Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is everything you wanted it to be!

Movie Title:     The Force Awakens (Star Wars)

Grade:  A+

Rating:  PG-13, 2 hours 16 minutes

In a Nutshell:    YESSSS!   Episode VII is everything you hoped it would be!  I loved it!  The fans that filled the theater to capacity where I watched it cheered and cried and loved it too.  It has just the right amount of “old stuff” with respectful nods to the past, yet it’s also full of new, interesting characters, creatures, and special effects.  It's beautifully shot and will saturate your eyes with awesomeness.  Every frame could be turned into a popular movie poster.

With plenty of humor, action, lightsaber duals, space chases, and exciting thrills, it FEELS like a great Star Wars movie.  Everything looks real, not a bunch of hokey CGI or fake green screen trickery.  How do I get to be an Extra in the next movie?!!  Did I ever tell you when I played an Extra on a telenovela that never made it to the screen?  It was called "Saints and Sinners."  I played a Congressman's wife. So fun!

In the words of Supreme Leader Snoke, “There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?”  In a word, YESSSS!

Uplifting theme: 
  •  “Don’t give up hope.” – Rey
  • “The crazy thing is it’s true.  The Force.  The Jedi.  All of it.  It’s all true.” – Han Solo
  • “Feel the light.  It surrounds you.  It will guide you.” – Maz
  • “May the Force be with you.” – Leia
  • “Hope is not lost today.  It is found.” – Maz
  • Like Rey, we don't realize the greatest inside us.

Things I liked:
  • The audience immediately liked the new characters, yet applauded and cheered like crazy when former characters made their appearances on the screen.  Director and writer J.J. Abrams has successfully created new characters that you care about.  He has done a great job with the Star Trek franchise and now the Star Wars phenomena.  He shows great respect for what has been and knows how to make new episodes fresh and new.
  • Familiar characters, but with a new twist, like a Storm Trooper with a heart.  It's seriously impressive how well they kept the secrets about this script and cast before releasing the film.
  • I love the small details.  For example, Rey makes this really cool bread that only appears on screen for about 10 seconds, yet it’s memorable.  She also eats a really cool piece of fruit in the bar scene.
  • Cool new creatures we haven’t seen before.
  • I love that Daisy Ridley (Rey) can cry so easily without having her entire face turn red like mine does.  She just releases dainty, yet believable tears at the perfect time, a director’s dream.  She is an unknown actress who is brilliant in this film.  She is the heart and soul of this movie.  How refreshing and wonderful to have a female heroine and one who is good and kind.
  • Supreme Leader Snoke is pretty darn cool.  I want a bad guy to look creepy and amazing at the same time.  Mission accomplished.  Even more is that he is voiced by Lord of the Ring's talented Andy Serkis who gave us the unforgettable Gollum.
  • Maz is awesome!  My fave!  She is voiced by the lovely Lupita Nyong'o.
  • The scenery is beautiful and believable with great sweeping vistas.
  • See it in 3D if you can! 
  • It makes WAY more sense to have a droid with that roller ball base, so he can get around on the sand and even stairs, unlike R2-D2.  R2-D2's unrealistic transport mode always bugged me.  BB-8, the new droid, also has some fun features, like the cigarette lighter that elicited laughter from the audience when he holds it up to show his enthusiasm for something.  Did you know funnyman Bill Hader is the voice of BB-8?  BB-8 is cute, but not overly like Jar Jar Binks who annoyed the heck out of everyone.
  • Welcome to stardom, John Boyega (Finn).  He does a great job and is quickly likable and enthusiastically charismatic.
  • SPOILER ALERT:  It was great to see Mark Hamill again as Luke Skywalker.
  • Great sound effects and that epic sound track by John Williams!  Check out this fun video that Jimmy Fallon and "The Roots" made with some of the cast to pay tribute to the epic music:

Things I didn’t like:
  •  It cracks me up how everyone can understand what BB-8 says. 
  • Some things are brushed off without explanation.  That being said, fans have been critical of some of the previous episodes that told us what was happening, rather than show us.  I like that this movie shows us!
  • Leia (Carrie Fisher) should be dressed more like the queen that she is, but doesn’t until the end of the movie.  I used to adore her mother, the talented Debbie Reynolds.
  • Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has some serious anger management issues.  Ha ha  He does an excellent job and I appreciate the good script-writing that gave us a villain with motivation and depth.
  • Don't be impatient that there is a cliff hanger at the end.  You already know that there are more episodes coming to complete the trilogy, so don't leave the movie disappointed.  Enjoy this one.

Funny lines:
  •  “Women always figure out the truth.  Always.” – Han Solo
  • “I’ll show you the dark side!” – Kylo Ren
  • “So, who talks first?  You talk first?  I talk first?  It’s just hard to understand you with all that apparatus.”  - Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)
  • “Look how old you’ve become.” – Kylo Ren
“Something far worse has happened to you.” - Lor San Tekka played by award-winning Max Von Sydow, who was also featured recently in the movie "The Letters", which is also in theaters currently.
  • “Don’t do that.” – Leia
“Do what?” – Han Solo
“Anything.” – Leia   
  • “You know you can’t trust those little freaks.” – Han Solo
  • “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” – Han Solo
  • “This is not how I thought this day was going to go.” – Han Solo
  • “Whatever you do, don’t stare.” – Han Solo
“At what?” – Rey, Finn
“Any of it.” – Han Solo
  • “That light saber…it belongs to me.” – Kylo Ren
“Come get it.” – Finn

The line that got the audience to cheer the loudest:
“Chewy, we’re home!” – Han Solo when he steps onto the Millennium Falcon.  It's so great to see Harrison Ford revisit his role as the lovable Han Solo.  He and Chewbaca banter back and forth and it was more than wonderful to see the two of them together on screen again.

Tips for parents:   

  • The language is clean and there is plenty of action and fun creatures to keep young kids entertained. 
  • There is a lot of violence and fighting.  Umm…it’s a Star Wars movie.  It might be interesting to talk to your kids about which kind of fighting affects them more or has more of an emotional impact: close-up light saber duals or the big space battles?
  • There are plenty of heroes in this film.  Ask your kids who they are and how they show bravery, courage, loyalty, teamwork, and hope.
  • There are common themes that run through all of the episodes.  Help your kids identify some of them: good vs. evil, fatherhood, power, loneliness, hope, mentorship, etc.
  • Ask your kids how marketing affects them.  Invite them to point out all of the merchandising they have seen.

'STAR WARS' MAKED OVER $100 MILLION: Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke box office records, raking in more than $100 million on its first day in theaters, according to studio estimates. The previous record holder was the second installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which made $91 million on its first day. The Force Awakens also broke preview records, selling $57 million in tickets.

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