Summary: Life hasn’t been fair to Maura (Amy Poehler) and Kate Ellis (Tina Fey). When the sisters learn that their parents Bucky (James Brolin) and Deana (Dianne Wiest) are selling the home that they grew up in it makes them realise that life certainly hasn’t turned out the way it was supposed to for either of them.
Maura hasn’t been in a relationship in a long time and through reliving some of Kate’s memories of their teenage years has realised that she has never really lived at all. Meanwhile Kate who was once the party girl is constantly getting fired and is struggling in her relationship with her daughter. Frustrated with the way things are the two girls decide to live once more by throwing one last party in their family home.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 7th January 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Jason Moore
Screenwriter: Paula Pell
Cast: Ike Barinholtz (James), Samantha Bee (Liz), James Brolin (Bucky Ellis), Dan Byrd (Patrick Campbell), Christina Beth Campbell (Young Maura Ellis Age 10), John Cena (Pazuzu), Mia Ciccarelle (Young Maura Ellis Age 6), Samantha Blaire Cutler (Young Kate Age 12), Madison Davenport (Haley), Rachel Dratch (Kelly), Scott Drummond (Officer Higgins), Tina Fey (Kate Ellis), Santino Fantana (Mr. Geernt), Sue Galloway (Jolene Barme), Jon Glaser (Dan), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Kim), Ann Harada (Jean), Brian D’Arcy James (Jerry), Greta Lee (Hae-Won), John Leguizamo (Dave), Britt Lower (Mrs. Geernt), John Lutz (Joel Barme), Adrian Martinez (Officer Harris), Heather Matarazzo (Denny), Kate McKinnon (Sam), Bobby Moynihan (Alex), Matt Oberg (Rob), Chris Parnell (Phil), Paula Pell (Dana), Amy Poehler (Maura Ellis), Maya Rudolph (Brinda), Emily Tarver (Brayla), Kristen Vincent (Young Kate Age 6), Colleen Werthmann (Cray), Dianne Wiest (Deana Ellis)
Runtime: 118 mins
OUR SISTERS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The female members of America’s comedy set have been on fire when it has come to films over the past few years. While the likes of Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell have delivered bomb after bomb the women have produced hit after hit. Films like Bridesmaids and Trainwreck have seen the likes of Kristen Wiig and Amy Schumer become household names right around the world. Now comes Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s (who bring Maya Rudolph along for the ride) new celluloid baby Sisters. The good news while it is doesn’t exactly reach the heights of some of the other films previously mentioned it certainly works and haves you laughing throughout.
What works about Sisters may completely surprise audiences out there. If you’re expecting a smart comedy like Bridesmaids then keep moving because Sisters is very much the female version of a film like American Pie. Directed by Jason Moore (who brought us Pitch Perfect) and written by long-time Saturday Night Live writer Paula Pell Sisters is all about grown women acting badly and Poehler and Fey just seem to lap it up.
In this politically correct time it is surprising what Sisters gets away with. The jokes range from quips about both male and female genitalia right through to the right and wrong ways to announce Asian names. Of course most of the humour centres on the wild antics of the party guests at Maura and Kate’s party-to-end-all-parties but the film also takes some time to take a look at some more serious things such as the fractured relationship between a mother and a daughter through to people realising that their lives have gone completely off track.
The fact that the party provides most of the laughs is a stroke of comedic genius in itself. While there may be one of two too many sight gags the film keeps you laughing all the time. Thanks not only to the humour delivered by Poehler and Fey but also by Ike Barinholtz (who plays Poehler’s love interest), Bobby Moynihan who plays lovable-drug-fuelled-loser Alex and Maya Rudolph who seems to love playing rejected party guest Brinda. Along with other cameo roles, such as John Leguizamo and John Cena, these smaller characters in the film seem to come together and just deliver laugh and laugh and soon you find yourself barracking for more than just the lead characters. Moore and Pell’s decision to allow this to happen may have been a huge risk but it pays off for them time after time.
Of course the stars here though are Poehler and Fey and both just seem to feed off the comedic talent and energy that is around them. However that doesn’t mean that they allow themselves to res on their laurels. No these two work ultra hard as well and while they deliver the laughs that were scripted for them amazingly well you also get the feeling that a lot of this film has been ad-libbed by the pair and that works well as well. While the world may have been concentrating on the new breed of Amy Schumer and co over the past few years it is obvious that Fey and Poehler want to show the world that they are still in the peaks of their career as well.
