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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Batman: Arkham City (2011, PC Games for Windows Live) – 10/10 open-world action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Game Director: Sefton Hill
Studio Director: Jamie Walker
Senior Producer: Daniel Bailie
Senior Producer: Nathan Burlow
Art Director: David Hego
Audio Director: Nick Arundel
Technical Director: Ben Wyatt
Lead Animator: Zafer Coban
Lead Environment Artist: William Smith
Lead Character Artist: Pablo Hoyos Isusquiza
Lead Level Designer: Ian Ball
Lead Narrative Designer: Paul Crocker
Lead AI Programmer: Tim Hanagan
Lead Player Programmer: Adam Doherty
Writer: Paul Dini
Writer: Paul Crocker
Writer: Sefton Hill
Kevin Conroy: Batman / Bruce Wayne, Hush
Grey Delisle: Catwoman, Dr. Stacy Baker, Martha Wayne
Martin Jarvis: Alfred Pennyworth
Kimberly Brooks: Barbara Gordon / Oracle, M.P.T. Officer Anne Bishop
Troy Baker: Robin, Harvey Dent / Two-Face
Corey Burton: Hugo Strange
Mark Hamill: The Joker
Tara Strong: Harley Quinn
Dee Bradley Baker: Ra’s al Ghul, Waylon Jones / Killer Croc, Wonder City Announcer
Stana Katic: Talia al Ghul
Nolan North: The Penguin, Black Mask, Inmate #4
Maurice LaMarche: Mr. Freeze, Calendar Man, Political Prisoner

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

At a rally supporting the closure of Arkham City – a massive secure corner of Gotham City housing all prisoners who are then left to their own devices – Bruce Wayne is kidnapped by the prison’s governor Dr. Hugo Strange. Disturbingly, Strange knows Wayne’s alternative identity – Batman – and dumps a handcuffed Wayne in the general populace straight into the mangled hands of The Penguin before ominously proclaiming that Protocol 10 will be deployed in ten hours.

10/10

Proving Arkham Asylum was no fluke, Rocksteady Studios widen the play area and loosen the story shackles giving us more, more, more of everything. Unfortunately, this leads to a fairly instantaneous lull as the forward momentum of the story can now be scuppered by the player just wandering around being Bat-tastic and constantly distracted on your way to story objectives. Still, when you do finally get there, Mark Hamill’s voice-work as Joker is, once again, exemplary. Kevin Conroy also is Batman; whenever you do something in the game, Batman will do it just a bit cooler than you expected and Conroy will make your heroic gruffness thoroughly awesome (though I’m always oddly disappointed he never says ‘thank you’ to anyone). Arkham City, like Arkham Asylum before it, simply makes you feel like a superhero, like Batman.

This game contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and strong melee violence without realistic sound effects, unpleasant scenes and sensuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

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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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Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009, Classic Superhero Third-Person Action, Games for Windows) – 10/10 game review

Cast / crew
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Game Director: Sefton Hill
Writer: Paul Dini
Lead Narrative Designer: Paul Crocker
Lead Level Designer: Ian Ball
Kevin Conroy: Batman
Mark Hamill: Joker

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

You don’t look gift horses in the mouth and, while he considers this time a bit easier than normal, Batman has re-captured Joker and brought him to Arkham Asylum. Once inside, however, Joker escapes and, with the help of a few carefully planted accomplices, takes over Arkham. But why?

10/10

Arkahm Asylum makes you feel like a superhero, like Batman, striding around being awesome (voiced brilliantly by Kevin Conroy opposite Mark Hamill’s even more brilliant Joker). It’s a simple summation but incredibly difficult to achieve and studio Rocksteady’s achievement has been rightfully lauded industry-wide. Successfully clearing a room of gun-toting baddies one at a time makes you feel like Batman, and not like almost all other action games, as does using all the gadgets. As is often the case, making the player extremely powerful or flexible offensively but weak defensively (Batman can’t really take being shot), means that the player feels like he has overcome the odds rather than just button mashed his way through artificially massive hordes of fist-fodder. While the end boss fight feels wrong character-wise it’s the only misstep in the entire game.

This game contains mild adult dialogue and fictional substance abuse and violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

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