Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wire Chairs Missing (1978): 84%

Lately I’ve been hitting a dry spell where I haven’t been writing as much as I normally do. I’d come across an album I’ve read about somewhere, listen to it with budding curiosity, but by the time I finish, I can’t get myself to write a review for it. It’s not the albums’ fault, it’s mine. Or perhaps subconsciously I just wanted to sit down and listen to an album without having to write about it. But still, practicing one’s writing is like a body-builder who exercises regularly: you have to keep doing it or else your muscles start to regress and what once was easy and pleasurable becomes yet another chore. For the past couple of days I’ve been asking myself if I’m becoming lazy with my critical duties. Then I came across this album, and any concerns I had about my apathetic tendencies dived right out of the window. Until now, I only had so much interest in post-punk albums, but now this one has opened the floodgates for me.

I should explain: generally there are three main categories of punk. The first being hardcore punk where you have bands like Black Flag, Crass, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Bad Brains, and early Suicidal Tendencies where sonic transparency doesn’t exist. All they seem to care about is playing loud, fast, hard, and usually come with varying degrees of polarizing nihilism and/or anarchy. The rhetoric employed by the singer seems to employ a lot of pathos in the form of sometimes incoherent shouting. Next, we have bands that tone down the distortion so we can actually hear notes, but can still be fast and furious. This is general punk rock, and Green Day seems to dominate this category the most. I also tend to place the Sex Pistols in this category because listening to Never Mind the Bollocks, I can tell they care about notes and structure. Even protopunk bands like the Stooges and the MC5 have a lot of noise, but it is relatively organized noise. And finally, there’s post-punk, where bands slow their tempos, use hardly any distortion at all, favor more experimental methods, but still carry that same punkish attitude. This is where bands like Public Image Ltd. (also fronted by Sex Pistols leader, Johnny Rotten), Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, and Wire come into music history.

Some can argue that post-punk is essentially synonymous with gothic rock, but Wire does not fit that description entirely. While their music has gothic overtones, it is not blatantly a goth record. Wire’s 1977 debut classic, Pink Flag, was a great example of minimalist post-punk that had a specific punk sound they wanted to convey. With their follow-up, Chairs Missing, they broadened their sound to incorporate more electronics and synthesizers that perhaps other punk bands were adverse to doing, maybe even afraid of trying. In a nutshell, the title of this album reflects the music perfectly. The title, Chairs Missing, is in reference to a British slang phrase that is meant to describe someone who is mentally compromised. For example, “Man, that Lydon bloke has a few chairs missing in his front room.”

However, Wire proves beyond a doubt that punk can utilize synthesizers without sounding anything like the sell-out synthpop bands in the years following. More importantly, they can also use clean guitar tones without sounding like noise-phobic pansies. To bring up the subject of goth again, the opener, “Practice Makes Perfect,” starts out punk, but ends with a goth sound thanks to the use of electronically manipulated sounds. “French Film Blurred,” almost has a surf rock feel to it, which adds to its experimental quality. Experimentation praise is also due to tracks like “Being Sucked in Again,” “From the Nursery,” “I Feel Mysterious Today,” and “I Am the Fly.”

Essentially, Wire wants to explore with what they can do to a punk record without sounding like commercial-bait. Because mind you, given the year of this release, there weren’t many, if any, records that sounded like this at all. Side one’s closer, “Heartbeat,” doesn’t have much business being on a punk record, but its building tension conveys a sense of restlessness. Then you slap on side two, which begins with “Mercy,” which is one of the most vital post-punk songs I’ve heard. Every time I play it, I can’t help but think of its hardcore punk appeal, and Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear shouting, “POWER!” along with Wire. I imagine Jack White probably shit himself then was inspired to form the White Stripes upon listening to that song; it’s definitely the highlight and centerpiece of the album.

I can’t even say that the shortest songs don’t have a place or could be left out. Each of the 15 songs have their own appeal. Listening to this album, I became aware of its influence on bands to come as well as what bands influenced Wire themselves. I doubt bands like Blur, the Cure, Sonic Youth, Gorillaz or even Green Day would even exist. Just like how I doubt Wire would sound the same without bands like Suicide, the Stooges, and just about every punk band that existed before 1977.

