December 23rd, 2019 (Merry Christmas – Skywalker Ends)

With much skepticism I headed to the theatre on the Thursday night opening of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.   I say skepticism because I so thoroughly disliked the previous The Last Jedi installment of this storied franchise.   Few movies can garner as much hype and anticipation as a Star Wars film.  This one is no different.  42 years in the making, this is to be the end of the nine episode, trilogy of trilogies, albeit the George Lucas final trilogy will never be known as Disney bought the rights and continued along with the saga.   JJ Abrams after the last episode debacle helmed by Rian Johnson, returns to direct and write this film.    Query whether Abrams will ever be thought of as a brilliant writer and/or director.   Abrams mostly directed TV before getting involved with the Star Trek reboot and before that Mission Impossible 3.    For me, despite earning massive dollars with his movies, he shows an annoying ability to mirror a story structure from previous stories.  Star Wars is an excellent example with his first The Force Awakens, mirroring A New Hope and the goal to destroy a Death Star.   I mention this because Rise of Skywalker, does the same thing with Return of the Jedi (even returning to the moons on Endor for an inexplicable reason).   It’s a galaxy for cryin’ out loud!!  Does everything have to tie back to the originals?    Does every character have to make an appearance?   Seriously?

My main point of contention in seeing the trailers was that the background voice of the Emperor was plainly heard.  The Emperor (formerly Senator Palpatine) is dead.  In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader threw him into a massive chasm where in a puff of cloud and smoke he was gone.   As part of the Emperor’s manipulating Anakin, he spoke of a legendary Sith (Darth Plageis The Wise) who could create life and prevent people from dying.   But later he spoke of having to “learn it together” when Anakin was finally turned to the Dark Side.   Now he shows up.   I spoil little by mentioning this, as if you have taken off your jacket and had your first handful of popcorn this is revealed in the film.   If that spoils your movie, you have bigger problems coming.  In short, dead was dead and I saw no reason for resurrecting him.   So then it begins.

In short this movie, for me, didn’t suck.   But it wasn’t great.  My 15yo younger son was not as enthused.   He didn’t like it.  It was just too all over the place for him.   He also hasn’t had an additional 27 years to familiarize himself with the source material.     He asked me what about it did I like directly after we finished, and I struggled coming up with an answer.   Funny.    My answer at the time was that I felt that they did a credible job with some aspects of the Kylo Ren story.   I also felt that they addressed the Princess Leia issue with some tact.   But upon reflection and sleeping on it, I think the main source of positiveness came from the fact that the theme was that individuals have choice and they are not chained to their blood and destiny to decide what they will do with their lives.    Game of Thrones missed out on this lesson in the biggest way!   Danny, since was a Targaryen was to be a ruthless, mindless killer who was power hungry and incapable of being a competent leader.   She avoided this fate for 7 seasons, then reverted back to her blood (her Father after all was the Mad King) in the Final season.   So she must act in the same way, and must be stopped.   Suffice it to say that breaking the bonds of your destiny is just a matter of choosing to do something else.   In Return of the Jedi, when Luke overpowers Darth Vader in the Emperor’s room, the Emperor wrongly states that it was Luke’s “hate that made (him) powerful”.   Actually it was the love of his sister that did, and his desire to protect her from these psychopaths.   So it was refreshing to see moments where characters get to make a choice in Rise of Skywalker.

Other things that I will mention quickly.   I didn’t like the continuation of skills and abilities of characters that have never been seen before from a character.  These come from all sorts of characters and mostly revolve around the force.   Random spaceships are left indiscriminately around for characters to take, and miraculously they fire up and fly without issue (and the characters know how to fly them).   The introduction of a new light sabre (you’ll know what I mean when you see it).  The romance aspect which just sort of fizzles.  The incredible ability to identify which particular Star Destroyer has a ridiculous beacon from just a “feeling”.   Finding escapes from areas that look pretty locked down, and moving around space (or so it seems) with no spacesuit of any kind and running atop space ships that are flying in this space.   I could go on and on and won’t.   Just check your realism metre at the door.    Star Wars will make gazillions of dollars this weekend.   Although this may close out the Skywalker story, given the money to be made, and the success of The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda, expect to see more Star Wars movies.   But a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, let’s find some new totally independent stories can be created that introduce new ideas and characters.

I finished watching the first season of Killing Eve on Crave which is a TV series that was given many accolades at the Emmys and Golden Globes.   Sandra Oh (Canadian stars) along with Jodie Comer (previously in The White Princess).   There are many familiar British faces from Harry Potter, other British TV series etc.   Oh won the Golden Globe for Actress in a TV series.   Comer won the Emmy in the same category.  It is a good cast with clever writing.   Comer is particularly excellent.   The basic story is that Oh works for British Intelligence and they are looking to track a thread for numerous seemingly unrelated killings.   They are wondering if there is a new assassin loose who is smart, effective and elusive.   Comer plays the assassin.   I have finished Season 1 and I have enjoyed a great deal.   There are complex relationships at work and people who are equally complex.   Season 2 picks up 30 seconds after Season 1 and I am finished just the first episode.   If you can, check it out.   Well worth the time, with plenty twists and turns.

June 4th, 2018

Been busy in the past little while at the movies.

First off I was at the theatre with youngest son to see Solo.  To borrow the intro from Roger Ebert’s site “As unnecessary prequels go….” and that’s my immediate thought to begin it.   And to borrow from daughter’s words I would say “Meh”…  But for a little more clarity and commentary, I would add that there are certain things that seem more than a little contrived (without giving too much away).   We see how Han meets Chewbacca, and incredibly Han speaks a little Wookie, and demonstrates!   Really??!   Han is a street rat on a planet that makes spaceships, how would he ever even know about Wookies let alone speak and understand the language?   But nevermind.  There is also this new thing about dice which were prominently displayed in The Last Jedi (previously discussed in that epiosde).   Luke makes them virtually appear they are so important.   Now we see where the genesis from them comes.   Does it add anything at all to the Star Wars lore?   No.  Could it be meaningful?  Also no.   So why add it?   The timeline here for me on where to place this episode is a little fuzzy too.  Han was older then Luke, we never really know how much older.  Han to start this episode is high teens, low 20s.  Presumably Luke is born at this time, and about 10 years old.   But maybe not.  Without giving anything away the timeline is upset a little near the end of the film.   You’ll know it if you see it.   As for the performances, I think Woody Harrelson is the best performance as a scoundrel and independent gangster looking for “one more score” before he can retire.  Emilia Clarke is a love interest, and is decent too.  The young man playing Han has some personality and embodies the role ok.   He’s not Harrison Ford and he doesn’t try to be, for which I give him credit.   I have heard other people talk about being bored seeing this, or just not engaged.  To that I can understand it, as in the universe of Star Wars films, this was closer to Episode I or Last Jedi than the better of the films like Rogue One or Empire Strikes Back.
On Netflix I saw that Mother! from TIFF was released.  Alison has already covered this, and I won’t even try to explain this film in any real detail.   It is a mess.  Javier Bardem for me is just not a compelling actor.   Here he plays an aloof, narcissist writer unable to write as he and his much younger wife (played by Jennifer Lawrence) fix up a house that was burned down.  This movie could have ended for me (and I should have stopped watching) in the first five mins after Lawrence gets out of bed and stands in the hallway in a white linen sleep outfit.   But it doesn’t.   There are SO many tight close up face shots of Lawrence that I can count her nose hairs.   This so called “horror” had only two scenes near the end that simply made me take aback.   That was for the sheer shock of what occurred.   I won’t describe it here.   But the level of chaos that ensues from supposedly the written word makes zero sense along the way.   In the end it’s much ado about nothing.   And as your hand raises up to smack yourself on the forehead as credits roll, you will realize that almost two hours of your life will never come back.   The only solace in that, is all those involved in creating this mess, have spent a LOT more than that (just not enough in white linen sleep outfits).
The Best Picture of last year from the Academy’s point of view was Shape of Water.   That film was a tale about a mute woman who assisted and fell in love with the Creature From the Black Lagoon (with notable upgrades).   Netflix has clearly seen this film, and decided to have somewhat of an Interstellar twist on this story.   In The Titan, Earth is dying and large parts of it are uninhabitable (like LA).   Bu rather than finding a wormhole in space near Saturn to go to other possible habitable worlds, here mankind is looking to stay on Titan, the largest moon that orbits Saturn.   The way we do that, is we mess with the genetic make up of man, to form a “superhuman” or as the movie says “you only better”, by changing the DNA and make up of the host person.   This movie stars Avatar Jake Sully Sam Worthington, and the chick from Orange Is the New Black.   They are husband and wife with a young son, and he has volunteered to be part of this team.   Turns out they are transforming these volunteers, and this is where Shape of Water comes in.   I won’t spoil any more.  I may not have spoiled anything.   The one flaw that I have in this picture is when a speaking character is then unable to speak and communicate.   But the whole thing was more than a little silly.   Finishing up with this thought – if you were looking for a new form of human to inhabit and thrive on another planet – how many of them would you think you should send?

