Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – 7/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Luke Skywalker has disappeared. No-one knows why. In his and all Jedi’s absence, the evil First Order has risen to be within a hair’s breadth of taking control of the galaxy. No-one knows why. At this critical stage, both the Resistance and First Order are after one thing: a map containing the location of Luke Skywalker. No-one knows why.

7/10

J.J. Abrams treads accurately in the sandy footprints of George Lucas with this fan service-packed remake of Star Wars. While it’s action is immediately forgettable due to Abrams choosing not to give it a shape or story of it’s own and suffers badly in comparison with the Death Star attack from the original (which remains one of the greatest action sequences of all time; it’s always clear what they’re trying to do and why this piece of action on screen now is helping to accomplish that while naturally building and focusing on the one critical path), Abrams has come up trumps with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega and gone the extra mile with the three lead characters (the aforementioned and Harrison Ford) and villain Kylo Ren. He also oversaw a perfect trailer campaign with no story spoilers or even hints. While he doesn’t keep temporal or spatial control of his story (people can do anything in any amount of time and appear wherever they need to) and fumbles the codas, Abrams has otherwise made an efficient, furiously-paced, fun adventure. (As a side note, I don’t know why it’s 12A, PG would have been fine)

Content Summary

This movie contains violence, violent interrogation scenes

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Cast / crew

Director, Producer and Writer: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan
Writer: Michael Arndt
Characters Creator: George Lucas
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
Producer: Bryan Burk
Music: John Williams
Han Solo: Harrison Ford
Luke Skywalker: Mark Hamill
Princess Leia Organa: Carrie Fisher
Kylo Ren: Adam Driver
Rey: Daisy Ridley
Finn (Star Wars): John Boyega
Poe Dameron: Oscar Isaac
Lupita Nyong’o: Maz Kanata
Supreme Leader Snoke: Andy Serkis
Domhnall Gleeson: General Hux
C-3PO: Anthony Daniels
Max von Sydow: Lor San Tekka

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) – 7/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford: Han Solo
Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia
Alec Guinness: Ben (Obi-wan) Kenobi
Director: Richard Marquand
Writer (Screenplay): Lawrence Kasdan
Writer (Screenplay): George Lucas
Writer (Story): George Lucas
Producer: Howard Kazanjian
Executive Producer: George Lucas
Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels: C-3PO
Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca
Sebastian Shaw: Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid: The Emperor
Frank Oz: Yoda
David Prowse: Darth Vader
James Earl Jones: Darth Vader

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Han Solo lies carbon frozen in the hands of hideous gangster, Jabba the Hutt. As Luke and Leia race to the rescue, the Rebel commanders are planning their next move against the Empire. Even as Rebel ships mass to form a giant armada, the Galactic Emperor orders construction to begin on a new space station, many times more powerful than the dreaded Death Star.

7/10

"Only now, at the end, do you understand." – The Emperor

Something is definitely missing, a magic X factor, but this remains a good, spectacular action movie, and closes the trilogy well. Dramatically, the only interest is in the scenes with Luke and Vader and, ultimately, the Emperor and they do not disappoint. Mark Hamill, David Prowse and James Earl Jones are all good but, as he would prove to be in the prequel trilogy, Ian McDiarmid is astonishing; oddly, gleefully, enthusiastically, whole-heartedly, entertainingly evil. Unfortunately, this only comprises a short period of the overall running time and the remainder, including, sadly, a slightly flat Harrison Ford and a whole stack of dialogue edited without snap (including a horrendous reprise for the ‘I love you / I know’ exchange), all feels a bit inconsequential and irrelevant.

This movie contains violence.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 10/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Irvin Kershner
Producer: Gary Kurtz
Writer (Screenplay): Leigh Brackett
Writer (Screenplay): Lawrence Kasdan
Writer (Story): George Lucas
Executive Producer: George Lucas
Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford: Han Solo
Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels: C-3PO
David Prowse: Darth Vader
Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca
Kenny Baker: R2-D2
Frank Oz: Yoda

Star Wars Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back, The (1980)

The Rebels flee after suffer a devastating attack by the Imperial army seeking to eliminate the only source of dissent, and presumably violence, in the galaxy. Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca survive aboard the Millennium Falcon and fight a running battle against Imperial ships while Luke Skywalker seeks out Yoda, the ancient Jedi master, to be trained as a Jedi knight. Meanwhile, Darth Vader is scheming to lure Luke to the Dark Side of the Force, or kill him in their final showdown – a duel in which Luke learns the secret of his destiny.

10/10

"I realised that I just had one of the great experiences of my life." – Irwin Kershner

Especially if you’ve got Return of the Jedi to watch immediately afterward, this is the best of the trilogy with outstanding action, unpredictable plot developments and genuine emotion. Again Harrison Ford gets the best of it by being brilliant in a whole series of fun, flirty, flippant yet heartfelt scenes with Carrie Fisher but his is not the best performance in the film. Nope, that would be Frank Oz who (with performing assistant Kathryn Mullen) delivers the greatest puppet performance in cinema history with Jedi Master Yoda (oddly, he wasn’t as good in Return of the Jedi). In fact, the Yoda performance is in a class of all it’s own. He’s convincing from frame one. There’s a stunning scene where he changes from mischievous to Master and you can feel it and believe it. You can even see the life in him. Remarkable.

