The Force has Awakened!

Ok so the only opportunity I’ve had to watch a Star Wars movie in a theater on release date is with Episodes I through III, also known as the infamous “Prequels”. Now, don’t get me wrong, the prequels do have their good moments, but I never thought they had that sense of adventure the originals have. Now, I did watch the digital re releases of the original trilogy but, as most people out there, I still prefer the original versions.

Having explained that, I was very excited to be able to watch The Force Awakens on opening night, specially after Lucasfilm and Disney had done an amazing job of making the movie feel like Star Wars again. And I am glad to say I was not disappointed!

From the opening credits accompanied by the famous John Williams score, the movie geared up and took us for a fun, exhilarating ride in a galaxy far, far away. Now, I know the movie is not perfect, but really neither are the originals. The reason we love these movies so much is not because they are perfectly made movies, but because they take us on a journey that makes us feel like little kids again. This was TFA’s main goal, to take us back to the roots of Star Wars, and boy did it accomplish it. Relying on both old known characters, magnificently introduced new ones, and nods to the originals, TFA brought back the heart that the franchise had lost so many years ago.

THE GOOD:

  • The new characters take center stage, and are fleshed out fluidly within the story, letting us know where they’re coming from without giving away too much too fast. One of the main factors that allowed the characters to stand out, is the story. Abrams parallels the main conflict to the one in A New Hope, familiar territory for old fans, and an easily to understand conflict for new ones, allowing him to focus on telling the background motivations for each character. Even BB8 was a great addition to this universe as the comic relief. Yes we can finally forget about Jar Jar.
  • Han Solo is back, and is one of the strong points in the film. I was afraid that his character was going to be shoehorned in just for nostalgia effects, however, not only is he integral to the story, but to me it seemed as if Harrison Ford was having the time of his life revisiting this character. Han and Chewie definitely stole the show on every scene they were in.
  • Kylo Ren. This was a pleasant surprise on the film, as we meet a villain in the making. He is not Darth Vader. In fact he is merely a Vader wannabe, but as the movie goes along we get to see a troubled person behind the mask, a villain who’s journey will be told throughout the new trilogy, making him a very interesting character.
  • The acting. Everyone seems to have brought their A game (well almost everyone, that is), which makes the experience more enjoyable! Special nods to Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who gave unique qualities to each of their characters.
  • Few Exposition. One of the things that made me not like the prequels too much is the exposition. The movies take no time to show us things, they just explain it all on looooong boring dialogs. NOT HERE! Everything we learn about the characters is shown through situations, decisions or behavior, we learn about the story and the characters, we are not told about them, which makes us care more about what is going on.
  • The final light saber battle! This fight looks brutal, like two people literally fighting for their lives. The choreographed look of the fights in the prequels is over and man is that a good thing.

THE NOT SO GOOD:

  • Snoke. The problem with this is not with the character, but only with the effects used to present him. In a movie filled with practical effects, this CGI character stands out and looks not as good as the rest of the movie.
  • Carrie Fisher, although it is good to watch her character again, she hasn’t acted in a while, and it shows on the movie.
  • Episode VIII can’t come fast enough.

All in all this is a movie that succeeds because it was not only made as eye candy, but it actually has a good story, respects the universe created in the originals, and most importantly has heart, a LOT of heart, and a story and ending that only leaves us wanting Episode VIII to be premiered next week!

If you haven’t seen it, please go! I promise you will not be bored or disappointed.

May the force be with you!

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Jurassic World

Ok, so after 5 years away from you guys I am back to writing here, and what better way to start again than with one of the movies I was most looking forward to this year!

NOTE: This is a spoiler-free(ish) article…

So 22 years after the first Jurassic Park, we get to witness what appears to be John Hammond’s dream come true: a fully operational, dinosaur filled theme park that has been opened for the last 10 years. And, as in the first movie, it doesn’t take much for shit to hit the fan.

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So the first JP movie was a great success due to its innovation on CGI and use of animatronics, as well as being magnificently directed by Steven Spielberg, which does not mean it does not have its flaws, but that it is so suspenseful, fun, and the effects so well handled, that it is awesome despite its flaws.