So many of these party movies fail every year but here Sisters works brilliantly well. While I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a top comedy it does more than enough to keep the laughs coming throughout the film, okay you may even have a couple of laughter explosions during it, and that is more than you can say for a lot of the comedies that are around these days. Even better is the fact that this is some of Poehler and Fey’s finest work and is a must for those that love their brand of comedy.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Sisters reviews: You can listen to our full Sisters review on a future episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Sisters review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.
Summary: Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) has always wanted to be a Dad but an unfortunate accident in a dental chair has left that dream in tatters. However, now he is married to ready-made Mum, Sara (Linda Cardellini), but is finding winning over her children Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and Megan (Scarlett Estevez) a lot harder than he thought it would be.
Hard work pays off though but just as the two kids are starting to warm to him Sara’s ex, the children’s father, the ever-ready, man-of-the-year-material Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) shows up and he has just one plan in mind – to make Brad look incompetent and to win back Sara and the kids.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Sean Anders
Screenwriter: Sean Anders, Brian Burns, John Morris
Cast: Alessandra Ambrosio (Karen), Joel K. Berger (Corey from Red Bull), Kobe Bryant (himself), Hannibal Buress (Griff), Bill Burr (Jerry), Bobby Cannavale (Dr. Francisco), Jeff Caperton (Tom), Linda Cardellini (Sara), John Cena (Real Dad), Thomas Haden Church (Leo Holt), Troy Compas (Jim), (Jamie Denbo (Doris), Scarlett Estevez (Megan), Will Ferrell (Brad Whitaker), LaMonica Garrett (Marco), Sadarias Harrell (Silverberg), Chris Henchy (Panda DJ/Jason Sinclair), Matthew Paul Martinez (Pete), Hector Presedo (Pepe), Owen Vaccaro (Dylan), Mark Wahlberg (Dusty Mayron), Brady Yarborough (Marty)
Runtime: 96 mins
OUR DADDY’S HOME REVIEWS & RATINGS:
This year hasn’t been a great year for comedy. A lot have been released and lot have sucked. Well now comes Daddy’s Home which decides to do something a little different, and that is sit right in the middle of the road.
Actually to be honest Daddy’s Home is a bit of a strange watch. It is one of those movies that is completely ruined by the trailer. As a result of seeing most of the gags in the trailer you can pretty much watch this film with just a chuckle here and there. A shame because at times such as Brad skateboarding off a half-pipe into a power-line I found myself thinking ‘I probably would been laughing right now if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve already seen in the trailer in cinemas ten times.’ The sad thing is that happens for most of the laughs throughout the film which must be pretty disappointing for screenwriter/director Sean Anders.
Like Anders’ career itself (this is the man that brought us highs like We’re The Millers but also films like Dumb And Dumber To) a lot of the laughs in Daddy’s Home are all over the place. Yes a lot of the slapstick is ruined by the trailer but then some of the other comedy throughout the film seems to come from a weird place. While the ‘stories’ from Brad’s boss Leo (Thomas Haden Church) are often the funniest part of the film, there are other times when Anders’ humor feels mistimed or misplaced. Two examples are when Leo has a deeply personal conversation with Brad and then the camera pans back to reveal it is in the middle of a meeting with other people (feels forced) or when Leo and Brad are trying to convince Griff (Hannibal Buress) to aid Brad in a clichéd movie run-down-the-hall… that scene just goes on for far too long.
The other abnormality with the humor of Daddy’s Home is that it feels like Mark Wahlberg is a lot funnier in the film that what Will Ferrell is. It is obvious that even Anders knew the role of Dusty provided much of the laughs because at one point Ferrell was supposed to be Dusty before obviously someone realised that there is no way in hell he could pull off being an aloof tough Special Ops member. It what would have been an even bigger disaster Vince Vaughn was also considered for the role so we should be thankful that Wahlberg ends up playing Dusty because he is the highlight of the film… often stealing the limelight from Ferrell mid-scene.
Being out-acted this time round seems to be part of the landscape for Ferrell. His character is ‘boring’ which in fairness may have been Anders’ intention, but the flare shown by Wahlberg makes Dusty a much more impressive character while Ferrell also has a lot of his thunder stolen by Thomas Haden Church whose comedic timing and droll delivery works an absolute treat and he provides many of the laughs throughout the film.
