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In a galaxy very close to the one far far away
I was just a bit too old when the first Star Wars films came out so wasn't a big fan and to be honest episode 4 , 5 and 6 just don't stand the test of time for me, anyhow to get ready for episode 7 I watched for the first time in nearly 10 years The Return of the Jedi earlier today in preparation for the Force Awakens. I could have nodded off to be honest if it wasn't for the occasional loud explosion. Unfortunately the same could be said for The Force Awakens too, OK the special effects are much better now than in the old days when they had muppets or puppets if you prefer ? but the expectations were very high for this new release , I mean JJ Abrams is bound to make this the best Star Wars ever right ? but alas not, this seemed more like a reboot than a sequel , the storyline was too similar and several scenes were very much a case of Deja Vu, was JJ Abrams trying to be too close to George Lucas's originals?. This film lacks the excitement and emotion that it should have, not once did I get goose bumps or have the hairs on the back of my neck stand up let alone any feelings of joy or sorrow and considering the effort that has gone in to making it this was a shame. I went for the 3D version and was impressed with the effects , although occasionally I did get some double vision where the contrast was high. I suppose most people born in the late 1960s remember seeing A new Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and have a nostalgic recollection of these being like nothing they had seen before and unfortunately you just can't reproduce that even with the biggest budget ever. We have so many great Sci Fi fantasy films to compare to now that if it doesn't blow your socks off it's going to be a bit disappointing. OK it's not all bad, Harrison Ford is better than ever and delivers some great gags, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega put in really good performances as the new blood who hopefully go on to do better things maybe in episode 8 and 9 ? I can't say too much without writing plot spoilers so go see it and make of it what you will. Hopefully you won't go in with such high expectations. I give it 7/10 but thought for sure it would be a 9.
Love & Mercy (2014)
Not just good vibrations
I must admit I only went to see this film because I had seen everything else released in the last week (you don't get a lot of choice this time of the year!). I knew little about the Beach Boys but did grow up in the 1960-70s so had heard their pop songs quite a lot. This biographical film is mostly set in 2 eras of Brian Wilson's life , the mid 1960s and late 1980s, in a series of back and forth flashbacks. In the early years Brian Wilson is brilliantly played by Paul Dano (a future Oscar winner for sure) where we see how the Beach Boy's hits were constructed by Wilson and how this genius was troubled with mental health issues and exacerbated by illegal drug use. For music lovers , this is a great insight into how Brian broke new ground in music production to the point of obsessive compulsion for perfection. We don't see anything from the 1970s although they are mentioned occasionally to back up the fact that Brian went to a very bad place mentally. Jump to the late 1980s and Brian (now played by John Cusack) is under the control of Psychotherapist Eugene Landy who is played by Paul Giamatti you might think over the top but apparently Landy really was an excessive abusive control freak milking Brian Wilson of his fortune. Whilst out under supervision Brian meets Melinda Ledbetter very well played by Elizabeth Banks (Hunger Games) and they start a relationship much to the disapproval of Landy. Cusack is at his best for a long while as the troubled Wilson which was nice to see. The songs of the Beach Boys are very much in the background so don't expect wall to wall sounds of summer. This is one of the best biographies of the year and a must see even if you don't know of the Beach Boys, the main character performances are really good with the actors at the top of their game. This film inspired me to read up on the history of this fascinating story of Brian Wilson, which I think is a good measure of biographical movies. Go see it, its not all Good Vibrations but God only knows ? (sorry couldn't resist it)
Jurassic World (2015)
Back to the Jurassic world
I was surprised to hear this movie was coming to the big screen considering how disappointing the last outing Jurassic Park 3 was. My recommendation is that if you haven't seen any of the original 3 movies (unlikely but possible ?) don't be tempted to now, watch this and it will be all the more enjoyable, well they say ignorance is bliss ! Of course you probably have seen the original and best film from 1993 and even the still very enjoyable JP2 of 1997 which this film compares favourably to. It is leaps and bounds better than JP3 of 2001 which was inevitable because that film was scraping the barrel for ideas. The CGI has improved quite a bit and that is where the money has been spent I guess (another £100 000 000 film !) with the added bonus of 3D which I thought was really good. OK the story is obviously predictable , we aren't expecting all the dinosaurs to stay in their pens and behave themselves are we !? The newish ideas come in the form that we have trained the dinos to be more entertaining a bit like sea-world and for that extra wow factor that is of course needed we have a new chimera of a dinosaur in Indominus-rex a real badass monster who inevitably runs amok. There are some funny and romantic moments dropped in here and there and of course the baddies in the background with their own agendas for the dinosaurs. Chris Pratt shows us again how entertaining he can be as the action hero and will obviously be doing more comedy action in future. BD Wong is again the scientist from the original 1993 film, it would have been nice to see Sam Neil but you can't have everything ,maybe JP3 scared him or should I say scarred him ? Anyway ,if you want to see an action packed entertaining big blockbuster of a movie go and see Mad Max Fury Road, if you want to see an entertaining action movie about dinosaurs , Jurassic World is a good option.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max re-imagined with a big budget ! Fantastic !!
With a budget of nearly £100,000,000 (or should I say nearly £100,000,000 more than the original 1979 Mad Max) you would expect this to be pretty good ?! so just as well its absolutely fantastically brilliant (and barking mad) then. Tom Hardy is becoming one of my favourite actors, he is so versatile. Charlize Theron is brilliant as usual! Nicholas Hoult (yes you might say I recognise him from something) shows he has come a long way since About A Boy and there's a great bunch of baddies. The assortment of vehicles are the real stars though, they have taken the cut and shunt to a whole new level ! wacky racers look like normal cars in comparison !. I think the 3D effects were pretty good too, not overdone and well worth seeing in this format. Doesn't really compare to the first Mad Max which looks quite dated and cheap now but does resemble the better MM Road Warrior. So if you looking for nearly 2 hours of action packed fun set in a deserted dystopian future you must go see this. Defo one for the Blu Ray list this crimbo. My new favourite of the year so far.