New for rent: Latest 'Star Wars,' early releases for 'Sonic,' 'B - FOX34 Lubbock

New for rent: Latest 'Star Wars,' early releases for 'Sonic,' 'Bad Boys'

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"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" is now available for rental, and "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Bad Boys for Life" are available early to own. 

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"

There was a small, vocal set of "Star Wars" fans who have been mad on the internet the past couple years about the previous movie, "The Last Jedi," because of some of the decisions writer and director Rian Johnson made. They didn't like grumpy Luke Skywalker, they didn't like the new Force abilities, they didn't like Rey being no one from nowhere, and they really didn't like Johnson gently telling them to grow up and think differently about this series ("Let the past die").
So in comes writer/director J.J. Abrams, who launched this new trilogy with "The Force Awakens," and he seems to have had a clear mandate: make everyone happy again. There's a scene in the new movie where Kylo Ren pieces his helmet back together - literally trying to fix what was broken in the last movie. Rose? She's sidelined. Let the past die? Nah, this is all about nostalgia. And the central idea that a hero can be anyone? Nope - it's in the bloodline.
It's like Abrams and company read a a bunch of angry "Star Wars" message boards and just made a movie out of it. 
So as a pop culture artifact, "The Rise of Skywalker" is depressing and troubling. As a "Star Wars" movie? It's alright. It moves briskly with lots of action sequences and snarky humor. The cast members have gotten comfy with their characters and their interactions pop. There are also a couple new characters I'm interested in that practically have "spin-off" stamped on their foreheads. 
Structurally, the movie repetitive with characters looking for a thing, getting in a fight, then going somewhere else to find the thing and getting in another fight. Story-wise, it's kind of a mess trying to patch up the last movie with characters like Kylo Ren spending a lot of time explaining that no, what you thought before is different now because fan service. 
There are some genuinely great moments here, and others that feel like cheap gotcha moments. The Force may not be strong with this one, but it's enjoyable enough. 

"Bad Boys for Life"

When "Bad Boys" came out 25 years ago, it helped launch the movie careers of then TV stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. This was before "Independence Day," "Men in Black," and um, "Big Momma's House." The buddy cop formula so popular in the 80s and 90s worked perfectly for them, and they were great together in it. The sequel eight years later, "Bad Boys II," remains a shocking exercise in glut, bad taste and disregard for decency and humanity that I kinda love.

Now, 17 years later, Smith and Lawrence are back at it and they make it look easy. Fortunately, "Bad Boys for Life" hues more closely to the original in its approach and it feels more mature with our dudes reckoning with being the analogue guys in a digital world - forced to work with a group of tech-savvy youngsters. 
The story actually has some surprises - some that work and some that feel cheesy. The action set pieces are a lot of fun unless you're one of the many bystanders that surely get shot, injured or just terrified during these frantic police chases. 
The action fireworks aside, the real spark is between Smith and Lawrence working off a script with some genuine laughs. 
"Bad Boys for Life" works really well and can even stand on its own without seeing the other two. But if the next one isn't a crossover with the "Fast and Furious" movies, they just don't wanna make a billion dollars. 
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