Monthly Archives: December 2015

We Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens “Do not miss this one.” -MR

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars The Force Awakens Theatrical Poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Produced by
Written by
Based on Characters
byGeorge Lucas
Starring
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Dan Mindel
Edited by
Production
companies
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • December 14, 2015(Los Angeles premiere)
  • December 18, 2015(United States)
Running time
135 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200 million[2][3]
Box office $765.9 million[4]

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) is a 2015 American epicspaceopera film directed, co-produced, and co-written by J. J. Abrams. The seventh installment in the main Star Wars film series, it starsHarrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis,Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow. Produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and distributed worldwide by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, The Force Awakens is set approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi (1983), and follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron‘s fight with the Resistance, led by veterans of the Rebel Alliance, against Kylo Ren and the First Order, descended from the Galactic Empire.

The Force Awakens is the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy announced after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012. The film is produced by Abrams, his long-time collaborator Bryan Burk, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi, rewrote an initial script by Michael Arndt. John Williams, composer for the previous six films, returned to compose its score. Star WarscreatorGeorge Lucas served as creative consultant during the film’s early production stages. Filming began in April 2014 in Abu Dhabiand Iceland, with principal photography also taking place in Ireland and Pinewood Studios in England.

The Force Awakens premiered in Los Angeles on December 14, 2015, and was released on December 18, 2015, in 2D, 3D, andIMAX 3D, more than 10 years after the release of the franchise’s last major installment, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith(2005). Critics compared it favorably to the original trilogy, praising its action sequences, characters, acting, special effects, musical score and emotional drama. The film broke several box office records in its opening weekend, making $248 million in the United States and $529 million globally, becoming the highest-grossing worldwide opening of any film. As of December 23, 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had grossed over $765 million worldwide.[4] A sequel is scheduled for May 26, 2017, followed by an additional sequel in 2019.

Plot (Minor Spoiler Alert)

Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the remains of the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate Luke and the Republic. The Resistance, backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s sister, Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location.Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and comes across a scavenger, Rey, at a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to kill for the First Order, frees Poe and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, and Finn appears to be the only survivor. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. The three flee the planet in a stolen, rundown ship, the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon breaks down, and is soon captured by a much larger ship, piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who reclaim their former ship. Han explains that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order but went into exile after a student turned to the dark side and destroyed all that Luke had built. Gangs seeking to settle debts with Solo board the ship and attack, but the five escape in the Falcon.

Cast

Star Wars: The Force Awakensintroduces (from top) Adam Driver as the dark warrior Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as the scavenger Rey, John Boyegaas the reformed stormtrooperFinn, and Oscar Isaac as X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron.
A rogue and smuggler. Ford said Han “does not aspire to the position of Obi-Wan, nor do I aspire to be some New Age Alec Guinness. His development is consistent with the character, and there are emotional elements which have occasioned his growth … There’s a lot of the rogue still left in Solo. Some things don’t change…”[5]
One of the last remaining Jedi who has gone into hiding. Regarding Luke, Han and Leia, Abrams stated: “They’d be as old and as mythic as the tale of King Arthur. They would be characters who [the new characters] may have heard of, but maybe not. They’d be characters who they might believe existed, or just sounded like a fairy tale…”[6]
The former princess of the destroyed planet Alderaan, turned General of the resistance.[7] After the events of Return of the Jedi, she is described as “a little more battle weary, a little more broken hearted.”[8] Fisher described Leia as “Solitary. Under a lot of pressure. Committed as ever to her cause, but I would imagine feeling somewhat defeated, tired, and pissed.” Abrams said: “The stakes are pretty high in the story for her, so there’s not much goofing around where Leia’s concerned.”[9]
A dark warrior strong with the Force, originally a member of the Knights of Ren, and commander of the First Order.[10][11]Driver said the team tried “not to think of him as being bad, or evil, or a villain. Something that was more three-dimensional. He’s more dangerous and unpredictable, and morally justified in doing what he thinks is right.”[12]
A scavenger abandoned as a child on the desert planet Jakku, who is searching for her family.[13] Ridley said: “She’s completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself, until she meets [Finn] and an adventure begins.”[13]
A reformed First Order stormtrooper.[13][14]Boyega said that he learned he obtained the part “over a nice breakfast in Mayfair” where Abrams told him: “John, you’re the new star of Star Wars.”[15]Boyega said: “When we find Finn, he’s in incredible danger. And the way he reacts to this danger changes his life, and launches him into the Star Wars universe in a very unique way.”[13] He said in another interview: “He’s been taught about [Luke], he knows about his history. For him it’s like joining the army and then learning about one of the great enemies of your country.”[6]
A Resistance X-wing fighter pilot.[13][16] Isaac said: “He’s the best freaking pilot in the galaxy… He’s been sent on a mission by a certain princess, and he ends up coming up across [Finn], and their fates are forever intertwined.”[13]
A pirate.[16]Nyong’o said Kanata has “lived over a thousand years. She’s had this watering hole for about a century, and it’s like another bar that you’d find in a corner of the Star Wars universe.”[17] According to Abrams, the character was based on his former high school English teacher, Rose Gilbert, who lectured at the Palisades Charter High School from 1961 till 2013. Abrams said the team “really wanted the story to feel authentic, despite being a wild fantasy. I mentioned Rose in an early story meeting as a sort of timeless, wise figure that I’d actually known in my life.”[18]
The political leader of the First Order. He is Kylo Ren’s master and is very powerful in the dark side.[19] Serkis described Snoke as “quite an enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful… He is large. He appears tall. And also just the facial design—you couldn’t have gotten there with prosthetics… Without giving too much away at this point, he has a very distinctive, idiosyncratic bone and facial structure.”[20]
The leader of the primary First Order base, Starkiller Base.[21] Gleeson described him as “pretty ruthless. A strong disciplinarian would be a mild way of putting it… He’s kind of opposite Kylo Ren. They have their own relationship, which is individual and unusual. One of them is strong in different ways than the other. They’re both vying for power.”[22]
A humanoid robot. Daniels said the actors were allowed to experiment with their performances, and that Abrams “made a field, a playpen where you were allowed to take your time and suggest things.”[23]
A Wookiee — a tall, hirsute creature — and Han Solo’s friend. Joonas Suotamo portrays the character in several action scenes, as the then 71-year-old Mayhew suffered from knee problems.[24]
A retired adventurer on Jakku, aiding the resistance in locating Luke Skywalker.[25]

