Tag Archives: Sequel

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Over the years as latter films in the Star Wars pantheon have produced diminishing returns, there’s been a bit of a grading curve – “pretty good acting … for someone in a Star Wars film,” “fairly cool action scene … in an otherwise lackluster prequel” and the like. So it’s good news indeed that J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (A-) earns its accolades outright in terms of solid acting, layered characters, genuine high stakes, some earned comic relief and relentless action. The film achieves most of its delirious highs in the first hour as it splendidly introduces four fantastic new characters (Daisy Ridley as fierce scavenger warrior heroine Rey, John Boyega as naive reformed Stormtrooper Finn, Oscar Isaac as cocksure pilot Poe and the precious spherical astromech droid BB-8). There’s considerable descent into incomprehension (alas Abrams gets rather Lost) during the final acts with strange pop psychology that only works in spurts and some tedious retreads of some action moments already depicted in six previous films. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren makes for a so-so villain, albeit with an awesome lightsaber, and his CGI mentor is a bit of a misfire. Harrison Ford is a highlight reprising his role as everyone’s favorite rakish scoundrel Han Solo, this time showing more of his soft side along with his trademark quips. The art direction and physical production are gloriously rendered and are such a welcome return to form: sequences in the desert are lush and the first glimpse of evil TIE Fighters sleek indeed. The film works best when it functions as an archaeological dig into the myths and iconography of the original trilogy; in fact, much of the most spectacular parts of the quest – rescuing antiquities, piecing together lost maps, being chased in the desert and around sinister corners and plumbing the well of characters’ souls – resemble an Indiana Jones installment. The fresh storyline of new characters is actually the film’s novelty since Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are shamelessly underused. But it’s hard to begrudge a big studio enterprise that is this packed with thrills and adventure, good characters and surprises. It largely hits the mark and sets the stage for some great new revelations.Save

Movie Review: 22 Jump Street

22_jump_street_movie_poster_2Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s comedy sequel 22 Jump Street (B-) provides just enough laughs from the raunchy raucousness of buddy cops Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill infiltrating college life to ferret out a drug scheme, but the freshness of its predecessor is largely missing. When it plumbs meta antics such as a Buster Keaton style car chase outside the film studies department or a warped therapy session with the psych professor, the film flirts with cleverness that is rarely delivered. The central bromance continues to be an often hilarious draw; and Tatum in particular is a great sport, throwing himself into the part even when the screenplay isn’t throwing him quite the quality content it could. Still, it’s intensely watchable with enough verbal fireworks and physical stunts to render the sequel decent rainy day fun.