Hello action fans, Slick Dungeon here! We’ve made it to the fourth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. This is is just called Fast and Furious, not to be confused with The Fast and the Furious. This film is the fourth movie but chronologically it takes place third in the series. Just a warning, this review will contain spoilers for the first three films plus this one. If you want to get caught up quickly, you can read my review for The Fast and the Furious here, 2 Fast 2 Furious here, and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift here.
The first film set up our characters with a nearly beat for beat exact match of Point Break. The second movie veered into generic action territory, but with plenty of fast driving. And the third film took us international, while ditching the focus of the main characters from the first two films. In the fourth, we have all the elements of the first film back. Paul Walker, Vin Diesel. Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster who all starred in the first movie are back for this one.
With all of the main stars returning, a bigger budget, and more pressure than ever to make a movie people would enjoy, this was going to be a difficult feat to pull off. So, did the film live up to expectations, or was this a sequel without a point other than to make money? Let’s dig in and find out.
Spoilers follow below!
The Story and the Stunts are Bigger
Much like the first film, this movie starts with a big action piece involving fast cars and a huge semi-truck in the Dominican Republic. The fast cars are trying to steal oil tanks right off the back of the truck. The team trying to grab the tanks includes Dom, Letty, Tego Leo, Rico Santos, Cara and Han Lue. The fact that Han is here signals to us that this happens before the events of Tokyo Drift. The stunt is pretty incredible and I feel like this stunt is the first of the really large and complex stunts the movies start trying to top every time. The robbery is successful for the most part. The driver of the truck even saves his iguana which I have total respect for.
After the job, we find out Dom is still on the run after the events of the first film. But the law is onto him and it’s time for him to split off from the group to protect his people. Han decides to go to Tokyo, and Letty stays behind as Dom heads to Panama City. While there, Dom gets a call from his sister Mia telling him Letty is dead.
Then we see Brian running around the streets of Los Angeles in a suit of all things. Turns out Brian has gone legit again and is working for the FBI once more. He’s trying to figure out how to get to a drug dealer named Braga. And, of course, his best way in, is to figure out what is going on in the underground race circuit. Dom goes back to LA and watches Letty’s funeral from afar. He asks Mia to show him the crash site where Letty died. There Dom finds evidence of nitromethane. This leads Dom to David Park who is the only guy in the area who sells the stuff. Meanwhile, Brian’s information has turned up the same guy so he also goes looking for David. Brian arrives on the scene just as Dom is about to toss the dude out of a window. Brian races up to the room and finds Dom there. He keeps Dom from killing David but Dom gets away. And, yeah, Dom is still pretty pissed that Brian was a cop the whole time.
Brian takes David Park in to the FBI and is able to gain entry into an illegal street race. This is an audition to be a driver for Braga. The man who is looking for drivers is named Ramon Campos and he says he wants real drivers. They have to run a course through streets full of traffic based on GPS coordinates downloaded into their cars. It’s a pretty fun race and we all know the only person who might even have a chance of beating Dom is Brian. It gets close in the end and Brian looks like he’s going to win but Dom knocks Brian off the road. Dom knows that one of the people driving for Braga killed Letty and he’s out for revenge so nothing will stop him. We even see a sequence where Dom imagines the crash in his head and Letty’s death. Takes notes on this because this will become a thing in the later movies as well.
Even though Brian lost the race, he’s able to have one of the other drivers arrested so now he also gets the job. Dom meets one of Braga’s top lieutenants, Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot). She flirts with him but Dom is clearly a one woman man as he turns down Gisele after he basically describes Letty as his perfect woman.
The job the drivers are required to do is to transport a bunch of money across the border through a complicated series of underground tunnels based on GPS coordinates. The scene looks pretty good and it’s a fun race in this part of the movie. Once they get to the other side, drug dealers do what drug dealers do and try to kill the drivers. But, Dom has a plan. He wants to see a rival driver named Phoenix die because that guy killed Letty. So Dom rigs his car to explode enabling Brian and Dom to get away. Phoenix does live though.
Somewhere in there, Dom also learns that Letty was actually working for the FBI when she died. Dom beats Brian to a pulp when he finds this out but Brian tells Dom that Letty was only doing it to clear Dom’s name. Dom feels like a jerk for that one.
Once Dom and Brian get away, they stash the payload they were carrying in an impound lot that Braga owns. Braga has no idea he’s got his own stash right under his nose. Brian sets it up so that Braga will meet, the FBI will be able to arrest the guy, and in exchange, Dom gets to go free. Things do not go as planned.
Turns out Campos was Braga all along, and the FBI move in just a little too soon and blow the arrest. Brian and Dom make it out alive and for some reason Brian is to blame for the mess up, even though it was someone else who made the call to move the FBI in too soon.
Dom still has a vendetta against Phoenix and Brian reconnects with Mia. Brian and Dom decide to go and get Braga, even though he’s in Mexico, outside of US jurisdiction. Dom is just there to get Phoenix. Dom and Brian do capture the drug lord but then it’s a car chase back through the mountains. While the first sequence through the mountains looks pretty stylish, this return trip is kind of a confusing mess of an action sequence and it was pretty hard to follow what was happening.
In the end, Brian is almost killed by Phoenix, but Dom saves the day by hitting him with his car and Braga goes to jail. And Dom, allows himself to be captured this time.
We see a court scene where Dom is sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison with no possibility of parole, despite the fact that Brian vouched for all the good Dom did.
The last scene is Dom in his orange prison suit on a bus headed to jail. But as the bus goes down the highway, three high speed cars pull up. Brian is in one, Mia is in another and Tego Leo and Rico Santos are in the third. We don’t see what happens but I think we can all assume Dom is about to be sprung from prison.
The beginning of this movie starts with a fantastic car stunt and it hints at bigger and better ones to come. Some of the more personal parts of the film come through as well. We get to see Brian reconnect with Mia and you can feel how much the loss of Letty gets to Dom. The plot with the drug lord is still pretty thin here but the racing and driving is great. The chase through the caves is probably the weakest of those sequences but it’s still fun to watch. It’s nice to see the core cast back here and it’s especially good to see Dom and Brian in the same movie again.
This film series will still go on to bigger, faster, and crazier stunts but this is where things start to get a little flexible with physics. There are definitely times where cars crash and people almost certainly should have died or been severely injured but walk away fine.
It does work best if you watch this one right after the second one but even watching it out of order is still kind of fun because you can start to figure out how the filmmakers realized they needed to retcon the timeline a bit.
If you haven’t seen this one in a while, it’s still worth checking out, just don’t expect the most complex plot here.
Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I thought I would drift on over to you to review the third film in the Fast and Furious franchise, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Be forewarned there are spoiler for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift in this review. So, if you have not seen those films, buckle your seatbelts. hit your NOS, take a sharp turn, watch the movies and race on back here to read the review.
Also, before this gets mentioned in the comments below, yes I know, this order is not the best way to watch the movies, but the theater where they are showing these is putting them on in release order so there you have it. I will be reviewing in release order but the chronology definitely gets a bit weird with watching them that way so just bear with me.
The first movie gave us a glimpse into the niche underground world of illegal street racing in Los Angeles. The second movie lost one of the main stars with Vin Diesel unable to return but gave us a pretty standard action film full of fast cars and furious drug lords. So where did that leave us for the third film? In Tokyo… for, umm… some reason? But yes the Fast and Furious series first goes international with this film which does not focus on the stars from either of the first two films.
This movie needed to please action fans, bring people who were familiar to franchise back to the box office without its main stars and do so in a setting the movies hadn’t explored at all.
So, did the film accomplish this objective or did it just drift right into a side wall and crumple any chance of future films? Let’s dig in and find out.
Spoilers follow below!
Bro, Do You Even Drift?
The film starts out with our main character, Sean Boswell getting into an altercation with a fellow high school student. They have beef with each other so what’s the best way to solve it? Yeah, a race, of course. Sean races a guy named Clay in a suburban construction site where new homes are being built. Sean wins the race but Clay’s Ferrari is demolished and so is Sean’s car. Sean literally drives his car through a wooden frame of a house. Apparently Sean has a history of this kind of behavior and as a result, he has a choice to either go to jail or go live with his estranged father who is a Navy officer stationed in Tokyo, Japan.
Sean arrives on the scene, not too happy about his fate and is given two rules by his father. First, he’s supposed to come straight home after school and second, he’s supposed to stay away from driving any cars. Guess what rules he breaks? We see a scene of Sean getting used to school in Japan where he meets Twinkie (Bow Wow) who is an army brat hustler, and Neela (Nathalie Kelley) a girl who seems interested in Sean but is dating someone else.
After school, Sean goes with Twinkie to an underground race. There he meets DK, which stands for Drift King (Brian Tee) and Han Lue (Sung Kang). Sean learns a few things pretty quickly. First, DK is connected to the Yakuza. Second, Han seems to be more cool and collected than DK. And most importantly, he learns this underground race circuit is nothing like the one he is used to. Instead of a ten second drag race, these races rely on a new maneuver we learn about called drifting. Essentially the car makes a sliding turn and glides along the track. Sean doesn’t have anything to race but Han gives the dude a chance and loans him his car. And it turns out Sean is a terrible driver. He smashes the hell out of the car and barely even finishes the race.
The next day Han shows up and tells Sean he has to go collect money from a Sumo wrestler. Sean does it but it doesn’t go well. But, Sean is now essentially working for Han because Han knows it gets under DK’s skin. Also, Han agrees to teach Sean how to drift. Sean is still a terrible driver. He gets more intimate with Neela, which makes DK really mad because she is his girlfriend. Sean improves his drifting skills just enough to beat out one of DK’s thugs, although he still damages the car a bit. DK finds out about Sean and Neela and DK beats the crap out of Sean.
Han tells Sean he only races if it’s for something really meaningful. He’s not that interested in winning. Han shows off his drifting skills to impress some women and it’s clear Han is a much better driver than even DK.
DK’s uncle who is the Yakuza member of the family shows DK that Han has been stealing from them. Enraged, DK comes to Han’s garage where Han admits to stealing, saying they are not in the boy scouts. Twinkie causes a distraction to allow his friends to get away. DK chases after everyone and there is an insane moment where the cars drift through Shibuya crossing, the most heavily crossed intersection in the entire world, and go on this huge car chase. Han proves he’s the best driver in the movie by getting between DK and Sean, allowing his friends to get away. But in the end, Han flips his car. We see him trapped in the vehicle and the whole thing explodes. (Write this down cause several movies later this will be a thing)
Sean heads back to his dad’s place where there’s an armed standoff but Sean’s dad is a no nonsense Navy officer so DK leaves. In an attempt to fix things, Sean decides to go see DK’s uncle. Twinkie gives Sean some money so DK’s uncle won’t just kill him on sight. Sean somehow makes it in to see the uncle and he proposes a peaceful solution which will satisfy DK, Sean and DK’s uncle. Guess what it was? (Checks notes) Yep, a race! If Sean can drift race down a mountain before DK can, DK has to leave town. And vice versa. For some reason, the Yakuza member is totally good with the plan that might get his nephew kicked out of town forever.
There’s a race and Sean bangs his car up really bad but DK literally ends up driving off the mountainside. DK seems like he’s ok though. Sean gets to stay and be part of the Tokyo drift scene and he also gets the girl.
But what About that CAmeo?
If after reading all of that, you started to wonder if you were really watching a Fast and Furious movie at all, don’t worry, there’s a cameo and it’s possibly the best part of the movie. Sean is ready to race when he’s told there’s a challenger who wants to meet him. This is a guy who has been beating drivers all over Asia. And what’s more, he is said to have known Han, who he considered, “family.” And, yes, as soon as we heard that the audience assumed this had to be one of two people, either Brian or Dom, but most likely Dom. And sure enough Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto shows up. He tells Sean he got the car he is driving after beating his friend Han. Sean warns him that this is no ten second race. Dom replies he’s got nothing but time.
Any objective observer watching these movies would know, Sean is one hundred percent going to crash his car and Dom Toretto is going to smoke him with superior driving skills. In fact, out of all the heroes in all the Fast and Furious movies, I think Sean is the only one who crashes, or at least hits walls, ever single time he gets behind the wheel. Dom will eat this dude for breakfast. Still, it was nice to see Dom back here and although it’s a quick cameo it does make it feel like a part of the franchise.
This film did the worst out of all the sequels when it comes to box office. I can understand why there are people who really don’t like this one at all. Lucas Black’s performance feels a bit too, “aw shucks” for the most part. But Han is definitely a breakout character and he’s the most magnetic personality in the whole film. You can tell he’s the one really in charge, even when he just stays in the background.
But for all of its flaws, this film does something the first film pulled off well. It takes us into a little known world and shows us a niche community where we get to see a small family story. This doesn’t have the chemistry of the first one but it does feel a lot more personal than the second film. Personally, for me, this is one of my favorites of the franchise because we still get to see cool car stunts, the story makes sense (mostly) and there are real consequences to the actions of the characters.
This one is not for everyone but I enjoy it. And if you want to know about one of the key characters in films later in the franchise you do have to watch this one. It’s best to just go with it and have fun along the way and not get bogged down in the details of why it’s set in Tokyo or if there really is an underground drift circuit there. (Although it’s Tokyo so yeah they have everything there)
If you are looking for a fun time watching cars slide around with a bit of action and a pretty decent cameo, this one is worth a watch.
Hey film fans, Slick Dungeon here, back to review the second installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Paul Walker is back for this one but there is no Vin Diesel in sight here. But there is still plenty of action, lots of fast cars, a few good stunts and plot that is, well… pretty thin. Note there will be spoilers in this review for both The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious. If you want to catch up and read my review of the first movie, you can do so here.
The Fast and the Furious set up a situation with Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner which leaves Brian in trouble with the law and Dom presumably free. One would expect the sequel to try to continue those stories but there was a major problem in doing that for this movie. Vin Diesel was filming a different action movie xXx and couldn’t come back for 2 Fast 2 Furious without leaving that project. So, instead of having the two breakout stars of the first film come back, we only get Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner.
The good news is this second film does introduce us to some of the recurring cast we’ll see in later movies, including Roman Pearce played by Tyrese Gibson, Monica Fuentes played by Eva Mendes, and Tej Parker played by Ludacris.
The first film was better than it had any right to be, although it accomplished that in large part by borrowing a plot from an older movie. The sequel needed to be more action packed with bigger stunts and to keep the interest of people who saw the first one without one of the main stars.
So, did they accomplish this goal or was this a forgettable sequel? Let’s dig in and find out.
