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Mr. Right by Paco Cabezas, 2015

By no means is this a perfect film, but actually it is really fun and enjoyable. Certainly in the vein of Gross Point Blank. And once Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell get together the film really takes off, though Kendrick’s opening scenes don’t work quite as well (has she ever actually been drunk?). Still can’t believe this bombed cause it is a lot of fun, with some great action, and the scene with the knives is worth seeing the whole film.

Martha (Anna Kendrick) is waiting at home for her boyfriend, taking sexy pictures when he shows up with another girl, and then tries to get her into a 3 way. She is distraught and her girlfriend’s take her out partying, but she is a mess. Meanwhile a hit man (Sam Rockwell) shows up at a hotel room where a women has hired him to kill her husband, so he puts on his red clown and kills her. A hit squad is sent after him, though Hopper (Tim Roth) sees they are idiots so stays behind, and listens in as the hit man quickly takes out the whole team.

 

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Fences by Denzel Washington, 2016

A film adaption of August Wilson’s play bringing Denzel Washington and Viola Davis back to roles they playes in 2010 Broadway Revival. The story of a very angry man and his effect on his family. And though Denzel does manage to bring it out from the backyard where most of the story takes place, it does still feel like a play on film. Still it lets Viola Davis shine. And Denzel is good too, though I feel like he could have dialed it back a bit more for the screen vs the stage. And while interesting I disliked Denzel’s Troy so much that it is a hard watch at times. It is good, though not great, though Viola Davis deserves best actress.

 

Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is an angry, angry man living in 1950’s Pittsburg. He is a former Negro Baseball league player, barely getting by as a trash man. He has put in a conplaint with the union as all the white guys are drivers and the black guys hall trash. He works with best friend Jim Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson who is awesome here) who he brings hone to hang in the backyard, where he is supposed to be building a fence for his wife Rose (Viola Davis). Troys son from a previous relationship Lyons (Russell Hornsby) comes over to borrow money, which pisses him off because he is not taking responsibility. And Troy won’t go see at a clun playing music. Meanwhile Troy and Roses son Cory (Jovan Adepo) is to be scouted for college football, but Troy refuses because of his experience in sports.

 

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The Eagle Huntress by Otto Bell (2016)

I can’t even believe that this documentary is not up for best picture at the oscars! This is such an amazing film. A great story, amazing vistas, such great characters! It is feel agood, and life affirming. And it is shot so well! This is an absolute must see! I loved it!

 

This is the story of Aishlopan a 13 year old Kazakh girl from Mongolia. Her father Nurgaiv is an Eagle Hunter. A position passed down only from father to son in the area for as far back as people can remember. Asholpan is brave and fearless, and her father decides to train her to be an Eagle Huntress. Other Eagle hunters disgree, but Nurgaiv’s father agrees!

 

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Loving written and directed by Jeff Nichols (2016)

How is this film not the lead contender for best picture?  Not only is it a true story, but it is such an important story in the history of civil rights in this country. And it is so well done, with such good acting. Not the best film I have ever seen, but certainly one of, if not the, best film of the year. I loved this film, and it is an absolute must see. Great from start to finish. It is unbelievable that this did not get nominated for best picture from though at least Ruth Negga got a nomination.

 

In Caroline County, Virginia in 1958, Interacial Marriage is illegal under anti-miscegenation laws. Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) is a white brick layer who is love with the black woman Mildred Jetter (Ruth Negga).  Richard buys an acre a mile from Mildred’s families house and asks her to marry him. They go with her father to Washington D.C. and get married. They return to Virginia and hang their marriage certificate over their bed. Later when Mildred is pregnant someone tips off the police, and Sheriff Brooks (Martin Csokas) breaks into her parents house and arrests them. Richard is released in bail, but they refuse to let him bail out Mildred. They get a lawyer, and he has them plead guilty, amd they are given suspended prison sentances, on condition that they not return to Virginia together for 25 years.

 

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Silence by Martin Scorsese (2016)

The film that Scorsese has been trying to make for 25 years. It is a gorgeous film, and makes me want to watch some great Samurai films. Unfortunately for me the religious nature of the story left me dry. And it is brutally sadistic and gory. And the moment at the end seems fully false and guesswork. I guess this is all about faith for Scorsese, but to me it is the opposite. I just don’t believe the conjecture, and I honestly didn’t like the film.

