Star Wars Saga Viewing Order

In the past few weeks, I’ve had a few people ask me what order to watch the Star Wars movies in.  I’ve thought about the different options for a while now, and I think I’ve come to a decision.  There are two main options, plus one that may seem pretty radical.

SPOILERS FOR THE STAR WARS MOVIES (not like you wouldn’t know them anyway)

Option 1: Numerical (Episode) Order

This would seem to be the way Lucas wants you to see them: starting at the beginning.  However in my opinion, there are several flaws with this idea.  One being that it seems like the prequels weren’t written with this in mind at all.  There is no introduction to the galaxy or the Force in Episode I (which there is in Episode IV), it just goes by the assumption that everyone knows all this.  Also, there are several jokes/references to the Original Trilogy that one simply wouldn’t get watching them in order.  The big deal, at least for me, is that the Prequels spoil all of the surprises one might have watching the Original Trilogy (who is Yoda, is Vader really Luke’s dad, siblings?).  Watching them in numerical order ruins some of the best parts of the Saga.

Also, starting a new viewer off with Episode I probably isn’t the best idea quality-wise.  One really should start with the universally acknowledged “good” movies before getting into the, at the very least debatable, “new” movies.  Which leads us to:

Option 2: Release Order

As I just said, its probably better starting off with the good ones before going back to the Prequels.  Doing this also eliminates the effects jump you get going from a movie made in 2005 to one made in 1977.  This is the most logical order to watch them.  But I found a radically new order:

Option 3: 4-5-1-2-3-6

That’s right.  Probably the best order for a brand-new watcher of Star Wars is the following:

Episode IV: A New Hope
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

A user named “cap” on the Star Wars board I’m on proposed this. At first, I scoffed.  But then I realized how good of an idea this is.

Think about it.  You start off with the two best movies, the one that introduces the galaxy and the one that has all of the surprises.  Then, when you’re wondering if Vader is telling the truth about his fatherhood, you go back and watch what happened to Anakin Skywalker.  This also brings the “Redemption of Anakin” arc closer together instead of having a two movie gap where Anakin is barely mentioned (IV and V).  The same with “Palpatine’s Rise to Power”.  The order also spaces apart the Death Star attacks, “bookending” the series, as cap put it.  You feel for the celebration more, as you’re more invested in the galaxy after watching all of the movies before VI than after just watching IV and V.  Perhaps the best part is watching them 4-5-1-2-3-6 is that RotJ’s drastic drop in quality from ESB is lessened by having the entire Prequel Trilogy separating them.  It also makes ESB’s cliffhanger ending a cliffhanger again, as you haven’t seen any of the Original characters for 3 movies!

It seems weird, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.  Read the post I already linked to for some more in-depth analysis of this idea.

Let me know what you think!

REVIEW: Star Wars In Concert (12-12-2009)

Star Wars... IN CONCERT!

Summary: Imagine a clip show of the best parts of the Star Wars Saga, like a condensed music video version of all 6 movies.  Now imagine that the music was being created right in front of you by a full symphony orchestra introduced by Mr. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)!  That’s basically what “Star Wars In Concert” is.

Thoughts: I wanted to see this for two reasons.  The first was the opportunity to see John William’s score performed live.  The second was to see Anthony Daniels in person, a dream of mine since childhood for some reason.  The show preformed well on both accounts.

Starting with the THX Deep Note (sadly not played by the orchestra) and ending with an encore of The Imperial March, the whole show was the memorable themes John Williams wrote for characters or events played against clips along with some dialog from the movies relating to the musical theme.  Some clips had laser lights, and a few had PYROTECHNICS that we could feel on the other side of the arena!  The opening theme played against clips from the saga in release order (4,5,6,1,2,3), but once Anthony Daniels came out he started the (heavily condensed and choppy) story from the beginning.  Anakin’s Theme, Duel of the Fates, Across The Stars, Battle of the Heroes, all of the great themes Williams wrote for the prequels were there, proving that while Lucas may have lost his way for the prequels, Williams certainly didn’t, making what I’d argue to be some of the best musical pieces of the modern era.  I especially liked the clip show for “Across The Stars” (Anakin and Padme’s love theme), as I liked the idea of using parts of Episode I as flashbacks (complete with sepia tone and echo).  One of the other clips was memorable (at least to me) as it had Episode I clips of Yoda, but not the horrible-and-brown-for-some-reason Muppet they made for the film originally, the decent CGI model they use now when they show clips from Episode I in videos since 2005, presumably waiting for the rumored 2010 Special Edition Blu-ray release of the films (Special Editions of the Prequels are fine by me, in case you were wondering).  The first act ended after Anakin’s even-more-abrupt-than-Episode-III fall to the Dark Side with the Imperial March played against some of the Empire’s glory from the Original Trilogy.

