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Rogue One (2016)
Really enjoyable and packs an emotional punch.
For 40 years, all we've known of the rebels who "managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR" is that they were successful. Now, we finally get to see who they were, what they did, and what became of them. Coming with such a love of Star Wars and a knowledge of it's history, I was very excited to see this and get to meet the characters who provided the catalyst for my favorite and the most influential movies of my life.(I must also point out that I am one of those who will have nothing to do with the prequels...) I was not disappointed. The tone is quite different to the saga movies (the start without an opening crawl seems very abrupt), but the familiar iconography and the fact that we know exactly where this fits in the time line make sure that this is most definitely a Star Wars movie. The introduction of the (many) new characters is necessarily brief and initially makes any emotional attachment to them slight - but by the end of the movie and the final battle scene the viewer finds themselves really caring when their fates are revealed, giving the finale a real emotional punch. There are also so many wonderful familiar moments that tie the movie to the original trilogy - but these are never forced and always sit well within the context of the story being told here. My ten year old kept turning to me and grinning at each one. The action at the end is on par with anything we've seen and there are several showstopping moments that simply have to seen on the big screen. Both times I've seen this movie (so far!) there have been gasps and claps from the audience at several of the big effect moments. If I have a gripe it's a very small one, a related only to a few instances of the CGI of two significant human characters (you'll know who they are, but apart from that I have no complaints about Rogue One. It's not a Star Wars movie, it's a definitely a war movie, but it's most certainly part of the time line and ties in seamlessly with the movies we all know and love. Thoroughly recommended. And the Darth Vader scene at the end? Awesome!
Lots of fun.
I saw this last night with my family and we all really, really enjoyed it - as did the audience we were with. There was laughter and giggles from all over the theater throughout the entire movie and most of the audience sat through the credits to the scene at the end too! And as soon as that had ended both my boys turned to me and said "I hope they make a sequel". And so do I. I've watched the bile spewed on this movie with growing horror for months - the fact that something can be so universally slated before anyone has seen it (and for such ridiculous reasons) just amazes me, and I was so glad that the actual movie was as good as it was. I haven't had such fun at the movies since The Force Awakens. The characters were fresh and engaging (Kate McKinnon's character Jillian Holtzmann was fantastic and a firm favorite with my family), the humor was sharp and in the majority hit the mark and the nice little nods to the earlier movies (cameos, lines etc.) were well played and added a nice nostalgic touch to the proceedings. All I can say is, I really enjoyed it and came out feeling very happy. This morning my sons were talking enthusiastically about it over breakfast and wanting to see it again. We are all big fans of the original, it is one my absolute favorite childhood movies and to be able to experience a similar thrill again with my kids was magic. Ghostbusters 2016 rocks. Enough said.
A welcome return to fun for the Star Wars saga!
It took me two viewings to really decide how I felt about this one - having been a Star Wars fan since Empire, and having been so totally caught up in the year long hype for this, my first viewing was almost surreal. The second? It all came together and I had a great time. I'm not going to comment on whether or not this is a legitimately great movie, but I will say that I love it. I find it fun, action packed, intriguing and it absolutely satisfied my Star Wars itch and is (in my opinion) a worthy successor to the original trilogy. The new characters were lots of fun and I'm looking forward to seeing them develop - especially Rey! There were lots of moments that had me wanting to fist pump, several that had goosebumps rising on my arms and lots where I was grinning like a Cheshire cat - Poe and Finn's escape, the first flight of the Millennium Falcon, the attack on Takodana, the final battle between Kylo and Rey... Both me and my family enjoyed every second of this, with my 10 and 12 years old sons both being amazed at the running time because "it felt like just an hour!" This movie was everything I wanted from a new Star Wars film - it was familiar enough to be nostalgic, but new enough to be a continuation. It was mature enough to not fall into the trap of the prequels, but had enough humor to lighten scenes. It answered lots of questions and also raised some great new ones - leaving me wanting more. But, most of all, it's fun and like the Flash Gordon reels that George Lucas has stated inspired him to write Star Wars in the first place it was a rollocking adventure that didn't take itself too seriously and dished out exactly what the majority of the audience wanted - thrills, spills, laughs and action. Gone are the tedious politics, gone is the annoying slapstick and back is a full throttle space adventure. Awesome!
World War Z (2013)
Fast, scary and much better than expected!
I was dubious! The rating, the early reviews, my love of gory George Romero movies had all led me to deciding not to see this. But, my wife wanted to go... Well, two breathless hours later I turned to her, big grin on my face and had to state "That was awesome!" Yes, I can see why people don't like it. It is very different to the traditional zombie movie, and very different to the book. But you know what, who cares - it's not a traditional zombie movie, or the book - it's different. So suck it it up whiners and enjoy this for what it is! (And I'm a huge fan of all Max Brooks zombie books.) The movie begins with a short intro to the main character and his family (it was enough, it told me all I needed to know) before launching into a fantastic, break neck sequence that establishes the pace for most of the rest of the movie. It's violent, visceral and shocking without any reliance in gore. The tension is racked up (especially in the escape from the apartment block sequence) with a series of spectacular set pieces (the walls of Jerusalem scene is brilliant) and things get better and bigger until the film slows the pace for the final reel with a slow burning, smaller scale sequence set in a WHO research lab in the UK. It's an unusual choice to end a movie with the smallest set piece, but it worked well for me as it was in line with Gerry's quest and the (stated in the movie) fact that the answer is often so small it gets overlooked. The gravity of the decisions Gerry has to make here are greater than any previously in the movie (where mostly he just has to run like hell!) and it's that that makes this such a powerful set piece to end the movie. I learnt several things from this movie 1) to let go of my preconceptions about what a zombie film should be, 2) that a low rating doesn't mean its for kids - I have two sons and despite the lack of gore I certainly wouldn't let then see this. Its very intense and that (not the gore) is what would scare them. 3) to go with the flow - I did here and was swept along for a rapid fire 2 hour thrill ride that was a hell of a lot of fun. I for one will be getting this on blu ray and I'll be first in line for any sequel. But I will admit, an undated version would be very welcome!