A Look Back at Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

In this age of photo-realistic 3D graphics in video gaming, I sure miss the days when 2D gaming and highly detailed pixel art were the standard. I’m referring to the so-called 16-bit era of the Super NES/SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) back in the 1990s.

In 1991, Super Star Wars was released on the Super NES and it became a big hit with the gamers, the critics and fans. That game was heralded as one of the best video game adaptations of movies.

Naturally, a follow-up to that game was released in 1993 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

That being said, here is my retro gaming review of Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The experience of using a Rebel speeder to bring down an AT-AT walker with the cable remains awesome.

Developed by Sculptured Software and LucasArts and published in America by JVC, this game is based on The Empire Strikes Back which today has been considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever. Of course, in order to make a cohesive video game adaptation out of the classic movie, a lot of liberties were taken when it comes to following the story. This was inevitable as the game developers needed a lot of creative freedom to make a cohesive video game.

Early story (and some notable differences from the movie)

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back begins with Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun. Unlike the movie, Luke (controlled by players) visits some places of the wasteland of Hoth, notably caverns and hills fighting several forms of wild life (including wampa beasts), and even some probe droids.

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Luke jumping on to a wampa beast.

Unlike the movie, Luke does not get rescued by Han Solo in the wilderness. Instead he defeats a giant-sized probe droid and a giant-sized wampa beast (as in-game bosses) and make his way back to Echo Base to rejoin the rebels. Upon returning at the base, he finds it filled with Imperial troopers and their machines (where are Luke’s fellow rebels?) and fights his way through to fly a rebel speeder (note: without the movie co-pilot Dak) and proceed in the Battle of Hoth.

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This never happened in the movie.
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Luke jumping into a snow speeder without a co-pilot.

Back at Echo Base, Han Solo (player-controlled) has to make his way through a wave of Imperial enemies and machines to meet Princess Leia, secure her and ride away on the Millenium Falcon. The Falcon (player-controlled) enters the asteroid field being attacked gradually by over twenty TIE Fighters. Once all of them have been eliminated, the Falcon jumps into light speed (which contradicts the movie).

Gameplay

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is composed mostly of 2D, side-scrolling action sequences in which players control their characters moving from left to right in order to make the game progress. The sequences are filled with lots of action-packed moments mainly due to the MANY enemies challenging the players plus sequences of shooting, jumping and using special weapons (note: the thermal detonator was awesome to use). When it comes to filling up the health meter of your character, defeating enemies result random releases of hearts (symbolizing health) which you need to pick up. Key side-scrolling segments of the game will have players facing off with in-game bosses or enemies that are large, intimidating and have their own health meters for players to reduce to zero.

As typical with most 2D side-scrolling games of the era, this game is really tough and will take gamers some patience and perseverance to complete.

What really stood out in this game are the makeshift 3D segments (made possible by Mode 7) which were pretty extensive and really interactive. The Battle of Hoth in Mode 7 was pretty engaging as players get to fly a rebel speeder over a snowy field complete with lots of Imperial enemies (including the AT-ST walkers and the AT-AT walkers) and each of them is composed of multiple 2D sprites making them look 3D as the speeder moves around. Apart from simply shooting, the interactive sequence of tagging an AT-AT walker with a cable, flying around it and wrapping it with the cable, and then watching it fall to the ground really is an awesome gaming experience which really showed how hard the game developers pushed 2D visuals and pixel art.

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A Mode 7 sequence late in the game had players using an X-Wing fighter.
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The Battle of Hoth was a great and lengthy use of Mode 7.

