STAR WARS-THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

star_wars_force_awakens_4

This is NOT a film review.

“Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish……..what you started.”

To begin, there will be NO mention of plot points or scenes, if you want spoilers, jog on. Remember, this is not a film review.

Wow. What an emotional experience.
As the deadline approached, I found myself getting more and more excited, the force was truly awakening and JJ had seemingly, possibly, maybe, hopefully pulled off a coup; to make a sequel that honoured the originals yet managed to remain in the present (as far as film-making goes). Could this be true?

Everybody is feeling The Force at the moment.

Sat in the foyer on Thursday 17th December, 2015 in Sydney, Australia, the tension was palpable. We took our seats and waited, sat through some god-awful adverts and trailers and then It began (yes, I capitalized the I in it). No Fox fanfare as Lucasfilm is now owned by Disney, simply the Lucasfilm logo and then the opening crawl accompanied by THE music. Shit, it’s been a long time since I felt this. As excited as I may have been in 1999 when The Phantom Menace came out, this far superseded that feeling. I remember leaving the cinema back then sort of making excuses for it in my mind but a second viewing cemented my feelings about it, it was shit. Not so, here.

Could JJ Abrams really pull it off, after the travesty that was Eps 1,2 and 3, they shall, for me, remain in the depths of unneccessary along with the tv movies: Caravan of Courage-The Ewok adventure (which I never saw) and The Star Wars Holiday Special (2.5 on IMDB), mere distractions that came nowhere near close to the greatness of Star Wars, Empire and Jedi.
In my mind, I have erased the inclusion of 1,2 and 3. They are appendices, written badly, at best.

I can say, with confidence that JJ with The Force Awakens has done what Lucas (maybe/hopefully) wishes he could have achieved with 1,2 and 3.

And then some.

By selling the company and passing it along George Lucas has allowed the Star Wars universe to grow and become more relevant to today’s audiences as opposed to some outdated idea of what passes for entertainment these days.

That’s what it needed, a fresh approach from a skilled director who loved the originals as much as we did.

I never expected to have tears in my eyes at various moments during the watching of TFA, but they happened, I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m proud to say it. JJ hooks the audience emotionally by playing on the narrative themes of A New Hope and twisting them in a way that doesn’t seem plagiaristic (is that a word? Just looked it up, it is…..yes). The simpler, the better; gone are the overblown CGI that manages, like most 3d films, to distance you from the film and back are the creatures built by hand, the human touch. There are CGI characters in the film but never do you feel they are not real and a grounded part of this world (stand up and bow-the creators of Maz Kanata, brilliantly played by Lupita Nyong’o). Gone are the overblown, confusing messy politics and gone is Jar Jar Binks (mesa says thank goodness). What is left is the real essential elements of the originals, mythology, a bad-ass bad guy, an Empire that is stronger than it ever was, new characters that belong in the universe and a narrative that follows the rules add a pinch of seasoning and we may have an award winner, ladies and gentlemen.

Pause.

I’m currently listening to John Williams’ incredible score and still reeling from the experience of what I have just seen, it hit me emotionally. It is brilliant.

BUY ON iTUNES HERE

BUY THE DELUXE CD EDITION HERE

JJ has done the seemingly impossible and made a film that is both current and manages to directly link to the originals. All I know is I’m looking to see it again and soon, like in the next day or so. I never thought after all these years that the magic could be revived, let me tell you, it can.

I could just go on and on and on (I KNOW I already have), I just can’t help it. I’ve written a lot and said little but my enjoyment of the film is like MANY others’; an emotional one. Mark Kermode said recently how easy and how much of a joy it is to write about great films. He’s not wrong at least on an emotional level.

Shit, what can I say without spoiling anything?

The cast are all great, the set pieces are tight, exciting and tense, there are quotes, the appearances of old characters get the tingles going, new characters surprise and entertain, there are laughs, tears, heart in mouth moments and more than a touch of humanity.
Excitement, adventure, drama, emotion; this has it all.

Hats off Mr Abrams, you rock.

For me, the film of the year.

Go see it.

5/5

Advertisements

EX MACHINA (2014)

11190916_ori

A young computer programmer wins the chance to spend a week at his employer’s estate to participate in a groundbreaking experiment with Artificial Intelligence.

Alex Garland writes this incredible work, makes his debut as a director and succeeds in making an intelligent, challenging piece of sci-fi.

The film is basically a four hander and lends itself to a more intimate experience that is at times uncomfortable but infinitely engaging and fascinating.
Domnhall Gleeson plays the young coder, Caleb who is welcomed into the world of Oscar Isaac’s Nathan, a man who has made his money several times over with a thinly disguised Facebook stand-in ‘Blue Book’. At first he seems to be a regular guy but as the story progresses the audience we realise all may not be what it seems. Isaac is a brilliant actor who hasn’t taken a step wrong in his recent choices. Swedish actor, Alicia Vikander is wonderful playing Ava, the A.I. that Caleb is to give the Turing test to, a test to prove that the machine exhibits intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from a human. The fourth piece to the puzzle is the excellent Sonoya Mizuno as Nathan’s assistant, Kyoko. Everyone here delivers great performances with such rich material.

The idea of the Singularity, the moment when man and machine become one has been a topic of hot discussion over the last few years thanks to Ray Kurzweil and his research and Garland mines this subject with intelligence and skill.

The soundtrack is incredible, building tension and mood minimally. Put together by Ben Salisbury and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, the music becomes a character in its own right. It is stark and cold yet filled with wonder. The cinematography posits the viewer into a world unlike anything we have seen before.

This could be a great companion piece to Moon, they would make a great double bill. Both asking the philosophical questions of what it means to be truly alive. It also sits well in the style that 2001: A Space Odyssey began. Great science fiction eschewing the ridiculous plot contrivances that many films in this genre fall prey to. Clever scripting and directing allows space to communicate with the audience without much being said; a look or a gesture saying so much more than dialogue.

This is a breath of fresh air. Brilliant.

Highly recommended.

4/5

BUY THE BLU RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE