Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

The familiar scrolling yellow text setting the scene as the grand John Williams score blares to alert all that things just got real. Yes, Star Wars is back, and I for one am very excited about where this series is going in the next 30 years. This is the first Star Wars movie we have seen in 10 years, and the first real one in 32 years. I’m sorry but the prequels were just not good. I’m not sure if it was Hayden Christensen’s awful acting, the invention of midichlorians to science away the force, or Jar Jar Binks’ zany comedy relief, but the three prequels need to be lost to the annals of time and maybe we can let J.J. Abrams have a shot at recreating them. With The Force Awakens, he manages to perfectly blend the old and the new and makes a powerful and dramatic next step in the epic saga.

swfa1The movie features a blend of new characters as well as actors reprising their roles from the original movies as we join them 30 years since the destruction of the Death Star and the fall of the Empire. We are treated to Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew as Han Solo and Chewbacca, Carrie Fisher as Princess turned General Leia Organa, and Mark Hamill even makes a brief albeit epic appearance as the nearly mythical Luke Skywalker. There are plenty of other visuals and references that caused the theaters to erupt with fanboys (and girls) gushing their praise. However, some have said that this film was too close to the originals and it should be called more of a reboot than a sequel. I disagree.

swfa3.pngI see the presence of the original characters as a way to pass the baton on to a new generation as we step into new adventures. John Boyega as Finn, Daisy Ridley as Rey, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Oscar Isaac as Poe bring a delightful on-screen chemistry reminiscent of the original trilogy but setting a course for a new direction. The new characters are at home in the Star Wars universe, nothing feels forced, and they welcomingly provide a lighthearted and fitting next generation of heroes. Both the old and new cast work beautifully together, and the result is a film jam-packed with classic banter, references to previous movies and suspenseful action.

While the aforementioned prequel trilogy received criticism for its excessive use of CGI among other things, The Force Awakens returned to its roots, using models and miniatures whenever possible. John Williams provides yet another great soundtrack, however upon my first watching I did not hear another song that would compare to Duel of the Fates. But there were beautiful call backs in tone and melody to the original series especially the Imperial March. Ultimately, the music did what it is designed to do enhance both the action-packed battle and chase sequences and touching personal scenes. Also, I don’t think there were any lulls in the movie, meaning that if you do go and see it in the theater, make sure you go to the bathroom first and don’t drink too much because there are no good opportunities to leave for 5 minutes.

 

swfa2I will not spoil anything here, though if you have waited as long as I did to watch the film you will need to watch out for sneaky spoilers already creeping their way into pop-culture. My recent favorite being Adam Driver reprising his role on Saturday Night Live as Kylo Ren becomes Undercover Boss.

The movie is very good and provides a great introduction to the next trilogy. There are several shocking reveals throughout, and the conclusion leaves many questions unanswered while pointing to more movies to come. However, would you expect anything else from the guy who brought us Lost. All in all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a wonderful addition to this saga and I can’t wait for my kids to get hooked on this new series.

 

Day 17 – 30 Day Movie Challenge

A Movie That Disappointed You

You would think that with 20 years to work on a worthy follow-up to the Indiana Jones Trilogy that Steven Spielberg and his collaborator George Lucas could create an entertaining and exciting film. However, it seems that instead of becoming sweeter with time, this one just became rotten. In Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we see an elderly Indy (or should I say Henry because he is rarely called “Indiana” or “Indy” in this film) in his baggy grandpa pants with locks of grey-white hair peeking out under a crisp and rarely-dirty brown fedora you really don’t get the feeling that you’re watching anything historic. This is a movie that obviously misunderstood its audience, it’s exactly the type of summer blockbuster developed to make money at all costs: things blow up; there are aliens; and an unnecessary youthful sidekick.

The film tries too hard to convince its audience that it’s set in the 1950s. You have Russian spies, nuclear testing, Howdy Doody, and Communist blacklisting all in the first act of the movie. While the earlier Jones films were an attempt to capture the magic of 30s and 40s adventure films, this one is an attempt to capture the feel of a 1950s action romp. You have campy dialogue, Shia LaBoeuf playing the Fonz, and a run-of=the-mill soda fountain brawl that plants this film in that era. In the previous Indy films, even with their date stamps, the adventures that took place are universally exciting and timeless.

The other aspect of the film that disappointed me was the role that extra-terrestrials play. The original trilogy uses religious artifacts as the treasure the Indy is hunting. But as with the abominable Star Trek prequels that George Lucas thrust upon audiences, all of the religion and mysticism was replaced by science-fiction. Why don’t film-makers understand that audiences want to encounter something inexplicable in the theater. We don’t want midichlorians to give a scientific explanation of the force or science to replace our religion. The presence of the aliens is strong, but there is no dialogue between the two parties, much like Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The adventure sequences are hit-or-miss. Some of the car chases and fight sequences are good, and a lot of the side jokes are on the mark, but there are times that it’s hard to follow what’s going on as they try to pack too many characters and subplots into a fast-moving sequence. Ultimately, there are too many diversions like the plausibility of surviving a nuclear explosion by climbing in a refrigerator, the CGI prairie dogs, and Mutt’s own private army of monkeys. Dr. Jones doesn’t get very much solo screen time. Everyone around Henry seems to have become more like Indiana Jones, while he has become more cautious in his old age.

Ultimately, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a film that, while not entirely bad, is nowhere near worthy of its lofty pedigree. As generic action films go, it may have provided some level of entertainment in the vein of National Treasure..But with the attachment of “Indiana Jones” to the title and the involvement of Harrison Ford, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg my expectations were raised and my standards were set to a level that these individuals can sadly no longer meet.

What about you? Did you have expectations for a film that fell short? Have previews and the raves of critics left you expecting a masterpiece only to find a film that failed to thrill your cinematic sensibilities? I’d love to hear your rants about these lackluster experiences. Leave a comment below or on Twitter or Facebook.