 

Father Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson) in Japan watches as the Japanese torture his fellow priests as they have made Catholicism illegal in Japan. In Macau two Jesuit priests Sebastião Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), who were proteges of Ferreira learn that he has become an Apostate and has renounced his faith and has even taken a Japanese wife. Neither believes it, and resolve to go to Japan to find him and prove his fairh and bring him home. They enlist a drunken Japanese fisherman Kichijiro (Yōsuke Kubozuka) as their guide, and thry head to Japan and small fishing village.

 

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The Finest Hours by Craig Gillespie (2016)

I had wanted to see this film when it came out, but had decided to wait till Netflix DVD, especially since it got only a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now having seen it, I wish I had seen it in the theater, so that I could have seen it in 3D, since it is a Disney film, and they didn’t release a 3D version on DVD. I actually really enjoyed this true story. In fact I liked it much better than almost all of the Oscar contenders that I have seen. It is a great story, has some interesting characters, great effects, plus it is a Cape Cod story which makes it even bettter for me! I highly recommend this film.

 

In 1952 in Chatham on Cape Cod, Coast Guardsman Bernard “Bernie” Webber (Chris Pine) meets the girl he has been corresponding with through letters. This is Miriam Pentinen (Holliday Grainger) and the two start seeing each other, and she asks him to marry her, at first he refuses, but then he agrees, but has to get permission from his commanding officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) before they can Mary. Bernie doesn’t want to get married, because of the big storms likely coming, and knowing that men die. On the day Bernie has promissed to ask Cliff a big storm arrives, and 2 tankers manage to get torn in half off of Cape Cod, though only one had gotten a message out. The SS Fort Mercer has ripped in half, losing it’s Captain and 7 crew members, and it’s radio was knocked out. The ship has a 17 foot crack in the engineering section, so it though the bulkheads are holding, it is sinking. The unliked Chief Engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) takes command, and tries to ground the ship on sholes, by manually stearing it, while the crew mans the pumps.

 

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Hell or High Water by David Mackenzie (2016)

Honestly this year has made me so dissapointed by not the oscar hopefuls films of the year but critics and film ratings. In fact I can no longer believe Rotten Tomatoes at all. Especially with this film getting a 98%. I mean, seriously are you kidding me? This film is not a great film, nor even a good or compelling film. In fact it is borring film that amounts to 3 conversations, one between 2 brothers, one between 2 cops, then on between on brother and one cop. And it isn’t like the dialogue is so amazing. And being a racist cop does not automatically make a character compelling! And I am not a fan of Ben Foster, and he didn’t change my mind here. I was not at all impressed by this film. Sure one scene with an ornary waitress was enjoyable. And the ending is OK, but really does not make up for the rest! I can’t believe this film has gotten so much positive press! Of course I can’t believe most of the Awards hopefuls are getting the reviews they are!

Two brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster) are robbing banks. All the banks are from Texas Midlands Bank, which has non-working security cameras. They take the stolen cars they use and bury them after each robbery.

Two texas Rangers are on their trail. The close to retirement and racist Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his half Native American half Mexican partner Albero Parker (Gil Birmingham). They get their first lead when Tanner robs a different bank with cameras across the street from a Diner.

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Arrival by Denis Villeneuve (2016)

Though I love sci-fi films, I had stayed away from this film because of my dislike of Amy Adams. And I wish I hadn’t stayed away, because I loved the film (though I do think another actress could have been better). While watching the film I did have some issues with film, but honestly the film answered those issues and by the end I understood why the choices had been made. And the film is obviously an homage to 2001 a Space Odyssey as the films of Terrance Malek (mostly in the photography of the flashbacks), and since I love those films it works for me. The science fiction story of this film just blew me away, and nakes this film a must watch.

 

The film begins with linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) dealing with her daughter slowly dieing from an incurable cancer over a period of years. Her husband has left her and she deals with alone, being with her on her deathbed in a hospital. Now Louise heads to her lecture on linguistics at university, not paying attention to all the students gathered around TV’s. And there are only 4 students in her class, and her lecture is quickly disrupted by phone calls and texts. 12 Alien Spacecraft have appeared around the planet at random places, large monolith like ships hovering over the Earth. When she returns home, US Army Colonel GT weber (Forest Whitaker) waiting in her house for her. They recruit her to act as a linguist in talking to the Aliens that have landed over Montana.