Apart from the Battle of Hoth, there was also another Mode 7 sequence involving the X-Wing Fighter approaching Cloud City. That particular sequence was noticeably shorter and did not have a standout action sequence as it was limited to the X-Wing Fighter simply shooting Bespin fighters. Another non-2D segment was the Millenium Falcon’s flight through the asteroid field which was done with the cockpit view (first-person view exactly) in which you move a cursor for targeting and moving the ship to. This segment was pretty tough because players were not only required to eliminate more than 20 TIE Fighters but also avoid incoming asteroids and maintaining the Falcon’s energy shields (which serves as a health meter)

Going back to the 2D side-scrolling segments, the use of the lightsaber by Luke remains a lot of fun to do. Not only could he slash bad guys, he could use the lightsaber defensively protecting himself from incoming energy blasts (which get deflected by the lightsaber). On the offense, Luke can jump into the air and spin with the lightsaber turned on making him an aerial slasher over the bad guys.

In keeping with the theme of the movie showing Luke Skywalker learning to be a Jedi, the Dagobah segment in the game has Luke gaining varied Force powers and he also has a separate Force energy meter. The Force powers can be used in subsequent segments of the game and they are quite useful when Luke encounters Darth Vader as the final boss in Cloud City.

The fights with Darth Vader were nicely designed. With creative freedom, the game developers expanded on Darth Vader’s use of the Force to move several pieces of debris and machines towards Luke who has to defend himself from all sides. Fighting Darth Vader with the lightsaber was tricky and for the most part, I had Luke slashing on villain with just enough space between them and many times I had Luke use the lightsaber on him while jumping and spinning in the air. Defeating Vader was a requirement to complete the game.

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Very nice artwork made for the storytelling cut scenes.

Finally, like in Super Star Wars, players can also play as Han Solo (special attack: grenade throw) and Chewbacca (special attack: offensive spin) but only in specific segments of the game supposedly to keep in line with its story.

Conclusion

Even by today’s standards, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is still a high-quality video game that is a lot of fun to play with even though it is tough (a password system is used for in-game progress so that gamers can come back to continue) all throughout. Gameplay aside, the presentation of visuals and audio is also very solid. The sprites for the in-game characters, enemies, machines and animal were detailed to look at while the background art were immersive (like in the movies, Cloud City, Hoth and Dagobah had their distinctive visuals). The Super NES audio chip was greatly used on recreating 16-bit sound from the movies, especially John Williams’ movie scores and lightsaber sound effects.

Take note that this game was released in 1993 which is significant in the sense that people had moved on since the release of the movie Return of the Jedi (1983) and the Star Wars prequel trilogy did not begin until 1999 with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This game was released at a time when 2D gaming was still in strong demand and most gamers did not expect that 3D polygonal graphics would reshape video gaming eventually. In retrospect, the polygon-focused gaming consoles Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation launched in late 1994 or more than a year after Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The inevitable battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

I myself had lots of fond memories playing this game back in the mid-1990s. I simply endured the many challenges of it and ultimately had a lot of enjoyment completing it. I even replayed the game from the start even though I knew how the game presented the ending and key story elements of the movie. I also got to replay The Empire Strikes Back on home video around the time I played this game.

Believe it or not, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was the first of the Super Star Wars trilogy on the Super NES that I actually played. After completing it, I borrowed the Super Star Wars cartridge from a friend and later bought a copy of Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I completed those two other games and I can clearly say that Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains the best in game design, the best in terms of fun factor and the most memorable of them all.

If you love Star Wars and you want the best 16-bit era video game (note: you’ll need a working Super NES console or Nintendo’s Virtual Console for any Super Star Wars game) experience of it, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is highly recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #35 (1995)

When Marvel Comics first launched the 2099 imprint of comic books showcasing many futuristic versions of their present-day characters – like Spider-Man, Ravage and Dr. Doom – it was inevitable that the same treatment will be applied to their popular supervillains.

In 1993, the 2099 version of Vulture was introduced and he sure proved to be one tough opponent for Spider-Man 2099. Even back then, there already was clamor for a futuristic version of Venom which at the time was riding high with readers being the featured anti-hero in several limited series (starting with Lethal Protector) of comic books.

Then in 1995, after doing a creative teaser in issue #34, Marvel formally introduced Venom 2099 by releasing Spider-Man 2099 #35. This is my review of the comic book written by Peter David and drawn by Andrew Wildman (X-Men Adventures).

