaker, he can open the Bifrost to teleport), and the ability to survive in the vacuum of space without a suit or oxygen. He’s 1500 years old but still young. [pullquote position=”right”]Thor’s not the the brightest Avenger, but he’s definitely the mightiest.[/pullquote] (At least through Infinity War). His weapons are super-powered and can apparently only be wielded by other gods. He doesn’t use technology to augment his skills. Thor with a gun? Sorry; can’t see it.

Loki – Although a frost giant by birth, Loki was raised a god among gods in Asgard. I can’t explain this at all, but he has innate, god-level powers for deception, misdirection, teleportation, and trickery. He can hide things in other dimensions and retrieve them. He wielded a super-scepter-weapon harnessing the power of the Tesseract (housing the Space Stone) and is probably as old as Thor – they were raised as children together. I’d say he can keep his self-described god status.

Heimdall – Another Asgardian, he has the ability to call forth the Bifrost for teleportation (even without the Rainbow Bridge), has foresight, and the ability to see the Nine Realms and everyone in them, simultaneously. More of a protector than a fighter, his talents land him in the category of god-like. Call him a demi-god.

Sif – I don’t know enough about about this fine warrior to place her, but she’s Asgardian, a childhood playmate of Thor, and highly regarded. Also, probably sill alive. She could be called into play if Thor summons the Bifrost. Are all Asgardians god-like? I really don’t know.

Valkyrie – This isn’t actually her name, but a job description for minor gods in Norse mythology. We see her in flashback-action defending Asgard, and presumably brought slain warriors to Valhalla before Hela decimated her platoon. At this point she’s a busted up drunken gladiator hunter, but retains her fighting skills, cunning, and weapons expertise. She’s also a space pilot, and know how to ride winged horses (cue The Immigrant Song). [pullquote]Even soused on booze, Valkyrie captured Thor and took him to the Grandmaster. No small feat. [/pullquote]

***

Superpowered Superheroes: Characters with supernormal, non-tech-dependent skills

Scarlet Witch – an Infinity Stone gave Wanda Maximoff powers strong enough to propel her to the superhero elite. She’s not a trained fighter and she doesn’t depend on technology, but damn if her powers aren’t at the top of any ranking. Anything the Mind Stone could do is at her command. Additionally, she seems to draw strength from emotional connections – perhaps another element drawn from the Mind Stone.

Spiderman –  Though he has a brand-new tech-powered robotic suit courtesy of Stark Industries, his main skills are a part of him. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker became so immensely skilled, useful, and strong, that as he grows to adulthood he may well become one of the most powerful superheroes. In this iteration of Spiderman, his powers include slinging webs, incredible calisthenic skill, the ability to stick to and crawl on any surface, tingling “spidey” senses, and the proportional strength of an arachnid. He’s naturally clever and smart. [pullquote position=”right”] Parker’s also pleasant, polite, personable, and a pleasure to be around. Don’t underestimate the power of sheer likability. [/pullquote]

Hulk – Like Spidey, a chance encounter transformed his DNA enough to give him internal powers. Unfortunately Dr. Bruce Banner can’t access these powers, and his rage-monster alter ego is barely controllable. But Banner alone is still a super-genius with 7 PhDs. He now wears the Hulk-Buster suit, which would put him in the tech-only category….but we all know Hulk is still in there. After his encounter with Thanos, the big green weenie is just afraid to come out. 

Black Panther – The hero mantle can be assumed by different people in various lineages in Wakanda, but there’s more than technology at work. Actual spiritual and physical powers are conferred by the heart-shaped flower, derived from the Vibranium meteorite.  Although the immense technological superiority of Wakanda helps, there’s something more at work.  I’d call Black Panther an enhanced human with amazing tech, and the might of an entire Vibranium-based fighting army at his disposal.

Captain America – His skills stem from a super soldier serum. The various Vibranium shields are just a bonus. While his strength and skills don’t approach the other heroes in this category, he has innate bravery  and the tactical/leadership skills to supplement his power level. Call Cap an enhanced human.  He MIGHT have something else going on; he was able to move Thor’s hammer a tiny bit. It’s a funny moment, but perhaps that moment could indicate something more.