This Star Wars movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes and mild sensuality.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Star Wars (1977) – 9/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Writer: George Lucas
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Gary Kurtz
Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford: Han Solo
Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia Organa
Peter Cushing: Grand Moff Tarkin
Alec Guinness: Ben (Obi-wan) Kenobi
Executive Producer [1997 re-release]: George Lucas

Star Wars (1977)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Princess Leia Organa is captured by the evil imperial forces in their efforts to stamp out the last remnants of any resistance. Venturesome and orphaned Luke Skywalker and dashing but rogueish smuggler Han Solo, team together with robots R2-D2 and C-3PO to restore justice to the Universe.

9/10

“This is ridiculous.” – Han Solo

Often brilliant, often naïve, always spectacular, sometimes really stupid. All these things come together to make an undisputably great movie. Though Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness were both pretty sniffy about the movie, the fact is they both sell their characters perfectly and are critical to making the movie work on a dramatic, if not emotional, level. Also vital is John Williams’ Oscar-winning, arguably best ever, score. The most important thing? The visuals. Production design and special visual effects are, respectively, simple and complex, and always, always convincing, impressive and wonderful. What’s really fascinating is that the prequel trilogy would have all the same strengths and weaknesses as this original movie and would be slammed for them.

This movie contains violence, some gore.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – 8/10 science fiction action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Writer: George Lucas
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Rick McCallum
Executive Producer: George Lucas
Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman: Padmé
Hayden Christensen: Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid: Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Frank Oz: Yoda
Samuel L. Jackson: Mace Windu
Christopher Lee: Count Dooku

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The galaxy is in turmoil as war continues to wage between the Republic, spearheaded by the Jedi, and the Separatists, with Count Dooku at the helm. Dooku’s latest plot has seen him capture the figurehead of the Republic, Chancellor Palpatine, and his droid commander General Grievous is holding him. As they try to leave Coruscant, two Jedi mount a desperate rescue mission to retrieve the Chancellor unaware that the Sith Lord Darth Sidius is watching the execution of his life-long plan unfold exactly as he has foreseen.

8/10

“You were the chosen one!”

His choice of Hayden Christiansen is still irreparable but George Lucas plugs the gap in his saga with this potentially distressing action opus that, for me, works overall. While easy to criticize for some clunky (though eminently quotable) dialogue, inconsistent acting, an occasional lack of editorial sharpness and generally indistinguishable action, the overall impact is undeniable. Of special note is Ian McDiarmid’s delightfully devious and devilish performance. It is delivered with cunning and panache and is a joy to behold. Ewan MacGregor nails his stuff consistently and really sells the heartbreak and disbelief at the turning of Anakin.

This movie contains strong violence, extremely unpleasant scenes.

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – 7/10 science fiction action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: George Lucas
Writer (Screenplay): George Lucas
Writer (Screenplay): Jonathan Hales
Writer (Story): George Lucas
Producer: Rick McCallum
Executive Producer: George Lucas
Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman: Padmé
Hayden Christensen: Anakin Skywalker
Frank Oz: Yoda
Ian McDiarmid: Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Samuel L. Jackson: Mace Windu
Christopher Lee: Count Dooku

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)

With Amidala now a Senator and Anakin a highly-trained and highly-skilled Jedi Padawan, there is violent unrest as the Republic falters. Many thousands of star-systems seek a different leadership and the few Jedi cannot control the fall-out. Then an assassination attempt on Amidala sets in motion events that will have cataclysmic effect.

7/10

"I forgot that there’s… That people take this seriously." – George Lucas

Arrogance aside, sad to say, Lucas’ biggest mistake in the Star Wars saga begins here with the casting of Hayden Christiansen who manages to miss every beat, overlook every emotion, and undermine nearly every scene he is in. He never convinces from frame one and almost never would. Even elsewhere this is curiously flat but still manages to provide plenty of intrigue, plenty of stunning costumes for Natalie Portman, some tidy action and what was 2002’s cinematic highlight: diminutive green Jedi Master Yoda finally letting rip and having a full-on Jedi battle with the evil Count Dooku. Awesome is simply not a big enough word.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – 8/10 much-sniffed-at Star Wars science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Writer: George Lucas
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Rick McCallum
Executive Producer: George Lucas
Liam Neeson: Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman: Queen Amidala
Natalie Portman: Padmé
Jake Lloyd: Anakin Skywalker
Pernilla August: Shmi Skyalker
Frank Oz: Yoda
Terence Stamp: Chancellor Valorum
Chris Sanders: Voice of Daultay Dofine

Star Wars: Episode I – Phantom Menace, The (1999)

As the Trade Federation is manoeuvred by the evil Darth Sidious to blockade the planet of Naboo, the young Queen Amidala determines to break out and travel to the city-planet of Coruscant and let the Republic Senate know of their situation. She is helped by two Jedi ambassadors, master Qui-Gon Jinn and apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi, and by an underwater resident of her planet, the Gungan Jar-Jar Binks. On their way, however, their ship is damaged and they are forced to land on the desert planet of Tatooine. With no way of getting off the desert planet and Naboo coming under increasing pressure to opt out of the Republic and become part of the Trade Federation, time is running out fast, but a chance meeting with a boy named Anakin Skywalker heralds an unexpected change in the destinies of all concerned.

8/10

Much-criticised return to directing for George Lucas but I think it is a quality blockbuster with undeniably astounding visual impact and special effects integration. An ambitious plot and a memorable new character in Liam Neeson’s pitch-perfect Qui Gon Jinn reveal that thought was spent on the story as well as the visual design and it also contains, without doubt, one of the finest swordplay duels in cinema history. I really don’t understand what many people moaned about.

This movie contains violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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