Star Wars: Rebels [Part 1]
Jan15

Star Wars: Rebels [Part 1]

This is the first installment of our Rebels show. It’s spoiler-free so if you need any more convincing to go track this down on DVD or Blu Ray, let this be it. Recorded many months before seeing The Force Awakens this was the perfect show to draw us back into the world of Star Wars. It may seem very kid-friendly but it’s got a lot of darkness and a lot of heart to back that up and some great colourful characters you will want to follow the adventures of. Neil Taylor of GameBurst and Alex Eding of Plaid Hat Gaming once again join Sharon and myself to return to a galaxy far, far away. If you love these shows support them on Patreon. http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/play/n9gpdh/RebelsPart1.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
On Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber
Jan12

On Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber

By Alexander Shaw This is in response to people still having a problem with that crossguard.   I’ll keep this short, because I could talk about Kylo all day. Firstly it’s symbolic of a character who has forced himself down one rigid path, one of brutality and zero compromise. Secondly every fighter in Star Wars had one style and stuck with it. I won’t look up the form names but Luke used his like a baseball bat, Vader thrashed his opponents like he was holding a riding crop, Obi Wan did that spinny business, Maul used the moves of a trained athlete showing off with a Bo staff, Anakin chopped firewood, Mace flung his arms about and pulled faces, Dooku adopted the body of a man forty years his junior and Yoda and Palpatine became formless CGI blobs that ignored gravity and helicoptered through the air, screaming. Quite aside from the fact that he used them to cruelly pierce Finn’s shoulder during a deadlock and win that fight, would it really, genuinely have benefited the character of Kylo Ren within this film if he didn’t have those vents, blasting off the excess energy? Would you not say in fact that it makes his character distinctive? More memorable? That the vicious, holy Templar aesthetic plays into everything he’s trying to be? Look at his ragged cloak, the hood, the blackness behind the visor. Think about what that says in our collective minds about what he has had to sacrifice to obtain this terrible, stalking power.   Alexander Shaw writes...

Read More
Back to Basics (And Why This is One of the Best Things About New Star Wars)
Jan09

Back to Basics (And Why This is One of the Best Things About New Star Wars)

By Alexander Shaw MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS   Here are the three biggest issues that seem to keep turning up in the criticism of The Force Awakens… It’s just a remake of Star Wars Kylo Ren is a Weak Villain Rey is a Mary Sue Let’s take these three as major positives. For the first you need to jump outside your age and go back in time. If you’re 45 years old and were there for the original in 1977 then you will simply have to peel away everything that came after and focus on that initial feeling. If you are any younger you’re going to have to somehow go zen and forget the prequels, Return of the Jedi and even The Empire Strikes Back. Think about that big, blank canvas. Part of it beautifully covered in the epic first outing, with courageous heroes and dastardly villains rendered almost unilaterally in black and white, though not, notably coding either extreme solely in the positive or negative. Evil white Stormtroopers were fascinating, as was swaggering black-vested Han Solo. Take a look at this Kenner 12 figure card back from early 1978, less than a year after the movie launched, when the first action figures hit shelves. Obviously today they would have had them ready months before the movie launched but Star Wars was the line that changed everything about the way movies and merchandise were sold together as Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs (1987) so acerbically made note of. Compare it to the last cards of the Return of the Jedi line six years later when eighty more figures had been added, and that was in the years before Hasbro rendered every single background character in plastic. Do you see what’s around those first figures? Space, blackness… potential. Highlighting their special, singular quality. Abrams and company could have presented us with a deep and complex, moody, gritty, real-feeling story designed entirely to please people who wanted to see Star Wars finally do something new (as though TFA didn’t) and render The Force into shades of grey rather than simply dark and light. But like it or not, that’s what the prequels were ham-fistedly attempting. Remember the legions of robots controlled by space traders who didn’t ever really feel evil? The allegedly pure and true-hearted Jedi who turned out to be a bunch of confused cultists kidnapping children. The troubled hero who wound up murdering them all. Shades of grey all round, poorly defined with blurry, greenscreen edges and a distinctly less than triumphant result. By all means it was complex, so complex in fact that a movie about badass knights with laser swords,...

Read More
The Force Awakens [Part 2]
Jan01

The Force Awakens [Part 2]

The second installment in our epic Force Awakens show brings in three new voices and a Star Destroyer-full of speculation. Parris Lilly of Uncle Gamer, Film Tangent and Remember When (who has also done his own episode on this movie), James Batchelor of the Bond and Beyond and Rare Replayed podcasts and Alex Eding of Plaid Hat Games. Before we begin another huge dose of enthusiastic raving about the seventh movie there’s a montage of many of the issues fans have had with the movie. None of them bothered me, but clearly many people were driven to enjoying the film less or worse, downright hating it. Then we move onto the characters we have not yet covered, as well as talking details and theorizing wildly about later movies in this series as well as talking about how the landscape of Star Wars in cinema has now changed forever. If you love these shows you can support us on Patreon.  http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/play/6jnf5h/TheForceAwakensPart2.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
The Force Awakens [Part 1]
Dec24