We’re Moving to Miami
This film starts with a street race in Miami, Florida. There are three cars ready and raring to go but the race can’t happen without even numbers so the organizer of the event, Tej Parker calls in a fourth driver. This is Brian O’Conner, the undercover cop who let a felon go at the end of the last film. Brian wins the race handily and earns himself some money. But just after that, the police show up and Brian tries to get away. He’s got a super fast car and he’s a highly skilled driver so it should be easy. However, the police have some kind of harpoon style weapon they shoot at his car. Once this hits, it seems to deliver a sort of EMP jolt to the car, cutting out the electronics and basically making the car stop. Brian is taken into custody.
This time the arrest is not a ruse, it seems Brian really is on the run from the law. Lucky for him, there are some people who can use his help. One of Brian’s former superiors, Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) and a US Customs agent named Markham want to catch a drug lord named Carter Verone. They need someone who can gain the trust of Verone, while also not giving away the fact that there is an FBI agent named Monica Fuentes who has already been monitoring Verone. They try to give Brian a partner but after a simple question it’s clear this police officer knows nothing about cars. Brian demands to choose his own driving partner. This is Roman who we first see wearing an ankle bracelet while competing in a demolition derby.
Roman is an old friend of Brian’s who has gotten into some trouble. After a brief fight, Roman and Brian hash things out a bit and Roman agrees to help the police in exchange for his record being wiped clean. Brian will get the same deal so if they pull off the job, they won’t be going to jail.
Monica Fuentes arranges it so that Roman and Brian can audition to work for Verone. They arrive at the mansion along with a number of other street racers. Verone takes everyone’s identification and tells them his Ferrari was impounded. The job is to go retrieve something important from the car and come back with it first. There’s a chase scene where Brian and Roman both show off their fast driving skills and, of course, they get to the Ferrari first. I don’t really know how they knew how to get there since no one gave them directions but we’ll ignore that for the sake of the movie.
Anyway, just as Roman and Brian are about to take the package back, Markham shows up, hoping to arrest Verone. Roman sees the guy with a gun pulled and Roman starts firing his own gun. This was clearly not supposed to happen. Markham thought Brian and Roman were running when they were just doing what they were supposed to. Roman and Brian do get away from Markham and end up back at Verone’s place.
Verone is impressed enough to hire the two of them. But we find out the only thing they got from the car was a cigar. Also, Verone promises there will be a job for the two of them if they meet him at a club later. Monica lets Brian know Verone plans to smuggle money on his private jet from an airstrip nearby. Brian and Roman go back to police headquarters where Markham is beyond mad and Roman is furious the cops showed up at all. Turns out there were GPS units on the cars they were driving. This was back when GPS units were not all that common so it’s no surprise that Roman and Brian weren’t expecting that.
After they leave police headquarters, Roman and Brian realize they have a few problems here. First, Verone’s men seem to be following them around. Second, it’s going to be tough for them to get anything done if they are constantly being tracked by the police. So, what’s the solution? I mean, it’s a Fast and Furious movie so obviously a street race! Roman and Brian have a tag team race to get two more cars. The race it set up by Tej and it’s a pretty good race sequence. Ultimately, Brian and Roman succeed and have two cars, GPS free to use when they need them.
This whole time, Brian has been making puppy dog eyes at Monica which Roman notices. When they get to the club where they are supposed to meet Verone, Monica is there and seems to flirt back with Brian a bit. Verone sees this. Verone has Roman and Brian go in the back with him where he has an police detective tortured. He wants a fifteen minute window of time where there will be no cops monitoring him so he can gather his drug money.
Monica warns Roman and Brian that Verone plans to have them killed as soon as the job is over. Roman and Brian go see Tej and make some contingency plans of their own.
On the day of the job, things start as they are supposed to. Brian, Roman and two of Verone’s guys go to get some money out of a trailer Verone owns. The cop who was supposed to keep the area free for fifteen minutes lets his conscience get to him and he tells the cops to move in. This now means Brian and Roman are caught between the police and Verone’s men. There’s a nifty car chase as Brian and Roman misdirect everyone. They pull into a warehouse with cops in hot pursuit. They think they have the men surrounded when the warehouse doors open up and a bunch of big trucks come out and basically demolish the police cars. Then there is a scramble where what seems like every high end race car in Miami comes out of the warehouses and speed off in all directions. The cops think they still have GPS on the cars so they aren’t worried and Markham is in waiting at the airstrip. When the cars Brian and Roman were driving arrive at the airstrip, it’s Tej and his partner Suki who are driving.
Roman and Brian each have one of Verone’s men in the cars they won racing the night before. Roman hits an ejector seat button to dump the thug. Before Brian can do the same, Verone tells him the plan has changed. He now has to meet Verone at the docks. When Brian gets there Verone puts a gun to Monica’s head and takes her on the boat. Verone’s thug is supposed to kill Brian but before he can do so, Roman shows up to save the day. Verone does manage to get Monica onto the boat and they are already speeding away.
How does Brian stop Verone? Well, again it’s a Fast and Furious movie so he drives real fast, launches the car off a ramp facing the water and lands on the boat. It’s the biggest stunt in the movie. And when it happens, Roman breaks his arm and Brian is banged up quite a bit as well. This was before everyone in these movies seems to take no damage from major car crashes.
In the end, Roman and Brian are cleared, Verone is arrested (although he swears revenge), and Monica is safe and sound. Roman does pocket a bit of the cash from Verone’s take though. That’s where we leave our heroes for this movie but we’ll see more of them in the future.
What About Dom and Mia?
On top of Vin Diesel missing, since this film takes place in Miami with Brian on the run, there is no Mia from the first movie. I’ll say, Brian sure moves on quickly from her and seems to have roving eyes everywhere he goes. If Brian has a weakness in this movie, it’s definitely pretty women. I feel like the relationship with Mia not even being addressed in this movie was a mistake. Like, they could have at least had a phone call or something on Brian’s end where he might tell her not to worry or something like that. But nope, we’re going to pretend that whole thing didn’t count in the first movie here I guess. It makes sense why Dom isn’t here. He’s still back at home or maybe on the run. Brian probably wouldn’t want to call him because presumably everyone is watching Dom. But Mia has nothing to do with the whole thing so she’s getting ignored for no reason.
Did This Work at All?
2 Fast 2 Furious is not a great film. It’s miles away from the quality of the first movie. The dynamic between Diesel and Walker are missing and this film feels like it could literally be called something else. It’s got a fairly caricatured villain, the plot is really thin, and while the acting is fine, no one is going above and beyond here. That’s not to say there is nothing good in the movie. The car stunts are still fun, although I would argue the ones from the first film tend to look better. And Roman and Tej are both good additions to the franchise and probably the most entertaining parts of the whole movie. Eva Mendes is also great in her role here.
While the first movie was meant to be a B film that feels more like a quality picture, the second feels like a movie meant to be a quality picture which feels like a B film. On a pure action level, this film does work but it doesn’t obtain the greatness of the first one by any stretch of the imagination.
There are still a lot of films to go in this franchise. We’re going to witness a bunch of odd twists and turns here, especially once Vin Diesel is truly back. But the second movie just needed to be a half decent action flick. And it does deliver on being about half way decent. It did well enough to garner another sequel but if this film had come out first, the whole franchise would have been forgotten. It’s still one you need to watch if you want to be completely caught up with the franchise but just remember this one is meant to be nothing more than a good time.
I will say though, compared to some of the later sequels, this one does at least seem to adhere to the laws of physics for the most part.
Overall this is still an enjoyable watch but it might be the least enjoyable of the sequels.
Hey film lovers, it’s Slick Dungeon here! The tenth (not counting spin offs) Fast and Furious movie is about to hit theaters this month. In anticipation of that, the movie theater in my area is showing all the older movies so I thought it would be worth taking a look and seeing how we went from a small band of illegal street racers to an expansive family of super spies. I’m going to review the first movie in the series in this post, The Fast and the Furious. Heads up there will be spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie, hop in your car, hit the NOS button, get to the theater and watch the movie, then race on back here to read the review.
I think most film lovers have had an experience like this. Way back in 2001 I was stuck with a day where I didn’t have much to do. I had seen everything else in the theater except for The Fast and the Furious. I had no particular interest in watching it because I’m really not a car guy and other than Vin Diesel I had no idea who any of the actors were. But, I had hours to kill and nothing else to do so I thought to myself, “how bad can it be?” Turned out this movie was a whole hell of a lot better than it has any right to be. There are a few reasons for that and I’ll get into it below but it was a surprise to me.
So, why was a movie about a bunch of car thieves and undercover cops so much better than expected? Let’s dive in and find out.
Spoilers follow below!
The World of Illegal Street Racing in Los Angeles
The movie starts out with a still impressive car stunt. We see several cars, neon lights glowing below them, racing up next to a semi truck with precision speed. One car literally drives at pace under the truck while the others pin the truck in its lane. The people in the cars shoot out harpoon like devices so they can hop into the truck and take the payload. It’s an amazing and well timed robbery which just looks downright cool.
Next thing you know we’re in a local market where a man comes in and orders a tuna sandwich. This is our hero, Brian (Paul Walker). He’s obviously there to flirt with a woman named Mia (Jordana Brewster). It’s not long before some of the people who run this little market and automotive shop (odd combination but whatever) come in and are giving Brian some grief. A fight breaks out and we meet our other hero, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel). Dom breaks up the fight but tells Brian he’s banned from the shop.
That night we see Brian, who had been trying to race a car on a deserted street earlier, gather at a street race. This is no regulated race. It’s just a huge group of people with really fast cars illegally racing one another for money and pink slips. They are organized enough they even have someone monitor police scanners so they wait for cops to be distracted by a major crime before they start racing. I would have thought the amount of people involved in illegal street racing was relatively small but it seems like there are hundreds in attendance and at least a good third of those people have seriously expensive (and fast) cars.
Anyway, Brain bets Dom the pink slip to his car that he can beat him in a race. Brian nearly edges him out but Dom Toretto is a seasoned racer who ultimately wins the day. Brian has to give up his car but before that happens, the police descend on the scene and start to round up as many people as they can. Dom ditches his car and starts to get away on foot. He’s nearly cornered when Brian shows up to save the day for Dom. He gets Dom to hop in his car and they race out of there.
Unfortunately for the two of them, Brian unknowingly heads into the territory of Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) who has a vendetta against Dom. Its not long before Brian’s car is shot to shreds by Johnny’s bullets and Dom is warned to stay away from the area. In Dom’s words this means Brian still owes him, “a ten second car.” In other words, just because the car was shot up and nearly unusable, it doesn’t mean Brian is out of debt and he needs to get Dom a super fast car as quickly as possible.
Brian and Dom go back to Dom’s place where a party is happening. Dom is pretty angry with his crew, especially Vince (Matt Schultz) and Leon (Johnny Strong) who left him to be picked up by the cops. Vince is especially upset Brian has been welcomed in because Vince wants to date Mia but she’s clearly more into Brian.
The next day, Brian brings in a beat up old car which has an incredible engine to Dom’s garage. Jesse (Chad Lindberg) sees the potential in the car right away because he has a genius mind for engines. Then we see the real twist of the movie. Brian is taken under arrest at the auto shop he works at. But this arrest is a ruse, Brian is an undercover cop. He’s trying to figure out who these people with precision driving skills are who are stealing from truckers. He knows anyone good enough to drive that way must have some connection to the world of illegal street racing. Dom seems to be the central figure in this world. He’s the guy who can’t be beat so if it isn’t Dom stealing, he has to know who is.
Brian thinks it could be a guy named Hector who (Noel Gugilemi) was at the race the other night. Brian breaks into the garage but Dom and his crew see this happen. Vince is convinced Brian is a cop but Brian uses some fast talk to make Dom believe he was just investigating other racers who will be racing at an upcoming event. Dom decides they should see what Johnny Tran has in his garage. While there, Brian notices a bunch of brand new electronics, similar to the types of things that have been stolen recently.
Brian lets his superiors know what he found and they agree to raid Tran’s place. Meanwhile, Brian and Mia are on intimate terms. The raid doesn’t really turn up any evidence and Brian is given thirty-six hours to figure out who is doing the robberies. Lucky for Brian, an event called “Race Wars” (yeah I know, it was a terrible idea for a name even then) is coming up. At this event he should be able to catch whoever the real thief is. Brian is convinced it’s Dom but he’s also started to see Dom as more of a human than just a thug. Brain had read Dom’s criminal file about how he had almost beaten someone to death. Dom relates the story, while showing Brian an old car. It turns out, Dom’s dad died in a fiery crash years ago at a race track. Dom was at the track when the driver who crashed into his father showed up and before he knew it he had a wrench in his hand and was beating the man to a bloody pulp. It’s clear Dom regrets the action but knows he couldn’t help himself. He also knows his life turned out much different than he thought it would. Dom explains to Brian that the ten seconds or less while he is drag racing is the only time he feels free. This seems to resonate with Brian.
At Race Wars, Jesse, who is not much of a driver, loses a race to Johnny Tran. Rather than give Tran the car like he is supposed to, Jesse speeds off. This puts a target on Jesse’s back.
Later, Brian sees Mia arguing with Dom and then Dom, Leon, Vince and Dom’s girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) hop in their cars and speed away. Brian confronts Mia and admits he’s an undercover cop. He enlists her help to track down Dom before anything seriously bad can happen to Dom and his crew. Mia is majorly upset with Brian but doesn’t want to see her brother harmed so she helps.
In the best sequence of the entire film, Letty, Dom, Leon and Vince try to rob another truck. They use the same method as at the start of the movie but this time they don’t have Jesse with them to help monitor police scanners and make sure equipment is working right. Things go sour when the trucker starts blasting shotgun shots at everyone. In a complicated series of events, Vince, ends up hanging off the side of the truck, shot in the side, with his arm nearly cut off with the cable from the harpoon they used. Brain manages to rescue Vince but he’s in bad shape and they are in the middle of nowhere. Brian realizes the only way to save Vince is to radio for a helicopter as a police officer. He does it to save Vince’s life but Dom and everyone else are pretty mad at Brian.
Brian eventually rolls up to Dom’s house where Dom is about to take his dad’s car out to find Jesse. Johnny Tran shows up seconds after Jesse does. Tran shoots Jesse and rather than arrest Dom, Brian goes after Tran. Another seriously fun car chase happens and Brian ends up shooting Tran. Then he sees Dom race by. Brian and Dom end up at a stoplight together. Dom tells Brian the stoplight they are at is exactly a quarter of a mile away from the railroad track ahead. Dom says on green he’s going to go for it. Brian knows the only way he could possibly get Dom to come with him is to beat him in this race. The two do race off towards the tracks just as a train is coming. They barely make it across the finish but this time, they tie. Brian is fine but Dom doesn’t see another car coming and ends up in a pretty bad crash. The sound of sirens gets closer and Brian knows he could take Dom in for all kinds of crimes, right here and right now. But that’s not what he does. Instead, he gives Dom the keys to his car and tells him he still owed him, “a ten second car.”
Is this Plot Familiar?