 

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The Girl on the Train by Tate Taylor (2016)

I was warry of this adaption of the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, mainly because the trailers reminded me too much of Gone Girl which I hated. Fortunately I was wrong. And after starting the film not liking the drunken and unreliable narrator played by Emily Blunt, i really got sucked in and felt sorry for her. This is a really great story and a good film, one of the best of the year in fact (though this year has certainly has not had the best filns).

 

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is a mess and an alcoholic, riding the train every day. She is obsessed with a couple she watches from the train, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (luke Evans). The couple lives 2 doors from her ex husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and new Wife Anna (Rebecca Ferguson)  amd their baby. Rachel is still onsessed with Tom, having ruined their marriage with drinking after they could not get pregnant. One night while on the train Rachel sees Anna cheating on her husband with another man, Kamal (Édgar Ramirez) and gets off the train to confront her, but is so drunk. She wakes up, covered in blood with almost no memory of the night, and Anna is missing.

 

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Finding Dory written and directed by Andrew Stanton (2016)

Pixar has done it again, matching the magic of Finding Nemo, by focusing it’s sequel on Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) Nemo’s funniest character the short term memory defficient clown fish. This film is funny and enjoyable with a bunch of lovable new characters. Well worth seeing and easily on of the best animated films of the year.

 

Dory lost her parents as a child due to her short term memory issues, and ended up with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence). She starts to remember her family and recruits Marlin and Nemo, but Marlin is mean to her and she runs off on her own. Dory is picked up by humans at an aquarium and rescue center, and put in quarantine, but with a tag to be sent to Cleveland Aquarium. A seven legged octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neil) wants the tag as he doesn’t want to go back to the ocean, and agrees to help her find her parents.

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Lion by Garth Davis (2016)

This true story is well done with some powerful performances, though it does drag at times. A good film, but not great. Or at least one I don’t care to watch again.

This is the true story of Saroo Brierley (as a child by Sunny Pawar) a child goes with his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) to do manual labor, but ends up wandering onto a train and falling asleep. He wakes up locked in the car as it travels all the way across India to Calcutta. He gets off, and is alone, not speaking the language Hindi, with no idea even where his home is.

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Moonlight written and directed by Barry Jenkins (2016)

Another of the Oscar contenders this year. It is an interesting slice of life, with some issues for me. First off I hated the 3 color corrects, and was distracted by them. Then the shaky cinematography was awful, and distracting. Life is not that shaky, so cinematography like that just seems lazy to me. And third and foremost, the casting of Chiron as 3 actors who don’t look alike, and the conscious decision to not even let the 3 actors meet so their performances are each their own, does not help the film either. An interesting story, but the experimental methods pulled me out of the film instead of drawing me in.

Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a shy African American child who is taken under the wing of drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe). Chiron’s mom Paula (Naomie Harris) is a real piece of work, abusive and a drug addict who buys crack from Juan. Chiron has one friend Kevin (Jaden Piner), and spends much time with Juan until he gets him to admit he sells crack to his mom.

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Passengers by Morten Tyldum (2016)

An enjoyable science fiction romance with sone issues, but that is lifted by the chemistry of the leads. And mostly my issues are script level, where things just don’t make sense, or are only that way to move the script along. It is nowhere near as bad as the reviews are saying though. It is below 40% on rottentomatoes, and that is ridiculous, it is much better than that. It is really worth seeing as a popcorn film with some interesting moral questions, and great visual effects.

The colony ship Avalon is taking a 120 year journey to the planet Homestead 2 with the crew in hybernation, set to awaken 4 months before arrival, and spend 4 months in cruise ship luxury (all further putting the passengers in debt to the conpany) while being teainee for their new life of corporate indentitude. The ship is hit by a large space rock that penetrate it’s defences and begin to overwhelm it’s self repair systems. Low level passenger and Mechanical Engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) has his pod damaged and is awoken 90 years early! He is alone, with no way to go back into suspended animation, with awful cheap food (he is not a high class passenger) and only the robot bartender Arthur (Michael Sheen) for conpanionship. He breaks into better quarters, and figures out how to dine out, but after a year alone is ready for suicide. Just then he runs into the pod of Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer and journalist. Jim becomes obsessed with her, reading all her writing and ready to awaken her, though he tries not to, but he can’t help himself.

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Manchester by the Sea written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (2016)

This is the movie that everyone is freaking out about? Really? What the f***? You have to be kidding me. I really can’t believe this film is getting so much great buzz!

 

And I was excited to see this since I was born in Massachussets (Marthas Vineyard actually) and my dad lived in Machester by the Sea for about 10 years.

