Star Wars: Episode VII


Viewed – 22 December 2015  Cinema

The Force Awakens

So much will already have been said, written and tweeted regarding this much hyped and highly anticipated seventh episode in the once beloved saga, that my opinion will matter little … but hear me out because to say I have been looking forward to this movie all year, is an understatement.  It’s one of those movies that surely can’t meet the giddy expectations I and many others have bestowed upon it or recapture that wonder and magic I felt on seeing the classic trilogy as a child.  Or can it?

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The story follows primarily two characters, that of storm trooper Fin (John Boyega) who has a moment of uncertainty that causes him to flee the first order (the new evil villains in place of the empire), and that of scavenger farm girl Rey (Daisy Ridley – a fantastic find).  The two unwittingly get thrown together and stumble upon wonderfully cute and attitude-filled droid, bb-8 who has a map that could lead to an in-hiding Luke Skywalker’s location.  New bad guy Kylo Ren is searching for him to prevent any possibility of the Jedi’s turning up and wrecking his plans for galactic domination.  Along the way the two would-be heroes find help from two familiar faces, namely Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca.

StarWarsTFA2Now let it be said this movie plays heavy homage to the original three movies, especially the first 1977 classic, with clever in-jokes, subtle nods and a few plot similarities.  However it also manages to sprinkle the old with many fresh ideas of it’s own and with a script that has clearly been written with genuine care for it’s characters whilst ensuring it all feels like a Star Wars movie, I came away from this very impressed indeed.  New faces Fin & Rey do a perfect job of giving us someone new and interesting to invest our time in whilst leaving them mysterious enough to build on in later sequels.  Han Solo, Chewbacca and (formerly Princess now General) Leia (Carrie Fisher) all feel vital to the plot also, with Han especially helping drive the story alongside his younger co-stars.  Add to this a villain with real depth in the shape of Darth Vader-wannabe Kylo Ren and all the ingredients are in place.  Director J J Abrams has done a stellar job, capturing the correct feel and tone and also filling the movie with spectacular action, yet making sure there was all the depth and believable characterisation that had been (for the most part) missing from the prequels.

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I’ll add a few nit picks that are simply that, as this is a movie that does nearly everything right and fixes many issues the prequels (and to an extent) even the original trilogy had – but Supreme Leader Snoke just wasn’t very scary or intimidating and just looked like an out-dated CGI effect (made all the more jarring considering the movie’s otherwise reliance on practical effects).  Also, considering the hype surrounding Kylo Ren’s bad-ass three-pronged light sabre in the trailers; this guy is wielding it every chance he gets (even during a couple of tantrums) and so the build up to him actually using it in a duel is watered down due to over-exposure.  Also the many nods to A New Hope are a bit too blatant at times (and did we really need another death star?).

But … like I said small things in what is easily the best movie in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back.   The Force truly has awakened.

Verdict:  5 /5

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Yes, seriously geeking over this…


Movie preview 2015


With 2014 finally in the memory banks, I am of course looking to the year ahead for my movie fix and wonder just what will excite, delight and entertain in 2015?  Listed below are just a few of the movies I am most looking forward to, with a few words on how I hope they’ll turn out…

Kingsman: The Secret Service

January

Mathew Vaughan’s attempt to inject some much needed cool into the Brit spy thriller and considering he was responsible for the excellent Kick-Ass, I’m very hopeful of this one.

Ex Machina

January

Directing debut of writer & novelist Alex Garland, with an intelligent look at artificial intelligence, a reclusive genius and a realist look at cyborg-technology.  Trust me, it looks cool.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

April

I really enjoyed the first Marvel Avengers Assemble, and any follow up seems essential viewing.  Maybe the whole Marvel comic book thing is getting tired, but hey, one last outing for Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Black Widow has gotta be worth seeing.

Mad Max: Fury Road

May

Tom Hardy seems perfect casting as Max, but the post-apocalyptic setting is very tired and director George Miller, who made the first movie way back in 1979 – has he still got it?  Could go either way this one.

Jurassic World

June

No Spielberg?  Hmm, ok.  I’m on the fence about this, but the original Jurassic Park is still a classic and if they can capture even a bit of that movie’s wonder and scale, then I’m in.  Chris Pratt, hot off Guardians Of The Galaxy seems a good fit.

Crimson Peak

October

After the luke warm offering of 2013’s Pacific Rim, it’s good to see director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) go back to his routes in this creepy looking horror.  Casting of Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska seems a great choice as is the gothic spooky mansion setting.

Mission Impossible 5

mission-impossible

December

Can this series do any wrong?  Not after Ghost Protocol it can’t I’d say and despite an ageing Tom Cruise, this is pretty much guaranteed to wow us again with some amazing stunts.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December

Although the recent prequels were rather hit and miss (mostly miss) I’m very open minded by what wonder-kid J J Abrahms can bring to the party.  Star Wars is now also in the hands of Disney who seem to have the Midas touch of late, so this has to be good, right?

So those are for me, the big hitters of 2015 but I’m sure there will be many surprises and disappointments along the way.  I’m curious about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie and there’s still a lot I didn’t get to see in 2014 that I need to catch up on, like Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 (and Part 2 when it arrives) as well as Exodus Gods & Kings and Birdman.  There are also probably some I haven’t even been made aware of yet that could turn out to be great.  We’ll wait and see.

Star Wars teaser…


As a self-confessed Star Wars fan, even if I don’t gush over the movies as much as some of those oddball enthusiasts … the mythos and lore surrounding them will always be attractive and keep me coming back for more.  In the more than capable hands of J J Abrahms, who did a very good job on the recent Star Trek reboots, I have to admit I’m quite excited.  Here’s the trailer if you’re one of the 2% that hasn’t seen it yet…