Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

            It’s really difficult to review a movie such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  In many ways the entire Star Wars film series has acted as something more than a film series.  With something ubiquitous, Star Wars has become sort of a way of life for so many, and it seems like everyone has a different entry point for the franchise, which makes everyone’s relationship with the series unique.  For the undoubtedly many whose entry point into the franchise will be Star Wars: The Force Awakens they will be in for quite a treat.  Not only does the film deliver on a cinematic level, but it also delivers on a message level.  The Force Awakens is easily the funniest and quite possibly the most emotional edition in the series, but it also is a film that is directed from beginning to end on the ideal of equality.  With a movie like this, there is now a future for the Star Wars fanbase that isn’t so heavily dominated by white males, and I’m all for a future, in which, the entire world can be given a common language to communicate through, Star Wars fandom.

            Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place decades after the fall of the Emperor and Darth Vader.  The remnants of the Galactic Empire, now known as the First Order, have just completed a new super weapon to even surpass the Death Star.  With this and a hopefully successful hunt for the missing last Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill with a now powerful acting presence that wasn’t present in the original trilogy), they plan to once again restore their power within the Galaxy.  However, a star pilot (Oscar Isaac) brings a scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a war weary Stormtrooper (John Boyega) on a collision course with the First Order’s plans.

            When it was first announced that fanboy favorite director J.J. Abrams was going to direct this film I was filled with extreme confidence, and that confidence was rewarded with this great film.  Abrams tendencies are perfect for a legacyquel such as this.  The great callbacks are there.  The comedy is some of the best in the entire Star Wars franchise, and the action sequences are flashy and well shot.  Most importantly, though, is that the film is extremely well cast from top to bottom.  Sure, Abrams does come with his negatives, and they are present here.  His tendency to recycle plots comes back big time in a plotline that Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron goes through in the final act, but they are mostly balanced out here with rich Shakespearean-esque drama and great character work.

            Speaking of those characters, it’s hard not seeing the millions of people watching this film falling in love with the new ones and falling in love again with the old ones.  Daisy Ridley’s Rey may end up doing more for equality for women than the current and extremely lazy Congress of the United States of America, and Daisy Ridley plays the role with such charm and raw emotion that it’s hard not to fall in love with her too.  Meanwhile, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is one of the greatest Shakespearean characters that Shakespeare never wrote, and Adam Driver brings so much dimension and tiny quirks (a physical choice that he utilizes as Kylo prepares for battle is one of the greatest attempts at character building for a villain ever) it is hard not to see this as one of the performances of the year.  Additionally, Harrison Ford and John Boyega deliver fully charismatic performances with both old school (in the case of the former) and new school (in the case of the later) techniques.  I could go on and on about how great people are in this movie whether it’s Domhnall Gleeson as a loud First Order General to Max von Sydow bringing a presence to what easily could have been a throwaway role, but I would really just go on and on.

            Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a great return for one of cinema’s most ubiquitous series.


Room Review

            Films with dark subject matters are really difficult to make.  You have to find the right balance of tackling the material correctly and thoroughly while making sure you still have some sort of hope or happiness (or some other pleasing aesthetic) for the audience to latch onto.  Abduction is certainly a dark subject matter, and Room goes through this subject matter thoroughly.  Yet I found myself enjoying Roomunlike many of its brethren thanks to a strong cast, a Malick-ian touch, and a powerful life-affirming message at the center of the film.

            Room follows Jack (Jacob Tremblay) as he celebrates his fifth birthday in the only home he knows, “room”.  Jack and his mother (Brie Larson) have lived there his entire life with occasional visits from Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), who provides them with the materials to survive.  Jack’s mother thinks now is the time to have Jack help her plan their escape into the real world that Old Nick has held them captive from. 

            It’s quite amazing how much director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Emma Donoghue do with this film considering their general lack of experience with Hollywood filmmaking.  Everything from the pacing to the world building to the effort they get from the actors is amazing.  While this is certainly not an action film, Abrahamson does well enough with the major set pieces of the film to install a real sense of intensity into the film.  Additionally, the world that the film builds is really fascinating.  It consonantly reminded me of the exchange about magic in the world and whales between Mason and his father in Boyhood in that the film is constantly able to build a fantasy world out of mundane things that people come across in the world everyday.  The way Abrahamson weaves this altogether makes it clear that he is an admirer of Terrence Malick as the film does seem like its trying to homage The Tree of Life although never at the disservice of its own storyline.

            The cast is also really strong as even small performances such as those of William H. Macy (a multi-dimensional cameo appearance), Sean Bridgers (as the film’s creepy villain) and Tom McCarmus (in a heart-warming portrayal of a step-grandfather) make a lasting impression.  While Joan Allen and Jacob Tremblay do solid work in major roles, this film really belongs to Brie Larson as her heartbreaking but realistic performance brings so much dimension to this film.

            Room is a powerful film that will hopefully jumpstart the Hollywood careers of many involved.


AllTrail's Connecticut Top 10

If you ever want to get into hiking there is no greater app that I could recommend than AllTrails. Due to a large user base, AllTrails has o...

Popular Posts