Now, JW is not here to top the first one on anything (hell, not even Spielberg himself could recreate his own success when he directed The Lost World), but I do believe we finally get the sequel that the franchise deserved.

I want to start by talking about the characters. Most characters on this movie are one-dimensional, and no emotional connection is really ever achieved during the movie with them (with the character of Mr. Masrani and Vic Hoskins being almost caricatures fit for a 90’s B movie). the only exception is the character of Owen Grady who, despite being as one-dimensional as the rest, is portrayed awesome by Chris Pratt, who confirms his acting chops on this movie. There is not even much chemistry between the characters themselves. Proof of this being that the best emotional connection we get from characters is between Owen and his pack of raptors.

That and the fact that the CGI in the movie is not consistent (most looks great, however there are parts where the work seems underdone) are probably the only gripes I have with the movie. But I can look past these things because everything else in the movie just works very well.

Right from the beginning the movie amazes the audience by showing how spectacular a park like this would be, and you start to get that same feeling you got when you saw the brachiosaur for the first time 22 years ago, just to be reminded that this can never work half an hour later. This, i believe, was a great decision to add to the story, as it was something that the previous sequels lacked (and the first JP used so brilliantly), by throwing you directly into a place you knew was dangerous. The park itself is so well designed and portrayed, that you believe if such a place could exist, it would look exactly like this.

The stories involving the dinosaurs, the plot twists they generate, are handled brilliantly by Collin Trevorrow, and do not feel forced or unrealistic (within the parameters established within the movie of course). The Indominous Rex is a formidable new addition, and does feel menacing and terrifying in every scene it is in. The raptors being “trained”, was one of the high points of the movie, as they were able to portray this without it feeling stupid. And the big climax, AWWWW THAT CLIMAX!!! The last 20 or 25 minutes of the movie alone are worth the admission price!

All in all, Jurassic World is a fun, action packed monster movie, wrapped in social commentary, as the first one was, with a message updated for our day and age, which does nothing new for the genre, but manages to keep the same used up tropes fresh enough to earn it a place right behind the original when it comes to pleasing audiences. A movie that will not disappoint on providing a good time and a great thrill ride.

PS: If you have the chance to see it on 4DX, do so, it is one of the most immersive 4D experiences i have witnessed.

Inception

Christopher Nolan takes us into the complexity of the human mind through dreams, in a bockbuster which (unlike most blockbusters now days) demands us to give our full attention and immerse ourselves into every little detail of it to fully enjoy it.

The movie stars  Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Lukas Haas.

Now trying to explain the plot of this movie would not only take the fun out of you watching it, but also confuse you… so I just wont get too into it. I’ll just explain that it follows a team of people who have a machine used to go into people’s dreams to be able to steal and/or plant ideas into their brains. Now imagine the complexity of the story when Nolan takes the movies first 45 minutes in setting up what I just said in 1 line (which does not even start reveal anything about the movie). The best thing about the movie is that it does not involve plot twists, it does not need them, it drives you on one storyline so complex, that it will keep you asking “now where is this going?”… you will not think the movie is taking you in a different direction you had thought because you never really know where it is taking you, it IS that disorienting; and this is exactly what makes it easy and exhilarating to dive into it without a problem.

Now this movie is icredibly well layered not only vissually, but in its narration and conception of the idea, in a way only Nolan could have done in a Matrix meets Memento mix. Now I am writing this after viewing it only 1 time… I am sure I will be able to give more in depth. I give this mind bending maze a 5 out of 5… simply perfect, something you have not seen in a very long time, and probably will not be seen in another long period.

Now vissually, this movie probably is not ground braking, but it does push all the boundaries it can, eith great action sequences to give the brain a rest and a very cool fight scene envolving Gordon-Levitt’s character, which is really unique and fun!!! Go watch the movie, a must-see!!!

Here is a part of a HBO special about this movie, an also the movie’s trailer… enjoy