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The cover drawn by Rick Leonardi.

Early story

Picking up from the events of issue #34, the story begins in Washington, DC with Dana freeing herself only to find out that Alchemax’s CEO Tyler Stone was down suffering from a gun shot and losing blood. Minutes later, emergency personnel take Stone’s body for immediate treatment.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara) encounters the SHIELD flyboys in New York. After almost getting into trouble together, Spidey gets informed that US President Doom 2099 ordered them to leave him alone for a period of seventy-two hours while he considers a cabinet offer. Back in Washington, Dana gets interrogated by one of the authorities. President Doom enters the scene telling Dana that she will join Tyler Stone immediately in the medical center.

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Andrew Wildman’s take on Spider-Man 2099 and the future was really nice to look at.

In New York, two guys sitting on the sidewalk witness a moving black liquid coming out of the sewer. The thing turns out to be a living symbiote (or alien costume) forming into a human-like shape – Venom 2099!

Quality

As with other comic books of this particular series, the writing by Peter David is pretty deep and engaging. The usual balance between dramatization, character development, plotting and spectacle is here once again but with a slight touch of horror in relation to the introduction of Venom of 2099. Speaking of dramatization, the portrayal of Venom 2099 as a vicious villain is similar to the 20th century Venom (Eddie Brock) but with a very powerful obsession to kill Miguel O’Hara and Tyler Stone.

Here’s an excerpt from the dialogue of Venom of 2099: Miguel O’Hara…and Tyler Stone…together again. We…I get to kill you…at the same time…how awfully…awfully…considerate. To show my appreciation…I’ll kill you slowly.

What makes this comic book unique is the artwork by Andrew Wildman who temporarily replaced regular illustrator Rick Leonardi. For comparison, I find Wildman’s art style a welcome thing in this comic book mainly because he draws with a lot more detail per panel and per page than Leonardi ever could. Instead of seeing the usual sketch-like art style of Leonardi, Wildman’s style is livelier and more expressive to look at. I also enjoyed Wildman’s visual take on Spider-Man 2099/Miguel O’Hara, Lyla, Tyle Stone, and the other established characters. Their facial expressions are also livelier to see.

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Venom 2099 appears! Take note of the “liquid” at the edges of the page.

More on visuals, Wildman’s take on Venom 2099 is unforgettable. Like 20th century Venom, he has a dark suit, elongated jaw with rows of sharp teeth and an elongated tongue but with green acid dripping all the time. There are also those tentacles-like things that stretch from his body until the arms. Also his white-colored mask with large eyes make him look horrific.

Conclusion

Despite being shorter than the usual 22-pages, Spider-Man 2099 #35 is still a very engaging and fun old comic book to read. Its purpose was to build-up anticipation leading to the introduction of Venom 2099 was achieved nicely and the respective qualities of the writing and visuals are very good even by today’s standards. More on the presentation of Venom of 2099, it seems like Peter David took inspiration from movie director James Cameron on building-up tension and suspense before showing the villain. That’s a move I enjoyed in this comic book.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #35 is highly recommended. If you plan to acquire an existing and legitimate hard copy, be aware that the near-mint copy of it is over $100 for the newsstand version while the Rich Leonardi-drawn “Venom 2099 AD” cover version is priced at over $80 at MileHighComics.com as of this writing.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #1 (1993)

If there is any intriguing way of utilizing fantasy concepts to introduce a superhero (or superheroine) to readers, Mantra #1 from the Ultraverse published in 1993 by Malibu Comics is one fine example.

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The cover of Mantra #1.

Early story

Written by Mike W. Barr with art by Terry Dodson, Mantra #1 was an Ultraverse launch comic book that follows Lukasz who is an eternal warrior belonging to a group of other warriors which had been fighting another group (led by eventual Ultraverse villain Boneyard) for several centuries.

How did that conflict last that long? As told through the views of Lukasz, any individual warrior who dies will eventually be placed in a new body (often that of an existing person) and take control of it effectively displacing the its soul. Behind it all, Archmage, the leader of the warriors’ group that includes Lukasz, uses magic to ensure that each member will be reincarnated after dying.