Tim Rose and Mike Quinn reprise their respective roles as Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb, both from Return of the Jedi. Quinn previously performed Nunb with Richard Bonehillbefore his death;[26][27]Kipsang Rotich returns as the voice of Nien Nunb[28]andErik Bauersfeld returns to voice Ackbar.[29][30]Kenny Baker, originally announced as part of the cast, was credited as “consultant” for R2-D2.[31][32]Ewan McGregor has a vocal cameo as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Rey’s vision sequence, while archival audio of Frank Oz and Alec Guinness as Yoda and Kenobi, respectively, are also used in the same scene; Oz recorded new dialogue for the film, but it was replaced with pre-existing audio from The Empire Strikes Back.[33]

Gwendoline Christie plays Captain Phasma, an officer in the First Order.[34]Dave Chapman and Brian Herring served as puppeteers for BB-8,[35]withBill Hader and Ben Schwartz credited as “Vocal Consultants”.[36]Ken Leung appears as Statura, an admiral in the Resistance.[37]Simon Pegg appears as Unkar Plutt, the Junkyard dealer on Jakku.[21][38]Greg Grunberg plays Snap Wexley, an X-wing pilot.[39]Kiran Shah plays Teedo, a scavenger on Jakku who rides a semi-mechanical Luggabeast.[40]Jessica Henwick appears as Jessika “Jess Testor” Pava, an X-wing pilot.[41][42]Yayan Ruhian, Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman appear as Tasu Leech, Razoo Qin-Fee, and Crokind Shand, members of the Kanjiklub Gang, a criminal organization.[43][44][45]Warwick Davis appears as Wollivan, a tavern-dweller in Maz Kanata’s castle.[46][47]Anna Brewsterappears as Bazine Netal, a First Order spy, also at Maz Kanata’s castle.[48]Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Thanisson, a First Order Petty Officer.[49]Billie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher, appears as Connix, a lieutenant in the Resistance.[50][51]Emun Elliott appears as Brance, a member of the Resistance.[52]Harriet Walter appears as Kalonia, a doctor that tends to Chewbacca.[53][54]Mark Stanleyappears as a Knight of Ren.[54]

Daniel Craig, Michael Giacchino and Nigel Godrich cameo as stormtroopers.[55][56] Abrams’ assistant, Morgan Dameron, appears as a Resistance officer,[57]while his father,Gerald W. Abrams, appears as Captain Cypress.[58] Additionally, Crystal Clarke, Pip Andersen,[59]Christina Chong,[60] Miltos Yerolemou,[61]Maisie Richardson-Sellers,[62]Amybeth Hargreaves,[63]Leanne Best,[64]Judah Friedlander,[65]andKevin Smith[66]were cast in minor roles. Abrams has a vocal cameo,[67][68]whileStar Wars: The Clone WarsandStar Wars Rebels cast members Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter, Tom Kane, Catherine Taber, Matthew Wood, Sam Witwer, Meredith Salenger and show runner Dave Filoni are listed among the additional voices used in the film.