Winter Soldier/The White Wolf – Same as Captain America, only with a Vibranium arm to supplement his super-soldier serum, highly-developed fight training, and a lot of skill handling automatic riflery. 

Mantis – She’s an alien with unique skills, but I think we can assume all her people are like that. We don’t know and apparently she doesn’t either – all Mantis says is that Ego raised her from an egg.

Dr. Strange – [pullquote]Like his name, this is a strange case: you can study your way to super-dom! Being a super-genius helps, but the outlandish reality-bending and teleportation skills are the doctor’s own – no weapon or Infinity Gem required.[/pullquote] The sentient cloak is a merely a bonus, more like a wizard’s ‘familiar’ than a super suit. Think about this: Strange barely bothered with the Time Stone when he had it! The man is way overpowered.

Wong – Basically a less powerful version of Strange. There should other disciples around, but we haven’t seen them lately.

***

Tech-Only Powered Superheroes – Superheros only because they have Supersuits

Iron Man – Tony Stark. Take off the suit, and what do you have? “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist…” Stark is unusual. He lacks bad-ass fighting skills (compare him to Black Widow), and depends on computer targeting to fire his arsenal (unlike Hawkeye). So, why is Iron Man so important to the Avengers, a top superhero among even god-like beings like Thor? Even THANOS knows of Stark, and respects him. There’s a whole slew of lesser characters in super-suits listed below. [pullquote position=”right”]I’m going to take a leap and say it: personality. As with Steve Rogers, Stark has an essential trait that can’t be duplicated. If Captain America is an unique super soldier through sheer determination, Tony Stark has an alpha-male charisma that won’t be rivaled.[/pullquote]

War Machine – Like a larger, clunkier Iron Man, Rhodey can fly and shoot canon weaponry. He’s also got a government job granting him some powers of authority. I appreciate that his disability is both acknowledged and a non-issue. Like Professor X, it won’t keep him out of the action.

Falcon – Basically a sleeker version of War Machine, with smaller guns but more flight maneuverability, and a cool “pet” drone. I always thought he would take over the Captain America torch, but for now, that option seems to be off the table.

Ant-Man, The Wasp – A duo of suit-only superheroes…more or less.  [pullquote]Ant-Man can also control ants – who knows why –  and navigate quantum states. The Pym Particle might not even be scientifically quantifiable, so there may be more than tech at work.[/pullquote] I hope the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film sheds more light.

Nebula – A cybernetically-enhanced individual with superior fighting skills, Nebula might have a bit of an edge over normal humans, but she’s still not as good in a fight as her  unpowered “sister” Gamora. We’ve seen her journey from Chaotic Evil, to Chaotic Neutral, and into Chaotic Good. Hero territory. If she’s a Guardian now, she and Rocket will have to learn to work together.

Yondu – I know I’m pushing things including the grumpy blue Ravager leader, but that arrow of his was extremely cool. Groot welcomed  Yondu as a Guardian at the end. Now Kraglin‘s got the arrow; I hope we see him master it and join the team officially.

***

Well-Trained But Unpowered Superheroes – Heroes with no innate abilities or high-tech powers: their abilities can include superior genetics, skilled fighter training, or good use of weaponry. 

Black Widow – Despite her status as a top flight Avenger, Natasha Romanoff is “merely” a very skilled, well-trained human. She doesn’t even use large weapons, preferring small pistols, quarterstaffs, and whatever is within reach (like, say, a wooden chair) to bash foes. Nat’s intelligence seems to be normal, but her cunning and adaptability is off the charts.

Hawkeye –  Clint Barton might be the weakest hero in the MCU. He’s amazing with a bow, but not a skilled a melee fighter.  No suit, Vibranium tech, supernormal powers, or genius intellect. Just that high-powered bow. I’ve heard he might emerge with a new super persona, but at this point, we don’t know. 