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A page for your viewing pleasure.

The story takes a major turn for the shocking and intriguing when something unfortunate happens to Archmage and that the protagonist himself gets killed again. Fortunately for him, he gets to live one more time but there is one major difference – Lukasz occupies the body of a woman named Eden Blake (and the revealing scene remains shocking).

At this point, I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story. If you want to find out how Mantra came to be, you just have to read the comic book yourselves.

Quality

From an analytical view, I still find Mantra’s concept very intriguing to this day. In terms of mysticism, it reminds me a little bit of George Perez’s take on Wonder Woman in the mid-1980s and in some cases Mantra/Eden Blake herself reminds me bit of Wonder Woman/Diana albeit in a more motherly way.

When it comes to storytelling, Mike W. Barr’s script is very solid and made very good use of the twenty-eight (28) pages of the comic book. Unsurprisingly, there was a good amount of expository dialogue and narration but it was handled efficiently. The first-person views of Lukasz/Eden Blake are truly immersive to read. Along the way, there were several scenes that were intriguing to read and there were some nice moments of unintentional comedy which helped balance the overall tone of the story.

To say the least, Mantra’s concept about dead warriors’ souls entering bodies of existing people to live again sheds light on the moral or psychological implications of such events. If you were a warrior who just died and eventually got a new lease on life by occupying the body of let’s say a software company’s chief executive officer, would you not be concerned as to what happened to the soul (of the body) you displaced? Would you not think about how your control of that displaced soul’s body would affect not only the person’s established life but also the personal association with other people? Truly Mike Barr’s writing got me hooked and Terry Dodson’s art really brought his concepts to life.

Conclusion

So what else could I say? Mantra #1 is highly recommended not only because of its story and concepts but also because this particular series lasted several issues more and, for the most part, Mantra’s adventures and misadventures have often been fantastic and fun.

Even though it is fact that the Ultraverse remained in limbo and Marvel Entertainment showed no intention to revive the franchise, Mantra is still a fun and engaging comic book series to read and this comic book is the golden start of it. Mantra #1 itself is one of the most defining superhero comic books of the 1990s ever published and its mature themes combined with strong fantasy concepts made it stand out among all of those other superhero comic books I spotted on the shelf of a BF Homes comic book store that I visited in July 1993.

You guys can order copies Mantra #1 online at ComicCollectorLive.com, at MileHighComics.com (a near-mint holographic cover version of the comic book is worth over $40) or by visiting your local comic book retailer selling old issues.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you just read on this website is the most definitive version.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

What’s The Best Darna Costume Design for Jane De Leon?

It has been several months since ABS-CBN formally announced it hired actress Jane de Leon as the new cinematic Darna for their ongoing movie project. Since that time, there has not been much details about the Darna movie. To put things in perspective here, De Leon came in as a replacement for Liza Soberano.

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A Darna figure I photographed on the left, Jane de Leon on the right. (Jane de Leon picture from Belomed.com)

Apart from the news that De Leon met with TV Darna star Marian Rivera (who works for a rival TV network), took physical training consistently, confirmed filming will happen this year and responded to those who bashed her for just being a pretty face who cannot act, the filmmakers have so far kept details of the Darna movie secret.

Are they revising the script to accommodate De Leon’s talent? Are they rendering the visual effects with computers ahead of time? Is the production team having trouble scheduling filming with the many actors they hired? Are the filmmakers consulting with local comic book artists and writers to find ways to make the Darna movie fun and engaging?

So far, nothing could be confirmed. And this leads me to the next point – what will be the best Darna costume design for Jane de Leon?

In this ABS-CBN news video posted on November 27, 2019, De Leon confirmed that she has been working out for the role, read the script and stated the costume was being arranged. No details about the design of the costume were revealed.