If you’re an action movie fan and you just read that summary, it may have felt extremely familiar. Why? It’s a nearly identical plot to the Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze classic Point Break. The only real difference here is we are dealing with cars instead of surfboards. Point Break is a great movie with tons of fun action so it’s worthy of being copied. But I will say, The Fast and the Furious delivers more high octane adrenaline than that one did.
Paul Walker is essentially the Keanu Reeves character and Vin Diesel is the analogy to Patrick Swayze’s character.
No movie is ever completely original. All films owe what they put on screen to something that came before. But it’s rare to see such a similar film do so well. In fact, this did better than the remake of Point Break, because although it’s about cars, The Fast and the Furious shares more of the genetic make up of the original Point Break than the remake of Point Break does.
That’s not to say there aren’t some original things in The Fast and the Furious. The stunts are fantastic, and although there is some CGI here, none of it is really for the car stunts. Also, they introduce NOS (Nitrous Oxide) as an almost super powered way to make a car go faster. A lot of the action is keyed around when the drivers hit the button that releases it. But overall, yeah, it’s a really similar movie to Point Break.
This Shouldn’t Have Worked
This was a low budget movie (for an action film) with a mostly unknown cast centered around a really niche type of lifestyle, released with almost no fanfare, that just chugged away at the box office. If you watch it now, especially in theaters, it has the quality of a classic film. Paul Walker has an almost Robert Redford like appearance. And Walker gives a performance far above what one would expect for a B film about car racing. Vin Diesel is never overly expressive even at the best of times but that style of acting just fits Dom Toretto’s character perfectly.
And while Michelle Rodriguez is great in this movie (as she is in most movies) the real chemistry here is between Diesel and Walker. They have a kind of mutual rivalry and respect thing going that you can just feel in this movie.
We know now this film kicks off a franchise where insane things start to happen on screen. We get to the point where physics don’t matter at all, people can survive nearly anything, and this little band of car thieves are somehow super spies. But we would not be able to get to a single bit of that if this first film had flopped.
This was in no way a flop. It was number one at the box office and beat out several other highly anticipated films to get there. The movie was made for $38 million but has made over $207 million. That’s a healthy profit from an unlikely film.
I still think, in some ways, this film can be argued to be the best film in the Fast and Furious franchise. It’s full of heart, even if it is a copycat of another film. It also sticks fairly close to reality. While the car stunts are cool and impressive, it doesn’t feel like they are things that couldn’t happen. People get injured, and car crashes seem to leave people hurt in this movie. Bullets are lethal or at least dangerous. And the bit of romance/love interest stuff that goes on here is understated but necessary. We see both the heroes of the movie, Brian and Dom, do things that are heroic, even if they are committing crimes. It just feels like a classic movie that wasn’t meant to be anything but a good time at the theater where you get to enjoy your popcorn, see some cool stuff, and feel like it all ends the right way. And after all, isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place?
While I don’t think anyone would call this film high art, it’s certainly a good time. And if you haven’t gone back to see where the beginning of all the madness happens in a while, I highly recommend you check this one out again.
The last time we checked in with The Fantastic Four in their own series, they had defeated and enemy on the moon known as The Red Ghost. The FF are heading home expecting a heroes welcome as they’ve become the first people to successfully land on and return from the moon. This was years before it happened in reality so it was still anyone’s guess what would really be found there.
The first page gives us a small recap and then Ben Grimm says he wants to take over the controls of the ship, although Reed Richards brags he designed it to practically land itself.
Sure enough, as they land in New York, there is a huge mob of people there to cheer on the team. They were already notable as heroes and explorers in New York City but it seems this return trip solidifies their status as not only heroes but super celebrities. It’s depicted in the way one might expect The Beatles to have been greeted at the height of their fame. Reed Richards even has two rival fan clubs both desperately trying to touch him or maybe get a lock of his hair. Meanwhile, a super star wrestler named The Golden Angel challenges The Thing to a fight to the finish. The Thing just tosses this dude in a trash can and walks away. Sue Storm is badgered by people wanting her to sign Hollywood contracts or sell their deodorant on television. Lucky for her, she can just turn invisible. Johnny Storm sees the problem with the crowd here and makes a whirling tunnel of warm air which creates a vacuum of suction to get the team back to the Baxter building. This is clearly one of the sillier powers Johnny has displayed but I think as an audience we’re past caring about that sort of thing now.
The team goes back to their penthouse apartments and tries to get in a bit of relaxation time. Although, in the fashion of the day, Sue Storm says she’s going to, “do a little housecleaning” instead. Reed dictates his notes on the rocket fuel he invented for the trip and goes to find Sue to have her type them up. When he finds her, she’s taking a look at some of Reed’s cameras on the bottom of the sea. She immediately switches it off when Reed enters. Reed knows she’s hoping for a glimpse of The Sub-Mariner and then goes off feeling kinda sorry for himself. Sue brings the roving camera back to the Baxter Building.
Meanwhile, we see a mysterious man speaking with a doctor who says the man is cured. This man says he knew he was cured long ago but was waiting for the world to forget him. The man seems to have a vendetta against our heroes after he experienced a fall that people seemed to have thought killed him. He’s also planning to get a scapegoat to do the job for him. This person goes through a list of enemies The Fantastic Four have defeated before until he thinks of The Sub-Mariner. It turns out our mystery man is The Puppet Master. This is a person who can control others simply by making a clay sculpture out of them with his magic clay. And of course, he’s ready with a sculpture of Sub-Mariner.
Namor, The Sub-Mariner is looking for his lost people under the sea when he’s pulled away by a powerful force. It seems he’s compelled to do as Puppet Master asks. Namor then uses something called a, “Mento-fish” which can sense human thoughts ad transmit them to any point on earth through, “mental electro waves!” Yeah, I dunno, doesn’t make much sense to me either. Anyway, Namor uses this fish to call to Sue Storm. Thinking Namor is in distress, Sue goes to him. She sneaks past her team while invisible to do so, and thinks this meeting will at long last decide her feelings for Namor.
Sue meets Namor at a pier on the lower east side of New York. Namor uses a, “hypno-fish” to hypnotize Sue. The fish puts Sue in an air bubble and they go under the sea. Puppet Master decides not to put the FF under his control, figuring his revenge will be sweeter if they retain their free will. Namor then transmits a mental image to the remaining members of the superhero team to tell them he has Sue Storm. He basically dares them to come after her, which, of course, they do. Before setting out, Reed and Johnny go to deliver their secret files to the police commissioner and Ben goes to let Alicia know where he’ll be so she doesn’t worry.
When Ben gets to the building, he’s overcharged for parking. He agrees to let Alicia come along with him, and then Ben stacks up the cars in the parking lot so he can fly outta there. But off panel he says he put them back so I guess no harm done?
Reed has gotten the loan of a deep water diving vehicle so he can search for Namor and the group piles in to go find him. They have to evade some attacks set up by Namor, including sharp quills shooting at their vehicle and a whirling tornado of water. Johnny flames on with white hot flame to dissipate the tornado and nearly drowns until Reed saves him. Namor springs a final trap where the heroes get trapped in a giant clam and knocked out with chloroform gas the clam naturally produces. Yeah, not sure I believe any of that but we’ll just go with it. Namor brings them back to his headquarters.
Namor has a giant octopus guarding Sue who is inside a glass globule the octopus could probably crush. Reed realizes pretty quickly this behavior is not typical of Namor. He’s always professed his love for Sue so putting her in this kind of danger seems extreme even for him. Namor then challenges the heroes to fight him one by one. First up is Johnny. He’s defeated because Namor has a strange living undersea weapon that absorbs any kind of heat. The Thing sees the use of this weapon as cheating so he grabs Namor who easily gets away. Namor throws some kind of sea foam on Ben which hardens and traps him in place. But The Thing breaks out anyway. Reed Richards tangles Namor up in his stretchy arms, trapping him, as Ben goes to save Sue.
Ben Grimm tosses the octopus by the tentacles and saves Sue. He tells her to hold her breath as they swim through the water. And we get this super sexist gem from Stan Lee, as The Thing thinks, “First time I ever saw a female who could keep her mouth shut so long!” Yeah, I mean I know it was different times and all, but there are some real sexist gems dropped by Stan the man in these days.
The Puppet Master has been watching from afar in his own submarine. He ups the stakes by telling Namor he has to do more than defeat the FF, he has to slay them. Alicia seems to sense Puppet Master’s presence and lets Reed know what’s going on. Sub-Mariner grabs some deadly sea tubes which will release a poisonous gas but still hesitates because he doesn’t want to harm Sue. Namor does eventually release the gas but also realizes he’s being controlled. Luckily for everyone involved, Reed put on special, “flex-o-gen” masks on the team and Alicia so they wouldn’t breathe in the fumes. Reed, Ben and Johnny all want to clobber Namor but Sue stops them, telling them she knows he’s under some kind of influence.
Remember the octopus The Thing threw? So that finds The Puppet Master’s submarine and attacks it. Puppet Master tries to carve a clay sculpture of it to control it but apparently the octopus doesn’t have enough of a brain for it to be controlled. This breaks the control on Sub-Mariner and the team have to escape because a hole in the dome of Namor’s place is letting in water. Johnny fixes it and Namor thinks he’s been invaded by the Fantastic Four. He sees Sue and asks if she’s come to share his underwater kingdom. She tells him no, that her loyalties are with Reed. But she keeps open the love triangle by saying her heart has not made a final choice yet. It honestly makes you feel a little bad for Reed here since he’s made it pretty clear he is in love with Sue. Namor does let them go because he wants to go back to looking for his lost people. Sue still hopes he’ll someday be their friend and we end the issue with the promise that the Fantastic Four are about to head for one of the most bizarre adventures of all time in the next issue.
With an issue about telepathic fish, people who live under the sea, and a dude who can control minds through clay, saying the next issue will be bizarre is a pretty bold statement here.
It’s still early days in the Marvel 616 universe here but it’s always great to see a good villain come back. And in this one there are two worthy villains. For one, the team isn’t certain Puppet Master is actually back, although we as the audience know he is. And secondly, the love triangle between Namor, Reed and Sue is always interesting. Namor is a compelling character in that he never quite crosses the line to total villain (at least in the eyes of the Fantastic Four) but he’s not an outright hero either. One gets the impression with him that if Sue Storm was not around, the Fantastic Four could be in real trouble from him.
The way villains keep returning in Marvel 616 comics really helps build out the universe and makes it feel like things are happening all over even when we’re not reading the comics. It takes a while before there’s a great connection between everything but the building blocks are definitely starting to shape up.
Next up on the reading list, we’ll be getting small again with Ant-Man in the pages of Tales to Astonish #43!
This week marks a special treat for Star Wars fans. I, myself, am a huuuge Star Wars fan so I’m pretty pumped about the fact that Return of the Jedi is playing in my area. For those of us who are big Star Wars fans this is something fun to go do and we always get a kick out of seeing some of our favorite films back in theaters. But, what I realized recently after talking to someone who has never seen any of the Star Wars movies is if you are new to Star Wars you might have no idea where to start.
I’m the type of Star Wars fan who loves it all. Yes, even that one that you’ve heard is terrible, or that other thing people are arguing about online. I find at least some entertainment value in everything Star Wars I have ever consumed. Yes, including that other one you heard not even Star Wars fans like. I like it. What this means is I have a pretty big base of knowledge when it comes to my favorite fandom. And that makes me the perfect person to guide someone who is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Star Wars out there. You may not know how to begin and feel like there is so much media, it’s pointless to even try.
Well, good news if that’s you. I have you covered. I’m going to throw a lot of information at you here but if you stick with me through this post I’ll tell you the only way to get started with Star Wars.
I’m going to go through what Star Wars has to offer in all kinds of media, including film, television, books, video games and more. I’ll focus on the films mostly because that’s how 90% of people are introduced into the storylines but if you’d rather see what there is in the way of books, games, or whatever, I’m going to throw those in there as well.
As of this writing there are eleven live action films that have been released and it can be daunting to figure out what order to watch them in. There is an original trilogy, a prequel trilogy, a sequel trilogy and two spin off movies which don’t have to be watched to get the larger context but can be fun to fill in gaps. There is also an animated movie that debuted in theaters but doesn’t really belong in the list when you’re first trying to watch the main story. We’ll cover that one in the television section.
With these films there are two basic ways to watch. One way is in release order, as in, you watch them based on what year the film released. The other way is in chronological order. This would be going through the movies by episode number, with the spin offs squeezed in roughly around the time periods they would happen in the larger storyline.
With either method, the spin offs are technically optional, but I still recommend watching them.
Also, there are a couple of other methods some Star Wars fans use to watch the movies but that’s more advanced level watching so I’m just sticking to the two methods here.
If you watch the movies in chronological order you get a fairly linear storyline and it’s pretty easy to follow the events in the films. It won’t be hard to keep track of the characters and you’ll know who the good guys and bad guys are. The problem with this method is it’s not very adventurous and it will make what would have been original twists in the movies seem like mundane facts everyone should know. I’ll give you the chronological order but I will say it is not my recommended way of watching for the first time.
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Using the release order method you’ll feel like you were dropped into the middle of an episodic drama where there is missing information but you’ll still get a sense of the larger story. As you go through all of the films, many of the gaps will be filled in and a lot of the drama is intensified. It’s the way us original Star Wars fans saw them after years of speculating what would happen while we waited for the next installment. There are plot holes the size of a spaceship in some of these movies but they get filled in eventually either with other films in the series or through television, comic books, novels, and other media. Watching in release order will allow the viewer to have a lot more questions about the story and the twists and turns are a lot more fun to see unfold this way. I highly recommend using this method if you are new.
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
It used the be the case the only way to consume Star Wars was through film. Then came novelizations, comic books and video games. But recently there is a new Star Wars phenomena. Television. There are live action shows and animated shows. These shows take place during different periods in the larger storyline but in general, the television shows tend to fill in gaps in time between films. If you put the films and shows together, you start to get a massive storyline with hours and hours of stuff to watch. You can, in fact, just watch the television shows if you want to and not see the films. But, if you do that, you’re missing the most vital part of the story. While I don’t recommend it to someone new to Star Wars, television can be an entry point. I’m going to list the shows here and tell you how they fit in with the movies. Some shows are better than others but it also depends on what kind of show you like. There are shows full of action and cameos and fun easter eggs for hardcore fans. There are also shows that are slow burn character dramas. Whatever you like in the way of television, you can probably find a Star Wars show that fits your preferences.
I’ll give you the list of live action shows and the list of animated shows. As a rule of thumb the live action shows tend to lean toward a more adult audience and the animated shows are geared a bit more towards the younger crowd. There’s really only one show on here, Andor which you might think twice before showing to kids. Everything else is generally family friendly, depending on your viewing preferences.
