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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the Movie You’ve Been Looking For

Posted on | December 19, 2015 | 1 Comment

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spoilers Ahead
After almost exactly three years of unbearable anticipation and careful teasing, the most beloved and important movie series of all time has returned. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this latest installment, may soon become the biggest film of all time yet that hardly matters. There have been so many rumors flying around this movie, but only one question really needs to be answered: is it good? Yes. Sticking closely to the original blueprint, and mixing fresh faces with new ones, it’s a nostalgia ride, a new chapter, and a great time at the movies. This is no Phantom Menace, which was a crushing disappointment for fans and a betrayal of the original trilogy. Director J.J. Abrams and his crew of writers, studio executives, technicians, and actors have learned from the prequels’ flaws: flat acting, plots reliant on forced melodrama and galactic politics, an overuse of obvious CGI, goofy sidekick characters, and appeals to win the adoration of kids not old fans. George Lucas went ahead with his own vision for the prequels, ignoring fans wishes and plain common sense. The Force Awakens works in almost the opposite way.

In 1977, when Abrams was eleven, he saw the original Star Wars. Like so many others, it changed his life. It can often seem like that grade-school kid wanted to remake what he saw on screen, mixed in with some new characters. All along, his friends and parents are whispering in his ear and telling him what to do. Of course, here it’s the biggest blockbuster director of a generation working with a crew of thousands. Yet Abrams is still awestruck over Lucas’ original, and he’s eager to pay sometimes slavish reverence to his childhood.

The Force Awakens doesn’t just nod respectfully to its predecessors; it rips off much of A New Hope‘s plot structure. The story begins with the introduction of The First Order and its Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the masked villain who looks and sounds like a relative of Darth Vader. This organization is the latest incarnation of evil in the universe – after the Sith and the Empire. In these dark times, Resistance fighters rebel against Ren and his master Lord Snoke. One of these fighters is talented pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who is captured by Ren, and then rescued by strormtrooper-turned-renegade Finn (John Boyega). After crashing on the planet Jakku, Finn travels on his own until he meets Rey (Daisy Ridley) a lone scavenger with dreams of great adventure. A droid, BB-8, with a map displaying the whereabouts of the lost Luke Skywalker, unites the pair and sets them off on a great search. Soon, they’re off traveling through space in the Millenium Falcon, which brings them to Han Solo and Chewbacca. The group embarks on a journey to find Luke, reason with Ren, escape the First Order, and meet up with some old friends.

This journey – specifically Rey’s story – is very similar to Luke’s: a restless nobody meets some old heroes and discovers the ways of the Force. That outline was used in the prequels too, but The Force Awakens also includes a new Death Star, another climactic spaceship fight, a lightsaber showdown, a Cantina scene, and a burgeoning romance. Just as Abrams stole the best bits of Spielberg’s hits for Super 8, he cherrypicks and updates his favorite parts of A New Hope. His reliance on familiarity and nostalgia is the movies’s biggest flaw but also a great strength, and hardly dents the overall excitement. After all, did we expect the series to enter some brave, weird new direction?

Perhaps the next film will do just that, but The Force Awakens‘ referential tone also gives it a resonance that pushes it far past the prequels. The filmmakers have studied the original trilogy, and crafted a loving tribute to their childhood movie memories. Almost every beat seems designed to send viewers (specifically fans) into thunderous applause, giddy smiles, somber tears, big chuckles, or some combination of all those. It’s a gloriously entertaining movie, strong enough to remind you of the wit, charm, and action that made us fall in love with this galaxy in the first place.

Star Wars: The Force AwakensHarrison Ford gets a meaty role here, and you can sense his endearing world-weariness and excitement to be back in the role. Han’s line that sent the Internet ablaze – “Chewie, we’re home” – must have some poignance for Ford too. He brings that natural movie-star personality of the character (a mix of charisma, irony, irritation, and head-strong bravery) but with a tired, hardened heart. Carrie Fischer (now “General Leia”) gets far less to do, but she’s still strong and charming as always.