For starters, it is easy to imagine De Leon wear the traditional Darna costume which has always been a two-piece swimsuit with a head dress (in recent times, a helmet), superhero boots, arm braces and a frontal cloth. Check out the photo I took of a Darna statuette during the 2019 Toycon below.

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I took this during last year’s Toycon.

If the filmmakers prefer to show the cinematic Darna with a new look of much less skin exposed while still maintaining the feminine figure, the lady’s armor design could be a useful alternative. Take a look at the armor of Faora in Man of Steel.

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The armored Faora in Man of Steel. (photo sourced from IMDB.com)

An armored Darna just might work in modernizing the look of the Philippine superhero icon with the 21st century in mind. While it can cover a lot of De Leon’s skin, it could use a little less metallic parts (compared to Faora’s armor in Man of Steel) to show more of the actress’ figure. Having the armor painted red with some parts in gold can help maintain the Darna look.

As of this writing, we don’t know yet what the filmmakers have in mind with the Darna costume for Jane de Leon. But once new updates about the costume and the film itself have been released, I’ll share and discuss them right here.

For the meantime, visit the Darna (2020) movie page right here.

For those of you who read this, what do you think is the best Darna costume design for Jane de Leon? How should it look? Feel free to post your answers with the comment tool below.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

After enduring two whole years being depressed and uncertain about Star Wars movies due to Rian Johnson’s arrogant deformation of the franchise with his abomination The Last Jedi, I am happy to say that I’m happy again after watching Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

This is my review of The Rise of Skywalker directed by J.J. Abrams and co-written by Abrams, Chris Terrio, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly.

Early story

The movie begins with the First Order’s supreme leader Kylo Ren on an unrelenting quest that leads him deep into the galaxy where he finds the uncharted destination of Exegol. There he meets a living Palpatine who turns out to be the creator of the late Snoke, the previous supreme leader of the First Order.

Palpatine knows that Rey is still training as a Jedi and he tells Kylo to eliminate her. Palpatine also has a brand new fleet composed of advanced star destroyers armed with powerful weapons capable of destroying planets.

Meanwhile, Finn, Poe and Chewbacca travel in the Millennium Falcon to obtain crucial information from a spy about the location of Palpatine.

Quality

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Chewbacca, Poe, C3PO (hidden), Rey and Finn.

Let me start with the fact that The Rise of Skywalker is, unsurprisingly, a flawed movie that happens to have more good stuff than bad ones. To put things into perspective, J.J. Abrams and their creative team had to make a new movie following the abomination The Last Jedi which, literally, dug a large hole and let the Star Wars film franchise fall deep into it. Not only did Abrams and team work to lift the franchise up and move it forward by having a story that not only made sense but resonated with Star Wars fans while delivering long bouts of cinematic fun. If you want to focus on the fun factor, The Rise of Skywalker is a joy ride while Rian John’s The Last Jedi was sluggish and frustrating to watch.

Storytelling? This movie has been bashed for having a video game-inspired approach of narrative: the band of protagonists go to a new location where they meet people as they move to fulfill a goal only to be hounded by opposition from the antagonists, then they go to a new location where they meet people and similar events repeat.

In some ways, The Rise of Skywalker reminded me about the video game Grandia, Final Fantasy IX and other role-playing games (RPGs) I personally played. While the use of video game-inspired narrative is not the perfect tool to use for a movie, this approach actually works in The Rise of Skywalker! For one thing, the sense of excitement and adventuring I enjoyed from the original Star Wars trilogy returned and I enjoyed every moment of it. This translates into fun while remaining focus on the story objectives and characters. I do confirm that there were lots of spectacles (lots of lightsaber action, shooting, running and spaceship battles) throughout the movie that kept me entertained most of the time. There was no boring moment, not even in the slowest scenes.

The use of video game-inspired narrative also worked in building up the tension leading into the series of events that lead into the final conflict. The result? It paid off nicely! The final conflict and the way the story ended were all worth the wait and build-up! Considering how terrible events happened and ended in The Last Jedi, what was achieved in The Rise of Skywalker was a tremendous achievement!