December 19th 2017, Bonus Star Wars discussion

I was asked by someone how the Star Wars universe has changed since it first came out in 1977.  The iconic film from relative unknown George Lucas, whose greatest success to that time was the independent American Graffiti.  He wrote a story very broad in scope and time, which traced the beginnings of the Republic and then to the Empire and Jedi, and then beyond.  He realized that this was way too large and cut it down to a middle story about a young man seeking to find himself and defeat evil.

Star Wars was in the beginning a white male based story with a young female princess (damsel in distress) who required rescuing.   She was locked in a prison cell in an impenetrable military base.   There are the Nazi-like Imperial leaders (Grand Moff Tarkin), and the army of stormtroopers, who were for all we know robots or clones.   We were never sure of which (although our heroes later dress in their outfits while on the Death Star to save the Princess).   Virtually all are white except for the alien creatures and the positions of power are held by the white males.   The world as it was was run by the white male leaders.
The Force was held in high regard although not fully understood by many, with enough skeptics (like Han Solo) to keep it a mystery.   Elder Obi Wan Kenobi teaches the young Skywalker briefly with some basic understandings.   Young Luke is delivered the light sabre of his father.   Through the Force, and its use, you could “see” better as eyes can deceive and they should not be trusted.   Luke turns off his computer to hit the external thermal exhaust port with the missile as part of the finale for Episode IV.   The young are directed by the older, and taught the ways of the Force.   It is something to be learned, mastered.  There were tests for suitability, and the young were the focus (Luke was initially “too old” for the training according to Yoda).
Young Luke is viewed as reckless, craving adventure and never focusing on his chores and tasks on his Uncle’s farm.  He has “too much of his father in him” and this is seen as a bad thing.   He does though feel for the young princess that he sees in a recorded video message and decides that once his Uncle and Aunt are wiped out that he wants to help the rebels.   He is a deep believer in family, rushing back to see his Uncle before learning of their demise, and later his friends (Leia. Solo, Chewie and the droids).   He curtails his training with Yoda in Empire because the vision of his friends in pain in the Cloudy City dominate his mind and he can’t shake them.   He goes to save them.   Luke later in Return of the Jedi hatches a plan to get Han away from Jabba the Hut, utilizing all of his friends in the plan.  Leia, Chewie, the droids, Lando Calrisian all help out in saving Han.   A strong theme throughout Episodes IV to VI is friendship and putting your faith and trust in your friends.  The Emperor admonishes Luke for his faith in his friends.  Luke’s love for his sister and protecting her is used against him by Vader to bring him out to fight and complete his path to the Dark Side.
Now we have already seen in the Force Awakens the end to Han Solo as he tries to help his son Ben, and get him away from Snoke.   The son kills the father in order to show his connection with the Dark Side and prove he is ready to complete his grandfather’s (Darth Vader’s) goal.   One way the older white male father figure is destroyed.    Then in The Last Jedi, we have further transition over from white male dominated world, to one filled with more minorities, and more females.   The Princess, and now a General is in charge of the Rebellion, as small as it remains anyway.   Fishy Admiral Akbar plays a subservient role, whereas in Return of the Jedi he held more sway and power by leading the attack on the Death Star.   When Leia is killed and ressurrected under her own hand, a use of the Force that we have never seen before and for which, presumably, she has never had any training, we have her replacement introduced who is Laura Dern.  Another female.   But look around the smaller rebel group and you see more alien creatures and more people of colour.   There is Rey, female and now the heir apparent to the young Jedi.   She replaces Luke, and it is made clear that she is not sprung from noble blood, nor related to the Skywalker line in any way.   She is a street rat.  A no one.  Like the young boy at the races later who sweeps up.   The young former stormtrooper Fin, shows us that stormtroopers were not all robots, and not all clones, but people.   These are people who makes choices.   He is black and one of the new heroes.   In Jedi he meets a young weeping guard to an escape pod who is Asian.   Her sister has died.  Later she has escalated from a guard to a flier on one of 13 ships going to attack the First Order armada on the new Rebel base.   She then kisses Fin.   The Star Wars world has moved from a white male dominated society to one ruled (at least the Rebels) by women and visible minorities and almost all are not male.   The First Order is still very much a male dominated world, with the exception of the silver armoured lead stormtrooper.