After a 20 minute intermission (and dismissal of the choir since Williams wasn’t in his choral phase in the 70s and 80s), the Original Trilogy started.  Luke’s Theme, Leia’s Theme, Luke and Leia’s Theme, The Hoth Battle, The Forest Battle, Mos Eisley, several of the classic arrangements were played.  The clips started to lose focus at this point, as except for the personal themes, all of the clips had shots from the prequels thrown in.  For instance, while Obi-Wan is explaining to Luke that this is his father’s light saber, they show a clip of Anakin with the random lightsaber he got tossed on Geonosis after his was damaged (which you can tell is green, even in the sepia tone).  Also, apparently there wasn’t enough of the Forest Battle to fill the whole time, so they used clips from the Battle of the Naboo Plains from Episode I, somehow creating a video containing both Ewoks and Jar Jar!  The best part musically was when they actually played the Cantina Band song in the middle of the Mos Eisley section.  Incredible talent there.

You may notice how I really only talked about the clips they were playing.  This was mostly because the music was so note-perfect that we all found ourselves becoming so engrossed in the clips that we would forget that all of the music was being performed live.  There were times when the main screen would show the orchestra playing and it was some of the best parts, honestly.  There’s something about hearing and seeing this music that I grew up with performed live and uncompressed by any means analog or digital.  The fact that C-3PO himself was introducing the clips only enhanced the unrealness/awesomeness of it all.

Sadly, this was the second-to-last American show, so if you live in the States, you missed it already.  If you’re one of my European friends and this is coming near your home, by all means, go see it!  It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

REVIEW: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

Bark at the moon.

Summary: The Twilight Saga continues with Edward leaving Bella so she doesn’t get hurt, driving her into the arms of Jacob, who is a great choice in that he doesn’t want to eat her.  However, love must survive, even when its the stupid choice.

Thoughts: I was worried about this movie.  Of all the Twilight books (which I have read), I could never remember what happened in this one, mainly because nothing does.   I was hoping that maybe this movie might defy convention and be better than its source material.  This was not the case.

I found that instead of glossing over the worst parts of the book, this movie really brings to light the basic flaw of the series as a whole: Bella is not a complete person without a man in her life.  Once Edward leaves, her life falls apart until Jacob likes her, but even then his affection isn’t good enough.  She needs Edward.  When she starts hallucinating Edward whenever she does something risky, she goes out of her way to do stupid things just to imagine him there telling her not to do it.   She even jumps off a cliff just to feel alive or something.   And the movie is totally OK with this.  She doesn’t need help, she’s in love.  She’s a teenager for goodness sake.  This is not a message we need to be sending young girls.

Another problem is that she constantly makes the poor choice.  Edward knows he’s bad news and keeps telling Bella this, but she throws herself at him constantly.  After he leaves, Jacob throws himself at Bella, and she gives him the cold shoulder.  As soon as he starts to tell her that he’s dangerous because he’s a werewolf, she throws herself at him but he won’t have it.  And (surprise, surprise) as soon as Jacob likes her again, she ignores him for Edward, who still doesn’t want to do what it takes for them to be together (i.e. bite her).  Again, what are we trying to teach young girls?  Always go for the dangerous guy who doesn’t like you that much?  It’s endlessly frustrating, but that’s true love  for you.

Besides enhancing the series’ general flaws, it has other flaws too.  The werewolf effects could still use some work.  There was something wrong-looking about them, like they needed more rendering time.  While the pale makeup for the vampires was toned down, they turned up the eyes, which is especially funny when the vampire senate is talking about how humans must not find out they’re vampires when their eyes almost glow red.  The vampires still sparkle in the sun, but at least it doesn’t make the *sparkle, sparkle* sound anymore.

