Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Spoiler Free Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens officially hit theaters this weekend, but there were many advanced previews over the course of the past week. I wasn't one of the lucky few this time, who got an advance copy and was only able to catch a showing last night. I was a bit nervous, in that I might catch a spoiler or two, as I've been trying to avoid as much as possible to come at the movie with fresh eyes. Surprisingly, everyone on social media has been very respectful, and in that same vein like our other reviews, I'm going to keep it spoiler free.

The Force is Strong in this One

In short, you will want to watch this movie. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

We've all had our hearts broken since Phantom Menace. I'm just going to come out and say that. That series, without getting into a flame war, took a beloved story and removed the magic and mystery. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, puts that magic back into our lives and sprinkles it with lots of nostalgia.

Remembering old friends

Star Wars: The Force Awakens reunites some of our favorite characters from the Original Trilogy, while introducing some new ones. It's not without its holes, but it doesn't try to explain every little detail like the Prequels. You know its Star Wars. You know the Empire. You know the Jedi. So let's just tell this new story. There are a few moments of exposition I could have done with out, or felt a little heavy handed, but I think they're trying to bridge the gap between old and potentially new fans.

The Choice for a New Generation

Its pretty obvious they're trying to set up a new franchise and trying to simplify the plot for kids, hoping to make this their generation's Star Wars. I'm cool with that. JJ Abrams (and crew) set up the bad guys, the good guys and leaves some wiggle room for people to grow over the course of a new trilogy in a way that should be easy to follow for even the most casual fans.

I'm going to stop rambling now, as I've been up all night thinking about this movie, and trying to figure out when I can see it again.  I suspect that you will want to see it a few times as well, especially to catch a few of the easter eggs. I tried my best and I'm sure I missed a few, especially some nods to the Expanded Universe, but more on that later. Hopefully, after a few viewings, I'll have a spoiler-full review in the bag.

May the Force be with you


Spoiler-Free Fantastic Four Review

Welcome True Believers. I was able to recently attend the premiere of the new Fantastic Four movie and like everyone who saw it, want to share my opinion. If you've read any of our other movie reviews, you know we don't do spoilers, just tell you if we liked the movie.

Should I see it?

Only good time to sit up close to the screen is at a movie premiere

Only good time to sit up close to the screen is at a movie premiere

I'm just going to come out and say that I enjoyed it more than I expected, and I tried to avoid all the negative press that was coming out before anyone even saw the film. 

That being said, I can see why so many bloggers broke the Fox embargo and are firing shots at the movie. F4 had everything possible to make it a great super hero movie. The director worked on Chronicle. which is a personal favorite; Mathew Vaughn was attached and he's part of why Kick Ass and X-Men First Class was a great movie; the cast was on point.

So what went wrong?

Not to bash Fox, because I'm sure other bloggers will be doing that for me. However, the movie smelled of studio interference. There's several moments where it felt like things were re-written or re-shot more than necessary, and the plot takes too many turns and has to try to hard to wrap itself up by the end of the movie.

It's also trying to be too dark and gritty. The film takes a lot from the Ultimate version of Fantastic Four, which has some dark moments, but then makes them unnecessarily dark in odd ways.

More Doom and Gloom?

On the other hand, I think the movie shines when it gets light hearted, particularly in the team dynamic when they're trying to build their science project. I thought I was watching a Breakfast Club version of Real Genius.

As I've mentioned, I was a fan of the casting decisions, particularly that of Doom and Johnny Storm. Doom reminded me of engineers I've worked with, somewhat likable but egotistical. As much as I love doom in the comics, it's hard to capture that kind of character in a two hour movie and make audiences empathize. I may be biased, but Toby Kebbel nailed it. Regarding Michael B. Jordan's Johnny Storm, I think he nailed it, particularly in the interactions with his father, played by a personal favorite, Reg E. Cathey (Loved Square One!)

It's Kvetchin' Time!

One thing that bothered me immensely was the voice work for the CGI characters. I'm usually a nitpick about this, but it felt to me like once certain characters became an effect instead of an actor, the voice became a bad impression of the actor.

Remember, we had to deal with this version...It gets better

Remember, we had to deal with this version...It gets better

Lastly, the movie did feel rushed, almost as if they were busy trying to develop characters, then realized they needed to end the movie and prepare for a sequel. This seems to be a common trend in franchise movies, and only Marvel can get it right. Sorry Fox, but maybe you should work out a deal like Sony did.

Oh, and there was no Stan cameo and no after credits scene. Maybe that last part was because I was at the premiere.


- Alex "The Watcher"

TL;DR: Go see the movie, but try to get a matinee if you can. Keep your expectations low, and don't be afraid to get up and pee if you need to near the end. You won't miss much.