In this latest story, you see that there is an underlying theme of out with the old, and in with the new.   Discard the old people and the old ways, and start afresh.  Han has been discarded.   Luke has been marginalized as he pouts about his station and failure to teach a new group of Jedi.   Rey takes to learning mostly on her own.   Ben Solo (Kilo Ren) has been underling to Snoke and colleague of the New Order Army General, but he sees a chance to destroy his Master and take the reins himself.   How a powerful Snoke can be so easily defeated is a mystery.  Youth know more than the aged it would seem.   Luke teaches that the Force is everywhere, and it requires no special assembly or teaching.  It simply is.   This discards the Episode I meta-chlorean counts for Anakin, and centuries of teachings by the Jedi.   The Jedi counsel, their place of prominence within society in the Republic is tossed aside and the once trusted honoured guardians of peace in the galaxy are removed.   This is a fundamental shift in the Star Wars universe.   Yoda himself comes to deal a death blow to a sacred tree with Jedi writings just to make the point.
Then we have Luke and now I better understand the underlying frustration that Mark Hamill had with this script and the treatment of his character.  Luke as a character is disrespected here, and all for a laugh.  He “fishes” when his Jedi ability could clearly retrieve a fish for a meal.  He milks a manatee-like sea creature and drinks the milk, licking his lips.  His casual behaviour and treatment is not with the reverence of a Jedi Master.   Yoda played around a bit with Luke’s materials in Empire, like a food stick, but he never was portrayed in this way.   Nor other Masters of the Jedi on the Council.  Luke may be frustrated with the Jedi ways and teachings but it quite a quantum leap to put him in this place.    Finally, Luke may have flaws but being disloyal and certainly not caring for his closest friends isn’t one of them.   The idea that Luke would in any way decide to murder his own nephew, upon him believing that there was Darkness inside Ben is unthinkable.   This flies in the face of everything that Luke is about.   He would kill Han and Leia’s son who was sent to him for training?   But it’s more than that.  Luke would remain distant and unknown to his sister and brother-in-law while Han flies to his death?    Luke can see through the Force as he did in Empire.  He went to save his friends.    Here he mopes, ashamed of his own failure.  But this isn’t what he is about.   He wouldn’t abandon his friends.   Nor his family, especially in a time of need.   Then of course, there is then the use of the Force for him to project himself, a younger version of himself even, to the new Rebel base under attack.  He creates objects (dice) that are handed to a living being (Leia) and he fights with Kilo Ren.   But he isn’t struck down in anger, like Obi Wan was by Vader in the original, he brought it on himself by the use of this all-new ability of the Force.   He commits suicide through this Act, and dies alone.   Yes he sacrifices himself, but couldn’t he, and wouldn’t he have been better served showing up himself?   Another icon of the series is discarded and removed.   Perhaps Luke becomes a ghost like Yoda and Obi Wan, but the meaning and importance of him clearly fades.   The dilemma is you have a Leia character survive, while in real life Carrie Fisher dies, and Luke dies, while the real Mark Hamill lives.   Where does that leave Episode IX to go?    I don’t know but the underpinings of the previous 7 stories is virtually wiped out.
So in summary, Star Wars has shifted and changed dramatically from 1977 until now.   Luke and the Skywalker family and blood are pushed to the side.  The white male dominated stories are replaced with a more politically correct, but welcome trend which could use some more balance.   Does it need to swing entirely the other way and have most of the male characters as bad, and the females good?   I hope not.   I will admit that I cannot fully agree on the new direction of Star Wars, and maybe that is a big part in my less than enthusiastic watching of the new film.   Yes, it was good but it was unsettling too.   It didn’t feel “right”.   I am no Star Wars geek that disappoints because I didn’t call all of the surprises in advance.   Young son and girlfriend can attest that I outwardly asked about the possibility of Luke dying in this episode and I had hoped secretly that it wasn’t true.   Part of me likes the Jedi teachings and ways.   Part of me likes the harnessing of an unknown mystical force.   It is unfortunate that Han and Luke met poor ends for me.  The old guard is truly passed and left in the hands of the youth and the young.   In forty years time, when I am long gone, will the teens of today lament the treatment of Rey and Fin if they should be treated as so cavalierly?  And die with no ceremony nor fanfare?    Only time and Disney will tell.