Live Action Television Shows
Obi-Wan Kenobi – This focuses on a singular character and takes place between Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Andor – This also focuses on a singular character and it’s more of a slow burn character drama. It takes place after Obi Wan Kenobi but it is also between Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Star Wars: Holiday Special – This was a live action holiday special variety show George Lucas was contractually obligated to make. Not recommended to anyone but a superfan and it’s hard to find. It takes place between Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure – This is actually a movie made for television in the 1980’s and it takes place on the planet Endor which is featured in the movie Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. It’s made for kids and has a bit of a cult following but definitely looks like it was made in the 1980’s for television. It takes place after Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back but before Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor – This is a sequel to Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure. It was also made for television and takes place in the same time period as the first Ewok movie.
The Mandalorian – The most well known of all the live action shows. This is the one that stars Pedro Pascal and if you are going to start watching Star Wars through a television series, this would be my recommended entry point. It takes place between Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It connects to the larger stories but you can follow this story without knowing a lot about Star Wars to begin with.
The Book of Bobba Fett – This show has strong connections to The Mandalorian and they tie in together but the focus of this show is on a character from the movies. This takes place in the same relative time period as The Mandalorian.
Some of these shows are better than others but as I said above, the best entry point in TV shows for a new fan is far and away The Mandalorian. There is some question as to whether numbers 3, 4, and 5 on the list above count as “cannon” to the main story. I included them just because they are live action shows you could watch. One thing to make clear here is that you do not have to watch any of these shows for the films to make sense. Instead, the shows tend to do the job of filling in story gaps for the movies rather than being a launchpad for any of the films.
Animated Television Shows
Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles – A fun, silly show perfect for young kids and Lego enthusiasts. It talks about things in the movies but doesn’t count towards the larger story.
Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace – Similar to the above, this is a silly Lego version that relates to Episode I but is not actually part of the main story. Lots of fun to watch.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – This is an animated film which takes place between Episode II and Episode III. The movie itself wasn’t well received but it is the official start to the fantastic animated series The Clone Wars.
The Clone Wars – This is a series that ran from 2008 – 2014. It’s a great show full of intense action and intriguing drama. This is not only great for kids but adults can find a lot of value in this show as well. It does a great job filling in a lot of the blanks between Episode II and Episode III and really adds context to the story. If you are going to begin watching Star Wars through animated television, I highly recommend starting with this series.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch – This is a series that follows The Clone Wars which focuses on a few characters. It’s still going on but it started in 2021. I don’t recommend watching it until you have seen The Clone Wars but once you have seen that one, it’s a great follow up.
Star Wars Rebels – This is a Disney series that takes place between Episode III and Episode IV. It shows the beginnings of the rebellion we see in Episode IV but it doesn’t focus on the characters from that film. The animation leaves a bit to be desired but the storylines are great and it’s definitely a good one for kids.
Star Wars Droids – This was a cartoon from the 1980s and it focuses on the droids from the Star Wars films. It takes place between Episode III and Episode IV but doesn’t really count towards the larger story. It’s fun to watch if you like 80’s cartoons but otherwise, definitely skippable.
Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out – Another Lego movie, pretty fun and it obviously lampoons Episode V but again, doesn’t count towards the larger story.
Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – This was a series that aired from 2016-2017. It’s a bit of an outlier in that it is a Lego show that is episodic. At one point it was supposed to count towards the larger story but it doesn’t really fit. It’s still a fun watch, especially for kids, though.
Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales – This is another Lego special which focuses on the droids. And again, like the other Lego shows doesn’t really count for the whole story but is sure fun to watch.
Ewoks – This was the partner show to Star Wars Droids in the 1980s. This show focuses on the furry creatures known as Ewoks from Episode VI. I liked it as a kid but this probably doesn’t hold up that well compared to other cartoons of the time.
Star Wars Resistance – This is an animated series that takes place between Episode VI and Episode VII and focuses on a group of pilots. It’s a fun show but definitely geared towards the younger crowd. It does follow a bit of a story similar to how The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, and Rebels do.
Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – Another Lego special. This takes place just before Episode VII but again doesn’t count towards the larger story.
I’ve left off several shows that are either upcoming, anthology series, or don’t count as cannon to the story. Those have their merits but most of the ones on the list above are worth watching (although if you hate Lego stuff don’t watch those). For my money, the best shows to watch on this list are The Clone Wars, The Bad Batch, and Rebels. The rest are fun but those three have really engaging stories and there is some top notch animation in Clone Wars and Bad Batch. If you want to start watching Star Wars with animated series, I strongly recommend starting with Star Wars: The Clone Wars and then watching the follow up The Clone Wars series.
Video games are a bit tougher to categorize. In order to give you all the possible games you could play that were related to Star Wars in some way, I’d have to practically give you a history of video game consoles. Instead, I will keep this simple and just include the ones that are now considered cannon. Just know there are a whole lot more games I could have put here.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017) – This one is a cannon game. It’s a fun game and it does count toward the larger story though you don’t have to play it to understand the movies. It’s basically a first person shooter in space.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – This is an action adventure style game which focuses on a character who is not in the movies but does fill in some gaps between Episode III and Episode IV. It’s not only a great Star Wars game, it’s a great game. If you want to start your Star Wars journey with a video game, I recommend this one.
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series – This is a virtual reality game where it tells a little side story about someone Darth Vader hires. But mostly it’s fun because you get to pretend to swing around a lightsaber.
Star Wars Battlefront (2015) – This is fourth on the list, after Star Wars Battlefront because the main story happens in a time period later in the Star Wars universe. But technically both games cover multiple time periods so it’s a little confusing. Also, this is actually a reboot of a different Star Wars Battlefront just to make it even more confusing. But like the other one on this list, it’s an FPS style game with a bit of story that relates to the movies.
Star Wars Squadrons – This is a space battle game where you get to fly different kinds of ships and blow stuff up. It’s got a decent story as well. It’s a fun game but I wouldn’t recommend starting here as an entry point.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – This is the sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and it counts toward the story. I wouldn’t play this one without playing the first one but this is the newest Star Wars game out there. The gameplay is fun and the story is as interesting as the first one (though I have not played to the end yet)
There are a few more games slated to come out but I won’t get into those here. If you just have to get started with Star Wars through video games, then I definitely recommend Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. But if you love FPS games, the Battlefront ones are good too.
There are soooo many Star Wars books out there. Broadly they can be divided into two types, Cannon and Legends. Cannon means they count towards the current Star Wars stories. Legends means they once did but no longer do, or were written as something as a fun book but not meant to count towards the bigger story. To save us from the longest blogpost in human history, I am going to just put the Cannon books here. There are tons of Legends books I recommend people read but it really helps if you’re familiar with Star Wars at large before diving into those.
Also, there are many eras in the Star Wars timeline. The one that goes farthest back is called The High Republic. The thing with these books is they are coming out in phases and we are currently on phase 2. And in Star Wars tradition, phase 2 jumps even further back in time than phase 1. So I am putting these in order by chronology, not phases. Just know there are more books to come for phase 2.
The High Republic Phase 2
The High Republic: Path of Deceit
The High Republic: Convergence
The High Republic: The Battle ofJedha
The High Republic: Cataclysm
The High Republic: Path of Vengeance
I wish I could tell you what all those books are about but I have not yet read them. (Watch this blog for reviews on them eventually) But I can tell you these books do not focus on the characters from the movies with the exception of a character named Yoda. If you know nothing about Star Wars and want to start with the books to get the story from the very beginning, these are the ones to start with. They are a mix of books made for adults and kids though. And one of them is an audio drama. What I like about the High Republic books is they tell a big, connected story, but you get different types of media to enjoy it in.
The High Republic Phase 1
The High Republic: Light of the Jedi
The High Republic: Into the Dark
The High Republic: The Rising Storm
The High Republic: Out Of The Shadows
The High Republic: Tempest Runner
Star Wars Insider: The High Republic: Starlight Stories
The High Republic: The Fallen Star
The High Republic: Midnight Horizon
The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life
Again I have not read all of these but what I have read so far I have enjoyed. If you want a real Star Wars experience without watching the movies, read phase 1 first and then read phase 2 which is the order they were released in.
Fall of the Jedi Era
Master & Apprentice
Dooku: Jedi Lost
The Clone Wars Anthology: Stories of Light and Dark
Thrawn: Ascendancy: Chaos Rising
This era takes place just before and during Episodes I, II, and III. You’ll notice I’ve left out the novelizations of the films on this list. That’s for two reasons. First, they are constantly printing new books so where those go in the list of books is constantly changing. Second, you may only want to read and not watch the movies, in which case you wouldn’t be interested in the novelization of the films. The movies are meant to be experienced visually first.
This is one of the most interesting eras in Star Wars as wars are burgeoning and plots are being hatched in the shadows which will lead to a calamity of war and destruction.
Reign of the Empire Era
Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good
Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil
Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Lords of the Sith
Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars
A New Dawn
This era is set between Episodes III and IV. Things start to take a darker turn here as a new power rises in the galaxy but with this rise also comes rebellion against those in control.
Age of Rebellion Era
Leia: Princess of Alderaan
Guardians of the Whills
From A Certain Point of View
Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure
Heir to the Jedi
The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original
From A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back
Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
Battlefront: Twilight Company
These books take place in and around the time of the first three movies released. You have an evil empire in control with a small band of rebel fighters trying to overcome the powers that be. It’s my favorite era of Star Wars.
New Republic Era
The Princess and the Scoundrel
Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall
Aftermath: Life Debt
Aftermath: Empire’s End
Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price
Poe Dameron: Free Fall
Shadow of the Sith
This era happens between Episode VI and Episode VII. It focuses on a time where it looks like the good guys have won but there are secret plans for a new evil power to rise. It’s one of the less explored eras in Star Wars which makes it pretty fun.
Rise of the First Order Era
Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens
Before the Awakening
The Legends of Luke Skywalker
Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire
Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate
These books take place before and during the so called sequel saga which comprises Episodes VII, VIII and IX. There is still a lot of territory to explore here so I am sure we’ll see more books to fill in here.
As you can see, there is no shortage of printed material to choose from when it comes to Star Wars. Most of the stories are self contained but connect to the larger story. You don’t have to read any of them to get into the movies. As far as quality of the writing goes, it varies, as does the subject matter. These are all generally kid friendly but some of them are slower and some of them are non-stop action. If you like to read, Star Wars will provide you with hours and hours of reading material.
I love a good comic book. And if it’s a good Star Wars comic book? Sign me up! There are tons of series out there and like the books they fall into legends and cannon. I’m only going to list the series that are cannon here. I’ll do my best to list them in order chronologically to the story, but these tend to jump around a bit. Pro Star Wars comics reading tip though – my favorite way to read this is to throw on the Star Wars soundtracks on a loop as I read them. That just makes it feel more like the films and gives me that good ol’ Star Wars movie vibe.
The High Republic Phase 2
Star Wars: The High Republic Phase II Vol. 1 – Balance of the Force
The High Republic: The Edge of Balance: Precedent
These are still being released so there’s not too much to catch up on here. It takes place thousands of years before most of the events in the movies.
The High Republic Phase 1
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Vol. 1
Star Wars: The High Republic Vol. 1: There is No Fear
Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Vol. 2
The High Republic: Trail of Shadows
Star Wars: The High Republic Vol. 2: The Heart of Drengir
The High Republic: The Edge of Balance Vol. 2
The High Republic Vol. 3: Jedi’s End
These are all a fun read but again, not really connected to the movies… yet.
The Fall of the Jedi Era
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn #1
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Darth Maul #1
Star Wars: Age Of Republic Special #1
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Graphic Novel Adaptation
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Obi-Wan Kenobi #1
Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Jango Fett #1
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Count Dooku #1
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Graphic Novel Adaptation
Jedi of the Republic: Mace Windu
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Anakin Skywalker #1
Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars – Battle Tales
Star Wars: Age Of Republic Special #1
Star Wars: Age Of Republic – General Grievous #1
Forces of Destiny: Ahsoka & Padmé #1
Star Wars: Age Of Republic Special #1
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005))
You’ll notice here that I did put in the movie adaptations. That’s because in my opinion the comics do a great job of translating the films, better than the novels do. But, if you don’t want to read those, feel free to skip and watch the movies instead!
Reign of the Empire
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 1: Imperial Machine
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 2: Legacy’s End
Age of Rebellion: Darth Vader #1
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 3: The Burning Seas
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 4: Fortress Vader
Jedi: Fallen Order: Dark Temple
Han Solo: Imperial Cadet
Lando: Double or Nothing
Star Wars: Solo Graphic Novel Adaptation
Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca Vol. 1: The Crystal Run
Age of Rebellion
Star Wars: Age Of Resistance Special #1
Star Wars Rebels Manga Vol. 1
Star Wars Rebels Manga Vol. 2
Star Wars Rebels Manga Vol. 3
Kanan Vol. 1: The Last Padawan
Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood
Forces of Destiny: Hera #1
Leia, Princess of Alderaan Vol. 1
Rogue One: Cassian & K-2SO Special
Star Wars: Thrawn
Vader: Dark Visions
Star Wars: Obi-Wan — A Jedi’s Purpose
Star Wars Adventures: Tales From Vader’s Castle
Star Wars Adventures: Return to Vader’s Castle
Guardians of the Whills: The Manga
Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion Special #1
Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation
Star Wars: A New Hope Graphic Novel Adaptation (Star Wars Movie Adaptations)
Age of Rebellion: Grand Moff Tarkin #1
Star Wars Adventures: Smuggler’s Run
Age of Rebellion: Han Solo #1
Star Wars: Age Of Resistance Special #1
Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion Special #1
Star Wars Adventures: The Weapon of a Jedi
Star Wars (2015) Annual #4
Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes
Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader
Star Wars Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon
Darth Vader Vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets
Star Wars Vol. 3: Rebel Jail
Darth Vader Vol. 3: The Shu-Torun War
Darth Vader Vol. 4: End of Games
Star Wars Vol. 4: The Last Flight of the Harbinger
Doctor Aphra Vol. 1: Aphra
Star Wars Vol. 5: Yoda’s Secret War
The Screaming Citadel
Doctor Aphra Vol. 2: Doctor Aphra and The Enormous Profit
Star Wars Vol. 6: Out Among the Stars
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Storms Of Crait #1
Doctor Aphra Annual #2
Star Wars Vol. 7: The Ashes of Jedha
Star Wars Vol. 8: Mutiny at Mon Cala
Doctor Aphra Vol. 3: Remastered
Doctor Aphra Vol. 4: The Catastrophe Con
Doctor Aphra Vol. 5: Worst Among Equals
Star Wars Vol. 9: Hope Dies
Star Wars Vol. 10: The Escape
Star Wars Vol. 11: The Scourging of Shu-Torun
Doctor Aphra Vol. 6: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon
Age of Rebellion: Lando Calrissian #1
Star Wars Vol. 12: Rebels and Rogues
Star Wars Vol. 13: Rogues and Rebels
Doctor Aphra Vol. 7: A Rogue’s End
Age of Rebellion: Boba Fett #1
Age of Rebellion: Jabba the Hutt #1
Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion Special #1
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Graphic Novel Adaptation
Lost Stars Vol. 1
Star Wars Vol. 1: The Destiny Path
Darth Vader Vol. 1: Dark Heart of the Sith
Bounty Hunters Vol. 1: Galaxy’s Deadliest
Doctor Aphra Vol. 1: Fortune and Fate
Darth Vader Vol. 2: Into the Fire
Star Wars Vol. 2: Operation Starlight
Bounty Hunters Vol. 2: Target Valance
Doctor Aphra Vol. 2: The Engine Job
War of the Bounty Hunters
War of the Bounty Hunters Companion
Darth Vader Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
Star Wars Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
Bounty Hunters Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
Doctor Aphra Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
Star Wars: Crimson Reign
Star Wars Vol. 4: Crimson Reign
Darth Vader Vol. 4: Crimson Reign
Doctor Aphra Vol. 4: Crimson Reign
Bounty Hunters Vol. 4: Crimson Reign
Star Wars Vol. 5: The Path to Victory
Doctor Aphra Vol. 5 — The Spark Eternal
Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 5 — The Shadow’s Shadow
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters Vol. 5 — The Raid on the Vermillion
Lost Stars Vol. 2
Age of Rebellion: Luke Skywalker #1
Age of Rebellion: Princess Leia #1
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Graphic Novel Adaptation
I know this is a looong list. But remember, comics are fast, light reads. And while I enjoy most of these, I think the Darth Vader and Dr. Aphra comics are some of the best comics (not just Star Wars comics) I have ever read. You definitely don’t have to read them all but a lot of them interconnect and make the stories more fun.