The acting was overdone.  I can’t stand Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson just seemed to be saying his lines so they could move on to the next scene.  Once again, Billy Burke (Bella’s dad) seems to be the only person trying to act in this movie.  The main characters’ eyes were always looking down staring at the other person’s (usually shirtless) chest or off to the side, which I found very distracting.

It may seem like I’m being unfair or just focusing on the negatives, but when the movie focuses on them, its hard not to in a review.

Overall: Next time, let’s try to minimize the flaws in the book, not make them the focus.
2/5

REVIEW: 2012 (2009)

And so the world ends...

Summary: It turns out the Mayans running out of room on the rock they carved their calendar into happened to correspond with all of the planets lining up and solar flares that heat up the Earth’s core so much that every continent is violently moved.  We follow a novelist (played by John Cusack) and his family as he gets into and out of one improbable situation after another on his way to safety.

Thoughts: I found this movie to be very conflicting.  On one hand, it seems to want you to enjoy the destruction of all of the houses, roads, skyscrapers, runways, and land masses, but then seconds later expects you to care about the random character they threw in the middle of it (even if the rest of the characters don’t seem to mind either).  All of the trailers show only the destruction, making you think that Roland Emmerich (director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow) had finally realized that people only watch his movies for the destruction and not the forced human/dog element (there’s always a dog).  However, a surprising amount of this movie is spent in dark rooms talking about what to do/not do.  Sure, its nice to have a plot, I’m just not sure that much was necessary for a movie with this level of expectation.

Characters seem paper-thin.  Everyone fills their cliched role and no more (obsessed writer, obsessed scientist, sad president, evil politician, rich Russian, crazy person).  The effects weren’t that impressive either.  Sure, it was thrilling to see California tip into the Pacific and Yellowstone explode with the power of thousands of nukes (everyone outruns it, of course.  At least everyone important), but the effects were off just enough to make everything look a little plastic.

I can’t say it wasn’t without enjoyment.  I did find myself on the edge of my seat a few times and the theater experience definitely added to that.

So I’m conflicted.  On one hand, I enjoyed the action (even if we did see a great deal of it in the trailers), on the other, I was bored when things weren’t exploding.  A fault of my MTV-generation thought process, my expectation from the trailers, or the fact that the movie was actually boring?  I can’t be sure.  All I know is though I wouldn’t watch it again, it was a fun ride.

Overall: Cliches abound, but its fun to see.
2.5/5

What We’re Watching (Fall 2009)

I decided to share with you fine readers what my wife and I have been watching on TV this season.

Monday-Thursday:

  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
    Both a news and entertainment source, I especially like how they don’t hesitate to point out the hypocrisy in anybody, red or blue, Fox News or MSNBC.
  • The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
    This is satire in its truest form.  No one and no thing is safe from Colbert.

Monday:

  • House (Fox)
    Greg’s brand of sarcasm and wit gets me in the right place.  Only recently have I started caring more about the team than the weird diagnostic cases.
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
    This is our favorite show on television, hands down.

Tuesday:

  • V (ABC)
    Though this remake just started, we’re pretty sure this show will be entertaining.  I’m worried about how long they can stretch it out, but it should be a fun ride.

Wednesday:

  • Glee (Fox)
    This show proves that a musical comedy/drama on network television can not only work, but be clever and insightful.
  • Mythbusters (Discovery)
    Educational and entertaining and they blow things up?  Sweet.

Thursday:

  • Community (NBC)
    Half goofy comedy, half almost heartwarming.  Not the funniest show, but it has its moments of brilliance.

Friday:

  • Stargate Universe (SyFy)
    Can one show fill both our Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica needs?  Looks like it so far.  Not as fun as SG-1 or as dark as BSG, it seems to run right in the middle of the two, which is great.
  • Supernanny (ABC)
    These families make us want to not have children, but Jo teaches us what to do right.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network)
    I’m the only one who watches it, but this show is impressive.  Better than the prequel movies, better than its own movie.  It’s almost real Star Wars.