 

The thing is, this film is nothing but actor bait. No great story. Nothing to show the flashbacks are flashbacks (even though they look to be maybe 10 years apart). And even worse is the music, which is nothing but distracting and inapropriate for the scenes it is in. It is so bad, it kept throwing ne out of the scenes, and making me not care what was going on.

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La La Land written and directed by Damien Chazelle (2016)

Really? Really? This is the film with all the Oscar Buzz, and that people are saying single handedly will save the musical? You have to be kidding me. It isn’t even a very good musical. I can’t remember a single song. And neither Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone are very good singers nor dancers. Nor is it the love song to Los Angeles everyone thinks it is. It is a conpletely fictitious LA, where the geography is wrong and they have the same street lights literally everywhere. Nor is it a great love story, since other than songs you never see what the two leads see in each other! At best it is a fairly mediocre musical. Not to say I am a huge fan of musicals, but I do love old Busby Berkeley musicals, the Hong Kong shaw brothers musicals of Umetsugu Inoue, Hairspray and especially The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and this can’t touch any of those! This is a total let down! How can this have tied the Oscars for most nominations?

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Jackie by Pablo Larraín (2016)

Even having grown up on Marthas Vineyard where Jackie O lived, I never cared that much. And while this film does show the poise with which she handled her husbands death, it didn’t draw me in, and in fact bored me at times. I didn’t feel like it was filmed at the white house either, and the attempt to make the film look period through low quality film pulled me away instead of drawing me into the film. And the gratuitous recreation of the horrific assassination of President Kennedy, is too much and too disgusting. Honestly this film feels like the Oscar bate that it is. An attempt to get Natalie Portman a best actress nomination. It wasn’t bad, but not very good, and really not worth seeing.

Kubo and the Two Strings by Travis Knight

Laika has done it again. Another amazing stop motion animated film. This one with it’s Japanese Samurai Fantasy film could very well have been an anime, and might lose some audience because of it, but I loved it.

Honestly the worst part is the voice cast. I just don’t think big actors do as well as voice actors. Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey’s voices are really distracting, though Ralp Fiennes was fine. I just think big actors are a distraction instead of serving the story.

i really want to see the behind the scenes on this! They do have one amazing shot of them shooting a scene mid credits that is a must see.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Gareth Edwards (2016)

I am a huge Star Wars fan, I grew up with it, and got into film because of it. That is how much I love the original trilogy. Then came the awful prequel trilogy that is basically unwatchable. Still I continued to read basically the entire expanded universe, which had some great stories, though is unfortunately no longer canon. And then came the Force Awakens, somewhat better than the prequels, but still really bad. And my hopes for more Star Wars to love were pretty much dashed. And then came Rogue One. It is in no way a perfect film, but it is the Star Wars film I have always wanted, even with it’s faults. This is a must see, and so much better than the Force Awakens that I was blown away.

 

It looks and feels like the original trilogy, and leads right into a new hope. And the effects and the 3D are awesome! Sure the film is mostly fan service, but oh what fan service! This is a must see film! Not only filling you with nostalgia, but a really enjoyable film.

 

Just saw it a second time at a true IMAX in 70 millimeter! Wow, looked pretty amazing! Been so long since I have seen a film on film.

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Café Society by Woody Allen (2016)

Woody Allen’s yearly film is out and it is good, though not great. I love the period, and the acting is top notch. It is basically a love story for people that should have been together, but aren’t by their own choices. A film for fans of Woody Allen films.

 

In 1930’s Los Angeles Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg doing a spot on Woody Allen) has just moved here from New York. He keeps calling his agent uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell again proving he isn’t just a comedian). Eventually Phil takes his nephew on as a gopher and has his secretary Veronica “Vonnie” Sybill (Kristen Stewart in one of her good roles) show him around LA. Bobby quickly falls for Vonnie, but she has a boyfriend, who is in fact the married Phil.

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Miss Sloane by John Madden (2016)

Hmm, for a film that had a lot of talk about being an Oscar contender I have to admit that I got bored in this film and have been trying to wrack my brain and figure out what the point of this film was, and especially the character motivations in the film. Sure the twist at the end was unexpected, but it did nothing to explain the character motivations, and in some ways even made them harder to understand. And while it was overall about the gun lobby and lobbying in general, it didn’t really make a huge political statement either way, other than to say lobbying system is about as corrupt as it can be on basically all sides of every issue. So I really can’t get the point of this film.

