Cinema Review

By Kidus Tamiru, January 01, 2020

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Directed by: J.J Abrams
Runtime: 2hrs 22m
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac

Star Wars: Episode IX follows Rey as she completes her Jedi training and prepares the resistance for the final battle with the First Order after emperor Palpatine mysteriously returns. Rise of Skywalker is the third and final film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It was directed by J.J Abrams, who also directed The Force Awakens, the first film in this trilogy. Before I go on with the review, I should mention I am not a fan of the Star Wars movies. In fact, I think its overrated garbage. So, if you’re a fan of the series you’d probably disagree with my take on it. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on.

After the extremely divisive reception of The Last Jedi, the producers have clearly decided to go back to familiar territory for this one. So, they ended up with a film that’s more fan service and derivative when it could have been epic. 

As he had done with The Force Awakens, J.J Abrams just remade A New Hope all over again. Thematically and plot-wise, this film doesn’t really go anywhere new. And Disney clearly wanted to have another Avengers Endgame with this (as most film franchises will attempt for many years to come, I imagine). But they didn’t develop the story or characters enough to warrant that level of anticipation or climax. The trilogy didn’t have a unified vision at all, and they were scrambling to piece together something grand at the last minute. They ended up with unexplained villains, resurrected villains, unresolved romances, forced romances and a lot of deus ex machinas.

In terms of plot, the movie is very much a standard adventure movie. The characters need to find the thing that does the thing which can only be found at someplace but they need a thing that can lead them to the person that can help them find the place with the thing in the first place. Insert random made-up words into that and you have the basic outline of the story.

One thing that has always annoyed me about the Star Wars movies is that I don’t understand the target audience. Half the movie is furry animals, comic robots and pew pew gunfights and the other half is intergalactic politics and family disputes. It surprises me this has such a huge following.

That being said, there are some things I enjoyed about it. The cast is perfect and I think they’re a big reason this trilogy survived. There’s a good blend of comic and serious characters and moments. The visual effects and action look great, probably a big reason I didn’t walk out of the movie. But these achievements are far from outweighing the problems.

So, overall, this is a film series coasting and profiting entirely from the nostalgia of the fans. It doesn’t hold any merit on its own. So, if you’re not a fanatic admirer of the old series (which is most probable unless you’re American), I highly advise against paying to see this.

5/10

Jumanji: The Next Level

Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Runtime: 2hr 03m
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black

Jumanji 2 follows the four high school buddies from the first film going back into the video game because the first film made money and film producers like money. But all cynicism aside, the movie is not actually that terrible. You know what you’re getting into and it doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it doesn’t stray too far from what worked in the first one. Like most blockbuster sequels, it took all the elements, action sequences and jokes of the first one and amped it up just a little bigger. It has the same message of belief in yourself, what you needed was within you the whole time, having friends is nice and all that stuff. But who cares about the themes and messages of Jumanji Part Two? If you’re looking for a laugh, this is probably your best option these days. The cast is all great but Kevin Hart and Jack Black are the highlights of the film. The newcomers are great additions as well. But they should’ve figured out a way to have more of Danny DeVito instead of having others act as him in Jumanji. So, to summarize, unless you didn’t know this was a sequel and didn’t see any trailers, posters or read the cast list, I highly doubt you’d be disappointed with this movie.

7/10

Bole Maneqia

Directed by: Abel Hagos
Runtime: 1hr 40m
Starring: Tariku Birhanu, Abiy G/Mariyam, Fenan Hidru

Bole Maneqia is a comedy film about two acquaintances from very different backgrounds who switch lives and…that’s it. There’s not much in the way of plot or story after that. The entire comedy is derived from watching a poor guy adjust to a rich life and vice versa. In fact, this film doesn’t have a single joke before the trading lives moment.

It starts off with some noticeable input from the director, with freeze frames and narration, albeit executed poorly but still an effort none the less. Even the plot seems interesting at first. Then once the jokes start, there is a tonal shift as it becomes just a regular Ethiopian comedy. The plot, in the beginning, was just a ploy to get them to switch lives and it disappears. Another unreasonably stupid aspect is that the main character’s fear of long-term imprisonment is treated as some unique, unusual trait that literally gets diagnosed by a therapist as some form of rare phobia. Unless prisoners serving life in jail wrote this movie, that seems pretty odd.

But in terms of a typical dialog-based comedy film, this is not that bad. The actors play well with each other and you’ll probably find yourself laughing at some point. That is if you don’t mind all the other amateurish aspects such as the cinematography that looks like an old Ethiopian TV drama and the excessive flashbacks. But if you have a high tolerance for all the problems I mentioned above, you’ll definitely enjoy this.

7/10