Sunday, January 31, 2016

When Marnie Was There (2015)

Plot: Anna is a tomboyish 12 year old girl who lives with her foster parents in Sapporo. When she collapses from an asthma attack, her foster parents send her to spend the summer with some family friends in a seaside town. While she's there, she grows interested in an abandoned mansion out in the marsh. Her interest leads her to meet a blonde girl named Marnie who appears to live in the house. The two of them begin to form a very close friendship, but Anna also tries to figure out this mystery behind Marnie.

If I can sum up this movie in one word, it would have to be beautiful. This was without a doubt a beautiful movie. Its not as magical as a lot of Studio Ghibli's other works, but it's still magical in its own way. Not with fantasy worlds, creative creatures and numerous adventures, but with pure, powerful emotion.

This is no simple happy, charming light-hearted piece of animation. This is a mature film that gives us some of the deepest and darkest emotions that children can go through. Even from the most simple expressions from Anna or Marnie, you could can look at their faces - be it Anna's "ordinary face" or Marnie's cheery one, and you can tell that these are girls that go through hard stuff. There's even a scene where Anna and Marnie both claim that the other has life going much better. But there also is a sort of other worldly aspect to who Marnie really is that leaves you invested in finding out more about her. And when you find out, chances are you will be very satisfied with what you get. I know for me personally, it was the reveal that really sold me into really liking if not loving this movie.

The animation in this movie is wonderful. This might be the most beautiful animation I have ever seen in a Studio Ghibli film. And that's saying an awful lot compared to films like Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, and Howl's Moving Castle: one of my all time favorite films. As much as I love how creative and detailed Studio Ghibli can me with its animation, there's no denying that - in a way, it's much stronger here, because it's a matter of the emotion behind the animation over spectacle. And don't get me wrong, the other films do have their quiet moments where they also let the emotion of the scene play itself out, and they are wonderful. But this feels like almost an entire movie where they just let the depth of emotions in the scenes play themselves out. The soundtrack is also wonderful - I even have bought some of the music on itunes.

If I did have one problem with the film, it would be that its timeline is a little confusing. Like this takes place through an entire summer, and yet it contradicts itself of when certain events come to pass. But it really is just a total nitpick.

And that's my review for When Marnie Was There. It's a wonderful experience with a mature subject matter, deep characters, and animation that shows so much powerful emotion to the story. I saw this with one of my best friends, Candra, and she says that it might be one of her favorite Studio Ghibli films. I for one didn't waste a whole lot of time with buying my own personal copy, and watching it again, I can officially say that it is now my second favorite Studio Ghibli film, second only to Howl's Moving Castle. If you have not seen it yet, definitely watch it as soon as you are able to. It is one films that you may never forget.

Rating: 95%

Thursday, January 28, 2016

101 Dalmatians (1996)

Plot: Pongo and Perdy are two dalmatians whose owners, Roger and Anita, have just gotten married, and they themselves have given birth to 15 puppies. But when Cruella De Vil wants to buy the puppies so that she can turn them into fur coats, and the owners wont sell them, she hires two henchman named Horace and Jasper to kidnap the puppies. So it's up to Pongo and Perdy and a bunch of other animals to find and rescue the puppies.

While this is by no means as good as the animated version, it's not too bad for a live-action adaption. The story and characters are the same, but some things are done differently: namely, the animals don't talk, and there is more attention on the humans. The beginning of the film alone basically focuses on Roger and Anita getting together more then Pongo and Perdy. But with that said, the human characters are likable. I liked Roger and Anita getting together, and Mark Williams and Hugh Laurie as Horace and Jasper - while not as funny as the original characters, have their moments. The one character that I did not care for was Nanny. The way she reacts to the puppies being stolen is so dull. She just had almost no energy in worrying that the puppies are gone. And of coarse there's Glenn Close as Cruella. Close is what gives this film its real identity. The character herself is over-the-top, but she gives so much energy in her body movement and her dialogue and, of coarse, her evil laugh. She is by far the most memorable thing in the movie, and I kind would've liked to have seen more of her. In fact, there's talk of Disney possibly making an origin film of Cruella, possibly starring Emma Stone. I have my concerns as much as the next person, but if they do, I hope they can remember that, unlike Maleficent, Cruella De Vil is a fun, comedic character, and that they should use that to their advantage. Maybe not so much as to go as over-the-top as Glenn Close has, but enough that Emma Stone can have a ton of fun with this possible role. And as a fan of Stone, that is something I would love to see, because I think there are so many possibilities that they can do with her as Cruella.

