The Force is Fit for Fans

n a world where sequels and prequels run rampant, it was as no surprise that Disney would bring back the Star Wars franchise. What was uncertain was the quality of the films would be produced. The Disney brand almost certainly lends to a viable sequel but fans were left with a taste in their mouth after the mediocre prequels from years before. Add J.J. Abrams (someone with good idea but usually ruins them when he executes them) and the trepidation for The Force Awakens was mighty.
While I understand not spoiling the story, I really don’t like not knowing what the story is about and the movie handles that in the first two minutes. Basically Luke has disappeared after a tragedy involving training new Jedi. Han and Leia have drifted apart; Han has gone back so a life of smuggling but Leia is still looking for her brother. Meanwhile, a new crop of heroes join in the pursuit of Luke: Rey, an orphan abandoned on Jakku, Finn a Storm Trooper who defects, and Poe Leia’s best fighter pilot who is instrumental in battle against The First Order. I’ll keep these spoiler free (I’ll save those till the very end past the photos).
The movie pays homage to the original three films. But this becomes one of the few drawbacks. The first fifteen minutes are pretty much recap of things that have been done in the originals. This quickly gets boring but doesn’t last very long. The movie quickly begins to stand on it own while blending past characters with future characters seamlessly. But you can create checklist of things from the originals and play a drinking game with it. A cantina? Take a drink. A villain with a screwy voice? Chug! The only issue is that the end but I won’t discusses it until after the cut.
With a strong story, The Force Awakens looks great. CGI and technology have come along way but it still visually feels like Star Wars. The characters are developed as the movie progresses with out falling back on stereotypes. Abram does not screw this up. This was a fear I had after Star Trek but here he doesn’t stray away from the things original fans loved but made it accessible to a new generation. Luckily, he doesn’t have to back up his work in the sequels; this won’t be like Alias, where after the second season everything went down hill. I thank Disney for this, for there dedication of not ruining the legacy.
If you’ve seen it, then we have SO much to discuss. Skip down to below the pictures and we’ll kick some ideas around. If you haven’t seen the film, move along there is nothing to see here.

HERE BE SPOILERS
Let’s talk that ending. While it was imperative to see Luke, condemning her travel to him into a five minute time span stinks of the issues that plaque the prequels. Plus, Luke never says anything to Rey when she finds him. This is the moment where he should have announced who her parents were. But nothing was learned or benefited by this exchange. The film could have easily ended with her getting the Millennium Falcon and taking off and then cut to Luke watching and waiting for her arrival. While this is a small issue, it could mean that the pacing for the next film will be ruined.
Parentage is a big issue. With Luke being the last Jedi, we knew that Kylo Ren and Rey had to be related to someone. They came right out about Ren to move the story with Han along. But the writers fed you bits and pieces as they went and overly hinted at her being Luke’s daughter. But could this be a red herring? I certainly think so. I believe that she will be another child of Han and Leia’s. Since twins run in the family and the fear of the force going to the Dark Side, it’s not a stretch to think that they separated her from her brother to keep her safe. What proof do we have in the film? There are two notable moments: the first being when Ren take off his helmet and the two share a charged moment. It wasn’t sexually and was more than just the force clashing between them; it was loaded with recognition and importance. Plus, they looked a lot alike. Next, you have Han’s paternal feelings for her. This is odd in the loner and its possible that he doesn’t know that she is that second child. This also repeats themes from the first films which The Force Awakens has done since the opening minutes.
And finally, I should address Han himself. Many people had no idea that he was going to die and have intimated that I had been spoiler spelunking before I went on opening night. This is outright insulting. In fact, I knew because Ford has been talking about it for YEARS. Just by reading interviews with him, I have known his desire for Han’s death and that it would happen this film. ( While, I don’t make fun of people who didn’t figure it would happened, I was pissed that people would throw hate my way.) But I knew this info before I knew that Han would be such a pivotal role in this movie. Han has arguably been the character that was the moving force in the franchise (the only other character we could argue would be the Darth man himself), and he continues to be so in the Force Awakens. I don’t say this to belittle the other characters. But it will affect the upcoming films. We now know that all the characters would show up in the next film (Star Wars often overcomes death, so this won’t be an issue), but what will the films be like without him as a driving force?
I look forward to the next film and am very annoyed that it will be so long before we get the next installment. But that does give us plenty of time to develop our fan theories.

By the Book: The Maze Runner

Very rarely does a movie adaptation do the book justice. For every Hunger Games there is a Mortal Instruments. Luckily, The Maze Runner does well translating the literary onto the big screen.

the_maze_runner_book_cover_01Thomas awakens in a moving elevator not knowing who he is or where he is. He is introduced to a group of boys named The Gladers, the inhabitants of a lush valley. But beyond the valley is The Maze, a dangerous puzzle that the boys try each day trying to figure out how to solve and escape captivity. Thomas is just the many is a long line of boys who are sent to this world not knowing their purpose. But then suddenly things change when girl is dropped off along with a note saying she will be the last. Suddenly, the game seems even more dire.