Sure Anders certainly didn’t deliver a comedic masterpiece with Daddy’s Home but any filmmaker deserves not to have their ‘surprises’ or ‘laughs’ intended to impress the audience ruined by the trailer that is supposed to promote the film. With that putting the film behind the eight ball already Daddy’s Home is an up-and-down the film. The film seems to work best when it forgets about trying to be funny and instead goes for more touching scenes, like a step-Dad trying his best with his kids, but also falls on its face when it tries to ‘show-up’ other films’ stupidity like with dance-offs etc. Daddy’s Home is a middle of the road comedy that doesn’t provide anywhere near as many laughs as it should.
Daddy’s Home directed by Sean Anders sees the story of a Dad and a Step Dad dealing with the facts of having two Dads in the one household. Brad (Will Ferrell) is a man who has always wanted to be a Dad and his life as a Step Dad to two kids and husband to his wife Sarah (Linda Cardellini) is going well until his wife’s ex-husband shows up. Dusty (Mark Wahlberg is a man who is tough and competitive which certainly is shown throughout the film.
Throughout the film Dusty and Brad go head to head and compete to prove to the kids and Sarah, who can be the better parent. What I loved about the film was the constant humour. In most comedy movies sometimes the humour seems almost like it is forced on you and almost makes you feel like they are trying so hard to make you laugh with scenes and jokes that aren’t very funny at all. In Daddy’s Home the humour was great. It was humour that was very quick in some cases and that’s what I loved. It was humour that we would all experience and things that we would laugh at in everyday life.
The one thing I thought of during this movie is that Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell were great together on screen. To me they were a comedy duo that I never expected and it would be great to see them do more films together in the future. Even though the film is a comedy there was some drama and emotional events which really portrayed what it is like for families where there are more than two parents. Daddy’s Home, I think, is a great movie for the whole family and is definitely worth seeing if you have the option of going to the cinema.
It was funny, enjoyable, had a good story line, great cast and was just an all over good film to watch. Daddy’s Home staring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg is in cinemas now! Check it out!
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Daddy’s Home reviews: You can listen to our full Daddy’s Home review on a future episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show. You can also read our Daddy’s Home review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.
This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Dave and Nick take a look at new release films ‘Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip,’ ‘Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,’ ‘The Belier Family’ and ‘Joy’. This episode also contains interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Josh Green and Justin Long.
The boys would also love to wish all of their loyal listeners are very Merry Christmas and safe travels throughout the holiday season.
Summary: Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) return and this time they have a huge problem. Not only has their ‘father’ Dave (Jason Lee) put a stop to them performing live, so they can be normal kids for awhile, but his relationship with Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is going so well it looks like they are about to get engaged.
Now the Chipmunks are happy for Dave but are concerned that if he marries Samantha that wil mean that they that are now ‘brothers’ with a boy that seems to enjoy torturing them, Miles (Josh Green). When they learn that he isn’t too happy about being related to them either the four decide to embark on a road trip to Miami to prevent the engagement from happening.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Walt Becker
Screenwriter: Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel, Janice Karman (characters), Ross Bagdasarian (characters)
Cast: Christina Applegate (Brittany (voice)), Jennifer Coolidge (Ms. Price), Kaley Cuoco (Elenaor (voice)), Anna Faris (Jeanette (voice)), Josh Green (Miles), Matthew Gray Gubler (Simon (voice)), Tony Hale (Agent Suggs), Ellie Knaus (Anna), Jason Lee (Dave), Justin Long (Alvin (voice)), Jesse McCartney (Theodore (voice)), Maxie McClintock (Alice), Joshua Mikel (Wyatt the Pizza Guy), Red Foo (himself), Eddie Steeples (Barry), Bella Thorne (Ashley Grey), Kimberley Williams-Paisley (Samantha)
Runtime: 92 mins
OUR ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS:ROAD CHIP REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Well I guess it had to happen to one film and for most territories around the world it was Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip that went up against the might of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When you actually think about it it’s not such a bad strategic move considering that most little kids who will want to see Alvin and co will have very little interest in going to see a film about intergalactic warfare. That leaves the big questions being… is this the kind of movie that will entertain or put my children to sleep?