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Spaceship battles in this movie were plenty and fun to watch!

On the aspect of emphasizing the Force and the Jedi themselves, this movie, in my honest opinion, took inspiration from the non-canon Star Wars Legends (previously referred to as Star Wars Expanded Universe), specifically with elements from the Dark Empire comic book mini-series of 1991-1992. When a key visual in the film was shown to explain Palpatine’s survival, I was not surprised at all.

When it comes to performances, Daisy Ridley really defined herself as an actor and she really defined Rey as a Jedi (with assistance from Abrams and the screenwriters) who carries a huge burden related to her heritage (you’ll find out in the film). After watching Rey in the first two films struggling to learn and move on, she is a more developed character in this movie. That’s not all. Poe and Finn have been more refined and it is through adventuring that they really became lively and believable characters. Adam Driver’s take on Kylo Ren consistently delivered the symbolism of the dark side of the Force (specifically consuming the younger generation) with the exception of a key twist that took place much later (you just have to watch the movie). Ian McDiarmind’s return as Palpatine is undeniably great and a welcome return to form. The actor really showed he is great in portraying cinematic evil.

When it comes to classic Star Wars characters, the filmmakers cleverly used existing footage of the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia and by means of editing and scene set-ups, they succeeded in inserting the character into the narrative complete with recorded dialogue that relate to the events that happened. Billy Dee Williams, meanwhile, made a great return as Lando Calrissian. While I wish his screen time was longer and his character was more involved with the remaining Resistance, it was still nice to see Williams literally disappear letting Lando come to life on-screen once again.

Conclusion

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The Millennium Falcon is better used in this movie than in The Last Jedi.

As mentioned earlier, The Rise of Skywalker is a flawed film. For one thing, there are several plot holes here and there (responded to via visual dictionary). There were also new Force powers that were not fully explained in detail. Those weaknesses, however, did not really drag the film that much. The bad stuff here is NOTHING compared to all the creative garbage Rian Johnson (plus the trash from the Political Left in Hollywood) filled in The Last Jedi since that director was too obsessed with subverting people’s expectations all throughout.

What I admire in it is the effort done by Abrams to connect it with 1983’s Return of the Jedi. The shots of the remains of the 2nd Death Star in the previews only literally show the tip of the iceberg.

As a follow-up to The Last Jedi, this movie moved in two ways: correcting what was set in Rian Johnson’s abomination while also somewhat building up on what was also established in that same abomination. Ultimately, the course-correction done by Abrams and team made The Rise of Skywalker not only fun and engaging, but also recaptured the elements that defined Star Wars as a cinematic experience. There were also key scenes that, in my view, allowed this movie to punch back at the deformation done in The Last Jedi. I smiled a lot when those creative moments took place.

When compared to The Force Awakens, this movie is actually more fun and more engaging. In fact, it is indeed the best of the current Star Wars trilogy (2015-2019).

With this current Star Wars trilogy concluded, I do regret that the classic characters of Han, Luke and Leia ended up as supporting players and the trio of Rey-Finn-Poe (who are welcome additions to the Star Wars family of characters) as protagonists still pale in comparison to them. To simplify things, Luke-Han-Leia are iconic while Rey-Finn-Poe are serviceable protagonists at best.

Ultimately, The Rise of Skywalker is a solidly good Star Wars film and is itself a major recovery from the debacle of The Last Jedi. As the ninth chapter of the entire Star Wars main movies franchise (which first started in 1977), it is a flawed yet worthy addition (and also worthy as the new conclusion) into the saga that involved the Force and the Skywalkers. It is nowhere as great as The Empire Strikes Back (the best Star Wars movie ever) but it is, in my opinion, better and more engaging than The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith respectively.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Christian Music Appreciation: Goodness of God

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade to everyone reading this! We are now living in the twenty-twenties (2020s) and for as long as we keep faith in the Lord, He will guide us, love us and take care of us. Keep the faith in the Lord always, no matter how good or how hard your situation is right now. Whatever decision you make in your life, never drift away from the Lord who is generous to offer us opportunities or options that we could use to move forward in life. Before making a decision, keep declaring Jesus as your Lord, Savior, Healer and Victory with a lot of heart. Your decision, by the way, is needed to authorize Heaven here on Earth.

