STAR WARS: EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (3D)

December 19, 2015

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DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams

CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS!

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THE FULL

SPOILER FILLED

REVIEW!

Wow…

What can I say. Let’s not drag this out any longer…

…I LOVED IT!

This was the Star Wars movie that I had been waiting for since I was five years old. Following on from the events of Return Of The Jedi (1983), we are reunited with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) along with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 to name but a few.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailerBut we are also introduced to the next generation, Rey (Daisy Rider), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), along with our new Darth Vader, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). It is here that this film hits it’s stride and literally within minutes of the iconic opening crawl, we meet Poe Dameron as he is on a mission for now General Leia (Fisher), a mission to track down the long lost Luke Skywalker when his is captured by the villainous Ren and his Stormtroopers.

But one of these troopers, who adopts the name Finn, has a severe attack of conscience and escapes the First Order, the reformed Empire under the leadership of the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and they end up crashing on a Tatooine like planet, Jakuu.

http%3A%2F%2Ficdn4.digitaltrends.com%2Fimage%2Fjohn-boyega-daisy-ridley-1000x563It is here that Finn, now fearing Poe is dead, meets Rey (Rider), a young scavenger who has found Poe’s Droid, BB-8 and is being hunted by The First Order to retrieve the robot and the information whcih he is carrying. After escaping from Jakuu on a “Piece of Junk” spaceship, no prizes for guessing what ship this is, they meet Han Solo and Chewbacca as they want their ship back!

There is so much right about this movie that I cannot go into everything, but the tone is perfect. Both 1970’s sci-fi and 2015 action packed event movie spectacle. But as is the case with any good action movie, action is only has good as it’s heart and this is built on the solid foundation of strong and likeable characters, something with prequel trilogy missed completely.

The motivations are clear and palpable; from the enigmatic Snoke, to his right hand man, General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), who channels the menace of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, and his Sith like apprentice Kylo Ren; as well as the Resistance, the new name for the Rebel Alliance, all seem to have been fleshed out with real characters and enjoyable moments throughout.

This was FUN! Something which a movie of this scale and tone should be. Something with George Lucas had lost sight of during in rein over the Prequels. Maybe it is just the shock that Star Wars was not just the kids film that Lucas insisted that they were with his second toy marketing campaign, sorry, the Prequels, because they are not! They were and ARE family entertainment blockbusters, accessible for ALL ages.

HanSoloChewbaccaThe film harks back to glory days of Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980) without contriving too much. This is often done through humour though relevantly. But this is both Han Solo’s movie and the newcomers, who quite frankly were so well realised that they could have held this movie together on their own.

This comes complete with iconic Star Wars visual references, such as the Millennium Falcon, new takes on the Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers and X-Wings, this draws us right back into a world which we had all but given up on seeing on the big screen again.

st3There is no doubt that my fears have be overturned and J.J. Abrams has pulled it off and not only saved Star Wars from Lucas but finally made a brilliant film himself! I felt that he may get away with this after his take on Spielberg was so successful with Super 8 (2011) and Star Trek (2009), for its many faults, were clearly being used as show reels to demonstrate his credibility to direct Star Wars. As a Trekie, this infuriates me but at least he has managed not to ruin another franchise, so that is good, right?

And even though the prequels are not mentioned as such, the planet Courasant, referred to only as the Republic was destroyed by The Starkiller Base, the Death Star of this movie, also referencing Luke’s original surname from the early drafts. This is very similar to Abram’s earlier method of distancing himself from the past of his franchises, as he did the same thing when his destroyed Vulcan in Star Trek (2009).

But whilst this scene  was a big F*** You to Lucas’ Prequels, it was also hauntingly effective. Epic in scale, referencing a Hitler rally in tone a showing the horror of the doomed planet’s residents as they watched the red laser beam streak across the night sky.

Kylo-Ren-1-970x545Overall all, this is Star Wars for everyone. The adults who watched the first movie in 1977; my generation, the kids who grew up with the original trilogy that followed, the prequel generation who have just grown up and all of our children and grand-kids.

This is the film which four generations can enjoy and since I went to cinema with my parents (both in there mid to late 60’s), my girlfriend and best mate (mid 30’s) and his 11 year old nephew, this is a point well proven, especially as all six of us left the theatre raving about it!

Hats off to J.J., a man who’s work has not failed exactly but failed to set the world on fire either. As a Trekie, I found his interpretation of Star Trek to be flawed but his understanding of what made a good Spielberg film was realised perfectly with Super 8, this literally being my go to reference for his credibility in directing THIS film. Though I will not deny my scepticism of him and his attitude towards directing a franchise so damaged by its own creator, George Lucas, scepticism which has now been blown away by the results.

I believe that it is a fair quote to say that this is an instant classic and possibly one to depose Return Of The Jedi from its 32 year number three spot in the list of best Star Wars film, being good enough to join The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars (A New Hope) as one of the best films of the saga so far…

J.J. Abrams. You have been vindicated.


