December 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) Star wars awakening

Updated special effects, CHECK.  New scary Darth Vader, CHECK.  Great sound track that sounds both familiar and new at the same time, CHECK.  New cast of characters melds well with original characters, CHECK.

This Episode has certainly set the stage for a new series of Star Wars movies with new storylines, characters, and upgraded special effects for both old and new audiences.

New to the franchise, Director JJ Abrams retains the Star Wars roots but with a fresh next century twist.  It is a very forward focused storyline and I won’t give away any of it.  You’ll have to see it for yourself.  The energy in the theaters was absolutely electric and tangible.  It is 135 minutes long but you will hardly notice.  We saw it in 2D, reports are the 3D and IMAX version is worth the extra cost.

Rating: 4 Globes.

Youth

youthLet’s start with the Actors, Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Madalina Ghenea (all of her) and Jane Fonda round out the tremendous cast of characters and equally impressive performances.

Filmed in Switzerland, the settings and backdrop were key to the look and feel of the part spa, part old folks home, part seniors center/hotel/rehab center.  The storyline follows the friendship between an aging Maestro and a equally aged Movie Director and their entourages.  It is filled with twists, turns and surprises.

It can be a bit confusing and I wasn’t always sure what was going on but it still was a visual feast.  Jane Fonda’s performance alone was worth the price of admission.  The ending is quite spectacular.

Rating:  2 Globes.

Beast of No Nationbeast of no nation

Set in West Africa, this is a haunting study of the manipulation and manufactured loyalty during the turbulent years of political and social unrest when boys and young men were brainwashed into hardened soldiers committing unthinkable atrocities under the control of warlords.

It was painfully difficult to watch in spite of the exceptional cinematography and the skillful portrayals from these young actors.  Idris Elba plays the charismatic Commander who transforms innocence into killing machines.

While it takes place in an “unnamed country” it is a grim reminder of events in West Africa not too many years ago.  It is a story that needed to be told.  Nominated for a Golden Globe, Supporting Actor.

Rating: 3 Globes.

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