For this new decade’s first Christian Music Appreciation (CMA), I chose the song Goodness of God written by Jenn Johnson, Ed Cash, Jason Ingram, Ben Fielding and Brian Johnson. The song was performed by Bethel Music.

Let’s start with the song and its lyrics now.

Lyrics:

Verse 1

I love You Lord

Oh Your mercy never fails me

All my days

I’ve been held in Your hands

From the moment that I wake up

Until I lay my head

I will sing of the goodness of God

Chorus

All my life You have been faithful

All my life You have been so, so good

With every breath that I am able

I will sing of the goodness of God

Verse 2

I love Your voice

You have led me through the fire

In darkest nights

You are close like no other

I’ve known You as a father

I’ve known You as a friend

I have lived in the goodness of God

Bridge

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now, I give You everything

Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me

The song is about God our Heavenly Father being faithful, loving and caring for us (His children who willingly became faithful to Him). In other words, this song examines the personal relationship between the faithful Christian and God. It is a relationship that is strictly off-limits to everyone else and there is no room for intervention by another person (including the most misguided, self-righteous person blinded by religion, rituals, idolatry and traditions).

More on the title and subject matter of the song, God’s goodness is not only about His generosity but also His enduring generous attitude towards his faithful children. As I learned in church, God is not a tyrant (He punishes the wicked) and in fact He is gentle and caring, and He has plans for His faithful children to prosper. Of course, we the children of God who have been saved must keep on persevering with living in holiness under Him. The blessings from the Lord will come but that does not mean we can be lazy and just wait for blessings to land on us. We still have decisions to make and personal circumstances to handle on our own. As mentioned earlier, keep faith in the Lord, pray to Him and read His Word (the Holy Bible) before making decisions. When things are done properly with our Christianity, God’s goodness will manifest.

God’s goodness is emphasized in the Holy Bible and her are some scriptures for you.

The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.

Psalm 145: 9 (NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16: 34 (NKJV)

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God.”

Mark 10: 18 (NKJV)

Psalm 145: 9 and 1 Chronicles 16: 34 show that God is full of goodness and mercy. What we Christians can at least do is remain faithful and dedicated to Him, thank Him in return, and give back (tithing) in return.

Mark 10: 18 emphasizes that true goodness is the prerogative of God. However, the man called Jesus “Good Teacher”. If Jesus was only a teacher, then He did not deserve to be called “good”. On the other hand, if He was indeed good, then He was God. The lesson here is that Lord Jesus directed the man to pay attention to God who is the Heavenly Father, the Creator, the Source and the ultimate standard of goodness!

The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.

Nahum 1: 7 (NKJV)

As mentioned earlier, no matter how good or how hard your situation is right now, always keep faith in the Lord. This means keep on trusting Him and endure with Him. God is undeniably the stronghold for those who trust in Him. Because He knows His faithful children who remain trusting and faithful to Him, God will NOT abandon them! This is a powerful look at God’s goodness.

He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

Psalm 33: 5 (NKJV)

Psalm 33: 5 emphasizes that God’s goodness also refers to unfailing love, lovingkindness, mercy and steadfast covenant love. As we the saved Christians live in a very screwed-up world (read: anti-Semitism, Marxism, liberalism, socialism, idolatry, religion, sacraments, murder, crime, abortion, theft, corruption, secularism, atheism and the like), we must persevere living in holiness under the Lord, remain faithful to Him, preaching His Word to others and finish our respective efforts to meet God’s High Call. Our Heavenly Father loves the righteous and He is a just creator!

In closing this, and going back to the song Goodness of God, I encourage you to check out Bethel Music’s album Victory which carries the song. You can check out the album by clicking here.