Anyone who has sat through all four Alvin & The Chipmunks movies will tell you that this has been a franchise that has been all over the shop when it comes to quality. The first film surprisingly had meaning taking a huge swipe at the music industry and the way it treats young artists, but from then (like most of the franchises) these days it seems to have had more lows than highs. That is where you might be pleasantly surprised by Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip.
While the cast in front of the camera (and behind the microphone in some cases) haven’t changed this time around, the crew behind the scenes has. Known comedy director Walk Becker (who has previously brought us Van Wilder and Wild Hogs) steps up to the plate and is probably the reason behind a lot of the slapstick that surfaces this time around. Also new to the creative table are screenwriters who can boast films like Mrs Doubtfire and Due Date on their Resumes.
The new creative team behind the film takes this movie in a completely different direction to the last two films. Here the franchise once again finds its heart as the film explores the delicate subject of siblings being brought together as parents remarry etc. Surprisingly the film actually does that quite well, and while Miles is originally set-up as a brat you are supposed to hate the screenwriters do actually take his character on a journey that allows the audience to see how he ended up the way he did. It’s surprisingly moving.
Of course as you would expect from a movie aimed at the younger demographic there is also a lot of scenes that adults are going to find ‘silly.’ The battle scenes with Agent Suggs (Tony Hale) are over the top and too slapsticky for adults to really enjoy but you can guarantee younger kids will be in hysterics over them. Likewise the Red Foo scenes which are nauseating for anybody that has taste in music, but luckily the latter music scenes depicting the Chipmunks doing everything from playing in a redneck bar to rocking out with a brass band in New Orleans are a lot better.
As is normally the case with this franchise the actors are really overshadowed by the CGI chipmunks. Jason Lee seems to be cruise control, as is Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Tony Hale overacts constantly throughout the film, something that it is obvious he was asked to do by the creative team and for the most past it works. The biggest surprise though is the acting performance of Josh Green. The young inexperienced actor really shows that he may be an actor to watch in the future and he masterfully takes his character on a journey throughout this film. He manages to switch from comedy to moving emotionally scenes at a whim and he is one of the few actors who isn’t over-shadowed by his furry, cute co-stars.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip has enough crazy scenes and music sequences to keep younger kids happy while the older generations will warm to the more heartfelt moments throughout the film. Yes this film isn’t the car crash many expected it would be.
Melbourne’s beloved laneway style precinct, QV Melbourne, is thrilled to announce the January-February summer program for their new outdoor cinema in the QV Square.
The deckchair cinema is perched on the astroturf outside the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre on Thursday to Sunday nights until 28 February. Tickets are on sale now via www.qvcinema.com.au
The January to February program kicks off after New Years Day with rock ‘n’ roll flick Almost Famous on Saturday 2 January and cult favourite French film Amélie on Sunday 3 January.
Melbourne filmmaker and film programmer Gus Berger has curated the season of themed screenings, including Aussie Flicks around Australia Day, a Music Movie Week and a Melbourne Independent Film Focus in February. The rest of the season includes cult classics, 80s favourites and special event screenings.
“We’re pretty thrilled to report QV Cinema has already been a huge hit with audiences, with most sessions selling out. We were overwhelmed by interest in our bring-your-dog Best in Show screening and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet with the pre film performance from the Australian Shakespeare Company. We’re predicting our January and February program to be even bigger,” says Gus, who revived and programmed the George Revival Cinema, and runs the roving Blow Up Cinema.
Aussie Flicks to celebrate Australia Day (21-24 January) offers a line up of Aussie icons with Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The Castle. The screening of Red Dog on Thursday 21 February is the icing on the pavlova, with audiences once again invited to bring their dogs to the movies! All proceeds from ticket sales to go to The Lost Dogs’ Home.
The Music Movie Week runs from 4-7 February with the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, Amy, Searching for Sugar Man, the Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy and the multi award winning hit Whiplash.
A not to be missed event screening is on 19 February with cult Irish film The Commitments programmed, with complimentary pre film cocktails from Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey.
The Melbourne Independent Film Focus on 25 and 26 February features the best of Melbourne made short films by Made in Melbourne Film Festival and the best of RMIT student and alumni films.
A surprise screening is programmed for closing night on Sunday 28 February. Audiences can expect something special!