While writing this review, I tried to think about what I don’t like about this album, and to be honest, I’m struggling to come up with any legitimate complaints. If anything, “Outdoor Miner,” is probably the track I like the least, but I believe it still has a place on the album. Other than that, this album is essential listening. After all, if this album has the ability to shake the apathy from a person who regards himself as highly apathetic to begin with, you know it has to be good.

Music: 9
Length: 9
Lyrics: 8
Meaning: 8
Significance: 8
Overall Impression: 9 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Top 7 Beatles Albums (Part 2)

4. The Beatles

The cover is not just white, it’s clean. Except for the band’s name in plain gray text on the lower right hand corner with a unique serial number (on original pressings). But apart from that, what else do you see? What does it remind you of? Blank space? Is it about using an eraser to start all over again? If that’s so, that’s a great idea for the follow up to Sgt. Pepper. To begin anew…

But if you are going to start over fresh, where do you go from there? Apparently, the Beatles’ answer to that question is everywhere I reckon. It is such an eclectic album with everything for everyone and even some songs reaching out to some who may have scoffed at them previously for mainly writing love songs. At a loud enough volume, “Helter Skelter,” becomes a head banging heavy metal song that was around before Black Sabbath, and quite shocking to hear in ‘68. “Revolution #9” is the longest Beatle track ever released, and when applied to your imagination, becomes a trip inside John Lennon’s mind. Perhaps this song is the musical equivalent of what an LSD-ridden mind is like. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is an evolutionary step up for Harrison, and even Ringo has a self-penned tune on here, “Don’t Pass Me By.”

The first quarter of the album finds the Beatles on relatively familiar ground, but like with any double album (especially one running 93 minutes), it isn’t without some studio experiment sounds that could have been trimmed or left out completely. For instance, I doubt “Wild Honey Pie” or “Savory Truffle” are keepers. Sorry. But among otherwise questionable tracks, we also get gifts in the form of “Julia,” “Blackbird,” “Revolution #1,” “Yer Blues,” “Long, Long, Long,” and one of my personal favorites, the orchestraic conclusion, “Good Night.” Ringo was whispering “Good night, everybody. Everybody, everywhere. Good night,” to the world in 1968, as one of the most hellish years in world history was also mirrored in the Beatles’ relationship with each other. I cannot begin to describe the conditions of 1968, nor could I ever do so accurately since I wasn’t born then, but to think, at the end of another day, at least these guys could put aside their differences, and come together to tuck the world into bed every night.

3. Rubber Soul

To think that Bob Dylan is going to be performing at our very own Parkview Field in less than a month is awe-worthy. I’m not sure if his voice has held up well over the years, but to have that very man who released music that got the Beatles worked-up into a frenzied obsession, should be lauded as a historic event for Fort Wayne. That, and having Dylan introduce pot to the Beatles was as monumentally influential. Point being, nothing and no one can guess what the Beatles music would have sounded like if history had not taken place, and Bob Dylan had not intervened. But I do know it would be a very different, possibly sadder world. Lennon perhaps had the biggest obsession with Dylan, as he even molded his voice to sound like a British Bob Dylan on, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” He even had a cap and harmonica like Dylan’s too.

There is nothing but great music on this album, but I admit that I am annoyed by the U.S. version for two reasons: 1) the British hogged all 14 original tracks for themselves, even great rockers like “Drive My Car,” and 2) The U.S. version gets a leftover from Help!, “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Sure, it’s a great song and a great opener, but I don’t understand why Europe and U.S. versions have to be different.

Wait, what am I saying? Hell, I’m extremely grateful that I have a mom who was cool enough to give me her old Beatles albums, this one of which was included. To have this on the original pressing vinyl is quite special to me. I’m also incredibly thankful my U.S. version at least has, “Michele,” “In My Life,” Harrison’s “Think For Yourself,” and “Run For Your Life.”

2. Revolver

I have this idea in my head that somehow Rubber Soul and Revolver are twin albums. Whenever I listen to the two back to back, I am curious by how similar they are in structure. Only, Revolver definitely has one edge over Soul: a more adventurous feel that is made possible by fresher ideas for sound manipulation.