The New Republic
Star Wars Adventures: Shadow of Vader’s Castle #1
Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle
Lost Stars Volume 3
Star Wars: The Mandalorian Vol. 1: Season One Part One
Star Wars: The Mandalorian Vol. 2 – Season One, Part Two
The Legends of Luke Skywalker: The Manga
The Rise of Kylo Ren
Life Day #1
As you can see from the short length of this list, this is some of the less explored territory in the Star Wars timeline. There are some great stories here and anything with The Mandalorian is usually worth a look.
Rise of the First Order
Age of Resistance: Supreme Leader Snoke #1
Age of Resistance: Captain Phasma #1
Age of Resistance: Finn #1
Age of Resistance: General Hux #1
Age of Resistance: Kylo Ren #1
Age of Resistance: Rose Tico #1
Star Wars Adventures: Destroyer Down
Age of Resistance: Poe Dameron #1
Poe Dameron Vol. 1: Black Squadron
Age of Resistance Special #1
Poe Dameron Vol. 2: The Gathering Storm
Poe Dameron Vol. 3: Legend Lost
Poe Dameron Vol. 4: Legend Found
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Graphic Novel Adaptation
The Last Jedi: DJ #1
Age of Resistance: Rey #1
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Graphic Novel Adaptation
Poe Dameron Vol. 5: The Spark and the Fire
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Graphic Novel Adaptation
These are decent comics but most of them are here just to get the audience geared up and excited for the sequel trilogy movies.
I think comic books can be a great way to get into Star Wars. If you’re not going to go with the movies, I think comics are the next best avenue for exploring the universe.
Tabletop Role Playing Games
This list would be incomplete without me at least mentioning some Table Top Role Playing Games (TTRPGs). If you are not into movies, video games, books or comic books, you can still enjoy the Star Wars universe. It certainly helps to at least have seen the movies but it’s not a requirement if you want to play these.
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire
Star Wars: Age of Rebellion
Star Wars: Force and Destiny
There are a bunch more Star Wars TTRPG’s than these but these three are pretty easy to find and get a group together to play. They let you be in charge of the story. It’s a lot like playing Dungeons & Dragons, only it’s in the Star Wars universe. I’ve spent a lot of hours playing these so I won’t bore you with the details but the only real difference between the three is at what time period in the Star Wars universe these things happen. I recommend them all if you do like TTRPGs.
The ONly Way to Get Started with sTar Wars
I’ve hit you with a lot of information here and you’re probably wanting me to get right to the point. Well, here’s the thing, there are tons of ways to get into Star Wars. I strongly suggest watching the movies in release order to begin with. But if you would rather read, watch TV shows or play video games, that’s totally fine. There is no wrong way to get into Star Wars.
So what’s the only way to get started with Star Wars? The way you want to! You might take a look and not like it at all. That’s totally fine. Some of the stuff on here is not for everyone’s taste. But I hope you give it a shot with one or more of the myriad avenues available to you. If you do get into Star Wars, I’ll have plenty to talk about with you.
Expect more Star Wars related content to pop up on this blog. If that’s not for you, no worries, I’ll still blog about other stuff.
Hello horror fans and slasher stans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I finally made it out to the theater to see the sixth installment of the Scream franchise. This review is full of spoilers for Scream VI with possible spoilers for every previous Scream movie. If you haven”t seen this movie yet, you may not want to read this post. But if you’d like to see in depth reviews of the other Scream films you can do so here – Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4, Scream 5. And you can check out my spoiler free review of Scream VI right here.
Scream VI in Historical Context
Scream introduced us to meta criticism in the first film. The second and third films expanded that technique when applied to sequels. The fourth Scream movie got into remakes and reboots and the fifth Scream took us on a tour of what a “requel” was and wha that meant. Scream 5 was generally positively reviewed and took home a healthy amount of box office. This may have been more than could be expected for the film considering this is the first one where Wes Craven could not take part. The movie brought back some main characters but more importantly introduced us to a few new ones who were set to essentially take over the franchise.
And franchise is the operative word here. Scream VI is giving us a take on what it means to be a franchise and how that can both hurt and help art. Yet. at its core, this is still a slasher film.
This also moves our characters from the more familiar territory of the fictional Woodsboro to the real world environment of New York City. (Although as many movies set here do, this one was mostly filmed in Canada)
Probably the most famous incident of a horror franchise going to New York was Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. While that movie franchise really needed something fresh to make it work, the majority of that film takes place on a boat with only a minimal amount of action happening in New York at all. It’s not the best of the Jason movies but it can be fun to watch on a lark on occasion.
So Scream VI plays into that right off by switching the standard Arabic numbers in the title with Roman numerals. The filmmakers are already daring us to call this Ghostface takes Manhattan. And in a nice bit of logo design they use the last part of the M in Scream to make the symbol in blood red font.
There was a ton of pressure here for the film to do well for a few reasons. First, if this failed, what was the point of even making another Scream? Second, our main hero of the whole franchise, Sidney Prescott herself, Neve Campbell could not return for this film. She made it clear to the filmmakers this was a business decision and nothing personal. Simply put, it seems the studio was not willing to give Neve Campbell her due. This decision not to pay Campbell well is baffling considering how central she is to the whole franchise. This meant that Scream VI not only had to carry over new characters, it had to make sure these characters were interesting, and they couldn’t bring back the biggest star of the show for the film. It was uncertain if a Scream film could work at all without Sidney Prescott.
So, did the film succeed in what it was trying to do? Or, was it another wasted attempt to keep a film franchise fresh by moving locations and hoping for the best? Let’s dig in and find out.
Spoilers follow below!
The Cold Open
Every Scream film starts with a phone call. This one starts with a text on a dating app. We see Laura Crane (Samara Weaving) nervously waiting for a date to show up at a bar in Manhattan. She gets a message her date is lost. She does her best to describe the bar she’s at and where it is over the app. But then her date asks if he can call her. Laura has to decide if she trusts this guy enough to talk to him or just call it a night. It’s a horror film so, of course, she takes the call. We hear her talk to her date who seems sweet enough but just lost. He starts asking for descriptions of the place as he tries to figure out what street he is on and they get into what Laura does for a living. She’s a film professor who has expert knowledge on slasher films.
Despite her expert knowledge, and the fact she is a woman living in a city where women need to be on their guard, Laura goes outside to look for her date who says he thinks he sees the place. Laura walks into a deserted alley when the voice on the phone changes to that of Ghostface. He pops out of nowhere and stabs Laura.
Normally this might be where a Scream opening would end. But in this one, Ghostface removes his mask. This is absolutely unheard of in these movies. We’ve only ever seen Ghostface revealed when the third act happens. This gives us the impression we might see the movie from an entirely new point of view. That of the killer.
The man behind the mask puts the costume away in a backpack and walks down the street as if nothing happened. This person is Jason Carvey (Tony Revolori). On his way home, Jason bumps into Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) and speaks to her. They clearly know each other from class and are on friendly terms with one another. Again, this gives the impression we’re going to know way more than we usually do about the killer in a typical Scream film.
When Jason gets back to his home we see he has a shrine to Stab and Ghostface. He gets a call from his roommate Greg. He admits to Greg he was a bit overeager and wanted to “practice” before the main show. But, this is not Greg, it’s Ghostface. Jason tells what he thinks is Greg that Laura became less and less human to him the more he stabbed her. That she was like a piece of meat to him. Eventually Ghostface asks this guy to play a game with him. The game this time is not movie trivia, it’s hot or cold. The man gets hotter as he gets to the refrigerator where he opens the door to reveal a very dismembered Greg.
Jason is then stabbed. Ghostface asks if Jason feels like a piece of meat. Jason wants to know about the “movie” he and Greg were going to make and Ghostface says, “Who gives a f–k about the movies?”
That line right there had me intrigued. We’ve never seen a Ghostface who doesn’t, in some way, care about the movies. I saw the potential for this movie to go about a thousand ways here, including someone who had maybe never even seen a Stab movie just wanting to kill people who have done real world violence in the name of Stab movies. We’ll get more into whether or not this line makes actual sense later in this review but this is where my head was at when I saw this the first time. I was exceptionally intrigued here.
We then cut to the title screen for Scream VI.
A Tale of Two Sisters
We go back to the party where Tara is having a bit too much fun. She’s past the point of good judgement and seems way too willing to go upstairs with a guy she just met. But, lucky for Tara, she has friends in the vicinity. These friends include Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding), her new roommate Quinn Bailey (Liana Libereto) and Chad’s new roommate Ethan Landry (Jack Champion). Chad warns Tara not to go anywhere with a stranger but Tara doesn’t want to live her life based on what happened to her over three days a year ago.
Meanwhile, Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera) has taken steps to process through her trauma. She has been going through therapy, taking medication, and trying to confront the fact that not only does she come from a lineage of killers but understand how she felt in touch with some of her darker feelings when she defended herself and killed Richie in the last movie. In fact, Sam is so intense in this that she’s been unable to keep a therapist who is willing to work with her.
Sam eventually meets up with Tara at the party just as Chad is pulling Tara out of a bad situation. Sam gets into a bit of an argument with someone who throws a drink at her. Sam, justifiably yells back at the person but the whole thing is caught on film. It seems there has been an internet conspiracy in the last year saying Sam was the real killer in Woodsboro and making Richie out to be a hero. It’s obvious this footage will not look good for Sam but she was simply defending her sister.
Tara is annoyed at how overprotective Sam has become but considering what happened in the past, it’s hard to blame Sam.
We also find out Mindy has found some happiness with a new girlfriend Anika Kayoko (Devyn Nekoda). Chad is a good friend to his roommate Ethan and what Chad dubs as “the core four” from the last movie are living relatively happy lives. But we know this can’t last for long.
A Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney) calls Sam into questioning because her ID was found at the scene of Jason’s death, along with a Ghostface mask worn in the previous attack. This detective is also Quinn’s father. Things are starting again and as the audience we know there is no stopping it.
Some Familiar fAces Return
On the way to the station, Sam gets a call from Richie’s phone. She apparently never deleted his contact from her phone and, of course, the voice on the other end is that of Ghostface. Ghostface then jumps out and attacks Tara. Sam and Tara make their way into a local bodega where several New Yorkers try to help the sisters but they all end up dead. This Ghostface is fine with killing in public, using guns, and seems way more relentless than in any of the previous films.
The sisters do manage to get away and make it to the police station. Word travels fast and when they get there, the Carpenters meet not only Detective Quinn but Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) who was last seen in Scream 4 but was never confirmed to be dead. Apparently, she has decided rather than be a victim, she’s going to catch perpetrators and is now an agent of the FBI. Why she never showed up in the last movie is a little unclear, especially since she says she has a special interest in Ghostface attacks.
Also, since this is her hometown and this is of special interest to her, Gale Weathers shows up as well. The sisters are not happy with her because she wrote a book about the previous attacks even though she promised not to. Gale lets them know Sidney has gone into hiding due to the attacks. I’m not sure how much sense this makes considering she has talked about how hiding doesn’t work but at the same time we all want Sidney to have her happy ending so this is somewhat welcome news.
The Attacks Escalate And the Rules are Established
The next victim is Sam’s therapist. Ghostface makes quick work of it and then steals Sam’s file. So far, at each crime scene there has been a Ghostface mask left behind. Each one is from a different previous Ghostface killer and it seems to be counting down from the most recent one towards the original ones worn in the first film.
Mindy, the film expert of this movie, lays down some rules. First she says the killer is making a “sequel to the requel.” But she says they aren’t in a sequel because no one just makes sequels anymore. This, is a franchise. Not just a one off movie, not a sequel, but a huge juggernaut type of franchise. Kinda like Scream itself.
Here are Mindy’s rules:
Everything is bigger than last time.
Whatever happened last time, expect the opposite. Franchises only survive by subverting expectations.
No one is safe. Legacy characters are only cannon fodder at this point, usually brought back only to be killed off.
Franchises are just continuing episodic installments designed to boost an IP. Main characters are expendable in these films. And Mindy rattles off a bunch of final girls here to demonstrate her point. She even includes James Bond, Iron Man and Luke Skywalker as main characters who died so the franchise can continue.
Mindy then goes through the suspect list and points out Ethan and Quinn as potential suspects. Mindy even calls out her girlfriend as being a suspect because you can’t trust the love interest. Ethan and Quinn and Anika fire back reasons for Sam, Chad, Mindy and Tara to be suspects.
Kirby and Detective Bailey figure out the connection to the masks and before anyone knows it, there are rumors Sam is the prime suspect in the killings. We all know this to be false but it looks plausible from the outside.
Sam is upset when she sees this on the news and she and Tara make up a little bit. Chad dubs Sam, Tara, Mindy and himself as, “the core four.” And things look a little better for the group. It doesn’t last.
Sam has been seeing a neighbor across the street romantically. This is Danny (Josh Segarra) and he sees someone in a Ghostface outfit looming over Quinn Bailey. He calls out and tries to help but no one sees or hears him in time. The person in the mask kills Quinn’s boyfriend as he showers. Then we hear sounds of Quinn in what everyone thinks are the throws of passion but she’s being attacked. Quinn is no more.