Film lovers can wander down Artemis or Red Cape Lane to the open-air courtyard for intimate screenings of QV Outdoor Cinema’s eclectic variety of films. Grab a wrap from Schnitz, a Movenpick ice cream or a dark hot chocolate from Max Brenner and lounge back in an intimate 80-seat deckchair cinema nestled in the heart of the ‘city within the city’.
Worlds apart from other retail precincts in Melbourne, QV represents the quintessential Melbourne lifestyle. Intimate laneways in the urban precinct give visitors the freedom to wander and discover the eclectic mix of shops, cafes and restaurants at their own pace. Located on the corner of Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, QV has something for everyone with boutiques, enlightening entertainment and cosmopolitan bars and restaurants.
QV Outdoor Cinema screenings are held Thursday to Sunday nights, December 2015 – February 2016. All tickets just $12
Summary: Set thirty years after the events of Return Of The Jedi the universe is once again facing upheaval. Rising from the ashes of Darth Vader before him Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) leads the First Order as they strive to conquer (and in some cases) destroy the galaxy. In order to do so they know they must kill every remaining Jedi which means they need to hunt down Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who has been missing for years.
Leading the resistance against the First Order is Leia (Carrie Fisher) who despite the good intentions of her fighters, like Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), is losing the battle against the First Order. The Resistance gets a much needed boost when a map that may show the whereabouts of Luke is found. But in order to have any affect a young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), a reformed Storm Trooper named Finn (John Boyega), the legendary Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and everybody’s favourite Wookie (Peter Mayhew) must get the map (which is hidden to a droid) to the Resistance.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 18th December 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriter: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, George Lucas (characters)
Cast: Gerry Abrams (Captain Cypress), Sebastian Amresto (Lieutenant Mitaka), Erik Bauersfeld (Admiral Ackbar), Leanne Best (Min Sakul), Jason Boyega (Finn), Anna Brewster (Bazine Netal), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Crystal Clarke (Ensign Goode), Tosin Cole (Lietenant Bastian), Morgan Dameron (Commodore Meta), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Warwick Davis (Wollivan), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Emun Elliott (Brance), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Cailey Fleming (Young Rey), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Michael Giacchino (FN-3181), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Nigel Godrich (FN-9330), Stefan Grube (Yolo Ziff), Greg Gunberg (Snap Wexley), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Jessica Henwick (Jess Testor), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Andrew Jack (Major Ematt), Jeffrey Kissoon (Rear Admiral Guich), Ken Leung (Admiral Statura), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Rocky Marshall (Colonel Datoo), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), James McArdle (Niv Lek), Jim McGrath (Vice Admiral Resdox), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Simon Pegg (Unkar Plutt), Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Korr Sella), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Kipsang Rotich (Nien Nunb), Yayan Ruhian (Tasu Leech), Philicia Saunders (Tabala Zo), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Claudia Sermbezis (Lema Eelyak), Kiran Shah (Teedo), Mark Stanley (Knight Of Ren), Pip Torrens (Colonel Kaplan), Iko Uwais (Razoo Quin-Fee), Brian Vernel (Bala-Tik), Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka), Harriet Walter (Dr. Kalonia)
Runtime: 135 mins
OUR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
It might be a brutal thing to say but Star Wars: The Force Awakens is perhaps George Lucas’ worst nightmare. For years now we’ve heard people worldwide speculating at how Disney and J.J. Abrams were going to destroy the Star Wars universe. Well now after viewing Star Wars: The Force Awakens I can say that it seems that Abrams actually has a better understanding of that universe than what Lucas himself has had over the past few years. Episode 1 and the rest of the new trilogy made me lose my childhood love of everything Star Wars but last night The Force Awakens just awakened it inside me.
There is little wonder that true Star Wars fans at the Melbourne premiere last night clapped their hands off as the final credits rolled last night because Abrams has obviously created this film from his Star Wars fanboy point-of-view. In fact in light of day this script could have easily been lifted from any short novella on a Star Wars fan-fiction site… that’s how true to the original trilogy it was. The original Star Wars feel to the film can also be credited to Abrams’ right hand man – legendary screenwriter who has brought us gems like The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and Raiders Of The Lost Ark… yes the man knows how to write what audiences love.
