Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

It's finally here! Actually, it's been here for a couple of weeks now... but I wanted to try to review all of the other films in the Star Wars franchise before I got to the latest installment. Then, once I realized that wasn't going to happen, I just decided to review The Force Awakens before it was no longer relevant. Of course, that doesn't seem like it'll happen any time soon either, but I had to get my thoughts down while they were still somewhat fresh in my mind. As I'll get to in my other Star Wars reviews (eventually), I am a lifelong fan of this galaxy far, far away, to the point that I can't remember a time in my life where I haven't seen these films. Having shaped my childhood memories more than any other movie property, it should come at no surprise that my most anticipated film of this year was Episode VII. Really, I've been looking forward to this movie ever since the continuation of this saga became a reality when the purchase of Lucasfilm was announced three years ago. Like many others, I immediately began speculating wildly about where we would find these characters 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and it seemed a little surreal to be finally walking into the theater on opening night to actually see the finished product. As it's been a couple of weeks now, I'm not going to actively avoid anything that could be considered a SPOILER, so proceed at your own risk.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

If The Martian was a problem of too much positive buzz, perhaps Mockingjay Part 2 benefited from a bit of the opposite. This is one of the few series that I've been able to review each installment of during its theatrical run, and if you go back to see my reviews of those previous three movies you'll notice that I've enjoyed every film in this franchise. Sure, some have aged better than others, and the stretched quality of Mockingjay Part 1 was a bit of a hindrance to my enjoyment of it, but I was still pretty pumped to see Part 2 in theaters despite the somewhat negative feedback I'd heard. Full disclosure, though, I have read all three of Suzanne Collins' books, so I went into this viewing knowing pretty much every plot point ahead of time. Given the lukewarm reaction to the third part of that book series, I wasn't too surprised with the response to this climactic installment in movie form. But what did I think of how this story ended? Read on to find out! (BTW: There may be a few SPOILERS, but I'll warn you ahead of time.)

The Martian

After seeing Matt Damon in last year's incredibly underrated sci-fi epic, Interstellar, I kind of thought The Martian was going to be a weak retread. Of course, being based on a very popular novel released it from any similarity to Christopher Nolan's film, and after seeing this movie I can say that (despite a few casting similarities) they have very little to do with one another. I was able to pretty much put that preconception aside when going in to The Martian, though what I couldn't put aside was the explosion of hype that suddenly surrounded this film upon its release, with many calling it the best film of the year and even renowned news sources calling it a front-runner for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards. When these claims start to come out, it immediately gives the viewer an expectation that may be hard to live up to.