Of course I am also not a big Jessica Chastain fan. I was really not impressed by her in Zero Dark Thirty, and I didn’t like A Most Violent Year at all. And she didn’t impress me much in the Martian. To me she shows very little emotion and kind of has dead eyes, so having her as the lead does not help me like a film at all.

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Hacksaw Ridge by Mel Gibson 2016

I have to admit that I had been a fan of Gibson. I grew up on the Road Warrior and think he is a talented director, though never have seen The Passion of the Christ. So I was looking forward to Hacksaw Ridge, and it was alright, though it really did not blow me away. Honestly, it was bit too straight forward overall, making his early life fairly boring, then the Hacksaw Ridge being a bit overly violent (Gibson’s ridiculous statements on the violence in Marvel films is laughable after seeing this gore) and ridiculous, with Vince Vaughn Grease gun seeming to have endless ammo. And the fact that everyone is acting like Andrew Garfield is so small and thin, but Garfield is 5′ 10″ and not that small! And I was a bit thrown in the battle sequences because of the blood. Something about the blood looks off, like either some was digitally added, or it had some weird color correct to make it stand out, but it made it look fake to me, and that pulled me out a bit. And that the aforementioned Vince Vaugn seems miscast, basing his performance on a cursory look at R. Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket. Really it is a pretty amazing story, but overall one that really didn’t pull me as much as the true story actually should. It is not a bad film, but not great.

Swiss Army Man by Daniel Scheinert (2016)

I was excited for this as Daniel Radcliffe usually has good taste in his films, for example Horns is a great film. Unfortunately this film doesn’t hold up. It is weird for weird sake, and the ending makes een less sense than the film. Not worth seeing.

Paul Dano plays Hank Thompson a man marooned on an island, about to hang himself when a dead body named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes on the shore. The body has special powers that help Hank to survive.

 

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Doctor Strange directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson (2016)

I have always been a Marvel Comics fan (and not much of a DC Fan) and so far have been a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I am happy to say that Doctor Strange did not disappoint me. It brings the mystical into the Marvel Universe with great aplomb, and easily the best 3D visuals of any film I have ever seen to date. Honestly it made me wish this had come out while I was in college, ha! Benedict Cumberback is great as the eponymous Doctor Steven Strange, and it makes for a great origin story not only for him, but for both the mystical parts of of the Marvel Universe, and well as it being a multi-verse. It has some great little funny moments, some great character moments, some good acting (I enjoyed the performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swanson, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelsen), and oh those amazing visual effects. The Visual Effects are mindblowingly good! This movie is made for 3D, and takes full advantage of it with many amazing effects sequences with worlds and even time folding in on itself!

I really loved it and highly recommend it! I can only hope that Marvel keeps making such great films.

Star Trek Beyond by Justin Lin, 2016

I am a huge Trekkie (never liked the term Trekker), and I love the original series, the features, the next generation and deep space 9, and to a lesser degree voyager and enterprise, but have never like the JJ or now called Kelvinverse. Sure the first film was novel, and the cast seemed great, but the fact that it didn’t pay attention to any star trek history, and just made the cerebral series into an action film had me worried. Then came Into Darnkess, an awful retread of the great Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan, which was not only a pale imitation with bad casting (I love Benedict Cumberbatch, but playing Khan as played by Ricardo Montalban is so insulting), but had such a bad plot that it introduced elements that ruined Star Trek. Like a duffel sized transporter that can transport you to your enemies homeworld, which would negate the need for Starships, but also magic blood that can reverse death! And this film, which was to finally get the going into the unknow on the Enterprise’s 5 year mission to boldy go where no man has gone before, makes it all seem boring to the characters, neglects Uhura, Sulu and Checkov (by the now late Anton Yelchin), falls back to old tropes on blowing up the Enterprise, the reveal of the villain (what a waste of Idris Elba) and even ship design with the most important part of a Starbase so hard to get to and working so badly, it reminds me of the Chompers from Galaxy Quest! Sure there are some good moments, and the spacebattle stuff looks great thanks to Justin Lin’s experience with action, and the new Character Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is fun, but just too great at everything, from fighting and shooting to creating cloacking devices and holoprojects and motorcylces that can leave solid amber to capture enemies out of it’s exhaust, and even fix whole starships mostly by herself! Really a bit too much Rey from the Force Awakens for my taste. And then their is the defeat of the enemy fleet in the stupidest way of all time, with a lame throwback to the first reboot! Really? I mean could it be more dumb. Sure the film is better than Into Darkness, but at this point it is really too bad they green lit a fourth film as I just want the JJverse to go away!