Shuri – I include her because she’s said to be the smartest person in the entire MCU, and this includes a galaxy with Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Dr. Strange in it. She’s got tech skills like no one else. She works with Vibranium. [pullquote]As Black Panther’s sister, Shuri has the lineage to take up the Black Panther mantle, with the accompanying super-human physical and spiritual skills to boot. That would add her to the superhuman AND super-suit category, but for now, her formidable mind and Vibranium skill-set makes her a well-trained but unpowered lesser hero.[/pullquote]

Star Lord – Let’s not mention him screwing the pooch in Infinity War, but discuss his heroic qualities instead. Peter Quill is a fine pilot, cunning, good with plasma guns, and an accomplished thief. He held his own in one-to-one melee combat with Gamora. He’s also undeniably brave, and makes clever use of some interesting tech (including a space helmet and dual ankle flight jets). All this, but he’s STILL essentially a human with space guns, an MCU Han Solo. With his father’s DNA, he briefly held the Power Stone without blowing himself up or destroying Xandar. He IS half god, after all. Since his godding skills were brief and limited to forming little balls of light, I won’t be including him in the god-like category.

Gamora – Thanos calls her the fiercest woman in the galaxy, but her skills aren’t superpowered: she’s just very well trained. Much as I love Gamora, I really don’t know if she or Black Widow would prevail in a fight.

Drax – The big guy likes knives, and isn’t afraid of taking on a far more powerful opponent. While that sounds like bravery, it’s mostly because he’s a little dim. He also can’t follow orders, and is sometimes a liability to the Guardians.

Korg – He’s a large rock gladiator, and one would guess that endows him with a certain durability and strength.  We’ve never seen him fight yet.

***

WTF Category

The Vision – [pullquote position=”right”]I don’t know where to put The Vision at all. He’s not even alive. That said, he’s powered by the Mind Stone, has the combined technological might of Stark and Banner, boasts a Vibranium body, and uses the computational data speeds of JARVIS and Ultron. He even lifted Thor’s hammer. Yeah: Vision is a top-level super contender. [/pullquote] Honestly, this character needs his own category.  I don’t know how else to place him. I’d love some better ideas.

Rocket and Groot also defy categorization. Groot has the powers of a tree – but he IS a tree. Rocket has cybernetic enhancements, but those don’t seem to impart him with more than the ability to have human-intelligence, human-dexterity, and the ability to talk. He’s not a melee fighter, but is brilliant with guns. He’s a good pilot and highly agile physically. The sarcastic raccoons’s strategic abilities are top notch, and he can make a bomb out of spare parts and gum. Rocket may be a small non-super-sensory being, but he also comes with a very dangerous counterpart: Rocket and Groot are essentially a unit. I still don’t know where to place them.

The Collector – If we ignore the comics, we have almost no background on Taneleer Tivon. We know he’s an Elder. What does this mean? Does Immortality imply godhood? Just how old is he? We don’t even know his alignment. (Chaotic Neutral?)

The Grandmaster – Well, he’s no hero, but he doesn’t seem to be a villain per se. He could be another Elder, like The Collector. I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the MCU bargain bin, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

Who did I miss? I know I’ve left characters out. Like Quicksilver, Okoye, or any one of thousands of people living in Wakanda, for that matter.  Who else? Who did I get wrong? Tell me below and I’ll give you credit for any changes I make.

Read More on RunPee.com:

Avengers Infinity War – Characters Missing in Action, Whereabouts Unknown

Best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Every MCU Movie, Ranked)

Movie Review of Avengers 3: Infinity War

Every Marvel-Tagged Article on RunPee (So Far)

 

 

13 iconic scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had the RunPee app

May the 4th Be With You.  Are you celebrating Star Wars Day? You don’t want to miss a single scene in a new Star Wars film, but with the RunPee app,  suffering will not be your lot in life. We’ll tell you when you can sneak out for a quick bathroom break and not miss the best scenes.

To honor Star Wars Day, here’s a list of iconic scenes you wouldn’t have missed if you had the RunPee App. Suffice to say, SPOILERS LIE AHEAD, MATEY. Stop right here if you aren’t up to speed through The Last Jedi.