I cannot imagine the amount of dedication that was required from Harrison when he spent close to 9 hours in the studio just to record a brief guitar solo that was prompted by a mistake from engineer, Geoff Emerick. I am referring to “I’m Only Sleeping,” where that trippy solo we hear in the middle was inspired by Emerick’s accident when the tape ran backwards, creating a sound similar to what is on the record (with Paul saying, “My God, that’s fantastic! Can we do that for real?”). The notes for the original solo was then transcribed in reverse by Martin, and Harrison, as I mentioned earlier, spent 9 hours with headphones clamped on his head, as well as being hypnotized by his own concentration and desire to pull this fantastic stunt.

Back to my ‘twin’ theory, I invite you to listen to the two albums back to back. I think you’ll find that the folk rock we get on Rubber Soul is translated to a psychedelic feel with Revolver. It is also on this album where Harrison gains the coveted first track slot for “Taxman,” and Lennon closes the album with “Tomorrow Never Knows,” another malapropism inspired by Ringo, which sounds like the excitement one feels when undertaking something exciting, yet dangerous. We also receive gems like “Eleanor Rigby,” “Doctor Robert,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” and a kiddie favorite sung by Ringo, “Yellow Submarine.”

Likewise with Rubber Soul, I’m not sure why the U.S. and European versions have to be different, but again, I’m happy to have this one on original vinyl as well. To think that an album this radical was produced in 1966, is remarkable considering it knows what decade it belongs to, but still seems as fresh as when it was first being written.  

1. Abbey Road

This album is the reason why I insist on having all of the Beatles’ work on vinyl. In fact, this album is one of the reasons why I insist on having vinyl at all. This ranks among my favorite albums of all time because while there may be just one or two songs on the other Beatle albums I could probably skip over without much regret, here, I cannot afford myself the opportunity. This is their last hurrah before John decided he was fed up with Paul’s dominance over the group, and quit in 1969. Not Let it Be, which may have been released in 1970, but was recorded concurrently with The Beatles. No, this is the last official testament to the Beatles’ staggering legacy.

Given all the in-fighting and knowing that this was going to be the last album, there’s no way it should sound like the Beatles’ masterpiece album, but it is. Ironically, it is also on this album where each member realizes their full potential. George even puts out two of the best songs of his entire career with “Something,” and “Here Comes the Sun.” Ringo’s best known song, “Octopus’ Garden,” is also on here. There’s also a medley, which has only been done once before on Beatles for Sale. Only, instead of using two songs from other artists, the Beatles use 8 of their own compositions in this grand finale.

Overall, I consider it their best work because of how the production of the album itself ended. The last song all four Beatles cut together was the opener, “Come Together,” and displays the embers of a once burning kinship between four wonderful musicians. Lennon invites us to come together as members of the human race, Paul provides a grooving low-end, Ringo provides the framework for said groove, and George delivers a faintly screaming guitar solo. Listening to the song end is bittersweet because while it merely introduces the album, the fact that the Beatles would never again gather in a studio to play, is undeniably sad. The album itself ends with the upbeat and triumphant, “The End,” where John, Paul and George play tag-team with guitar solos in one of their last displays of brotherhood.

Despite the already-crumbled relationships between the Beatles, it is unquestionably special that they managed to put out an album like this. Usually bad communication, bad tempers, and bad collaborations result in horrible albums. For me, this is the music equivalent of The Shawshank Redemption, where all four Beatles had to crawl through a half-mile pipeline of raw sewage, only to come out clean on the other side.

Just because I’m feeling especially generous, here are the remaining albums ranked:

13. Yellow Submarine
12. Help!
11. With the Beatles
10. Beatles for Sale
9. Let it Be
8. A Hard Day’s Night

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Top 7 Beatles Albums (Part 1)

For me to sit here in my comfy chair and write on a MacBook Pro, painstakingly well-written reviews for each of the 13 official studio releases of the Beatles, would be the most pretentious and exhausting thing I could ever think of to do for you, the kind audience. Rather than spending an unthinkable amount of time dictating the finer and faultier points of all 13 albums, when really we all know that nearly all of them are classics anyway, I instead invite you to take a walk through my psyche as I write you a list of what I believe are the 7 best albums the world’s greatest rock band had to offer to the universe, and descriptions as to why.