Weekly:

  • Indianapolis Colts Football Games
    I’d wanted to start watching the Colts for the last couple years, but it was only when my wife brought it up that we started watching.  Been an exciting season so far!

BOOK REVIEW: “And Another Thing…” by Eoin Colfer

Andanotherthing
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Perhaps the most funny/strangest/best book series I’ve ever read.  Written by Douglas Adams, they tell the story of Arthur Dent, a British man who is whisked away from Earth just as it is being demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.  His humorous adventures in the weird recesses of space and time were chronicled in The Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy (5 books written over 13 years), similar but contradictory events happening over 5 radio series (recorded over 28 years), another set of events happening in a 1981 BBC TV series, and yet another in a 2005 film.  To add more confusion, Douglas Adams died in 2001, claiming that he didn’t mean to end the series the way he did in Book 5 as he was having personal problems that reflected in the downer ending.

For the 30th anniversary of the original book, Adams’ estate commissioned Eoin Colfer (author of the “Artemus Fowl” children’s series) to write a sixth book.  I was excited to hear that The Guide would continue without Adams, but curious as how the ending of Book 5 was going to be undone and if Colfer could keep the same sense of humor going that Adams started 30 years ago.

It turns out that he can.  After spending the first couple chapters undoing the ending of Book 5, he moves on to another ridiculous adventure around the Cosmos.  Colfer has formatted the book a bit different, putting the Guide’s (who apparently is telling the story) tangents in brackets almost like footnotes, but the tangents remain just as weird and full of puns as the originals.

While it retains much of what makes the series great, including a lot of references to past/future incidents and creatures (such as the cows who are bred to want to be eaten), the story seems a bit short, like a teaser of what it could be.  Maybe its just me.  If it is a teaser, it works, because I want more.

Overall, I think its required reading for a Hitchhikers fan (which have probably already read it), but if you haven’t read any yet, start at the beginning.  Relatively, of course, due to the time travel aspects present in most of the books.  You’ll know what I mean.

REVIEW: District 9 (2009)

Humans Only.
Humans Only.

Summary: Aliens are on earth and have been here for 20 years, only because they can’t leave.  Their ship is non-functional, left hovering over Johannesburg, South Africa and they’ve been kept in a government camp ever since.  Most humans don’t like that they’re still here, while others try to take advantage of them and their technology.

Thoughts: That Summary was hard.  I usually try not to give more plot away than the average trailer for the movie in the entire review, but the trailers were scenes specially filmed for the trailers or random scenes from the movie that give you no sense of the plot, which is great.  I went in only with the knowledge I shared in the Summary and was able to watch this movie having no idea what was going to happen, which put me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

The movie is framed with a mock-documentary, including interviews, shots from security cameras, and camera crews following some of the characters around.  Slowly it drops the documentary-style while the real plot starts (showing “what really happened”).

The plot is fast paced, with plenty of action, suspense, and some drama.  The acting is very well done, and the fact that the cast is full of unknowns helps keep you in the movie.  The aliens look real, which is impressive since they are almost 100% computer generated.  They are designed with enough humanity that you feel for them even if you can’t understand what they’re saying (they are subtitled).  The backstory is told well enough in the documentary part that everyone has an idea of what’s going on, but there’s still plenty of questions to be answered.  Questions I’d love to see answered in a book or graphic novel, or even another movie.  It’s not that this movie begs for a sequel or ends in a cliffhanger, its interesting enough on its own.  However the movie makes you want to know more and see more and find out what else happens.  And that’s the sign of a well-written movie.

I can’t wait to see what else is done with it.

Overall: Well written idea, well executed in a unique way.
4/5

MINI REVIEWS: The Hangover, Year One, Transformers 2

I gave micro-reviews of the other three movies I saw this summer on my Twitter, but I’ll repost and expand them for your reading pleasure.

You feel it in the morning.
You feel it in the morning.

The Hangover

Twitter post:

“Some laughs, but wrong and forgettable. And wrong.”

That pretty much sums it up.  Not sure why Jess and I felt the need to see it in theaters, as its worth a rental but definitely doesn’t need to be seen on the big screen (there are several things in the movie that once seen cannot be unseen).  It’s crass, immature, and vulgar, but you can’t deny it has some funny moments.  It’s not exactly quotable like some comedies are, but its not a bad comedy either.  Worth a rental if you’re into that sort of thing.