Our Thoughts

While I am not going to give any spoilers, this was basically a far-better-done remake of episode 4, which was the world’s first introduction to this great epic space opera. Maybe it was too much like episode IV, or maybe it was just that back then there were no Iron Man movies, or Guardians of the Galaxy, to compete with, or maybe it is because I am 46 yrs old now, not 12, but that huge euphoric feeling I used to get when I’d see Luke, and the X wing ships fighting in space, was missing. It just didn’t seem as good as the world is making it out to be. I’ll not harp on the details though. It was easy to forget my few gripes, as they passed, and I was still able to get lost in the well made, well acted, film. We saw it in IMAX 3D and the full blown visuality of it all, as expected, was superb. All-in-all this is a must see film, even if you haven’t seen the other Star Wars movies, or are not into the genre. 4.5 stars. Do not miss this one. -MR

Find Star Wars and see the new trailer here


We review Creed, “4 stars and highly recommended.” – MR

Creed (film)

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Creed
Creed poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by Ryan Coogler
Based on Characters
by Sylvester Stallone
Starring
Music by Ludwig Göransson[1]
Cinematography Maryse Alberti
Edited by
  • Claudia Castello
  • Michael P. Shawver
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
Running time
133 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million[3]
Box office $46.3 million[4]

Creed is a 2015 American sportsdrama film, written and directed by Ryan Coogler, co-written by Aaron Covington, and produced by Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler, and Sylvester Stallone. The film stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson Creed, Apollo‘s son, with Stallone reprising the role of Rocky Balboa. It also features Tessa Thompson, Tony Bellew, and Graham McTavish. It is the seventh Rocky film, both a spin-off from the original series and a sequel[5][6][7][8][9] to 2006’s Rocky Balboa. The film reunites Jordan with Fruitvale Station writer/director Coogler, and with Wood Harris, whom Jordan worked with on The Wire.

Filming began on January 19, 2015 in Liverpool, and later also took place in Philadelphia, Rocky’s home. Creed was released in the United States on November 25, 2015, the fortieth anniversary of the date of the opening scene in the original Rocky.

Plot

In 1998, Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, the son of an extramarital lover of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, is serving time in a Los Angeles youth facility when Creed’s wife, Mary Anne, pays him a visit and offers to take him in.

Seventeen years later, Donnie walks away from his job at a securities firm to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer. Mary Anne vehemently opposes this, remembering how her husband was killed in the ring 30 years earlier against Ivan Drago. He tries to get a slot at Los Angeles’ elite Delphi Boxing Academy, but is turned down. Undaunted, Donnie travels to Philadelphia in hopes of getting in touch with his father’s old friend and rival, Rocky Balboa.

Donnie tracks down Rocky at Rocky’s Italian restaurant, Adrian’s, named in honor of his deceased wife, and asks Rocky to become his trainer. Rocky is reluctant to get back into boxing, having already made a one-off comeback at a very advanced age despite having suffered brain trauma during his career as a fighter. However, he eventually agrees. Donnie trains at the Front Street Gym, with several of Rocky’s longtime friends as cornermen, and also finds a love interest in Bianca, an up-and-coming singer and songwriter.

Donnie, now known as “Hollywood Donnie,” defeats a local fighter, and word gets out that he is Creed’s illegitimate son. Rocky gets a call from the handlers of world light heavyweight champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, who is due to be forced into retirement by an impending prison term. He offers to make Donnie his final challenger—provided that he change his name to Adonis “Hollywood Donnie” Creed. Donnie balks at first, wanting to forge his own legacy. However, he eventually agrees.

While helping Donnie train, Rocky learns he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He is unwilling to undergo chemotherapy, remembering that it was not enough to save Adrian when she had ovarian cancer. His diagnosis and the fact that his best friend and brother-in-law Paulie Pennino—Adrian’s brother—has now passed away in addition to Adrian, Apollo and his old trainer Mickey Goldmillfurther force him to confront his own mortality. Seeing Rocky shaken, Donnie urges him to seek treatment.

Donnie fights Conlan in Conlan’s hometown of Liverpool. Many parallels are present between Apollo and Rocky’s first fight 40 years earlier. Before going into the ring, Donnie receives a present from Mary Anne—new American flag trunks similar to the ones Apollo and later Rocky wore.

Our Thoughts

This was one of the best Rocky films yet. Not my personal favorite, but this one ranks right up there with the better boxing films. Creed is definitely worth the price of a premium movie ticket and it has enough romance and drama, mixed in, to be considered a date movie. 4 stars and highly recommended – MR

Find Creed and see the new trailer here.