December 18th, 2017, spoilers included Last Jedi

We are one week away from Christmas, and this year has just flown by.

First the elephant in the room is Star Wars: The Last Jedi as it was seen by all of us here.   I am giving a spoiler alert as I plan on talking in some detail about this film, and where the plot goes.   May I first say that the hype machine and all the trailers yet again take away from the film itself.  I need to learn to avoid trailers altogether – since Blade Runner and Alien Covenant had too many.    It takes away from going into a movie with fresh eyes.

Last Jedi was a long film, and I felt that it started off slow with getting the Luke story underway.   And then there’s Luke as this whining, pouting dude who “just wants to be left alone to die”.   Well, be careful what you wish for, I would reply.    In many ways I can more fully understand the feedback and seemingly bitter soundbites that have come from Mark Hamill for this film and the arc of his character as he has talked about it.   He was a grumpy old man, and now I see why.   His only hope (pun intended) is now to become a ghost and drop some wisdom every now and then.   I did like how Yoda came back to admonish his reckless pupil one last time before dealing with the Secret Scrolls of the Jedi.    I also liked how they dealt with Rey and her storyline, and that she is not born of privilege or from some special meta-chlorean spring.   Or Luke’s daughter or half-sister of Ben Solo.

What I was not so happy with are the unknown and previously unseen abilities of the characters, or those of any character before.  For example, the ability to project and interact oneself with other characters.   The benchmark had always seemed to be for the Jedi to re-appear as a ghost and speak with the living.   Here was another whole level – think about how Luke interacts with Leia near the end.  Think about he actually creates matter in the form of the dice.   All of this before having the dust up outside with all the technology from the First Order.