2/5


Heaven help us.
Heaven help us.

Year One

Twitter post:

“Save your money, save yourselves. Avoid the movie at all costs.”

Besides being a modified quote from Star Trek IV, its a true statement.  I went into the movie with high hopes: Harold Ramis, writers from “The Office”, Jack Black, Michael Cera, Biblical “road trip” comedy?  What could go wrong?  Apparently everything.  Its as if there was no script or director and the camera was just left on as Black and Cera wander from Biblical poop joke to Biblical poop joke.  It made no narrative sense, every scene seemed to linger as if to see if the actors did anything else funny, it was disgusting and most of all COMPLETELY UNFUNNY.  This is the only movie I’ve seen where the group I was with we actually discussed  about 30 minutes into the movie if we should just walk out because we hadn’t laughed yet.  We decided to give it a fair chance.  We shouldn’t have.

0/0

Roll out again!
Mo' sequels, mo' problems

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Twitter post:

“At drive in. Transformers over. Did not enjoy. Tired of Michael Bay.”

I’ve been putting this off for a while.  I’ve had this dilemma: I saw this movie at the drive in where many circumstances combined to make it difficult for me to fully take in this movie, however I didn’t enjoy what I saw enough to justify paying to see it again.  I’ll write my thoughts anyway.  They say that to make a successful sequel, you have to take what made the first movie good, but do it MORE.  “MORE” just happens to be Michael Bay’s middle name (it comes before the “EXPLOSIONS!” part) and he does everything the first movie did, but MORE!

  • You liked the huge battle at the end of the first movie where you couldn’t really tell what was going on?  How about TWO of them?!
  • You liked the dozen or so robots in the first one?  How about FIVE TIMES that many, with many of them being identical?!
  • You liked a confusing plot about a giant alien power source being hidden on Earth and only Shia LaBeouf holds the key to finding it?  How about that happening TWICE in the same movie, with neither one having been mentioned as being on this backwater planet during the first movie?!
  • You liked the cliched slow-motion-punches, running-from-explosions-in-slow-motion, and ever circling camera work?  How about doing it ALL THE TIME?!
  • You liked the pee and masturbation jokes from the first one?  How about MORE?!
  • Did you like how Jazz was an obvious stereotype of a black guy?  How about TWO robots who are hick/black stereotypes that in the end contribute nothing to the film?!
  • You like the awkward teenage romance between a nerd and a superhot girl that didn’t need to be happening while the Earth was being invaded?  How about doing it AGAIN?!

So it ends up being the same as the first, but with MORE.  The problem is that some of those things needed LESS, not MORE.  I enjoyed the first movie by ignoring some of the more outrageous stuff, but instead of lowering the outrageous to make a better movie, Bay made Transformers 2 into MORE of the same and I can’t go for that.

2/5

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

WIZARD!!!
WIZARD!!!

Summary: Harry Potter returns for his penultimate year at Hogwarts, but this year is much darker than previous ones now that Voldemort has gathered enough followers to make even the normal world feel the danger. But all is not lost as Harry juggles being a teenager and finding out the secret to Voldemort’s undoing.

Thoughts: I don’t remember much of the book having read it only once a long time ago, so the movie can be mostly judged on its own merits. For being what might have been one of the darkest (and probably boring) movies in the saga, there is enough romance and humor found during the school year to balance everything out, making this movie one of the most cheerful since the first one. By adding a battle scene in the middle of the movie and taking away the one at the end, I think that a pretty good balance is found between light and dark. The movie is much less frustrating than any of the others due to the fact that Dumbledore doesn’t ignore Harry and actually keeps him informed about what is going on, and Harry doesn’t spend the whole time fighting with Ron and Hermione.