The film starts 3 years into it’s five year mission, with Kirk (Chris Pine) helping deliver a piece of an ancient weapon as a peace envoy, but he badly screws up, and it turns into a comedy sketch as the aliens turn out to be tiny and attack him. He beams back to the ship and has Spock (Zachary Quinto) store the piece of weapon. Kirk is burnt out, and bored of his mission and has applied to Starfleet to be Vice Admiral (something the original Kirk never wanted, but just accepted when he was promoted). They take the ship to Starbase Yorktown, slarfleets biggest and most advanced starbase for a refuel and sone r and r (the ridiculous glass enclosed starbase looks like a ridiculous Christmas ornament, seems ridiculously designed with different parts literally pointing in every direction, and later is shown to have sone serious design flaws). Sulu (John Cho) meets up with his husband and daughter. We learn Spock has broken up with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and he learns from Vulcan’s that Ambassador Spock has died and is given a package of his things including his photos with his old crew. An escape pod comes out of a nearby uncharted nebula with a lone survivor named Kalara (Lydia Wilson but voiced by Sara Maria Forsberg). She tells them that he ship crashed and needs a rescue, and Commodore Paris (Shohreh Asdashloo) sends the Enterprise.

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS… (more…)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams 2015

OK, let me preface this by saying that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I went to film school because I dreamed of going to work for ILM and someday working on new Star Wars films. I have read almost every book in the Star Wars extended universe. When I got a bonus for my first editing gig, working on The Fellowship of the Ring DVD I bought myself a replica of Han Solo’s gun from the Empire Strikes back. I equally hate the prequels. They are crap, and ignore much of what the original trilogy did. I am also not much of a fan of J.J. Abrams. I thought the casting of his new Star Trek films was great, but the films themselves did not feel at all like Star Trek to me, and the second was utter nonsense that ruins Star Trek all together. I have always felt that J.J. Abrams is more into spectacle than a story that makes sense, and would rather rely on coincidence or magic as long as it gets him where he wants to go, and unfortunately for me this has carried over to Star Wars The Force Awakens. So while most people really seem to love this film, I can honestly say that I like it better than the prequels, and I do think that John Boyega and Daisy Ridley did good jobs with what they were given, but overall the film just isn’t good to me and that is after 2 viewings. Sure it looks great, but spectacle does not make a good film!

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver3 My first and biggest problems is how much of a rehash this is. It is a retelling of A New Hope, with elements of Empire and Return of the Jedi. I mean a simple descriptions is that a droid with plans in it, ends up on a desert planet, and meets up with a young hotshot pilot who is also powerful in the force. That person meets an old man who takes that person under their wing. The person then meets a wise alien powerful in the force and goes on to help the destroy the evil dark side users planet destroying space weapon! Sounds like a mishmash of all the star wars plots, and that is what it is. Sure it has some interesting new elements, but overall it doesn’t feel at all new. And that is a problem. It is just too much what we have already seen.

Yes, the new character Finn played by John Boyega is fun and really enjoyable but his story has faults, and I think daisy Ridley does some great acting, but her character is too powerful with no flaws and is just badly written, but I will talk more about that later.

And then their is the problem of coincidence. Too much in this movie relies on coincidence. Sure there was always coincidence in Star Wars, but this film takes it to a whole new level. And it doesn’t explain anything. The prequels had way too much explanation in them, that was unnecessary and hurt the plot, but this film goes to the other extreme and explains nothing. BB-8 gets found by the force sensitive Rei, who runs into the escaped Storm Trooper Finn, and they accidently stumble into the Millenium falcon, and she can amazingly pilot the ship. As soon as they get off planet, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) finds them. He takes them to a space bar run by force user Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) a powerful force user who has Luke Skywalker’s first light saber (which fell into the gas giant at Cloud City) and it just happens to give visions to Rey. Later on the Death Star, I mean Starkiller, Han and Finn just happen to run into Rei, so they can get her out. And after the Starkiller is destroyed (hasn’t the Empire, or as called here the New Order learned that Death Stars don’t work), R2-D2 who has been powered down, just powers back up and has the rest of the map to Luke Skywalker that BB-8 has the last part of. It is all coincidence, without any shown motivation in the story and it really weakens things! Lets lose some pace and have a little explanation!