Mindy gets hit in the arm and Anika is practically gutted but she still seems to be able to move around. Danny maneuvers it so a ladder goes from his window to Sam and Tara’s window. And there is an incredibly tense scene where they have to go across the ladder with a killer after them. Anika does her best but falls and dies.
I will say this about this movie. Usually in slasher films you don’t really care that much when someone dies because they typically haven’t been developed enough as a character. Anika has a short amount of screen time here but with the way Mindy reacts and the connection she had to Anika comes through, her death actually feels really meaningful and like a huge loss to poor Mindy.
Sam blames herself for the situation. Someone took their knives so they couldn’t fight back and Danny tells her not to trust anyone, including him.
Ethan was the only one of the group who wasn’t around at the time but he says he was in the study hall. Mindy moves him to the top of her suspect list.
Quinn’s dad shows up and says he was taken off the case and seems pretty upset. He says if you mess with his family you die. And he says it in a really awkward and creepy way.
Gale shows up to the scene and says she knows where the masks are coming from. She takes everyone to what amounts to a hidden museum of Stab memorabilia. It’s an old theater full of all kinds of stuff we’ve seen in the other films.
While they are looking around Sam takes a look at the display of her father and starts seeing him talk to her again like she did in the last movie.
Mindy and Kirby have a really good conversation about horror and have to admit they are both horror experts.
Gale has a chat with Sam and at one point we hear Dewey’s theme and it just brings a little lump to your throat.
Gale Gets a CAll
The Carpenter sisters come up with a plan to lure the killer out by tracing the phone call. Kirby thinks she’ll be able to catch him but Mindy does point out that in public in broad daylight is exactly how her uncle Randy died.
Sam does get a call and it is traced. But there’s a twist. The call is coming halfway across the city, from Gale’s apartment. The killer is not near Sam and Tara, the killer is near Gale. Sam and Tara steal Detective Bailey’s cop car and race over there.
Gale then gets a call and Ghostface mentions he and she have never spoken on the phone. And I realized, holy moly, he’s right. Out of all the legacy characters, the only one who never got a call from the killer was Gale Weathers herself.
Gale’s boyfriend is quickly disposed of. Gale puts up a good fight but ultimately, she is stabbed and does not make it. Sam and Tara do show up in time to chase Ghostface off before Gale dies and her last words are to tell the Carpenter sisters to tell Sidney the killer never got her. Kind of an odd thing to say since this one obviously did.
The Most Intense Subway Ride of All Time
Sam considers just letting the killer take her because its all about her. But the core four reject that idea outright. They get the idea to lure the killer to a secure location to end the killer for all time. Detective Bailey suggests they go to the Stab shrine where it is sealed off. He also tells them to travel in public to give the killer less of a chance to catch them.
Due to crowded subways, Mindy and Ethan are separated from Sam, Danny, Tara and Chad. In both of the crowded subway trains there are tons of people in horror themed masks. Seriously, there are so many horror easter eggs in this scene I couldn’t catch all of them.
And because it’s actually two subway rides with two sets of people it’s anyone’s guess as to who the killer is or where they are. The whole sequence is absolutely brilliant and heightens the tension immensely. The end result though, is Mindy gets stabbed. Ethan comes to her aid but Mindy was hurt badly.
Mindy, more than being hurt, seems pretty annoyed she didn’t guess the killer correctly again.
The Killers Are Revealed
Sam makes Danny wait outside of the closed off crime scene while Sam, Kirby, Tara, and Chad go into the Stab theater/shrine. In the museum, Sam starts seeing more visions of Billy Loomis and she grabs the knife he used in the first movie so she can have something to defend herself with.
Detective Bailey calls Sam and says Kirby was fired from the FBI for being mentally unstable. Sam tries to leave when the Stab movies start playing on the old theater screen.
Chad and Tara have a moment and finally kiss. The moment, of course, doesn’t last long. Ghostface jumps out and attacks. Sam meets up with the pair and tells them the killer is Kirby. There is a whole lot of running around and chasing and everything you’d expect from a Scream movie but the main point of these films is always who the killer is.
For a while it seems like there are two killers until Kirby comes in and shoots at one of them. There is a standoff between Bailey and Kirby where it seems like either of them could be involved until Bailey shoots Kirby. I don’t think there were many Scream fans buying it could be Kirby but if there was any doubt, it’s removed here.
Turns out there are three killers in this film. Detective Bailey, as we knew, is Quinn’s father. But Ethan is also one of the killers and it turns out he is also Bailey’s son. The third killer is Quinn who we thought we saw die earlier in the movie but this was just a staged ruse. Detective Bailey is also Richie from the last film’s father. In other words, the Baileys are mad that Sam killed Richie and they just want some plain old revenge. They were framing it to look like Sam just snapped and went on a killing spree.
There is still plenty of action and chasing around but in the end, the Carpenter sisters prevail and it turns out that somehow Mindy and Chad survive as well. It would have seemed physically impossible to me but we’ve seen people in these films already survive extreme amounts of stabbing. Kirby also makes it through.
When Sam kills Bailey we do see her go extreme similar to what happened in the last movie. And for a moment at the very end Sam takes a look at her father’s Ghostface mask as if she might want to wear it again. But, she chooses Tara and drops it. It’s clear if Tara was to die, Sam would be unhinged. But with her sister still there, she has enough restraint not to go mad. First
The last act of this film is by far the weakest as far as plot goes but it’s still fun to watch.
A Few Notes on the Film
First and foremost, long live the Carpenter sisters. Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera are fascinating to watch together and the performances here are next level. Chad and Mindy are really fun to watch as well. The whole core four is worth the price of admission.
The third act is problematic because it borders on the ridiculous. Dermot Mulroney comes off as a bit cartoonish through most of the movie so it’s really easy to guess he is involved in the killings. Quinn and Ethan are harder guesses to be sure but there are clues to it and if you are paying close attention you can guess them as well.
There are definitely things in this film just meant to surprise that don’t exactly add a ton of value but on the other hand, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained. Even the sillier parts are still worth watching. And the change of location actually seems to have done some good here. Rather than just be an excuse to show the main tourist highlights of Manhattan, the environment throws a whole new set of obstacles and challenges in the protagonists way.
In my mind there would only have been two ways to make this a better film. The first one, I felt like they almost went with but then abandoned. That would be if we watched the whole movie play out from the killer’s point of view. I think that could have thrown a whole new light on the entire franchise. But, had they done that, it may have come off as nothing more than a gimmick so it would have to walk a pretty tight rope there.
The second way to make this better, and the one I wish they really had gone with, would have been to make the killer be someone who really wasn’t interested in the Stab movies. I mean, what if Ghostface, for one movie, thought he was going to protect the Carpenter sisters and the best way to do that was to eliminate anyone too obsessed with them or the Stab movies? It would have escalated to the point where Sam and Tara would have had to confront this individual and if it was, say, one of the core four, they’d be in a real quandary over whether they should kill a friend who is protecting them but in the worst way possible.
Detective Bailey, as Ghostface, basically says he doesn’t care about the movies. But we know that’s not true at all. Not only did he pay for this Stab shrine of Richie’s, Bailey also came up with this insanely elaborate plan to make sure Sam died there. It would have been a heck of a lot easier for him to have Quinn kill Sam and Tara and have Ethan kill Chad and Mindy, and then do a little behind the scenes police work to cover up the evidence. So, clearly he cares a lot about these movies.
I’m going to compare Psycho to ScreamVI for a minute here. No one, and I mean no one, really remembers the last ten minutes of Psycho. The last ten minutes of that film are static shots of Norman Bates sitting in a chair as a therapist explains the pathology Bates has. It’s perhaps the most forgettable, uninspired, and dull ten minutes of any film, let alone a Hitchcock film. Yet, no one says Psycho is a bad film because of it. Why? Because the rest of it is so memorable.
Scream VI strikes me the same way. The third act is ridiculous. It’s silly and it’s full of plot holes. But the intensity and mystery and horror shown in the firs two acts handily make up for those failings in my mind. I’m really curious to see where this franchise goes next. It’s anyone’s guess and I’m sure there are plenty of surprises in store. I just hope they feel more like the first two acts of this film than anything else.
If you saw this one, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
Hello TTRPG fans! It’s Slick Dungeon here. You know how it’s awesome to have a group of friends to game with? Well, it is! But, do you also know how it can be nearly impossible to get a whole group of people together because of scheduling, work, family obligations and the fact that no one can even agree on a game to play sometimes? I’ve got a solution for you. Try one of my favorite solo TTRPGs! These are all available on Drivethrurpg and are worth checking out. Some are games in and of themselves and others are ways to adapt a great game. These are in no particular order and they are just my favorites. Let’s get right into it!
5. Alone in the Dark, Solo Rules for Blades in the Dark
Blades in the Dark is a game where everyone basically plays a rogue. It’s full of heists and scoundrels and infiltrating cults and all the awesome sneaky stuff you love if you love rogues. But did you know you can play this one without a Game Master? All you need is this rulebook for going it alone. It’s $3.99 if you want just the PDF (probably all you need really) but if you want to pay a little more you can get a softcover or a hardcover for $10.99 Check it out here.
4. Dungeons & Dragons
There are a bunch of different 5E adventures I could put here but The Wolves of Langston is one I have played and enjoyed. It doesn’t take a ton of work upfront as long as you know 5E rules. You basically just make a character and off you go on this adventure. You can get it for $19.99. Check it out here.
3. Call of Cthulhu
I really can’t recommend this one enough. I love Alone Against the Flames and I’ve played it several times, usually coming to a rather tragic end. It’s fun and it teaches you the rules of Call of Cthulhu so it is perfect for beginners. You can grab this for $12. Check it out here. Plus, if you love this, there are a whole bunch more of the Alone Against series which are really fun to play.
2. Stars Without Number
Feeling spacey and want to play in the vast expanse of the universe? Stars Without Number is a great game with a solid rule set but it’s tough to play without a group. Unless, you have the Solo Adventures ruleset for the game. This one is a bargain at $5 for the PDF (probably all you need) or you can splurge and get a hard or soft copy for around double the price. Check it out here.
There’s a reason Ironsworn is at the top of everyone’s solo rpg list. First, it’s got that full fantasy flavor you want. Second. it’s nice and gritty if you want it to be, or you can scale it back a little to give your hero a bit more of a chance to succeed. Third, it has everything you need to play on your own right there, including rules, setting, character creation and advice on how to play the game in a few different ways. And last but not least, you can get this for the fantastic price of nothing. That’s right! If you get the digital version it won’t cost you a penny. You can, of course, pay more for the print versions if you wish but the entry point here is free. Check it out here.
Well, that’s my list. Now, go out and get yourself something to play when your group falls through and have fun!
Hello horror fans and slasher stans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I finally made it out to the theater to see the sixth installment of the Scream franchise. I’m going to do a longer review full of spoilers in the next few days but this one will be spoiler free. If you haven”t seen this movie yet, you should be fine to read this post. But if you’d like to see in depth reviews of the other Scream films you can do so here – Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4, Scream 5.
If you like horror movies, and in particular, if you like slasher films, you’re probably well aware of the Scream franchise. Each movie has its strengths and weaknesses but most people prefer the first film to all of the others. With this sixth installment, for me, I think I have a new favorite in the series. I will always love the first film but this sixth one is at least tied with that one. The action is thrilling, the story is (mostly) believable and the setting actually works. Unlike most slashers, I actually found myself caring about these characters, and what happens to some of them had me both on the edge of my seat and near tears on occasion.
This is not a perfect film and I have some issues with it, especially in the third act, but those problems are small enough the rest of the film overcomes those problems for me.
If you’ve seen a trailer for this movie you probably know it is set in New York City. So many horror franchises have attempted something like this, trying to get characters into a new, famous environment but it almost always feels like a gimmick. But here, the characters really feel like they live in New York and for good reasons. It’s not a Ghostface tours New York movie but rather a movie that follows our main characters from last time who just happen to be in New York. Yes, we still see some of the iconic buildings and all that but this film is just really well grounded.
Also, I don’t think this is a spoiler, but just in case you have never seen the trailer, mild spoiler warning. There is a scene in the subway that was literally one of the most intense horror scenes in a slasher I have ever watched. It was brilliantly done.
I will say this film is decidedly bloodier than any of the earlier films but it’s not as gruesome as a lot of other horror films out there. If you like horror it’s not going to shock you or anything but compared to other Scream movies this is hands down the one with the most gore.
As always there are more horror easter eggs than you can shake a stick at. And there is meta commentary but I don’t want to get into that in this post. I don’t know if it’s the best meta commentary but it’s still pretty smart like all these movies are.
And I would be remiss if I did not talk about the performances of Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, and Jasmin Savoy Brown. They all deliver stellar performances that felt real and intense and I think even more than in Scream 5 they really come through as interesting characters.
I also really liked most of the cold open but again, no spoilers here so won’t talk about it now.
If you’re debating about whether or not to go see this film and you have seen the rest of the Scream movies, I highly recommend you go check it out before it leaves theaters. You definitely don’t need to see it in 3D or anything but just go see it as soon as you can.
For those who have seen it, what did you think? Let me know in the comments but please keep it spoiler free here.
Hello horror fans and slasher stans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m gearing up to go see the sixth installment of the Scream franchise soon but before I do that, I wanted to review all of the previous movies here. For these reviews I plan on going in-depth so if you have not seen the movies, I advise you not to read this review yet. Scream is a great slasher franchise but the best parts of it are surprising events and reveals so definitely have a watch first because reviewing without spoilers is never easy with these movies.
When I do review Scream VI, I will have a first reaction spoiler free review followed by a spoiler heavy review. For the rest of these, watch first or risk the fun of the movies being taken away by reading. I’m going to be talking about individual scenes, characters, and themes so it’s all fair game in these reviews. I will only spoil things from the first five movies in this review so you don’t need to have seen all the Scream films to keep yourself spoiler free, just the first five. If you want to read my review of any of the previous films you can do so here – Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3 and Scream 4.
Scream 2022 in Historical Context
While Scream movies are fun to watch on their own, regardless of what was going on in the world, it can help to have some historical context to better understand what the films are trying to say. The first film was one of the earliest to make meta commentary on horror films and it revived the slasher genre. Scream 2 and 3 were commentary on sequels and trilogies respectively. And Scream 4 makes the point that horror is different more than a decade after the third movie.
If you take a quick look at what movies are playing in any given theater, you can place where Scream (2022) is. Almost every well selling film in theaters is a sequel or a reboot, or they walk a gray area where we have legacy characters from an original property introduced to new characters in the modern era in an attempt to please both old and new fans. Some easy examples of films like these are The Force Awakens and Halloween (2018) where it is a sequel to the original film series but it also has a plot almost identical to the original. Some stakes are raised when dealing with beloved characters and the newer ones get time to develop so the audience can become attached to the fresh blood (pun intended).