The acting is top notch. Chris Columbus (the director of the first two) got really lucky when he found the main three actors when they were only children. They’ve really grown as actors and can no longer be classified as “child actors”. The same goes for Tom Felton as Draco, who is great at the conflicted evil he needs to be in this film. This must be a rarity, because sadly I feel that poor Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley has been passed up, having not grown as an actor as much as everyone around her. She starts the movie alright, but as it progresses it seems she gets more wooden the more emotional she needs to be. The only new student this year to get much focus (even though theoretically none of them are “new” students, they just haven’t been brought the foreground yet) is Lavender Brown, played by new actress Jessie Cave. Sadly, her acting and character are pretty terrible and made me cringe. Every scene she was in she looked like a crazed fangirl who had broken onto the set. It would have to be hard to come into this series so late and NOT be a fangirl, but come on, show some restraint. This was especially disappointing to me as for the last movie the producers found Luna Lovegood who had come to life and changed her name to Evanna Lynch. Every scene with Luna this movie was brilliant.

The adults, being the all-star British actors that they are, are all brilliant. Alan Rickman is awesome as he is no matter what he does, and the “new” addition of Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn is just as good. He steals the show even, I would say. Michael Gambon gets to finally do things as Dumbledore, showing that he actually was a really good replacement for the late Richard Harris.

Sure the movie ends on a slightly different note than the book, but being a slave to the book is what makes the first two movies so much less enjoyable than these more recent ones. These last few stand as really good movies, this one probably the most so. Personally, my top is still Prisoner of Azkaban mostly due to the fact that it was the last one I saw before I started reading the books and I was completely caught on every twist and turn. Thankfully I read the books really fast so only Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix were “ruined” by my book knowledge. I think Half-Blood Prince stands as a good movie, not just a good adaptation.

Overall: Goes to show what a good adaptation can do to a decent book.
4/5

REVIEW: Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)

Why couldn't she have chosen "neither"?
Why couldn't she have chosen "neither"?

Went to Holiday Drive-In last night with some free tickets.  This is the second movie we saw.  The first movie was much better.

The following review contains SPOILERS, not like you care.

Summary: Miley Stewart has it all, a normal teenage life and a rock star celebrity life.  Witness the hijinks as keeping her celebrity life a secret interferes with her personal life!

Thoughts: If you think this sounds familiar, that’s because its the plot to Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus’ show on The Disney Channel, “Hannah Montana”.  This is the movie version, so not much changes.  For those of you who don’t know, let me sum up what the deal is.

Miley Stewart is a normal teenaged girl who (thinks she) can sing really well.  Someone (her father, played by her father, I guess) comes up with the idea that she can live a normal life (go to high school, not be mobbed everywhere she goes), but having her create an alter-ego whose ONLY difference is that she wears a blonde wig.  Apparently the Hannah Wig’s power is only matched by Clark Kent’s Glasses in that no one can figure it out unless she tells them.  I mean, they’re never in the same room together even though they claim to be friends (unless her best friend has the wig on and they only see “Hannah” from the back), they have the same best friend (played by Haley Joel Osment’s little sister which is obvious), the same publicist follows them around (played by Vanessa Williams, poor soul), they both hang around Billy Ray Cyrus for some reason.  Odd that no one can figure this out.  You’d think the movie would be about someone finally figuring it out, but it still takes her taking off her wig and saying who she actually is for anyone to see it, though someone trying to figure it out is part of a really stupid subplot.

So in The Movie, Miley being Hannah ruins her friends birthday party and she misses something about her brother going to college.  This apparently pushes her dad over the edge and he kidnaps her and takes her back to their hometown in Tennessee.  Meanwhile, her best friend who was mad at her just happens to reveal to a British gossip journalist where “Hannah’s” hometown is, which is the same as Miley’s, obviously.

Miley is upset at being kidnapped and taken to Tennesse, but her dad says they’ve had enough “Hannah” and she needs to take two weeks off to find herself, then he might let her continue her dangerous double life.  They stay at Miley’s grandmother’s house (whose mother it is was unclear to me, since she bosses Billy Ray around like her son and tries to hook him up, but she has a room in her house with wallpaper picked out by Miley’s dead mother and a necklace belonging to her; guessing she’s a controlling mother-in-law?), where Miley meets one of her friends from childhood, a guy who of course has grown up to be screamingly adorable.  He almost immediately admits that he had a crush on her when they were young, but he’s over it now.  She just gives him googely eyes.  If you guessed that they’re going to start an awkward teenage relationship that supposedly drives the movie, you’ve guessed right!  Miley pretends to enjoy Tennessee, and ends up hanging around her boy crush a lot, but he doesn’t know she’s Hannah Montana either.