The Force Awakens [Part 1]

A film so important and so passionately adored by us that we needed two shows and two groups of guests to fully cover, welcome to part 1 of our Force Awakens show. With us for this first outing in which we discuss Rey, Finn, Ren, Han, Huxx, Snoke and the hugely positive side of this effectively being a retelling of the events of A New Hope we have Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst and James Carter of Cane and Rinse. Join us again next week when we go in to cover everything else. This will later be re-published in one enormous deluxe edition along with our earlier predictions. If you love these shows support their production on patreon. And the Ursa Major awards that I mentioned previously can be found here.  http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/play/vswugk/TheForceAwakensPart1.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
Star Wars: Episode VII Predictions
Dec21

Star Wars: Episode VII Predictions

This is five years worth of speculation dating back to the earliest rumors of new Star Wars movies from way back on our Return of the Jedi show in 2010 through to choice excerpts from our show recorded when Disney bought Star Wars. Find out what we got dead wrong and what we were on the money with. MAJOR Episode VII Spoilers. Do not listen to until you’ve seen it. Our full length review is coming New Year’s Day. http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/play/mqvjyu/StarWarsPodcastPredictions.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
Return of the Jedi [Commentary]
Dec18

Return of the Jedi [Commentary]

Return of the Jedi [Commentary]Alex, Sharon, Neil and the other Alex return to finish the Original Trilogy. This has always been a favourite of both Alex and Sharon so we were both surprised to find we had slightly less to say about it than the other two. With Star Wars you can talk about its influence and how they managed to make something immense from plywood and sand, with Empire you can delineate how they turned that into a genuinely brilliant sequel with everybody on board at the top of their game. With Jedi, there’s an immense fondness, but things started to get silly again, with the tiny cannibal bears and the burping frogs. It seems like everything to do with Luke and Vader, Yoda and the Emperor is top notch, arguably series highs. It’s the rest of the stuff that pulls it down, and most likely makes this less of a celebrated classic than Star wars and Empire. That doesn’t mean we don’t find a million things to say while we’re watching. And we just about manage to hold off on making what will surely be dated references to the new films. You can hear more from Neil Taylor on GameBurst and more from Alex Eding on the Plaid Hat podcast. If you would like to donate to the upkeep of School of Movies and perhaps see more commentaries you can donate on the homepage via the Paypal button  http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/play/ud9qyx/03ReturnoftheJediCommentary.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
The Empire Strikes Back [Commentary]
Dec11

The Empire Strikes Back [Commentary]

We’re back with the shows designed to be listened to along with any HD version (and frankly most of the others) of the best Star Wars movie made to date. Neil Taylor of GameBurst and Alex Eding of the Plaid Hat Podcast move with us from discussions about the new ground broken by the original movie through to a universe thoroughly fleshed out and made all the more compelling by its sequel. Again, the best way to listen to this is in a darkened living room. It should sound like Sharon and I are on your left and James and Alex are on your right. Start it at the first second of the movie and don’t stop for any reason! If you would like to donate to the upkeep of School of Movies and perhaps see more commentaries you can donate on the homepage via the Paypal button http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/play/rb6mhz/02TheEmpireStrikesBackCommentary.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
Star Wars [Commentary]
Nov27

Star Wars [Commentary]

Join us for the first of a series of commentaries on the original trilogy. Get yourself settled in on the couch with drinks and an array of tasty snacks and then play this through your TV. It will be like having Sharon and Alex on your left and Neil Taylor of GameBurst and Alex Eding of the Plaid Hat Games Podcast on your Right. This will sync up perfectly with the 2011 Blu Ray or the recent digital release of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, although if you don’t mind it not matching exactly you can listen with any version of the original Star Wars. If Fox and Disney were going to re-release the original unaltered 77/80/83 cuts on Blu Ray or DVD they would have done so by November 2015. Because after the nostalgia window we’re in peaks with Episode VII it will be all about Star Wars moving forward. So in my expert opinion, Just get the blu rays now. If you would like to donate to the upkeep of School of Movies and perhaps see more commentaries you can donate on the homepage via the Paypal button  http://schoolofmovies.podbean.com/mf/web/36y8hs/01StarWarsCommentary.mp3Podcast: Play in new window |...

Read More
Star Wars Holiday Special [Quick Commentary]
Nov12

Star Wars Holiday Special [Quick Commentary]

Our quick commentary on The Star Wars Christmas Special has just hit YouTube. This was originally recorded in late 2012 with myself, Duane Griffiths & Matt Ramsay. Now it has visuals… terrible, nightmarish visuals! If you’ve never seen it before you’re in good company, Matt and Duane hadn’t seen it prior to recording this either. And in thirteen minutes you can get a pretty good idea of what an astonishingly awful experience this is. If you HAVE seen it then you’re also in good company, and like me, you can hear a pair of newcomers taking the plunge. WARNING: Foul language and...

Read More