The movie makes minimal changes, usually to facilitate the movie’s action. The biggest change is the complete removal of Thomas and Teresa’s telepathic link. In fact, Teresa herself is mostly down played.  In the book she is unconscious when she arrives. In fact, she talks to Thomas telepathically and tells him that her appearance has triggered “The Ending.”  This is the first of many clues that she and Thomas are not only linked but that they have something to do with what is happening to these boys. The two make use of their telepathy many times throughout the series, so it will be interesting to see how this deletion changes the aspects of the other movies.

The movie is a beautiful representation of The Glade and The Maze. It looks exactly as I hadMV5BMjUyNTA3MTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTEyMTkyMjE@__V1_SX640_SY720_ envisioned it except for The Maze walls. Due to filming limitations, you can see the ends of the massive walls but this allows for gorgeous Ariel shots of not just The Maze but the boys’ habitat in relation to The Maze. The production team manages to make the whole area beautiful yet unsettling.

The casting fits perfectly. The group of boys in the book has a wide variety of nationalities, ethnicities and ages, and the movies portray this well. No character is white washed and except for two of the actors, everyone is a relative unknown. This helps when casting an isolated, post-apocalyptic movie. It seems more real when Tom Cruise isn’t being reborn every five minutes. My favorites include Patricia Clarkson and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, Game of Thrones). Clarkson is perfect as the tester who makes a short but impactful appearance about the boys’ origins, and Brodie-Sangster is perfect as Newt, a fan favorite. He balances the aspects of being a leader as well as a scared teen boy well.

The Maze Runner made almost all of its $34 million budget its first week, and the sequels have been ordered. In fact, another Game of Throne actor (Aiden Gillen) is set to join. Here’s hoping the sequels will be as true to their book origins as this one was.

 

 

Sons of Anarchy Mid Season Check In

FX

Contains Spoilers

When the explosive first episode of Season 5 aired, fans were shocked as Tig watched his daughter being set on fire. This episode set the bar for SOA to be more brutal not allowing Jax an easy transition.

After that fateful bon fire, things got murkier for the club. Damien Pope was not done taking vengeance on SAMCRO. Jax and Chibs are arrested for a Niner started assault on the Sons, and Tig is brought in for murdering Pope’s daughter. In an effort to stay close to Jax, Opie assaults Sheriff Roosevelt, and goes to county with them.

Meanwhile, Tara and Gemma are trying to figure things out. Tara and Jax planned a secret wedding ceremony without

Gemma’s knowledge. This only strained an already tense relationship between the two women. Tara is trying to shut Gemma out of Thomas and Abel’s lives. This causes some go between with Wendy, the now sober and desperate to know her son biological mother of Abel. Wendy learns quickly she is a pawn and pulls out but not without making it clear that she wants to know her son no matter what.

Gemma and Tara both have taken to drugs to calm their stress. But Tara hasn’t hooked up with a call girl pimp whose crazy half-sister decides to kill herself in front of them. In a scene reminiscent of Nip/Tuck his sister forces Nero and Gemma into bed and to commit sexual acts at gun point. When they refuse, she puts the gun top her head and pulls the trigger.

But there isn’t lost love between the sister and Gemma. Nero’s sister had already sold out the club almost getting Jax killed. In a very Gemma like move, Tara knocks the her around for threatening her family.

Tara’s family is not the only one in danger. It seems there has been a rash of home invasions culminating in Roosevelt’s pregnant wife being shot and killed. While viewers may have guessed the three new SAMCRO bikers are behind it, they don’t see coming is that Clay is in charge. The new recruits are loyal to him a well as Juice who thinks Clay is still incapacitated. It seems, though he lost Tig, Clay has other minions.

Tig and Jax learn where their loyalties lie in prison. Pope wants a son dead, though he doesn’t want it to be Tig; Jax has to choose between himself, Chibs and Opie. Pope also wants in on the drug deals. Jax is torn apart by the idea that he has to choose. Tig offers himself up for sacrifice, but is turned down. Jax tells him for his life, Tig must exchange his loyalty to Jax and to never ever vote against him. Ultimately it is Opie who gives himself up as a token, and is brutally beaten to death.

Jax and company do not leave this vendetta unclaimed. Once out of prison, the three and Bobby head to the warden’s house who arranged for Opie’s death. Tig mercilessly kills the man’s wife when she walks in, and Jax beats him to death with a snow globe evening the score.

Jax also has other ideas for club business. He votes in the Pope drug deal as well as running coke for Pope as well. This will make the club a pretty penny but lines break down the center as some are loyal to Jax and some loyal to Clay. Jax is also taking a new stand on CharmingHeights, helping Hale blackmail members of the community to make sure the deal that the club squashed earlier comes into play. Jax is proving that he has totally different ideas than Clay.

Tonight’s episode will hopefully answer a few questions as well as give clear paths to both Clay and Jax’s visions. Will Gemma be able to keep herself from Nero? Will Tara’s transition as a powerful old lady cause her to falter more? What’s going to happen with the CIA investigation? Viewers can be sure that Kurt Sutter will amaze and blow the mind of viewers every where when answering these questions.

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House Locks Up

This gallery contains 8 photos.

In the series finale, Dr. Gregory House says “goodbye” to Plainsboro TV Recap: Includes Spoilers I admit: I didn’t watch House much this season. House went to jail and the cast changed yet again. The cast changes have been a … Continue reading