For some reason, half the town is being sold and the guy with enough money to buy it wants to tear it down and build a mall (you can just smell the symbolism!).  The town has a benefit concert, and even though they have Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, and Billy Ray Cyrus (it’s unclear if they play themselves though and if they are, why don’t they have screaming fans like whenever anyone mentions “Hannah Montana”?).  Miley’s crush calls her up on stage and she sings some well coregraphed dance song she just made up that the band immediately knows and the entire crowd can dance to after watching her do it twice.  The concert isn’t making them the money they need, and as the guy who wants to build the mall taunts an entire Tennessee town, Miley’s boy crush says that they’ll make the money if Miley’s friend Hannah Montana comes!  Oh no!  What will Miley do?  If you guessed that she’ll have her best friend come disguised as Hannah along with her publist who both immediately forgive her for ruining their lives, you’ve guessed right!

The (black!) mayor of this small Tennessee town is really excited to have Hannah Montana sing at the benefit, so he invites her to a lobster dinner downtown that night, but oh no! Miley’s boy crush asked her out on a date!  What will she do?  If you guessed that she’ll make up excuses to run and change, going back and forth down the street trying to make both parties happy, forgetting to change some parts of her disguise (even leaving on a lobster bib when she changed her clothes underneath it!), and eventually getting both parties upset at her, you’ve guessed right!

Her boy crush sees her dressed as Hannah without her Wig and finally sees through the disguise.  He’s upset that she lied to him and they break up!  That night, she tries to make it up to him by finishing painting a chicken coop he wanted to use to sell eggs (stupid sub-plot), but then she has to rush off to be Hannah for the benefit concert.  She sings some song, then sees that her boy crush showed up the concert because he saw the coop and apparetnly instantly forgave her.  This breaks Miley, as she says that she can’t do this anymore and takes off her Hannah Wig, revealing the obvious.  Everyone in the town and everyone from miles around now knows the truth (including the Britsh gossip journalist).  Miley apologizes for lying and living this double life that is ruining everyone’s life.  She sings a song she wrote based on a phrase her boy crush told her and everyone is sad. What happens next?  If you guessed that Miley has learned her lesson and resigns to either being a celebrity everywhere she goes or not being a celebrity at all and stop hurting her friends and family with her every action, you’ve guessed WRONG!

You see, one little girl (who had witnessed Miley trying to be at the dinner and with her date) asks her to put her Hannah Wig back on, that everyone present will keep her secret.  The crowd agrees, and starts chanting for her to do it.  But before she can, the British journalist snaps a picture on his cell phone!  But before he can push send, Hannah’s publisit reveals that she flew in his daughters, who are huge Hannah fans.  Faced with destroying his daughters’ idol right in front of them, he chooses instead to quit his job.  So that plot is wrapped up in a few seconds.  So how does the movie end?  If you guessed that she puts her Hannah Wig back on and sings another song to her cheering crowd, you’ve guessed absolutely right!  And then it ends.  The only closure you get on the mall plot was a guy filling in the illustration of how much money they made.  Why it took Hannah Montana revealing herself to be Miley, and then undo it make the residents of the town finally decide to donate money to save it?  How can you convince an entire town to keep your secret?  I’m sure there was other press besides the British guy if this is supposed to be one of the biggest stars in the world!  Questions, questions, never answered.  It just ends, undoing the whole plot of the movie.

And I guess that’s the problem with almost every movie based on a TV show that’s still on the air: a return of the status quo.  Miley didn’t learn anything from being in Tennessee that she didn’t already know.  She didn’t reveal her secret to the world, or change anything about her character.  What was the moral of the story?  That lying to the world about who you are is OK as long as they ask you to do it?  What are kids supposed to get out of this?

I know this movie wasn’t made for me, but still, it was cliched, badly edited, horriblely acted, had songs inserted at random points by random stars just to sell CDs, with an ambigious moral message at the end.

Overall: All kinds of bad.
0/5