These kinds of films are a gamble because you risk simply pleasing the long time fans in making a fan service project which only the core fandom appreciates, you focus completely on the new material in an attempt to bring in the new crowd and alienating long term fans, or you risk ruining the franchise entirely by attempting to please both sets of fans and have a film of lesser quality as a result.
When Scream announced it was going to be back in theaters and just call the movie Scream instead of Scream 5 it was an obvious comparison to think this would be just like Halloween (2018). Scream fans weren’t happy with the title change but could understand why the filmmakers would make the choice. We’ll get more into this later but the difficult fan split is one Scream (2022) was going to have to navigate by default. In other words, there was no world where everyone would be happy with this movie. You had people going in who would hate it simply because it wasn’t what they had spent years speculating it would be. And, on the other hand, you had people who may have never even seen a horror movie, let alone a Scream film before.
Also, this sequel was in limbo for a long time for several reasons. First off, Wes Craven, had passed away. And without him as a director, it was unclear if anyone could helm the ship. Secondly, Scream was stuck in the whole Miramax debacle created by the absolutely horrid behavior of Harvey Weinstein. Figuring out where this property would land was no easy task.
Finally, at this time, slashers weren’t all that popular. People had gotten used to seeing films with a more psychological nuanced approach to horror with films like The Babadook, Get Out, and Midsommer. All fantastic films in their own way, but not the bloody, action oriented slasher style of film popularized before the 21st century. It was unclear if Scream could pull this off at all, especially considering Halloween (2018) was a decent success but not entirely groundbreaking and had some mixed reaction from both old and new fans.
With all this in mind Scream (2022) needed to walk a delicately balanced tightrope just to keep people in theaters until the end of the movie.
So, did the filmmakers succeed here and pull off the impossible, making a new film off an old franchise that could live up to the hype of long time fans, while at the same time introducing an entire new audience to characters they would care about?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Spoilers follow below!
The Cold Open
In any film you have to grab audiences right from the beginning. The first thing shown on film has the potential to either get the audience excited enough to keep watching or awful enough to make someone walk out of the theater. But with a Scream film this necessity is elevated to the next level. It also has to be original and completely surprising to the audience. And this audience is usually a savvy horror fan audience who has seen nearly every scenario played out in other horror films and knows what to expect in a Scream opening. The expectation of surprise makes it much more difficult to surprise the audience.
This movie starts just as the first one did, with the ringing of a phone. There is no sound of a scream as there was in the first though. We see a house in the suburbs very much like the house Casey Becker was in at the start of the first movie. Inside we see Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) stare at a landline phone and just switch it off. Right away, this movie is establishing it is different from the original. It almost makes no sense there is a landline at all here.
Tara is texting with her friend Amber (Mikey Madison) on her cell phone. She invites Amber over and entices her with an unlocked liquor cabinet. Tara takes a puff of her asthma inhaler and the landline rings again. Tara gives in and answers the phone.
The voice on the line is the one we’ve all come to hear, the voice of the Ghostface killer. The voice asks for someone named Christina and then seems to accidentally clue Tara into the fact this caller knows Christina from “group.” He gives his name as Charlie and tries to leave a polite message. Tara pushes to find out what kind of group “Charlie” is talking about. Charlie then says Tara sounds exactly like Christina describes her in group. Tara keeps pushing Charlie for more details. And Charlie mentions Christina said Tara loves movies. In particular, Tara loves scary movies. Charlie then says Christina wondered the other day, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” This is a direct nod to the original. The older crowd is probably expecting Tara to say something like Halloween or Alien or something like that but Tara goes with The Babadook. She says it’s an amazing meditation on motherhood and grief.
And not to belabor the point, but Tara is right, that is what The Babadook is. Whether it’s a great film or not can be debated but it certainly qualifies as a new generation of horror films. Charlie thinks it’s too fancy but Tara says it’s “elevated horror.” Still scary but with complex emotions and underpinnings.
As a side note, I kind of hate the term elevated horror, because to me, horror is horror. A movie is not necessarily better or worse because it goes into deep intellectual territory. And even if you love so called elevated horror, you may still enjoy just a fun slasher film, which is what Scream is at its core.
Charlie asks Tara if she’s seen Stab, the movie within the Scream movies that depicts the events of Scream films. Tara says she has seen it a long time ago at a sleepover. Charlie seems surprised Tara doesn’t know more about it considering she lives in Woodsboro, and Christina talks about it all the time in group.
I should also mention, at this point, Tara is playing with a kitchen knife in a wood block, practically identically to how Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker does in the first Scream film.
Tara remembers the movie being “super nineties, everyone had weird hair, really over lit.” Charlie asks if she remembers the beginning. Tara says she doesn’t, other than it started with a kill scene. Charlie says that’s right and that it’s a girl at home alone who answers a wrong number and starts talking with the killer who makes her play a game.
As the audience, we know where this is going. Tara is the girl in the opening. And, considering how many times we’ve seen the person at the beginning of the movie die after answering the phone, it seems Tara can’t possibly be long for this world.
Charlie then asks Tara if she’d like to play a game. Tara gets frightened and hangs up the phone. She uses her phone to secure the alarms on her home and automatically lock the doors. And she texts Amber, telling her what the situation is.
We see here, this is a whole new world, where the technology has changed and while the killer may be savvy, the potential victims have more defenses than they used to.
The phone rings again and Amber is texting her concern for her friend. But then she says Tara should answer. Tara texts to ask how Amber knows her phone was ringing. The text comes back saying, “This isn’t Amber.”
Now we have a threat to Tara coming from two directions. First, is the voice on the phone the killer? It’s safe to assume it is because of the history of these movies, but this one may be different, so maybe the voice is the misdirection. And, while we don’t know who Amber is yet, it’s likely she’s in trouble because it’s not her texting. The juxtaposition of the cell phone and the landline is really interesting here because now we know, even if, Tara has more defenses, the killer can use at least some of those defenses against her.
Tara goes to dial 911 on her cell but she gets a text telling her if she doesn’t answer the landline, Amber will die. This is just like what happens with Casey, only this time, it happens over a cell phone.
Tara picks up the phone and says, “This isn’t funny Amber.” The killer replies, “I told you, this isn’t Amber.”
That line just delivers chills so well. If we had any doubt earlier, now it’s really obvious Tara is about to die. She’s doing things just like Casey did but with modern technology. And the killer is on to her. The killer then sends video of Amber brushing her hair and says Amber shouldn’t leave her phone lying around for anyone to clone.
The killer then gets to his game. Stab movie trivia with three rounds. Tara begs him to ask her about movies she knows something about like, It Follows, Hereditary, or The Witch. All instances of what Tara calls elevated horror. (You should watch those movies btw)
But the killer presses on asking about who the main character in Stab was. Tara knows it was Sidney Prescott who lived on Elm. And the killer mentions Sidney is in every movie but the last one. The killer asks who wrote the original book the Stab movies are based on. Older fans know this is Gale Weathers. Tara takes a minute to remember but she gets it right. The killer then wants to know who plays the girl who answers the phone at the start of the Stab movies.
Sometimes reviewing a Scream film is like peeling an onion because of the layers here. Tara is obviously the person the killer is referring to in this movie but in the Scream movie it was Drew Barrymore but in the Stab movie this was played by Heather Graham.
It looks dicey for Tara for a moment but Tara has an intensely powerful tool that was never available to Casey Becker. Google on her phone. She looks up the answer and gets it right.
The final question is, “Who was the killer in Stab 1?” Tara is absolutely confident she has this one. It was Billy Loomis who was Sidney’s boyfriend who was played by Luke Wilson.
This is a really clever twist because in the Scream movies the Stab actor who did play Billy Loomis was Luke Wilson. But, us older Scream fans know there were two killers at the end of Scream. Yet, we’ve never seen the end of Stab 1 in the Scream movies so we don’t know if the movie within the movie does have two killers.
The killer tells Tara she got it wrong, there was Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. The movie here is playing with us because in the first Scream movie. Drew Barrymore gets the name of the killer of the first Friday the 13th film wrong by not remembering the twist to that movie. So, weirdly, the Scream movies have now been around long enough, they are the twist in the answer.
And, knowing Tara got the answer wrong, we’re sure she’s going to die, and so is Amber, most likely. That’s how the first Scream played out so no reason to expect otherwise here.
Tara runs to the door to go get to Amber who apparently lives nearby. But when she opens the door, she’s stabbed by someone in a Ghostface costume. She pushes the person out of the house and re-arms the security. This has alerted the police as well. But then, it seems the killer is able to disarm the system. Tara and the killer go back and forth with this for a while as Tara gets more panicked. And the landline rings once again. The killer has a bonus question, asking if he made it inside the house before she could rearm. Ghostface then pops up and stabs Tara again. Tara takes some major hits and almost makes it to the door, just as sirens and lights blare outside. The killer raises the knife and we cut to the title card.
Considering the history of the films, the audience assumes Tara is no more.
We meet the New Characters
At the start of a Scream film we usually don’t care who it is too much. We know they won’t be around for long. So, the filmmakers had a choice after Tara is attacked. They could either catch us up with Sidney Prescott, as has happened in every other Scream film, or they can introduce us to new people here, with the assumption that whoever we see next is our main character.
We cut to a bowling alley in Modesto, California, where a woman seems to be on her break and we see her take some prescription medication. This is Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera). She’s joined by Richie Kirsh (Jack Quaid), her boyfriend who also works at the bowling alley. They have a bit of really silly banter but seem happy enough to be together. Sam gets a text and calls the person who texted her. This is Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) who is Tara’s friend and the son of Deputy Judy Hicks who we were introduced to in Scream 4. He tells Sam that Tara was attacked. And Wes tells Sam, Tara is alive.
This little bit of information just turns the whole film on its head. There has never, not ever, been someone who survived the first phone call in a Scream movie. Tara already has legendary status in this franchise and it’s the one piece of information that could surprise older fans. Bizarrely, but effectively, the twist of the cold open happens after the cold open, setting us up for some entirely different story expectations.
Sam wants to know who did this and Wes tells her it was someone in a Ghostface mask. Sam looks horrified at the news. She tells Richie she has to go to be there with her sister and Richie says he’s going too.
We go back to Woodsboro where we meet Wes, Amber, Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Chad Meeks-Martin (Mason Gooding), and Liv McKensie (Sonia Ammar). Chad is dating Liv and he delivers the exact dialogue Billy Loomis does to Sidney about taking their relationship to the next level, only he’s talking about connecting on location sharing on their phones. Wes thinks this is a bad idea because you’d want to become more anonymous with a killer on the loose.
We find out Chad was just interrogated by Judy Hicks about Tara’s attack. The information about it being a Ghostface attack is still not out to the public but Mindy is sure by the second or third killing it will be. Amber says there wasn’t a first killing because Tara is alive. Mindy says Tara could still die or the killer could come back for her.
The last person in our little circle of new characters/suspects is Vince Schneider (Kyle Gallner) who seems to have briefly dated Liv. Apparently he’s been online stalking Liv, posting creepy stuff and he knows Tara. He’s not a part of the friend group but they know him. Amber notices bruises on Chad’s arms and says Tara fought back hard. Chad says the bruises are from football practice.
Wes gets a text from Tara and everyone from the friend group but Liv goes over to see her.
On the drive to Woodsboro, Sam gives Richie a rundown of the Stab movies and what happened in Woodsboro in the past. Richie says he’s never seen the Stab movies but they sound an awful lot like Halloween. Richie asks if Sam knows why someone wearing the mask would want to kill her sister. Sam says she doesn’t know.
At the hospital we see a banged up but recovering Tara. Sam makes it and Tara seems surprised her sister even came. Sam tells Richie she used to babysit everyone there. This is kind of a horror nod, although I’m not sure if it was intentional but Jenna Ortega who plays Tera has been in a lot of horror films, including one called The Babysitter.
Richie is introduced to everyone and we learn the Carpenter sister’s mom is out of town. She doesn’t seem to be the most attentive mother. Amber suggests giving Tara space and everyone but Sam and Richie clear out. Amber makes sure Tara has her extra inhaler. Richie waits outside the room so Tara and Sam can catch up. Ortega and Barrera start to have great performances here with Tara telling Sam how scared she was and Sam wanting to be there for her sister.
The rest of the friend group go to a local hangout spot where they are playing pool where they talk about how Sam kind of suddenly abandoned Tara and hasn’t come back until now. Mindy starts suspecting Wes of having motive of attacking Tara. But she also says they are all suspects. Essentially, Mindy is taking up the Randy role of the previous films. The only one Mindy rules out is Liv because she’s, “way too boring to be a psycho.”
The Attacks Escalate
Vince shows up and he and Chad get into an argument to the point where Vince pulls out a knife. He goes outside and the rest of the group is kicked out as well. Vince is, shall we say, relieving himself when he’s caught in glaring headlights and we hear the Nick Cave song, Red Right Hand which has played in most of the Scream films, so we know whoever is in the car, is the killer. Vince goes to see who it is but there is no one in the car. And then Vince is stabbed by Ghostface.
At the hospital, Sam and Richie are watching over Tara. Richie has started to watch the Stab movies to prepare himself for what is coming. Sam goes to get something to eat. She takes a pill and looks into the mirror to see a bloody vision of Billy Loomis talking to her. We learn she is taking anti-psychotics from Billy and he says she can’t run from who she is and she should tell Tara why all this is happening. As the audience, we have no idea yet why Sam would have anything to do with Billy Loomis but it was sort of nice to see Skeet Ulrich back in the series, even if he’s nothing more than a hallucination.
Then Sam’s phone rings. It’s the voice of the killer. He says he knows her little family secret. Sam dares him to come and get her and Ghostface pops out of the door behind her. Sam gets away and finds police to help her but the killer is gone. The call came from Amber’s phone but since her phone was cloned, that doesn’t mean much. Also, the police at this point have found Vince’s body. Richie says maybe Amber is the killer. Deputy Hicks asks Richie where he was during all this and he gives the very weak excuse of watching Netflix.
Hicks and Sam get into a bit of an argument and we learn Sam used to be a troublemaker and Hicks is now a sheriff.
Sam asks Richie and Amber to leave so she can talk to Tara. She then gives Tara the information as to why everything is happening. Turns out, Sam, is the daughter of Billy Loomis. Sam and Tara are actually half sisters. Sam confronted her mother about this and accidentally reveals who her father was in front of the man who raised her. And this is what caused the divorce of the Carpenter sisters parents and Sam to leave. Sam was sworn to secrecy by her mother which led her down a bad path to the point she had to leave.