And as for Finn, while I do really enjoy John Boyega’s portrayal, in the movie much of his character’s story has some serious faults. A kid stolen from his parents, and made a janitor on a space weapon, is later made a stormtrooper for an elite battalion led by the supposedly amazing Captain Phasma (Gwendolyn Christy with much hype, but an awful character), but won’t shoot who is ordered too, wouldn’t there have been some trsting for this? Then he so freaks out when a friend who is another stormtrooper dies, he helps an enemy escape, and ends up being ok with shooting and killing other stormtroopers who he could also know. And how is he so good with a lightsaber? In A New Hope these were obscure weapons not jany had seen! Sure maybe the New Order trained against them, but would you train a janitor with a lightsaber? And if you have a military stolen at birth, would you advertise he is a traitor? I wouldn’t cause it could give people ideas, amd yet he keeps running into New Order people who know he is a traitor! Otherwise is that stormtrooper who is such a bad ass against lightsabers his former friend then. And how is at that the creatures on Han’s ship kill everyone as soon as they get them, until they run get Finn and they just cary him till Rei can save him.

And speaking of the bad ass storm trooper who can take on Jedi. He rocks, but is only in the one scene! Wouldn’t it have been better if it had been Captain Phasma? She seems to be of high rank in the New Order, and leads her own troops, but when push comes to shove she folds. Han and Finn threaten and she drops the StarKiller’s shields essentially dooming her side. And though their are two dead Stormtrooper bodies on the ground behind them, they put her in a trash compactor to make a cheap joke that harkene back to A New Hope and ensures that she comes back, even though she really didn’t earn it.

And then their is the Dark Vader replacement here, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who of course turns out to be Han and Leia’s son Ben Solo. Instead of channeling the original trilogy, this Darth Vader obsessed Dark Force user, who defeated Luke and killed everyone in his new school of Jedi seems to act more like whiny emo Anakin Skywalker. He has temper tantrums and even Storm Troopers turn and walk away when he is throwing one. Nothing like the Dark presence of Darth Vader. And yet we see him as possibly the strongest force user we have seen, able to stop blaster bolts in the air (not deflect them like Vader or Yoda) and freeze people and force rape their minds! And he was trained by the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker! And yet he is so easy bested by a completely untrained force user, and is stupidly saved by the ground cracking open seperating him from Rei. I mean Stormtroopers showing up at least wouldn’t have felt like such a coincidence!

And then we have Rey played by Daisy Ridley. She is super cute, and acts very well, and is a total bad ass, but as a character she is just way too good. She was abandoned on a desert planet and works scavenging, but she can instantly pilot the Millenium Falcon better than Han Solo, and fix it better than him too. And he instantly likes her and wants her to join him, and he and Finn will risk everything to save her. She is a crack shot. After being overpowered and captured by Ren, she manages to overwhelm his mind and read him. And later defeat him with a lightsaber the first time she has ever used one, though he is well trained in using one, with him only being saved by the ground of the planet splitting open and saving him (seriously!!!!!!!). She is way too good at everything with no character faults or faults at all. She doesn’t even need to train or learn anything, she can just do it perfectly! I mean Luke had to struggle, and train, and he trained Kylo Renn before he was trained by Dark Force user Snoke (Andy Serkis), and this untrained girl can easily defeat him! Yes it is cool to see a girl kicking ass with the force and a lightsaber, but she doesn’t have to work for it, so it is meaningless! The original Star Wars trilogy was based on Jospeh Campbell and his Power of Myth, following a heroes journey and struggle, but Rei has no struggle, she is just too good for no reason.

And as I said, I know they don’t want to go into the political machinations of the galaxy, like Lucas did in the prequels, but some explanation would be good. Why is Leia the General of the Resistance, who the New Order says is being secretly funded by the restored Republic. A Resistance would be against the current government, not fighting the enemy. And was the whole Republic government really destroyed? If so it was such a throwaway!

And what about the New Order. It seems to be the Empire 2.0 with Hitler references amped up. No longer any thought to them being right though, just being evil and wanting order in the galaxy under their thumb, through destruction And is Snoke an alien or a really deformed human, cause the Empire has always been a human only club. There is just no depth here. Tarkin in a New Hope was evil, but there was something to him, but General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is just evil in this. And his troops are all stolen as children and mind controlled to obey, there is nothing good there at all, so why would anyone follow them? At least before they had the imperial academy that Han went to and Luke wanted to go to. Personally I would have found Stormtroopers indoctrinated to think they are on the side of right, and not just forced to believe that much scarier. And how bright can the New Order be to put their resources into building a third death star, after the first 2 were so easily dispatched. Why not try something new? How many ships could they have built instead of that one weapon?