But why only seven, you ask? Why can’t you arrange all 13 into a list? Aren’t they all outstanding in their own individual ways? Well, yes and no. While some of their best works rank among my personal favorite albums of all time, the rest perhaps (and bear with me here) may just be slightly above average. Call me crazy, but one person’s treasured underdog Beatle album may be my overrated indulgence Beatle album. And as much as love the Beatles, I am not well versed on every single song they ever released on these 13 official studio releases. For instance, if you were to randomly ask me in passing what album has the song, “You’re Going to Lose That Girl,” the best I would have to offer is a haphazard guess and probably get it wrong anyway (it’s Help!, by the way). Also, guessing which of the seven I’ve chosen as the best is a mystery in of itself. I’ve also chosen seven to demonstrate the better half of what the Beatles were capable of. So, with all of those explanations aside, let’s come together over me…

The 13 Official Beatles Releases Eligible for This List
Please Please Me (1963)
With the Beatles (1963)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Beatles for Sale (1964)
Help! (1965)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Revolver (1966)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
The Beatles (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
Let it Be (1970)

7. Magical Mystery Tour

Despite the prominent display of the band members looking excited in polyester animal costumes, as well as bright and cheerful looking primary colors on the cover, this album’s origins were much more depressing. At the tail end of the summer of love and less than two months after the release of Sgt. Pepper, the behind-the-scenes man, who, as Paul McCartney once claimed, “If anybody was the fifth Beatle, it was [Brian Epstein].” And that couldn’t be closer to the truth. Epstein is credited for having discovered the Beatles when they were playing in dingy watering holes, wearing leather jackets, and had greasy, flammable hair back in the dawning of the 60’s. Considering his tight-knit relationship with the Beatles, as well as his role of managing the business affairs so the boys could focus on playing, his death has been known to be the instigator of the long downward spiral the Beatles would suffer in the late 60’s. Out of all the misery his death caused, Paul had the idea to gather the band and do what the Beatles did best all along: make music.

This attempt to bring the Beatles out of their emotional slump was certainly admirable, but it wasn’t without its strings. Out of all the films the Beatles made in their career, perhaps Magical Mystery Tour is by far their most nonsensical and lazy, but when the album itself is played on a turntable, you could tell they were headed for something bigger and more ambitious than their best-selling predecessor. Given that this is essentially Paul’s brainchild, it comes as no surprise that this is probably their wackiest, whimsical, most colorful, and weirdest release they have. Lennon’s, “I am the Walrus” is certainly the best example of that description (even long-time producer, George Martin, upon hearing the demo said, “What the hell am I supposed to do with that?”). Perhaps an even better example is Harrison’s “Blue Jay Way,” a darkly trippy ode. But among the other tracks on this album, the more famous, and best cuts, would be “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “All You Need is Love,” and “Hello Goodbye.” And it certainly was a goodbye for their high times, as the next couple over years would precipitate their break-up.

6. Please Please Me

I’ve never paid much attention to the Beatles earlier works because that was back when they were just as guilty of ripping off black artists from their original works as Elvis was. This was also released at the time of the phenomena known as “Beatlemania,” where teenaged girls the world over created mass chaos and destruction. Where the Beatles went, this army of madly obsessive adolescents followed but not without leaving a trail of wreckage behind. It’s much like today with Bieber fever, only the Beatles (and maybe even Elvis) caused this sort of phenomenon to happen first. Bob Dylan said that even back when the Beatles were first starting out, their chords were outrageous. I put on Please Please Me expecting nothing more than a traditional rock n’ roll album. For the most part, I got what I wanted, but I wasn’t expecting this one to give me more.