In some ways Abrams plays the safe-card with The Force Awakens. He sticks to the tried and true tropes of the original Star Wars films even using similar storylines such as a very important map hidden inside of a droid. Instead of feeling like a blatant rip-off though it instead feels like Abrams paying homage to something that he has loved over the years. Having said that though Abrams does put his own stamp on the franchise very well. His new characters, such as Finn and Rey, are likable and unlike Lucas’ attempt with the ill-fated Jar Jar Abrams shows that his new characters don’t need gimmicks to try and win over their audience. Sure you have to wonder how much political correctness was in mind when characters like Rey, Finn and Poe were created but that doesn’t stop them from being the kind of characters that fans of the series are very quickly going to warm to. The idea of Finn being a reformed Storm Trooper is a stroke of genius from the Abrams camp, while Rey and Poe seem to have some pretty interesting back stories that need to be explored in future Star Wars film… and yes it is very obvious that Finn and Rey have some sexual tension that is guaranteed to surface in the future as well.
Perhaps the biggest stamp that Abrams puts on the Star Wars franchise is his visual style. Teaming up with cinematographer Daniel Mindel (who Abrams has also worked with on the Star Trek franchise) Abrams here has created a film that doesn’t need CGI to enhance its environment. Whether it be a great light sabre in a forest, a Millennium Falcon led dog fight or a group of Tie fighters flying out of a sunset Abrams put a visual stamp on the film that George Lucas always seemed to fail at doing throughout his time in the Star Wars world. As The Force Awakens plays out you realise that Abrams’ main focus here wasn’t CGI creatures but instead developing a film that not only had a decent plot but looked damn fine as well.
The big plus for this film though is the inclusion of old favourites. Giving Han and Chewie such a big role in this film is another stroke of genius from the Abrams’ camp. It gives the film some familiarity and the fact that Han is so accepting of Rey and Finn gives them a huge ‘in’ with the film, plus the Abrams’ screenplay provides Han and Chewie with some truly great moments as well. The comedic dialogue works well between the two and once again Harrison Ford shows that even at his age he can be a believable action hero who is more than capable of carrying a film like this… plus the time on set with such a legendary actor will surely put the young stars of this film in great steed for the future.
After the disappointment of the previous three Star Wars films J.J. Abrams touch on the franchise is a welcome relief. Finally there is another Star Wars film to be proud of and yes this is one former lover of the franchise that has had his flame rekindled.
Big Star Wars fan, here. As a child I wanted to hire the original trilogy videos every week. I wanted to be Luke; loved the tale, mythology and symbolism littered throughout. I loved the prequels, despite them generally getting a bad rap these days.
Then it was finally announced – episode 7! We’d see what really happened after Return Of The Jedi. And then I saw it…
And I was sad. A brilliant opening set the scene well – I was hooked. But it falls apart more and more as we progress. The film had a habit (even before release) of building expectations, then dashing them. Even from the opening ‘story crawl’ – “…Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts…” Most daring pilot – is it Han Solo?! No. It’s newcomer Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). That’s OK, I want to get to know him (but barely do). And the old ally… who could it be?! No-one we’ve ever met before. Played by a very famous actor, Max von Sydow, ‘old ally’ Lor San Tekka is killed-off in about 5 minutes, as just a plot device. Even Poe Dameron is seemingly killed-off within the first half hour, only to suddenly reappear later in a cheap way. It was hollow, like something wasn’t right so I kept looking for some big surprise around the corner. Nothing.
Everything builds-up to go nowhere. The opening line of the film is “Luke Skywalker has vanished” – so the story is about finding him, right? No, it’s the main crux of the story but forgotten about and sidetracked with nonsense until the last few minutes.
The new characters of Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisey Ridley) were great and the performers did well. All the impetus was put on them by Disney as what they wanted to sell. The fans wanted to see more of the classic characters along with the new generation, but the classic cast was left underdeveloped or written sometimes out-of-character. I remember when you could half understand the Droids’ bleeping, but now it’s like random sounds.
Daisey and John, at least, are great at bringing their characters to life and we enjoy following them, but there’s too much time spent sidelining the plot. It sets up questions (which kind of look like they have predictable answers – we’ll see in episode 8, probably) that don’t pay-off. You need to give the audience some pay-off, even if this is part of a trilogy. Both characters get invested in their journey then alternatingly both want to leave, then just-as-suddenly change their mind again.
