Mini-Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PG-13, 135 Minutes, 2015

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About: A long time ago… a plot was borrowed from a 1977 and told it again. But with more lightsaber fighting and a woman in the lead.

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver – your lives have massively changed forever.

Directed: JJ Abrams continues to show he can take a classic property, rework their old scripts, and make people love them anew. He does an even better job here than he did in Star Trek. And no lens flares.new-the-force-awakens-character-descriptions-for-finn-rey-kylo-ren-and-captain-phasma1.jpeg

Best Thing About It: When Rey uses the force to get the lightsaber. It is the establishment of a new generation of heroes and specifically that a young woman can be the central protagonist – something lacking in most classic Science Fiction.

 

Worst Thing About It: The Nazi imagery when General Hux address the Stormtroopers was way over the top.

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Notable Things About It: Best acted and funniest of Star Wars movies. Was not shot all in digital, so has grittier more realistic feel than the Prequels did. You can skip Episodes 1-3 and understand this fill without a problem – Prequels can be dead now.

IMAX/3D: Saw it in 3D on a regular screen and on IMAX/3D. While IMAX/3D makes your viewing into an event – and therefore worthwhile – neither is really needed.

Overall: JJ Abrams succeed in creating Star Wars for the next generation while satiating those of us who were transformed by it as children decades ago. That is one tough task and he did an amazing job.

As we prepare for 18 months of waiting for the next episode, some questions below…

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Questions: The film leaves a host of questions to debate until Episode VII in May 2017. Some of them:

  • Who are Rey’s parents? Unlikely to be Han and Leia. Current betting is on Luke, but she was a little girl when left on Jakku so you’d think she’d remember her parents and everyone else (Han, Leia, Ben Solo) would remember her.920x920.jpg
  • Is Finn just a rare rebellious Stormtrooper or does he have some interesting back story? I doubt he is Lando Calrissian’s son, but love to see some Billy Dee Williams.
  • How did Kylo Ren turn evil? And where did Supreme Leader Snoke come from? And is he really very tiny (like Yoda), but compensates with a Wizard of Oz giant head?
  • Who is the old guy at beginning and what’s his story? Internet tells us his name is Lor San Tekka and gives some history that wasn’t in the movie.
  • But most of all: Why does C-3PO have a red arm?

 

Rating: 3 1/2 RaMaKs (out of 4)

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Best Actor – Oscars 2014

academy-awards-actorI haven’t written in a while. But 2014 is all new. January, however, is a lost month since I’ll be away most of it. Therefore, I have been racing to see films in theaters in anticipation of the Oscar Nominations (January 16).

For the last bunch of years, I have successfully seen all the nominees for the big 8 awards before Oscar night. I have usually been nearly done by the nomination announcement because of good anticipation and because most of the big award nominees come from a cluster of films.

This year, if you can see just 15 films, you’ll cover nearly all of the contenders for the “big” (picture, director, 4 actors, 2 screenwriting) awards. There is always the outlier, but most of these awards come from a cluster of films.

The best picture nominees will almost certainly come from this group (order from Gold Derby)

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Gravity
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Her
  • The Butler
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Philomena
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Fruitvale Station
  • August: Osage County

Seeing these 15 will also help take care of most acting awards. In Best Actor, the only legitimate exception is Robert Redford in All Is Lost. (To be totally honest, I must mention also, Idris Elba in Mandela, but that’s not really going to happen – the film has no traction)

For Best Actress, the actual nominees all come from these films. This is unusual as Best Actress usually pulls from a not otherwise nominated film (think Meryl Street in The Iron Lady). But if you want to see all touted candidates, you’d also need to see Blue Is the Warmest Color, Short Term 12, and Enough Said. If you want to use the top candidates at GoldDerby as a benchmark, you’d also need Labor Day, The Past, and Before Midnight, but that’s never never going to happen. No chance.

Supporting actors would need 4 more films for legit contenders (Rush, Spring Breakers, 42, Enough Said). Supporting Actress, this year, very unusually, is covered in the 15 above.

This post is about the Best Actors. Who is going to be nominated and who do I think were the best performances.

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