Upon first listen, I was amused by how simple and short these songs were. But more than anything, as the album kept going, so did my attention span. You see, the only era I’ve ever known is the modern one where everything cool-sounding has already been done, we all gaze into phones that are almost conscious entities, we have small Starbucks buildings on damn near every corner, and the highlight of our days is usually when we check our Facebook to find that someone has liked or commented on our 10-word psychological peanuts that people happen to find clever. As I listened, I tried to envision early 1963, where everything seemed to be old fashioned, plain, simple, content, and relatively quiet. Then these four guys from Liverpool come along and fuck all of that up. For 1963, these were indeed outrageously played chords. While Elvis had riled up people all over the world with his voice, gyrating hips, and hillbilly alley-cat persona, the Beatles had the aesthetic power of rock n’ roll on their side. And it paid off in spades. Even though only 8 of the 14 songs are credited to “McCartney-Lennon,” every song on the album became theirs, whether it was their original compositions or not. For songs so short (14 tracks in 32 minutes), they waste no time getting right to the point and sounding fantastic in the process. Tracks like “Misery,” “Anna (Go to Him),” “Chains,” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” are great examples of their fresh talents. Given that the whole record was made in one grueling 12-hour session, the energy amazingly never wavered, even though Lennon, on that particular day, was obviously suffering from a nasty cold. But that’s why his voice on “Twist and Shout” is so potent: Lennon purposely blows out what little was left of his voice for this staggering finale track, that for 1963, was revolutionary. We wouldn’t hear screaming like that until the white album. But little did the world know, they would be putting out albums much better than this for several years to come.

5. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Besides potentially receiving numerous angry comments, this list without Sgt. Pepper’s, would only be a mockery of what I hope to share with you all. It is considered to be the granddaddy masterpiece of the Beatles’ roughly 10 year career, as it was a hot seller back when it was released, and these days has sales figures running up in the 30 million range (32, to be exact). It also had the edge in critic reviews, except for maybe one or two critics calling it overblown, but they were probably followed by die-hard Beatles fans, and randomly pelted with rotting vegetables on the streets. To say that its impact was far-reaching doesn’t come close to describing its true influence.

And speaking of which, likewise with any great rock album, it was influenced by two important factors: the need to escape the staggering pressures of ubiquitous fame, and pot. According to Paul, the rest of the Beatles were extremely high, mostly on marijuana through all its production, and what a way to act as an endorsement for drugs (from what I’ve read in Bob Spitz’s biography, cocaine was present too). Actually I lied, there is a third factor: a mission to top the production quality of Brain Wilson and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, just like Brian was inspired to top the Beatles when they released Rubber Soul.

Lennon may swear to “God, Mao, whomever you like, I had no idea [“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”] spelled L-S-D,” but also admitted years later that in the 60’s, he tripped acid at least a thousand times. Even though Paul wasn’t completely sold on acid, he tripped on a few occasions, mainly during this period. However, Harrison was experimenting more with Indian culture and practicing his sitar, just in time to make his epic, “Within You or Without You.” Lennon also finds peaks of his own with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “A Day in the Life.” McCartney brilliantly fills in the rest with: the title opener and reprise, “With a Little Help From My Friends” (where a nervous and exhausted Ringo delivered his trademark quirky voice with the support of his fellow Beatles), and even his Lennon-deemed “granny music,” “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

I’ll stop here because we already know why it is regarded so highly; that it is the album that's universally accepted as the greatest album of all time, and never fails to earn the top grade of every critic. But where I differ is just that: why is it their ‘best?’ The next four, to me, deserve that accolade just as much as this album does. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012): 9/10

It was four years and two days ago when I walked out of the Carmike 20 with a tremendous headache, and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. The Dark Knight certainly was a story of epic proportions where every little plot detail, every line of dialogue, and every frame contributed to the film’s skill and intelligence. Within The Dark Knight was a kind of magic that can be harnessed by a mad-genius director, but only once in a generation. It was a magic I recognized those years ago, and still continue to cherish whenever I feel the need to speed up 2 and ½  hours of my life. Reason for the headache? The result of being jacked up on too many Sno-Caps, and being enthralled in a constantly unfolding tale of anarchy.

Like myself, Christopher Nolan too was skeptical about making a third installment in his Batman franchise. Nolan said he would make it if he, his brother Jonathan Nolan, and writer David S. Goyer, could come up with a story that would either match or top the craftsmanship of The Dark Knight. While Nolan certainly has the ambition to top himself again, he at least meets the high expectations of the audience anyway by transforming a 2 and ¾ hour spectacle into an astonishing piece of art. In true Nolan fashion, the 2 and ¾ hour running time never sags.

