Star Wars: The Force Awakens

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens[1]Directed by:       J. J. Abrams

Written by:  Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, Michael Arndt.

Based on:   Characters by George Lucas

Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher.

John Williams returns as composer of the score.

The 7th installment with George Lucas as the creative consultant.

A classic using the same formula as the original series but with a different story – genius in its simplicity.

I can’t imagine the pressure on the writers in getting this one right: the beginning of a sequel of a sequel.  Yes, the writing of this Star Wars episode could easily have become over complicated, but, thankfully, the reins were held tight and yet the story still felt new and exciting.

With 3D glasses on, I was immediately absorbed in this re-visit to desert landscapes, androids and light sabers – all I could think was: yeah, cool.

Rey (Daisy Ridley), scavenging for survival, becomes in possession of an android holding a secret map of the location of the last Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker. Luke has gone missing after his favourite student, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), goes to the dark side.

Sound familiar? But then, as a twist, we have a defector from the First Order joining forces with the Resistance and teaming up with our old favourites: Hans Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia.

The story was engaging with humour and action without the usual blood and guts. PG goodness at its finest.  I’m not usually one for these PG films; but I have to say I didn’t miss the mature themes with this one.  Star Wars (7) brought a smile to the face even with the excited kid kicking the back of my chair.  I was excited too!

It was a pleasure to see Harrison Ford back as Han Solo, even if he was a bit stiff with age. Chewbacca will always be a favourite.  I was surprised at how good Carrie Fisher looked after the taint of sitcoms such as, Big Bang and Family Guy.  She was well cast as a military leader.  Yes, some good acting here – Adam Driver a surprising dark character.  But I think it’s the writers who deserve the congratulations.

I’ll be back to see the rest of the series.

 

By the Sea

GoMovieReviews Rating:
By The SeaDirected by: Angelina Jolie Pitt

Written by: Angelina Jolie Pitt

Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Arestrup, Richard Bohringer

The drinking, the smoking, the difficult relationship and the seaside… If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was about to watch a film based on a Hemingway novel.

There were definite echoes of the novel, The Garden of Eden (published in 1986, posthumously).  But without the amazing dialogue Hemingway is so famous for, By the Sea, was, listless.

Set in a French, beachside resort in the 1970’s, By the Sea, could have been a 1930’s film, bar the public nudity. And there are some soft porn moments here. But this film is definitely about the strained relationship between Vanessa (Angelina) and Roland (Brad).

It’s not an easy feat depicting depression. Watching a relationship disintegrate can be a boring business. I was left wondering how it was possible for people to have so much time to do nothing.

The silence of what is left unsaid between Vanessa and Roland is juxtaposed with the loud and happy love of Lea, (Mélanie Laurent – she was fantastic in Inglourious Basterds (2009), also cast alongside Brad Pitt) and François (Melvil Poupaud) on their honeymoon. Nothing highlights an unhappy couple more than a happy one.

The beauty of the setting, the turquoise water, the rocky landscape of the French seaside gives the audience a break from the sad-faced Vanessa.   The old French café owner, Michel (Niels Aretrup) and hotel owner, Patrice (Richard Bohringer), gives warmth to the story. But the dominance of Vanessa makes it a somewhat boring film because the character is so incredibly lifeless.

There are moments of interesting dialogue, mostly between Roland and the other characters, and more thought into what was spoken, or perhaps framing the silence better would have made a more compelling film.

I didn’t mind being lulled by the silence because I don’t mind the feeling of listlessness. But you’ve got to be in the right mood for this one.