So, then they look for Luke Skywalker, right? No, there are more distractions as the First Order (just a condensed copy of the Galactic Empire from the original trilogy) come to find the map to Luke Skywalker as this is also their plan… or is their plan to blow-up planets with yet another Death Star – oh, sorry: “Star Killer”? While I like the ‘Star-Killer’ nod to George Lucas’ original Star Wars script where the Skywalker clan was named Starkiller, that would have been more than enough of an in-joke. But everything else in the film is a nod to something, a re-make of an old scene, an in-joke for fans, etc… We get two hours of fan-service and maybe 30 minutes of it is story-related. Instead of finding Luke we deal with the unoriginal ‘planet-killing’ device – something we’ve seen fail TWICE already – then clumsily get to a plot point of killing-off a character.
We see what was probably an important planet destroyed by the Starkiller (actually, the home of the New Republic; an element totally lost as the First Order seems to have such power that it seems NOTHING has changed since episode 6) but we don’t care because we never saw the planet. We see some people about to die in horror (including great actress, Freema Agyeman, who’s little more than an uncredited extra after deleting an important scene earlier in the film) but we don’t get invested in their deaths as it becomes such a non-point with little gravitas or repercussion.
Abrahams and Disney cut so much of what was filmed after already diluting so much of what George Lucas had written for them that the current universe isn’t properly established, so have little grounding. But then Abrahams goes all-out on padding the movie with stuff we’ve seen before but has little reward. We get a couple of important plot-points, but mostly this movie is just played out as an small opening act for an actual story which leaves the experience very hollow.
Gone, also, are the layers of myths and symbology that Lucas created in his original films, which I still enjoy discovering to this day, leaving with us something quite superficial.
Technically, the film is well-achieved, and if you want mindless spectacle over an adventure you’ll enjoy this film. I think Disney have been too keen to cash in on this (you can see them whoring the franchise out to anyone who will pay to have a Star Wars image on their product – including Gillette razors) and wanted to hurriedly establish their characters to use as they wish with little continuity constraints (and probably because they’ll be cheaper than the existing heroes). And a new Star Wars-related film will be out every year! Great, so long as they have actually gone to the lengths to make it GOOD.
I, of course, can’t wait for Episode 8 and have hope (A New Hope?) that it will make-up for TFA’s shortcomings and actually develop the plot and story properly. We want more than a money-making romp from Disney, and sadly that is all this film feels like in the end.
Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ (Directed by J.J. Abrams) is a sequel, continuing on from the original Star Wars trilogy.
The Force Awakens is said to be the biggest film release in history. But does the film live up to all the hype?
Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ introduces us to a new range of characters when at the same time bringing back ones from the past. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and a brand new droid, BB-8. Poe is an X-Wing pilot and is on a mission to protect classified information from the hands of the First Order.
The audience is then introduced to Finn (John Boyega). Finn is a Stormtrooper who disagrees with the ways of the First Order and decides to run away. Finn escapes to the planet of Jakku where we meet Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey is a scavenger living a life where she needs to recover any junk metal or spare parts that are good enough to be traded for food.
Any Star Wars film wouldn’t be complete without a major threat and villain fighting to make that threat a reality. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the leader of the First Order and is accompanied by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).
We are of course greeted with some old faces as Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher and of course Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). It was amazing to see the characters we know and love return to the big screen and to see how they have changed after all these years. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) also return to join the returning cast.
The one thing that stood out to me in this film was the acting. J.J Abrams chose actors who were not well known to a large audience and they have definitely shown their potential when it comes to acting.
Throughout the movie there is so much going on that it’s hard to determine your thoughts about it and what you think. After seeing the movie and taking a moment to breath I can honestly say that it was a triumphant return for the Star Wars franchise. The movie was non-stop action and intensity and it was amazing to see that J.J. Abrams kept to the old films and didn’t change anything that would leave fans disappointed. Star Wars ‘The Force Awakens’ is an amazing film for Star Wars fans and the ending has been left wide open for future stories and films to connect with.
The one thing I loved most about this film is that the only CG (Computer Graphics) used was for when they are in space or in battle, flying through the air. There was a physicality to it that made the Star Wars universe feels so real. All the character, droids, aliens, sets and locations were all real and done brilliantly.
My finale thoughts of the film are that it was a great comeback for the Star Was franchise and it’s great to see this universe be introduced to a whole new generation of fans. I would definitely see it again!