And speaking of the Star Killer, it seems ridiculous. Easily destroyed by a small group of rebels bringing down the shield (can we say Return of the Jedi) and a few snub fighters! WTF! Where was the fleet? We saw one Star Destroyer in orbit after one shot of the StarKiller, but did they have no more ships to go against the resistance X-Wings? And did the Resistance really have no capital ships to throw at them, and only a few X-Wings? We hear of a New Republic fleet, but what is it doing while all this is going on? The only reason to show only a few X-wings is that they are trying to slavishly imitate A New Hope! And the StarKiller eats Stars to power itself and yet seems to be a planet with people on the exterior, even though it would have been a wasteland after the first star it ate to charge itself before we saw it. Not only that but in the New Hope the Death Star is built up and a big threat, but here we are searching for Luke for the whole film, then we stop the search, and have a new Death Star to deal with, but it has no dread to it, or consequences as we have no idea what it actually destroyed!

And more slavishly following the original trilogy we get Lupita Nyong’o’s Yoda, I mean Maz Kanata. Not only is her bar basically the Mos Eisley Cantina from A New Hope, but as a force sensative little Alien she literally seems to be Yoda. Maz seems here cause they wanted her here, and wanted her to give Rei Luke’s first lightsaber, previous Anakin Skywalkers, which she tells us how she got it is another story. Sure since it was lost along with Luke’s hand at Bespin, where it seemed to fall into the depths of the planet (and since it was a Tibana gas mining facility it seems it was likely a gas giant planet where the lightsaber would have fallen and been crushed and lost forver), but maybe was recovered from facility. She is just there for exposition. To get Han to Lei, and get the lightsaber to Rei.

And Han Solo, yes it was great to have him and Chewy back, but still so much was wrong! He lost the Millenium Falcon, and as soon as Rei and Finn fly it into space he stumbles upon it. And I know losing his son to the dark side and having him murder all the training Jedi would be a blow, but it puts him back right where he was before the original trilogy, but worse. He is back to being a smuggler, but no longer seems to be a good one! He has pissed off two groups not delivering often (after only losing his cargo once before the original trilogy), and has no defences on his new ship so they can easily dock and come in. He hasn’t grown at all, and is not even battling the New Order that his evil son is now a bad ass in. I thought he did what was right now? No lets let your son destroy the Republic you fought so hard for. And there is the matter of his death. It was obviously the big twist, I mean he wanted to die in Jedi and it had to have been what he agreed to before he would come back, but the circumstances are ridiculous. First off, we have a bridge across an endless pit, that only has rails for it’s first 20 feet. So are people expected to cross that? Or are there no rails so Han can fall after his son kills him once Lea tells him to save their son. So he is playing the old Man Obi-Wan and gas to die, and especially by the hamd of his son. Expedience, not sense! And then no funeral for Han? WTF?

And the End, WTF! Already BB-8 is the R2-D2 of this film, but then having R2 powered down for the whole film, and after the Death Star, uh I mean Star Killer is destroyed to have R2 wake up and just happen to have the rest of the ridiculous map to Luke Skywalker (about the dumbest Maguffin of all time, because how could it exist?), which he has just ben sitting on even though it at least showed an area where they know Luke is! And then Lei just sends this girl that she barely knows to find her brother, from the opening scroll, the only one who can save the galaxy! What? And it is so easy to just fly there? And then Luke is an Island with no habitation, just standing there, and seems pissed off, though he must have heard the Falcon and felt Rei coming! And with Han dead we never see the original trio back together! What a f***ing waste! Not only that, but the whole Luke scene where he doesn’t even speak, feels so tacked on, like it should have been in the next film, because it adds nothing but fan service, and makes the film seem incomplete, without an ending.

I can honestly say that I couldn’t believe that I was watching the same film that everyone else loved! It is just not a good film and scares me to see what else Disney will be doing with Star Wars. Honestly I would be much happier if this new film had not happened and the extended Universe of books gad just continued. Sure it gad some bad stories, but it also had some amazing ones! In fact many of those would have been so much better than what they actually did, and could have kept the extended universe going. I am so let down and depressed.

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