This is due to Nolan’s idea of what a plot should be. Those who are familiar with his works already know that Nolan is a fanatic for puzzles. When he applies this to his movies, the plot constantly unfolds as a result, therefore it is a real story where you immerse yourself and go with the flow of the pacing. We as the audience are captivated because we know by the end of the movie the plot will all make sense, but how will it unfold? Sometimes we’re not sure if towards the end, the puzzle is even going to be solved at all. But when it all comes together, we leave the theater feeling as though we were enlightened, not robbed. And I really needed enlightening after having my faith in superhero/action movies in general being shook by bloated situation action/comedies like The Avengers, and the one that still makes me hate nearly all action movies to this day: Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen.

For all of the wonder, inspiration, and adventure that is within The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan’s tremendous ambition does weigh down certain aspects of the film. For instance, in Nolan’s attempt to assemble a puzzle movie, there are plot elements that are unclear to us in the beginning, but fortunately he recovers by explaining it towards the end. Just like with The Dark Knight, I know I had to watch it a couple more times to fully understand the broad scope of what the movie wanted to cover. I’m sure the same case applies to this film as well because even a mere half an hour after the movie ended, I’m still trying to put pieces together for myself. This is standard for a Nolan film. That still says a lot about his filmmaking prowess that if we still leave the theater feeling satisfied and happy, but still feel as though there are aspects of the movie left to be pondered. My main complaint with most action movies these days is that they pander too much to the superficial standards of the audience. Nolan wants us to have a great time watching his movies, but we still have to pay attention and (gasp!) think about what’s going on if can expect to not feel ripped-off.

Another aspect to the film that is not the best is Bane himself. Of course, he is a big, brutal bastard of a character whose anarchic nature ranks up there with the Joker, but unfortunately, his personality, as well as his voice, only goes so far. In test screenings, one of the only complaints the audience had for the film was that Bane was not very intelligible. While I’m sure Nolan & Co. improved Bane’s speech a bit since then, it’s still not perfect. Nevertheless, Bane helps retain the darkness that is prevalent and important to the series. However, between the mask and his accent, I’m sure his character would be much more menacing if we could understand what he was saying at all times, rather than vaguely most of the time.

We find that this film also has political elements to it, both intentional and tragically unintentional. It was particularly awesome to see rich people being beat the hell up and put on trial where they were given either exile or death. There’s also the concept of wiping the slate clean on all money trading investments, and the 99% so-to-speak rise in their own way against those who have far more than enough. In regards to the shooting that took place early on Friday, the gunman, James Holmes, who is a 24 year-old Neuroscience Major, was assuming the identity of the Joker as a part of his plan to shoot up that movie theater. As we all know, the Joker truly was a character of meticulous calculation, dangerous menace, and chaotic evil. I insist Ledger’s Oscar was not merely a pity award. His character and quotes are still immediately recognizable and will be for years to come, but what does this terrible incident say about the Joker’s notoriety and impression on already mentally unstable people? What does it say about the Joker’s character in general seeing as though this is also the role Heath Ledger essentially died for? For a man who has an incredibly gifted brain to study Neuroscience, why did the Joker’s influence get the better of him and make him think the character of the Joker would condone his actions? In The Dark Knight, the Joker never killed anyone unless it fit perfectly with his plan. Though it has only been 24+ hours since the tragedy occurred, and we still have yet to learn more details of Holmes’s true motives, it seems as though this is another case of a young man who just wanted to senselessly shoot a crowd of people just for kicks. Don’t be surprised to hear gun laws being discussed politically in the weeks to come via, your friend, the media.

Which is partially why we don’t need another character like the Joker in a movie like this. Bane’s villainous character, along with the character’s of the others, will undoubtedly leave their mark on cinema history, but it will be a modest one compared to the Joker’s. That’s essentially where The Dark Knight Rises earns its accolade for a fitting continuation of a series and a fulfilling ending. There’s no distracting over-the-top violence that other action movies consistently and constantly use as a crutch. As deadpan serious as this film can get, it still has room for lighter and funnier moments that are intelligent compared to most action movies. There’s only the need to demonstrate the triumph of the human spirit, overcome near-impossible adversities, and make you empathize with the extraordinary qualities of these characters that also appear in people we encounter in our day-to-day lives. I shall leave you by saying the keyword to this whole film is: Rise.