STAR WARS: THE LEGACY REVEALED (TV DOCUMENTARY)

December 18, 2015

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DIRECTOR: Kevin Burns

(Contains mild language)

This is one of those “let’s read way too much in to everything” type of documentaries, in which every aspect of Star Wars is analysed and assigned a root in existing mythology or history.

Also, its talking heads are hardly visible as they are firmly rooted up George Lucas‘ Arse!

They over analyse the entire saga as it stood 2007, to both correctly and contrivably drive meanings and associations with myths and Nazi Germany. Well, so what! and Well done! As a four year old boy back in 1982 I had worked this one out for myself! The Empire where a combination of Romans and Nazis, get over it!

But they even miss a couple if more obvious examples, such as likening the Ewok battle in Return Of The Jedi (1983) to David and Goliath rather than the more direct reference of Luke defeating the Rancor earlier in the same movie with a STONE!

All in all, it is worth a watch but take this sycophantic nonsense with a pinch of salt. If you want a proper objective analysis then I would suggest searching Youtube for an endless array of unsanctioned and unlicensed videos on the subject and you will learn so much more.

It is all subjective but at least the opinions of the internet are real and not polished by Lucasfilm.

In this documentary, George Lucas is a genius. Sorry, but at his best he can create some brilliant derivative interpretations which I like, such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but the notion that the failed Prequel trilogy is just misunderstood to the extent that is actually a work of art is just ludicrous!


STAR WARS SEVENS: LIGHTSABRE DUELS

December 17, 2015

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These are my picks for the Top Seven Star Wars Lightsabre Duels. I will only be counting duels from from the first six theatrical movies.

A Number Seven…

7 ~

A NEW HOPE

Obi Wan Vs. Darth Vader (Death Star)star-wars-kenobi-vader-saber-battle

The first real duel of the Saga and in many ways, one of the most poignant with Anakin effectively getting his revenge on his old master who right or wrong, left him for dead over 20 years prior.

6 ~

REVENGE OF THE SITH

Yoda Vs. Darth Sidious (Courasant)WXWunBM

This was a little unexpected as I had never really thought of the Emperor as the physical type until this film. Good fun and it is a fight which has real stakes. Not a great ending though as Yoda give up but still…

5 ~

THE PHANTOM MENACE

Qui-Gon & Obi Wan Vs. Darth Maul (Naboo)2

After the Podrace, this is the best part of Episode I. The choreography is stunning and the fight is the first real fast paced duel of the Saga. The stakes are low though and as such it does feel a little wasted.

4 ~

RETURN OF THE JEDI

Luke Vs. Vader (Death Star 2)IcLfZ

Luke rejecting the Darkside. Darth Vader’s redemption and the death of Palpatine. What is not to like.

3 ~

ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Yoda Vs. Count Dooku (Geonosis)Yoda_Tyranus_duel.png

Maybe not the best duel of the Saga, but the sheer shock value pushes this to top of the list. For younger fans reading this, imagine our surprise when Yoda, the frail 900 year old Jedi master leapt into action for the first time. Brilliant!

2 ~

REVENGE OF THE SITH

Obi Wan Vs. Anakin (Darth Vader) (Mustafar)screen-shot-2015-08-22-at-12-19-23-am

Epic, great score and real stakes and audience anticipation. This was the moment that the prequels were building towards and though whilst not perfect, it was more than good enough.

1 ~

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Luke Vs. Vader (Bespin)star-wars5-movie-screencaps.com-11917

Concluding with one of Cinema’s greatest twists, our hero is maimed and damaged in more ways than one. Our villain is revealed as more human that we realised and the lightsabre action is not too bad either. This is a one of the most well judged set-ups ever committed to the big screen

 


STAR WARS: EPISODE VII ROUSES THE FORCE TODAY!

December 17, 2015

Here it is. The day has finally arrived. Little over a decade since the last theatrical episode of the Star Wars saga was released, The Clone Wars (2008) not withstanding, Episode VII has finally arrived. By tomorrow morning we will finally have an idea as to whether Star Wars can find its feet again after the less than satisfactory Prequel Trilogy.

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But whether this is a masterpiece or not, a box office hit it will be regardless and more films are already on the production line either way.

Next December we can expect Godzilla’s (2014) Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One (2016), followed by Episode VIII (2017) in the summer of 2017, directed by Looper’s (2012) Ryan Johnson, as well as the Han Solo movie helmed by none other than The Lego Movie’s Chris Miller and Phil Lord, and that is just for starters.

So, what do we really want from Star Wars in 2015? The truth is that we can never see the likes of A New Hope (1977) again, let alone The Empire Strikes Back (1980), as they were breaking new ground in a climate which supported them.