Tara tells Sam to get out. This is one of the best scenes of the whole franchise. It’s emotionally raw and you really feel the tension between the sisters. Outside Tara’s door, Sam runs into Richie, who has heard the whole thing. Sam tells Richie to leave. And that this is the part in horror movies where you want to yell at the characters to get out and Richie should get out now. Richie insists he’s not leaving and tells Sam he loves her. Richie asks what the next move is. Sam says they need to go talk to an expert.
Welcome Back Dewey, and We get the Rules
The expert, as it turns out, is Dewey. He makes sense as the expert considering he’s been through this whole thing four times already. But he is the first legacy character we see and it’s already a third of the way in. Dewey is watching the news about the attacks in a little trailer all alone. Apparently his and Gale’s on again off again relationship is solidly in the off stage. He even turns on Gale’s show.
Sam knocks on the door and Dewey demands to know one good reason he should talk to her. She says she is Billy Loomis’ daughter. Dewey points out that’s a terrible reason for him to talk to her. He reluctantly lets them in and is immediately suspicious of Richie. But he does give them the rules for surviving a Stab movie.
The rules are as follows.
Never trust the love interest. They seem sweet, caring, and supportive but then welcome to act three where they’re trying to rip your head off.
The killer’s motive is always related to something in the past.
The first victim always has a friend group that the killer is a part of.
We know rule one is true because Billy Loomis was the killer in the first Scream. But we also know, this is not always the case, since Derek is not the killer in Scream 2. This one seems like it could go either way, but in this world, a lot of times it does turn out to be the love interest. We know rule 2 is true again because this is what happened with Billy Loomis. But it’s also not true because Stu Macher’s motive was just peer pressure. Again, it could go either way. Rule three we have seen be the case in several of these movies but Casey Becker was only barely a part of Sindey’s friend group so this one doesn’t have to be true.
Just as with most of the other films, this one lays down rules which can be broken but are widely assumed to be correct.
We get a brief glimpse of Sidney getting a call from Dewey. We learn she’s got kids and is married to someone name Mark. Dewey tells her what’s going on and warns her to stay away. Sidney wisely agrees not to come back.
Dewey then bites the bullet and texts Gale to tell her what is going on. We know Dewey can’t resist helping Sam so he shows up to the Meeks house where we see a tribute wall to Randy. Turns out he was Chad and Mindy’s uncle and we get to see Randy’s sister Martha.
Sam tells the group who her father was and they go over who might be a suspect. And we learn Vince’s mother was Stu Macher’s sister, so even that death is connected.
What’s a Requel?
Mindy clues into the fact this is not a sequel, it’s a requel. Mindy says fans are torn on the term but Liv asks if it was like the one the Knives Out guy did. This is funny on a couple of levels because what Liv is really referring to is The Force Awakens directed by JJ Abrams but she is mixing it up with The Last Jedi which actually was directed by the Knives Out guy, Rian Johnson.
Anyway, Mindy talks over how everyone hated the last Stab movie. Basically, she’s talking about toxic fandom. And she goes over what a requel is and that Sam is the star. It’s what I described at the start of this blog post, but applied to Scream. And, this is why Scream (2022) is not actually titled Scream 5. The filmmakers are playing with the audience by taking the real world thing of the fans being disgruntled and literally have it happen in this movie. After the sixth installment, we all pretty much call this Scream5 but they opted to fool us all here.
Mindy give us requl rules. So, this movie actually has two sets of rules to lay out expectations, one involving the original and one involving the current film.
The requel rules are as follows.
The kills must be connected to the original
Legacy characters have to appear
The killer has to be connected to someone that came before
These rules seem to be true in this film so far. The kills are connected to the original because Sam is related to Billy. All three main legacy characters, plus Deputy Hicks have all appeared already. And the last one could still be proven true but we won’t know until the reveal of the killer.
Mindy seems convinced the most logical killer is Sam. We know she didn’t attack Tara, but a lot of time there are two killers so she’s not ruled out.
The Obligatory Psycho Scene
All of the Scream films have had some connection or throw back to Psycho. In this one, it happens at the Hicks residence. First, Judy Hicks grabs a knife much like the one Norman Bates uses. Then, in a gender swapped scene, Wes showers as Sheriff Hicks gets a call from the killer. The killer says there are two deaths but when Hicks corrects him, the killer says by the time she gets back home, he’ll have gutted Wes.
Hicks races back home and we see a ridiculously long scene of Wes doing all the things that usually lead to jump scares, including not answering the phone, getting food from the pantry, and opening the refrigerator door. Yet when Wes does all these things, nothing happens. It subverts all of our expectations and goes on so long it starts to become funny.
But before we see all that, Ghostface kills sheriff Hicks outside the house in broad daylight. Just when we think Wes is safe, he locks the front door and gets attacked by Ghostface. It’s an uncomfortably violent attack.
Sam shows up but it’s all over already. There Sam meets Gale Weathers for the first time. They kind of bond over how Judy didn’t like either of them. Gale sees Dewey and they catch up a bit. Dewey thinks she’s just here for the story but she says she’s there for him. And we see pretty rapidly why they broke up. We also find out Dewey was asked to retire. And we find out Gale is running her show from New York.
Things Get worse
Richie seems to have gotten hooked on the Stab franchise. Sam realizes with all the cops investigating Sheriff Hicks’ house, no one is watching Tara. Sam and Dewey race back to the hospital where a very injured and still recovering Tara hears a noise and the lights go out. Tara manages to get to a wheelchair but Jenna Ortega really sells how much pain Tara is in here.
Tara’s phone rings but it’s Sam calling her. Tara doesn’t answer because she’s trying to get away. She finds bodies on the floor as she wheels herself down the hall. Sam races to the hospital.
Richie gets to Tara first but then he’s attacked by Ghostface. Sam calls Richie’s phone and Ghostface answers. Ghostface says Sam can pick if Tara or Richie dies. Sam hesitates, seemingly unable to decide, when Ghostface tells her, “Maybe you’re too weak for this franchise.” Sam says, “Maybe you’re right. Or maybe I’m just stalling for time f–khead.”
The elevator doors open and Dewey immediately gets some shots off at the killer.
Sam’s ruse here just elevates her to epic status, the same way Tara has already been elevated there. She’s smart. she knows how to turn things around on the killer, and she’d do anything to save her sister. In a lot of ways she’s like Sidney and it’s great to see.
There’s a big action scene in the hospital but the end result is Dewey dies. He only dies because he goes back to make sure the killer is dead by shooting the killer in the head. When he goes back, he gets attacked by Ghostface and loses.
David Arquette who plays Dewey is such a huge part of this franchise. His death was hinted at by Mindy earlier but even with it telegraphed it still really stings. And in a weird way the killer seems to feel the way a lot of fans do. As the killer delivers the final blow he tells Dewey, “It’s an honor.” And honestly, it kind of feels like it has been an honor having Dewey in these movies. He is hands down the most wholesome character and the most selfless one in the entire franchise. So, I’m just pausing here for a moment to say we should all give a big thanks to David Arquette for his five performances. It’s been great and we’re going to miss Dewey.
Sidney Returns and we reach the end of the Second Act
The only thing that could bring Sidney back to Woodsboro happens in this movie. When Dewey dies, she has to come to pay her respects. She meets up with Gale and all of our hearts break just a little more, knowing Gale or Sidney could also be next.
Sam and Tara get a moment to talk where Tara says she doesn’t blame Sam for who she is but she does for leaving her. Sam decides they are going to do the smart thing and get out of Woodsboro. Sam also meets Sidney who knows about Sam’s past. Sidney tells Sam running doesn’t work. Sidney and Gale want Sam to help them kill the killer.
Sam decides to leave anyway and she, Tara, and Richie get in the car to go. Sidney has put a tracker on their car.
In the car, Tara can’t find her inhaler and wants to go back to Amber’s house to get her extra one. Richie protests but finally agrees to go. At Amber’s house, which is actually, Stu Macher’s old house, there is a party going on. Amber, Liv, Chad, and Mindy are all there.
The Killer is Revealed
I could give you a blow by blow recap of everything that happens at Amber’s house but it is fairly close to exactly what happens at Stu Macher’s house in the first movie. I’ll give you the most vital parts but I’m definitely skipping some here.
There are a few changes and twists to what happens but they’re kind of minor. Mindy chastises Amber for going down the stairs alone and Chad seems suspicious of Liv when she wants to go upstairs with him.
Gale and Sidney do show up to the house. And we get the Randy scene from the first movie but this time it’s Mindy watching Randy have the same experience in the first movie.
Liv goes outside. Chad goes to look for her and is attacked. He’s wounded pretty badly but the killer runs when Amber and Richie show up with Tara. Richie tells everyone at the party to leave and most of them do. I will say Richie is pretty funny in his delivery here when he tells them leave. Richie goes to get beer from the basement and says he’ll be right back. Live comes back in upset her ride didn’t show up. So we’re down to Mindy, Liv, Tara, Sam, Amber and Richie as suspects.
Gale and Sidney race to the house to try to save the day. Mindy is attacked, Sam tries to save her. Amber sees the mess and thinks it’s Sam. Richie comes out of the basement and Liv rushes into the room. Amber says she was with Tara but everyone else was wandering around so one of them has to be the killer.
Liv found Chad and has bloody hands. She swears she’s not the killer and Amber says she knows and shoots Liv. We now know Amber is the killer and she welcomes us to act three.
Sam and Richie runs and Richie says there are always two killers. We do know this is not true at all. There has been at least one movie with a single killer. Regardless, both Sam and Richie have reason to suspect each other. Sam does have a knife though. Richie pitches the idea of Tara being the killer but Sam doesn’t buy it for a second.
Sidney and Gale finally arrive at the house to hear a scream. This is Amber running out of the house. Sidney and Gale know it’s a trap and Amber fires her gun. Gale is hit but she asks Sidney to go finish it for Dewey.
Sam finds Tara tied up in the closet but she seems to hesitate and we cut back to Sidney. She gets a call from the killer. Sidney says he’s the most derivative one of all since it’s staged at Stu’s house. Sidney says she’s bored and hangs up. She fires into a closet where Richie is hiding and wounds him. Sidney tells him to come out but he says he won’t since Sidney is firing her gun at everything. Ghostface pops out from behind Sidney and attacks her. Sidney goes down and she tells Richie to grab the gun but before he can, Sam grabs it. Richie cheers for her and says, “Thank God you’re okay.” And then he stabs Sam in the stomach and says, “Because I really, really wanted to be the one to kill you.”
Yep, Dewey called it perfectly here. And now we’re just left to wonder why.
The answer? Toxic fandom. Richie and Amber want to reboot the Stab series with them as the stars. Richie wants to bring things back to basics for the Stab movies. Richie and Amber essentially embody all the worst parts of obsessive fandom. They even met on Redditt where some of the worst fandom can exist. And with Sam’s father being Billy Loomis, Sam makes the perfect villain for their movie.
A lot of stabbing and fighting and yelling go down. Amber goes to get Tara from the closet. But big win, Sam trusts her sister who then flips the script and calls Richie. She nails Amber hard with a crutch and Sam is able to get away. Sidney has been injured but she’s not dead yet.
Gale and Sidney whale on Amber who nearly gets away but Gale and Sidney team up and long story short, Amber becomes a human s’more, allowing Gale to get some revenge for Dewey.
Richie is still going after Sam pretty hard and it’s a tough fight until Sam sees the image of a bloody Billy Loomis in a mirror. She then tells Richie she’s introducing a new rule. “Never f–k with the daughter of a serial killer.” Then she stabs Richie a ton of times. She even cleans of the blade the way Ghostface does now and again.
I’ll say it once more, the Carpenter sisters are legendary.
Sam shoots Richie in the head after Sidney reminds her they always come back. Amber does come back for a last scare but Tara shoots her and says, “I still prefer The Babadook.” This brings us full circle from the beginning.
At the end we see Mindy is still alive and so is Chad. Tara asks to go to a different hospital. Sam goes to thank Sidney and Gale. Gale says she’s not going to write a book about this whole thing. Sam asks if she is going to be okay and Sidney tells her she will, eventually.
We end with Sam and Tara hand in hand in the ambulance with news reporters converging on the scene.
A few notes on the film
The last credit says, “For Wes.” which is great since without him, there is no Scream. Also, having one of the characters named after him in this movie was a nice touch too.
Most of this movie is pretty well done. The acting is great, although at times it’s hard to buy both Richie and Amber as anything but the killers. Still, I can’t say I guessed this on the first try. I really only take issue with the third act because it is so similar to the original. I know what was the point but it felt a little forced.
Mindy and Chad seem like good characters, especially Mindy, but we don’t get a ton of screen time with them so it would have been nice to see a little more there.
I think the film does make good points about how obsessively loving something can turn people toxic but this one doesn’t exactly criticize the horror genre like the first few did. Mostly, this film is telling us what is wrong with film these days is not the films themselves, although they can be bad, rather the fans are what can sour a franchise. I think there is an argument to be made here. Most people don’t turn into deranged killers like Amber and Richie but there are way too many people who are exceptionally vocal online any time a beloved franchise does something like gender swap roles, or bring in people of color to make the film more representative of the world we live in.
Long Live the Carpenter Sisters
Being a horror fan it’s easy to be predisposed to like someone with the last name Carpenter. The name is an homage to John Carpenter who directed Halloween. But if the performances by these actors and their characters were uninteresting, this would be meaningless.
Both Sam and Tara play things about as smart as you can imagine, other than trusting Richie and Amber. Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera were full of chemistry with each other. They are completely believable as sisters and they both give top notch performances here. What’s great about them both surviving is this is like getting two Sidney Prescotts for the price of one.
Tara has an interesting story and she’s played well but we could have gotten to know her a little better through this movie. Sam is especially interesting considering her past and her dependence on anti-psychotics. She’s got major character potential but the one movie can only take us so far with that. For these issues, I don’t blame Ortega or Barrera at all. This is more about the writing and the fact that you can only take up so much time in a single film.
Horror is not an easy genre to act in. Most actors are called on to put out a huge range of emotions, not just fear, and these two women nailed their performances, leaving the audience just wanting more. Thankfully, there is more in the sixth film.
This may not be the best Scream film but it’s up there with one of the best. There are some issues, mainly in the third act, but overall this delivers on the promise of restarting a dead franchise without killing it. It does introduce us to some pretty interesting new characters and gave us a chance to see the legacy character go at it one more time.
I will also say, this film works better in achieving its goals than The Force Awakens or Halloween do. It’s a fun movie with some decent meta commentary and lots of fun horror easter eggs and it’s got plenty of action. The violent scenes are the bloodiest so far but still not so gory that it’s distracting.
I definitely recommend watching this film to anyone, although I strongly recommend watching the others firs.
Next time I’ll be back with my spoiler free review of Scream VI. Did that one live up to the hype? You’ll have to read to find out. (Or you know, go watch the movie and form your own opinion)