It’s Finn and Rey that give The Force Awakens a personality of it’s own and a next-generation freshness. As Rey, Daisy Ridely is this movie’s Luke, Han, and Leia: she’s a genuine underdog hero, a willful pilot, and a woman in control of her own destiny. John Boyega’s performance as Finn will surely make him a bona-fide star. He’s completely likable, impossible not to root for, has great comic timing, and is surprisingly handy with a lightsaber. (Abrams deserves kudos for not casting a white guy as the protagonist). Adam Driver, as Ren, and Oscar Isaac, as Poe, don’t get a whole lot to do but these talented actors leave a mark on the scenes they are in.

There are other things to gripe about with The Force Awakens, for sure. Its cliffhanger ending sure leaves you waiting for the sequel, but it leaves too many loose ends. With so much going on, some supporting characters get shortchanged. And the movie’s climactic airborne battle is so familiar you’re likely to forget the whole sequence. But after the letdown of the prequels (aside from Revenge of the Sith), this movie is a triumph. Above all, it’s fun. It’s also funny, exhilarating, shocking, and truly moving.

Star Wars: The Force AwakensAs it all wrapped up, something funny occurred to me. People who have never seen a Star Wars movie will certainly enjoy The Force Awakens, partly because they’re new to this strange, wonderful onscreen universe. They may feel a little left-out on some of the story. Thus, the film will resonate much deeper with fans; the deaths, jokes, and characters will bring back memories and trigger emotions. On the other hand, these viewers will chide the movie for not taking enough risks. Basically, though, it’ll work for either type of viewer. The Force Awakens will live on, and it already seems like a fan favorite. The Force is strong with this one. Some new hope has been injected into the franchise. Until the next installment, we can return to this one – over and over, grinning goofily, wiping away tears, cheering, tensing up, and remembering what Star Wars is all about.

A Night at the Movies (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | March 15, 2012 | 3 Comments

5 Stars

A dark theater.  Two big TV screens.  A clip from the sci-fi George Lucas 1977 blockbuster Star Wars is shown.  And then the orchestra starts.  That’s what the movie music magic performed by conductor, Kurt Bestor, singer Jennifer Beth Glick, and a full sized orchestra is like.

From a through the decades history to a special tribute to John Williams, it’s a spectacular experience that I won’t forget anytime soon.

a night at the movies program cover

It’s great for both movie buffs and music fans, and was performed by the Cape Cod Symphony in Cape Cod, MA.

Starting with A Night at the Movies overture that terrifically sets the bar high.  The performance continued not to disappoint.  Next up was the decade overview.  Charlie Chaplin (20’s), Gone with the Wind (30’s), Red Pony (40’s), Vertigo and Psycho (50’s), The Pink Panther (60’s), Star Wars (70’s), Hoosiers (80’s), and a medley of the top 5 super hero movies ever were given magnificent renditions.  All the film scores were also accompanied by film clips which added to the excitement.  The top 5 super hero movies were (from 5 – 1) Batman (1989), Superman Returns (2006), X2 (2003), Batman Begins (2005), and Spider-Man (2002).

Then there was an intermission when I had a chocolate chip cookie and talked about the show with my family.  And then back to the theater!!!!!!

After the intermission a scene from the Imax movie The Great American West was shown.  The orchestra then did some Beethoven music to accompany the clip.  After they did Stalling’s version (a guy known for Bugs Bunny, Looney Tunes, and Warner Brothers music).  The scene showed a man fighting a bear on land, in the water, and inside a hole in the ground.  After the way too serious Beethoven rendition and the way too silly Stalling version was the host of the show, Kurt Bestor’s version (he actually composed the real movie score too).  Obviously Bestor’s version was best mixing action, comedy, drama, a dark tone, and light moments to great effect.

a night at the movies info

Then Jennifer Beth Glick was welcomed onto the stage to sing two Oscar winning songs:  Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Heart Will Go On from Titanic.  Glick was a good singer but what was up next was even better.

For the fantastic finale Kurt Bestor conducted a tribute to John Williams.  E.T., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and more were all performed magnificently.

This was a fantastic show.  My favorite part was when they did Star Wars during the Through the Decades segment.  I liked it because it was very lighthearted yet extremely exciting.  They played a song from Star Wars which is equally as riveting and classic as the Star Wars theme and the Imperial March.  Sadly the show I went to was the last in Cape Cod, or at least for now.  But with such a great host there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to go to this show.  In fact the only bad parts were that I wish they showed more of the movie clips and had one gigantic movie theater-like screen.  (I also have to complain that the show actually stopped.)  A Night at the Movies was an experience full of movies, magic and more!!!!!!

Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the Clones (Flick’s review)

Posted on | January 20, 2010 | Add Comments

starwars2In this thrilling sequel  of Star Wars a bounty hunter is killed by a mysterious bounty hunter. Obi wan kenobi and Anakin report in. Obi wan is assigned to visit a clone facility led by the mysterious bounty hunter called Jango Fett. While Anakin is assigned to protect Padm’e . With a few stuning lightsaber duels and bounty hunter fights this sequel of Star Wars is probably the best. Faster more intense (George Lucas’s plan as the Star Wars movies go on) is definitely  shown in this movie.

My favorite character is Obi wan kenobi because I like when he chase’s Jango Fett in his spaceship in an asteroid field because it’s kind’a like in episode 5 when the Millennium Falcon goes into an asteroid field.

My favorite part is when Obi wan, Anakin,and Yoda lightsaber duel against Count Dooku because it was faster more intense.

Rated PG for substained Sci-fi action violence

Flick’s Rating: 5 out of 5

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My rating is PG for Sci-fi action violence and romance
Release Date: 16 May 2002 (USA)
Director: George Lucas

Genre :Action | Adventure | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

Website: http://www.starwars.com/movies/episode-ii/

Writing credits
George Lucas         (story)
George Lucas         (screenplay) and
Jonathan Hales         (screenplay)

Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman: Senator Padmé Amidala
Hayden Christensen: Anakin Skywalker
Christopher Lee: Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus
Samuel L. Jackson: Mace Windu
Frank Oz: Yoda (voice)
Ian McDiarmid:  Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Pernilla August: Shmi Skywalker-Lars
Rose Byrne: Dormé
Temuera Morrison: Jango Fett
Daniel Logan: Boba Fett
Jimmy Smits:  Senator Bail Organa
Jack Thompson: Cliegg Lars
Leeanna Walsman: Zam Wesell
Ahmed Best: Jar Jar Binks (voice)

George Lucas’s BLOCKBUSTING book

Posted on | January 11, 2010 | Add Comments

http://www.starwars.com/img/vault/books/news20091215b/cover_bg.jpg

George Lucas has a new book called George Lucas’s Blockbusting. All about movies and their trivia. Listen to the podcast on Fresh Air NPR here with David Bianculli and George Lucas.

Star Wars The Clone Wars TV Show: Tresspass (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | December 26, 2009 | 1 Comment

Episode 15: Trespass

Moral: Arrogance diminishes wisdom.

http://www.starwars.com/img/theclonewars/guide/episode015/img45.jpg

This Clone Wars episode is about Jedi generals’ Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker who land on the planet Orto Plutonia in search of missing clones. They find Chairman Cho and Senator Chuchi, the Senator believes the Republic who say not to harm the species of the other creatures who live on the planet or they will harm you back but Cho does not believe this. He says “Listen hear you savage this world belongs to the moon of Pantora.” A battle begins and the Jedi must save the Chairman.

http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Entertainment/images/trespass_smalltout.jpgMy favorite character is Anakin because I think he believes the right thing.

My favorite part is when Anakin and Obi Wan go to see the Talz, the species of aliens living on Orot Plutonia because I like when Anakin draws a picture of peace.

Flack’s Rating:

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Rated TV-PG. I rated it TV-PG for some adult themes and one scene of violence.

Originally aired on Cartoon Network: 1/30/09
Directed by: Brian Kalin O’Connell
Written by: Stephen Melching
Music: Kevin Kiner

Voices:

Matt Lanter: Anakin Skywalker (voice)
James Arnold Taylor: Obi-Wan Kenobi / Pantoran Assembly Representative (voice)
Brian George: Chairman Chi Cho (voice)
Jennifer Hale: Riyo Chuchi (voice)
Dee Bradley Baker : Clone Troopers / Thi-Sen (voice)
Anthony Daniels: C-3PO (voice)
Robin Atkin Downes: Pantoran Guard (voice)
Tom Kane: Narrator (voice)
Matthew Wood: Battle Droids (voice)

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