I was also surprised with the treatment of Leia, and how seemingly they had given away in a trailer that she had been killed in the command ship.   And yet, there in the middle of space (SPACE!) she does something and reveals a power that no one has ever had in a Star Wars film (not even Yoda or Darth Vader).    Which then leads to a paradigm where Leia as a character is almost indestructible, but Carrie Fisher the actor has died and we are told there will be no more Leia in these films.    It is a head scratcher since she died shortly after filming ended, and they could have easily killed her off in that very spot.  Anyway, there are surprises and plot twists and then there are created U-turns.   I feel as though much of the new parts in this episode were created out of thin air.

There is some humour and some good humour which shows that the new writer has seen Robot Chicken and appreciates it.   It does beg the question on why JJ Abrams would turn over the reins on the hottest film in Hollywood to another writer and director and become just the Executive Producer.    I ask though, is JJ Abrams a great director?    Is he another Spielberg or Scorsese or Coppola?   Or does he just take existing ideas and build upon them like Star Trek and Star Wars?

There are creatures here that are created just to make them into stuffed animals I think.   From the baby-eyed penguin-like creatures, which Chewbacca in earlier times would have simply eaten without hesitation to the crystal dogs.  Ah, the crystal dogs.   On a planet that they are presumably native, why on earth are they running into the fortified bunker?    Why not just ran away?   Away from the guns and explosions?   And then, of course the reveal for having them is to show this new escape route out.   Ugh.

In the end, despite some flaws, everyone will see this film, and they will continue to make more.   Disney is getting its money out of this investment, and then some.  At $220M for the weekend (the second best weekend ever) you can be sure that there is many more to come.   Oh, and the still champion of the box office is at $248M, you guessed it – The Force Awakens.   Disney spent $4B to take it over in 2012.   Force Awakens made $2B, and Rogue One $1B.  This film will take them into the black.   All in less than 5 years!   I was asked by someone how Star Wars has changed since 1977, and I will detail that out from my perspective in another piece shortly.  Is this the best Star Wars film yet?   No.   For me Empire remains the best film of the series.   Episode I remains the Worst!

Turning back into the real world, on Thursday night I went out and saw the highest rated film at rotten tomatoes of all time; Lady Bird.  This is Greta Gerwig’s semi autobiographical coming-of-age story around a young woman as a Senior in Sacramento CA.   The young woman is played by Sairose Ronan, and she is quite simply excellent.  For me, knowing that she is Irish (well, transplanted really from NY but with a thick accent) this playing the Californian teen was very good to see.  The surrounding cast is uniformly excellent too.   Laurie Metcalf who plays her Mom shows a middle age woman struggling to keep her family together and sanity all around her.   She suffers as her family is generally in the same spot as they began 20+ years before, and her husband is struggling to keep up.   She has a son who has an unexplained history which deserves some more attention with his girlfriend.  It is an Oscar worthy performance.   Her daughter is exploring universities and has a final year to figure out ultimately that you don’t need to find yourself and your path by the time you are 18yo.   That goes for school, but also in relationships as well.   The lead here changes herself to approach and be engaged with two different guys.   Each reflects the reality that can occur in high school with cliques and students.   This is not the best film of the year.   It shouldn’t be the highest rated of all time at rotten tomatoes, but I can why it would.   It has some universal truths, and is a reflection on a time and place.   Between this and On Chesnil Beach, Ronan is making quality and varied choices for her career.   It bodes well.   Also it can be said that Timothee Chalamet has had an equally impressive year with quality choices in this film, and also the unseen by me Call Me By Your Name.   He has been nominated for Best Actor there and it remains a film I wish to see.