Well you’ve seen Dave’s best movies of 2015 now it is time for his 2015 Worst Movies List… just count those unnecessary sequels.
1. Into The Woods
Not many movies over my journey as a film critic have made me want to leave the cinema during a media screening, but Into The Woods did. I stayed… but gee I wish I hadn’t.
John Jarratt has starred in one of Australia’s best horror movies and now he also stars in the one worst. StalkHer was a dull snoozefest horror that seemed to strangely glorify domestic violence.
3. Jupiter Ascending
The Wachowski’s have delivered some real duds in recent years and Jupiter Ascending kept that going. One of the worst screenplays of not only this year but of all time.
4. Dumb And Dumber To
The first movie in this franchise was a comedy classic, but sadly this unnecessary follow-up barely provided any laughs.
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Like Dumb & Dumber the first Paul Blart was kind of okay… but the sequel was terrible.
6. Penguins Of Madagascar
The Madagascar series of animated films has produced some gems along the way but the spin-off Penguins film was one of this year’s low lights.
His dogs weren’t the only unwanted things that Johnny Depp brought to Australia this year. Mortdecai should have quarantined and put down just for being terrible. Depp even managed to drag down the normally dependable Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor.
8. Magic Mike XXL
Like so many other films this year this was an unnecessary sequel. Magic Mike XXL seemed to disregard everything that happened in the first film and just went for sex appeal. I’d say terrible screenplay but I don’t think there was one.
Now I love Shakespeare so this was a film I was looking forward to all year. Sadly the fact that the actors mumbled their way through their performances meant the film was almost unwatchable.
10. Ruben Guthrie
The screenwriter for Ruben Guthrie only went to film school for one day, they learned how to write cliches and that’s all. Terrible film.
Just missed out:
The Heckler, Fantastic Four, Inside Out, Holding The Man
Well the time is here ladies and gentlemen for us to all take a look at what were the best movies of 2015 – Dave Griffiths kicks us off with his ’2015 Best Movies’ list.
1. The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
I like my movies offbeat, daring and a little bit different and the story of a paedophile and his victim told like a teenage romance certainly did that. Brilliant performances all round by the cast.
2. Love & Mercy
John Cusack and Paul Dano were brilliant in this sad tale of Beach Boys’ member Brian Wilson… both should attract Oscar nominations. You’ll never listen to The Beach Boys’ music the same way after watching Love & Mercy.
Reese Witherspoon steps up to the plate as her performance single-handedly makes a film about walking through the wildnerness a memorable film.
4. Good Kill
Ethan Hawke bounces back with an intense film looking at what the introduction of drone-warfare is doing to members of the modern day Air Force. Ethan Hawke’s best movie in years – brilliant screenplay and powerful message.
5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
Birdman makes the list and is was released in Australia in 2015… sensationally filmed and Michael Keaton reminds everybody what he is capable of. Emma Stone was under-praised for her performances as well.
6. La Isla Minima (Marshland)
Gritty crime drama that kept you guessing from start to finish. One of the best screenplays of the year.
Best horror movie of the year hands down. Sensational psychological thriller that announces director Christian Hallman as a filmmaker to watch.
One of the few films I had multiple viewings of this year and still had my interest on the 3rd or 4th viewing. Contains one of the biggest twists in a movie all year and while some might disagree was better than Creed. I’m surprised there has been no talk about Gyllenhaal and Oscar nominations.
9. Zero Motivation
The funniest comedy of the year. This little known Israeli film had hints of M*A*S*H* as it explored the very serious topic of how women are treated in the Israeli army. Dark comedy at its best.
10. Knock Knock
One of the most daring movies of the year. Eli Roth doesn’t hold back as he delivers a suspense thriller with bite.
And some films that narrowly missed my Top Ten:
Irrational Man, Landmine Goes Click, Soaked In Bleach, Joy, We Are Your Friends, Foxcatcher, Testament Of Youth, The Green Inferno, American Sniper, The Gift, American Ultra, Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse, Kingsman: The Secret Service
With Shakespeare’s Best Bits now running in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens Subculture Entertainment’s Dave G caught up with one of the stars of the show, Kevin Hopkins, to find out what audiences can expect.
You can listen to or download our Kevin Hopkins interview right here.