Sign in using your account with
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Exquisite Sequel to Movie History's Most Influential Sci-Fi saga
The task of recapturing the spirit of the original Star Wars trilogy while also attempting to bring in an array of fresh new faces and energy into the mix is a challenge no one wants to face and a rare opportunity thatno filmmaker on this planet would want to pass. Stepping in for George Lucas is Star Trek reboot director J.J Abrams who has managed to withstand an immense amount of creative pressure and deliver an exquisite and fittingly nostalgic intergalactic experience that the Star Wars fans have been waiting for.
With Luke Skywalker nowhere to be found, The First Order – a new Empire-like organisation guided by the darker-side-of-the-Force crusader, Kylo Ren (played by the brilliant Adam Driver) - has been given the freedom to rise and threaten peace in the galaxy.
Determined to locate a crucial piece of information heading to the hands of his enemies, the Resistance, Kylo Ren uses all of the means at his disposal to stop that from happening while one of his very own, a conflicted Stormtrooper, Finn (Boyega), decides to flee from his leader's imprisonment, taking a captured Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron (Isaac), along with him. Crash-landing on a deserted planet of Jakku, Finn soon comes across Rey (Ridley); a lonely scrap metal collector who soon finds himself entangled in Finn's escape.
What's impressive most about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that it works as a standalone film and whether you are a new to the franchise or a hardcore fan who lives and breathes Star Wars, let's just say, you won't be disappointed with the end result. Technically daring and visually enticing, the use of real-life settings – the vast desert shots were filmed in Abu Dhabi - gives the movie an authenticity that's rare in sci-fi and a warming familiar feel, while the non-stop action never comes across as overwhelming – or as a CGI overload - but offers plenty of thrills.
The introduction of new characters seems fitting for a franchise looking towards new horizons – as well as inevitable sequels – and while the appearance of familiar faces like Harrison Ford's Han Solo and his terribly endearing and loyal hairy sidekick, Chewbacca (Mayhew,) bring a nostalgia to the proceedings, it's the new lead characters – especially Ridley who is absolutely riveting from start to finish - that end up stealing all of the spotlight.
J.J Abrams has done the impossible; he has created – and recreated - a Star Wars movie and made it look and feel like a Star Wars movie should. Funny, sad, exciting and enlivening, it is a definite and an absolute must-see.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.