Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens Poster

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Starring Harrison Ford, Mark  Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels, and Peter Mayhew.


Three short years ago, the Internet exploded with the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm and that Star Wars: Episode VII would be coming in 2015.  When that first trailer broke, we went nuts.  We were following every development online.  But, as excited as I got, there was always that nagging doubt in the back of mind…didn’t I go through all this 15 years ago with the prequels?  I did my best to downgrade my optimism to cautious, but when the day came, I was heading into the theatre.   How would it fare?


It’s been thirty years since Return of the Jedi.  A new galactic superpower has emerged from the remnants of the Empire, called the First Order.  To oppose them, the Republic has formed an army called the Resistance, and the galaxy has descended into war once again.  Complicating matters is the disappearance of the legendary Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, whose reappearance could turn the tide.  Soon thrust into the middle of things is a desert scavenger named Rey and a defecting Stormtrooper who adopts the name Finn.  They’ve come into possession of a droid called BB-8, who holds the key to finding Luke Skywalker.  Soon, classic heroes are joining our new friends, as the Resistance rallies to battle the First Order’s new super-weapon.  Can the weapon be destroyed?  Will Luke Skywalker be found?  And what’s the true identity of the First Order’s deadly dark Jedi, Kylo Ren?

What I Liked

Wow.  Right away, everything’s better than the prequels.  The acting is so much better…the dialogue is so much better.  It looks grittier than the prequels…more real.  And, like one of my favourite things about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Harrison Ford showed up.  He’s not just Mr. Sleepy-Mumbler…he is Han Solo once again.  I just found the new characters so believable and likable.  The action is great.  The special effects are great…it’s just great.

What I Didn’t Like.

OK, so the plot is highly, highly, HIGHLY reminiscent of Star Wars, or A New Hope, or whatever you call the first one.  So it might be appealing to nostalgia just a little too much.

Final Verdict

Dude, it made me cry.  I did not expect that.  It’s just…that good.

4 Nibs

Movie Review – The Good Dinosaur

The Good DinosaurThe Good Dinosaur Movie Poster

Directed by Peter Sohn

Starring the voices of Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Peter Sohn, Steve Zahn, A.J. Buckley, Anna Paquin, and Sam Elliot.


Yay!  The first time we had two Pixar films in a year!  The Good Dinosaur was supposed to be their animated blockbuster of 2014, but thanks to production delays, story problems, and switch of directors, it got moved to 2015.  Coming hot on the heels of Inside Out, where everyone was going “Pixar is back!” would The Good Dinosaur continue that streak?  Or would the awesomeness of Inside Out block out this second Pixar film?


In an alternate timeline where dinosaurs and humans co-existed, we’re introduced to a family of farmers…who are apatosauruses.  The youngest, Arlo, is a timid sort, who’s constantly frightened by everything.  While endearing at first, it soon comes to frustrate his family.  While out on a hunting trip to try and help Arlo face his fears, Arlo stumbles into a swift-moving river, and is soon swept fan downstream, far from his family.  Arlo then must conquer his fears to return home.  Accompanying him is a caveboy he names Spot, who acts very much like a dog.  Together, Arlo and Spot must overcome many harrowing obstacles, do battle with some fanatical pterodactyls, and help out some T-Rex ranchers.  Can Arlo make it home and conquer his fears?

What I Liked

This is Pixar’s most photo-realistic film.  I’ve been camping in the mountains ever since I was a kid, and the backgrounds look just the Rockies I know and love.  There are some clever ideas at play — they borrow a lot from the tropes of Westerns, especially with the ranchers…who are T-Rexes.  There’s not much in the way of emotional beats, but what little there are really do hit home.  There’s a clever music score, I enjoyed some of the darker turns.  And probably the first animated film (for kids, at least) that features an acid trip.

What I Didn’t Like

Ya know how Pixar’s marketing these days seems to consist of little vignettes featuring the characters to allow the audience to get to know them?  Now imagine if all they did was take those vignettes and string them together into a film.  The film is very episodic.  The plot is very basic.  Arlo’s character arc is very basic.  It’s all so…basic.

Final Verdict

At the end, I have the same complaint as I did with Brave:  it has a lot of great ideas, but they don’t really gel into a great movie.

3 Nibs