November 27, 2017

There was a sad barometer on the state of affairs with the moviegoing public on Friday night.  It happened at Queensway Theatre where the 9:40 showing of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri was being played.   This film has just recently been released (and was a standout at TIFF as Alison reported on).    I am saddened to say that if there were 15 people in this theatre I would be shocked.   I can only imagine how many had gone out to see Thor!    Sadly a film that is likely a Best Movie contender and well acted with a quality cast and script, is overlooked at the box office.   In the end, that is what Hollywood cares about.   And the script/screenplay is marvelous.  The generous sprinkling of profanity throughout it, even with younger members of the cast was funny.   Without repeating your review and the high level plots aspects, for me I liked that each character is shown in shades of grey.   Neither is completely good nor bad.  It shows that we all can have our moments.    Many top news stories on the tip of tongues are covered (like racial issues, the media, news, brutality, homosexuality, broken families etc) are all covered.   There are some stereotypes, like with young women and older men, but it does not play falsely.    In the end, small town America takes it on the chin while sending a message to us all.   I note that Sam Rockwell does an excellent job playing despicable characters.   He has redneck down so well, from the haircut on down.   Also I like Woody Harrelson a great deal here, as I did in War for the Planet of the Apes where he channeled Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now so very well.   He plays a character that could be a caricature with some more depth and understanding.   I really liked this film, and Karen and I spoke about it at length after it was over and the next day.    There should be more movies like this, and encouragement for them to be made.

I re-watched on Netflix Field of Dreams, and this movie holds up well.   Like Shawshank, it is a feel good movie that keeps its emotional impact.   I like the characters and even though I don’t feel that Amy Madigan is a great actress, she does a good job here playing the wife who tolerates and supports her husband’s unusual behavior (even when he is prone to hyperbole like “this may be the last opportunity I have to do something like this”) – -all at the age of 36!!

I also re-watched Star Wars Force Awakens last night to see if I have missed any tidbits and in preparation for The Last Jedi.   There is the talk about bringing Rey to the bad dude for her to have her training completed.   There is Leia and Han talking about Ben and how he isn’t all bad that “there is light in him”.   There was Rey being unwilling to touch Luke’s lightsaber after the first time where she saw the future and the past, but then uses it against Ben.   I wonder about her, and the untrained powers that she has, and how she was able to channel them.   I also wonder how the First Order recovers from yet another massive technological undertaking being blown up by a small group of individual star fighters (It makes me laugh about the Robot Chicken episode about not having fully paid for the Death Star)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F1d3QWsyk0

December 21st, 2015 – Force Awakens

So here it is – the review of the most hyped movie in recent memory.  And for the most part it delivers – but having said that I still feel a bit empty having seen it.  Before seeing it, I wanted and hoped for it just to “be good” and that they “didn’t screw it up”.   It does an admirable job at melding the old with the new.   You have a new, younger and fresher group (and politically correct) taking the reins of this storied franchise.

Abrams did much here like he did to re-boot Star Trek.  He borrowed heavily from the base material and mirrored previous plot lines.   You won’t need to pay attention long to see what I am talking about.   There is a great deal unsaid, and few Aha moments.   There are some “yea right” moments too – you will know those too – like just incredible coincidences!
There are also scenes and plot lines that will have you pause and scratch your head – like the whole Millennium Falcon subplot.  To say that some stallwarts like R2D2 and Luke Skywalker get short shift is somewhat of an understatement.
Still…..there is much to like here.  Characters who you care about (mostly).  A decent story and decent acting.   I liked the visuals and the scenes of older Empire ships dotting the landscape of a planet that looks a lot like Tattooine.  It’s not, but might as well be.   Our heroine has questions too, along with the baddie Kylo Ren (bad tempered and all which is actually quite refreshing).
I expect that there are at least two movies to be made here (with a three trilogies when they are done).   Expect more as Disney knows how to milk a franchise (just look at Toy Story!!)
I saw this in Imax 3D and the 3D yet again did nothing for me.   It is fun, it is escapism.   It is another chapter in this franchise that has been a part of my life since I was my youngest son’s age (11yo).   Let’s see where else they take us!
P.S> I still left the theatre feeling a little bit disappointed.   Like “is that it?!”  Such is what happens when expectations are so high.
P.P.S> I re-watched Grosse Point Blank and enjoyed.   I like Minnie Driver.   I also watched Resevoir Dogs for the first time and thought Tim Roth and Steve Buschemi were the best parts!  A movie that had eluded me until that point.   Strange.