Goodness of God is more than just a great Christian praise and worship song. It is a very lively reminder about our Heavenly Father’s goodness which cannot be matched by others. All the more reason to stay faithful to Him!

Remember, you don’t really need religion and unbelief. You need faith in the Lord and once that has been established (by repenting, submitting to Him and becoming born again), His goodness will manifest in your life.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Write About Love

Write About Love is the first new Metro Manila Film Festival movie I saw in the theater in many years and I should say it was surprisingly good.

Here’s my review of Write About Love directed by Crisanto Aquino and released by TBA Studios.

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Early story

The story begins when a lady (Miles Ocampo) succeeded in selling her story to executives of a movie studio. A short time later, the executives found her story looking “too mainstream” and was very similar to that of another movie. This results an order on revising the story and she has to do the rewriting assignment with the involvement of a seasoned indie screenwriter (Rocco Nacino). They have only thirty days to revise and improve the script and the state of the film project was at stake.

Together the screenwriters work and discuss in detail how to establish the situations, how to develop each character through trials and emotional rides, what to do to make the story deeper and the like.

As the film’s narrative and the screenwriters work on, the respective lives of the in-story characters transpire.

Quality

To put things in perspective, Write About Love is a character-driven movie about screenwriters who are challenged to craft a much-improved screenplay for the movie studio while dealing with matters of their respective lives. Miles Ocampo is clearly the protagonist of the film and through her, you will relate with the pressure of work she goes through, the creative challenges of writing stories (and developing the characters), and the fractured parts of her personal life (hint: she lives with her mother but maintains contact with her father). When it comes to acting, Ocampo delivered the emotions needed in each scene that required heavy drama. You will see her cry a lot and you’ll even feel her pain.

Her co-star Rocco Nacino (the other screenwriter) has comparable screen time as hers but with much less dramatic scenes. Nacino does excel, however, with the more creative side of screen writing.

What really stood out with the dramatic performances are the supporting players Yeng Constantino and Joem Bascon as the screenplay characters of Joyce and Marco. Joyce and Marco are lovers living-in together but their relationship got hampered by their respective careers. Joyce is a musician and Marco is a corporate executive. When things get rough between them, crying scenes happen along with convincing moments of depression. Constantino herself stands out as her in-depth talent in singing blends nicely with the dramatics of her character.

Constantino and Bascon are not the only supporting players in the film. There was also Romnick Sarmienta (himself a star in many romantic comedies in the 1980s) and Che Ramos, and each contributed nicely into the film.

When it comes to storytelling and visual presentation, Write About Love was very nicely done. The story moved at a steady pace and there was a good amount of interesting dialogue. In my experience, nothing felt padded. Even the slowest scenes did not bore me. The drama was heavy and there were several moments of clever humor executed.

I also really enjoyed the filmmakers’ smart of use of visuals in which screenplay scenes showing the lives of Joyce and Marco happening while the screenwriters appear near them as if they are watching (actually they were imagining and structuring the scenes which were part of their work for the movie studio). The shots of Joyce and Marco interacting were in full color while the shots showing the screenwriters had desaturated colors.

While it was clear that the filmmakers got great performances from the actors, this movie should be recommended for some very memorable cinematography that took place in the 2nd half. I’m talking about the location shots of North Luzon locations like Baguio City and Sagada. The most visually striking scene was the sunrise scene and if you ever see it, do your best to feast your eyes on it.

Conclusion

Write About Love is a pretty good film to watch and definitely it is one of the better movies released here in the Philippines for the past decade. It does not have an epic concept but rather a small and simple concept that was nicely executed with fine cinematic artistry. The performances are very good (without going into over-acting), the characters are worth caring and following, and the film offers a very unique look at what goes on behind the scenes in the local movie industry.

Also the theme about love is nicely expressed through the trials and emotions of the characters. In relation to its title, this movie shows that writing about love will never be easy because love itself is complicated and unpredictable. In short, realizing the true meaning of love is an everlasting struggle.

Overall, Write About Love is recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com