We will start, of course, with the best moment in cinematic history…

  1. “No… I am your Father.” I didn’t see that one coming, but it made total sense once I heard it. People argued Obi-Wan couldn’t have been lying, but that turned out to be a misdirect (from a “certain point of view.”) – The Empire Strikes Back
  2. “I love you.” “I know.” From Empire, again. Harrison Ford improvised this line, to make one of the greatest responses to a declaration of love ever (when I got married, it was after such an exchange happened — Yes, fact).  – Empire
  3. When Obi-Won put up his lightsaber, and Vader killed him. Or did he?  We never did find out what happened to his body, nor exactly how powerful he became. Force Ghosts don’t seem that exciting. But it was a cool moment, nonetheless. – A New Hope
  4. When Anakin and Luke both lose a hand – this is a Skywalker thing in middle movies, apparently. Maybe someone will lose his or her hand in The Last Jedi.  Empire, & Attack of the Clones
  5. The Pod Race – make fun of The Phantom Menace all you like, but this is still a fun, exciting sequence, showing how exactly the Force can guide your reflexes. “Yippee!?” Just relax and enjoy the pretty set piece.  – The Phantom Menace
  6. Dual of the Fates – again, from Phantom, we get an indelible scene, where Darth Maul expertly wields a double-ended lightsaber to fight off two powerful Jedi Knights/Masters. It didn’t end so well for Qui-Gon, but the music, the room’s closed shield moments, and the character emotions — all so very raw and powerful. While Qui-Gon meditates, Darth Maul paces like a hungry tiger. It’s a great showcase for one of John William’s  great iconic themes. Go listen to it on YouTube right now – it’s still amazing. As far as the Prequels go, this is as good as it gets.  I’m listening to the song on my Alexa right now. – The Phantom Menace
  7. When Rey uses the Force to escape her restraints – such a joy to see Rey learn to use her Force abilities, making Daniel Craig’s storm trooper untie her and leave his weapon behind. Funny as sh!t, and crucial to the plot. Yes, please, more like this!  – The Force Awakens
  8. When the Death Star explodes (for the the first time). You know you cheered. I still do. When the Millennium Falcon flies out of the sun and Luke uses the Force to guide his torpedoes, movie magic happens…set to the powerful John Williams version of The Mars Theme. “Whoohoo! Come on kid, let’s blow this thing and go home!” – A New Hope
  9. When Vader sees his son with his “Own Eyes”. Yeah, I kind of cried. So much that needed to come to pass in this epic happened in these few short moments.  – Return of the Jedi
  10. The entire rescue sequence with Jabba. This is great stuff, and the last time we really saw the Original Trio make it work. – Return of the Jedi
  11. The classic Cantina scene. What can I say? Everyone loves it. Nothing really significant happens here, but I would never want to miss this bit. The Force Awakens recreates this scene somewhat at Maz Kanata’s smuggling den, and that’s cool too. – A New Hope
  12. When the original Death Star enters Scarif’s stratosphere for one real reason – to punish Orson Krennic. He’s on the radio tower gangway, looking towards the sky, and sees his own weapon aimed directly at him. Yes. It’s a frightening moment, even though we don’t like Krennic. What a fantastic and iconic scene, with a weapon we really thought we couldn’t be moved by again, after all these years. – Rogue One
  13. The best sequence in Episode 8 by far is the dual fight with Rey and Kylo Ren. I’d already call it iconic. They way those two crazy kids mirror each other reeks of sheer beauty. The final ‘battle’ between Luke and his nephew is sleek too — with a twist I should have seen coming  but didn’t — but not as satisfyingly intimate as the new kids fighting off Supreme Leader Snoke. Like this movie or not, those battle scenes gave us true Star Wars.  – The Last Jedi

What did I miss? Add your favorite scenes in the comments below. UPDATE: Feel free to discuss Rise of Skywalker…some good set pieces there too! Since I just watched it, I have to digest it a while.