Now it is all down to loyalty and familiarity. It is about seeing the Luke, Han and Leia, The Millienium Falcon, Tie Fighters and Darth Vader, even if he is just a charred helmet.

Even the prequels, which have become the focus of hate to many over the years are still being watched by millions, kids seem not care about the betrayal felt by us 30 and 40 somethings who wanted the saga to grow up with us and where more than disappointed when it did not.

But maybe in the hands of new producers and directors the saga can steer its way from product placement and more towards story telling, good bad or ugly, at least try to maintain some integrity, something sorely lacking from Lucas’s cynical effort in the naughties.

So, tonight I am off to a 3D IMAX screen to see the revival of Star Wars where it was meant to be, on the big screen, loud and proud. Let us just hope that we can manage our expectations, enjoy the show for what it is and even if it is a let down, so what. We will still be back for the next one, next Christmas and play the DVD or Blu-rays at infinitum.

Check back for my review soon…


STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS REVIEWS

December 16, 2015


star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver10_xlgThe reviews are in!

Following the World Premier of the latest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (3D) (2015) on Monday night, the review embargo was lifted at 8:00am this morning, leaving a flood of the most anticipated reviews of the year spilling all over the internet like your morning coffee over your keyboard!

So this is a taste of what has been said in the U.K. press so far…

Empire (4 Stars)

“This is filmmaking on an enormous scale and it packs a planet-sized punch, launching a new generation of characters who – by the end – take a place next to Han, Leia and the rest. Star Wars is back, and this is just the beginning.”

The Guardian (5 Stars)

“It’s here — the real Episode Four! From the first few minutes, or even the first few frames, JJ Abrams’s exciting, spectacular and seductively innocent Star Wars: The Force Awakens shows itself a movie in the spirit of the original trilogy, which ended with Return of the Jedi in 1983. (This one takes up the story 30 years later.)”

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver6_xlgTotal Film (4 and half Stars)

“But The Force Awakens is as good as anyone could have realistically hoped, and it sets things up wonderfully for Episode VIII. Abrams asks plenty of questions that’ll be bothering us for the next 18 months, as we rewatch and analyse the movie to death to work out what it all means. Rian Johnson, it’s over to you…”

Sounds good far…

We will be heading to our local IMAX theatre tomorrow night at 7pm to see for ourselves but whether the reviews hold true or not, good or bad, this is still a Star Wars film and if we are still watching The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack Of The Clones (2002) after all this time and the fact that they are not particularly good movies, then rest assured that The Force Awakens (2015) will be on our TV screens for years to come either way.


EWOKS: THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR

December 15, 2015

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DIRECTOR: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat

Contains spoilers!

Taking off right where the last one (Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) left off, this is somewhat darker in tone from opening. Where as the first film spent its time rescuing our little heroine, Cindel’s (Aubree Miller) parents from an ogre, they are quickly dispatched along with her older brother and hero of the last film, Mace, leaving her orphaned and on the run from an evil band of marauders along with Ewok, Wicket.

This is a bold start so there are no complaints here, but Wicket on the other hand, after spending time with the human family has learned some English, a skill which he did not have in the supposed to sequel to this, The Return Of The Jedi (1983).

But putting that on one side, the production values are okay, reasonable for a TV movie of the time, but this was released theatrically in some markets, Europe and the U.K. for sure.

This is pretty simple fair, having more in common with Lucas’ next big movie, Willow (1988) and He-Man than Star Wars (1977) but as family fantasy film it works just fine. Evil witch, even more evil monstrous marauder leader, a little girl in peril coming of age, Wilford Brimly!, this has it all.

But is it worth seeing now, 30 years later? Has this or its predecessor got any staying power? NO, not really.

I have only finally decided to watch this after all this time because of its Star Wars connections and without that I would not have bothered and would have miss nothing.


STAR TREK BEYOND TEASER TRAILER #1

December 15, 2015

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As this is the sequel to two of J.J.Abrams Star Trek movies, as well as one which he is producing and given the fact this is the most prominent trailer promised to run before Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens from Thursday, this Star Trek news has every right to break into nEoFILM’s none stop Star Wars coverage.

Well, with that out of way, let us take a look at the trailer for Justin Lin’s Star Trek reboot threequel, of the thirteenth theatrical entry of the Star Trek universe.

I am on the fence with this one. On one hand it looks freak’in awesome! Finally a plot placing the crew in old school peril, smashing the ship up, again(!) and possibly focusing of the fun, character driven aspects of the series.

On the other hand, this could be Fast and Furious in space!

star-trek-beyond-495x249It is too early to say but in many ways I suspect that this could be make of break for a franchise which is looking more and more like J.J. Abrams audition for Star Wars. Let us just hope that Lin, of the Fast and Furious franchise, can pull this off, along with Simon Pegg’s help in writing the screenplay.

But I must admit, I do have a good feeling about this one…


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