Apparently, there were some people who were shocked/pissed that the dogs didn't talk in this film. Deep down however, this makes more sense. This is live-action, and giving us talking animals would be a little weird. Plus, they still found a way for the animals to be characters without having dialogue. Not all of them of coarse, but they were able to develop them as characters, where you have a good idea of who is Pongo, or Perdy or Lucky or...that one brown dog that was never given a name. It's hardly the same as the characters in the animated version, but for what they have to work with, they pulled it off alright.

Now with all the positive stuff said, the film does suffer for not completely being like the animated film. Please understand that when I say that, I don't mean that it has to be exactly like the original movie, but it does take away some of the major elements that made the first one enjoyable - animated or no. Because with animation film, A)the animals talking isn't weird, and bring us memorable characters like The Colonel or Sargent Tibbs, B) the slapstick is bigger and thus, more fun, and C) it has a car chase that makes for an epic climax. With the live action, the characters can still be characters, but not in the same way - heck we don't ever get The Colonel or Tibbs, the slapstick will have its moments, but is otherwise kind of standard for a film written my John Hughes, and - to me, the film never really had a climax. I guess the scene with the farm is suppose to be it, but I never had that train of thought until after watching the movie, as opposed to while I was watching it. Bottom line, watching the animated version of 101 Dalmatians is not about just seeing cute puppies that makes it entertaining (though I'm sure it is for some people), it's about the animals as characters, the fun comedy, and above all, the adventure that Disney gives us with many of their movies. So in my mind's eye, this movie - by no fault of its own, is less as good because it carries the element of having cute little dogs and the general story, but not the rest of the elements that makes the previous movie so loved. So thus film shows the advantage and disadvantage of how anything is possible with animation as opposed to live action.

And that's my review for 101 Dalmatians. It had no chance of being meeting the same quality as its predecessor - mainly because of the disadvantages it has for being live-action. But for what they had to make for a non-animated version of the story, it works out alright with it sticking to the general story, and its mostly likable human cast - mainly Glenn Close as Cruella if no one else.

Rating: 60%


So the Christmas prior to the one we just had, I got two movies from the family white elephant gift. I saw one before, but I haven't reviewed either. So I'm going to fix that with the one I haven't seen before: Taken

Plot: Retired CIA field operative Bryan Mills attempts to build a closer relationship with his daughter, Kim, who lives with her mother and stepfather. But when Kim and her best friend go to France and they are captured by human traffickers, Bryan must fly to France to - you guessed it, look for the traffickers, find them, and kill them.

It is a little hard to say a whole lot about this film, since it's kind of a standard action film. It really is the standard going to various locations, and giving us all this mindless, fun car chases, gun fights, and it's all just one guy against a lot of other guys. And yet, this movie has gained some popularity, mainly because of two reasons. First and foremost, that it's Liam Neeson; Nesson is what really gives this movie any kind of strength. Even if the majority of the film is him doing standard, mindless, over-the-top, action, he still makes it fun. The second reason you be the popular line, "I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. " It is not the most original line, but Nesson delivers it in the way that makes it really epic. If anything else to say, I do personally really like the relationship between Neeson's character and his daughter. I think the development how they cared about one another worked very well in getting you to care about Kim's kidnapping and thus root for Bryan. I know they have to do that, I'm just saying that they did it particularly well in my book.

And that's my review for Taken. I like the relationship between Bryan and Kim, and having Liam Neeson star the film with that classic line goes without saying. But there really isn't much to say about it aside from that apart from it mostly being your typical, mindless action fun.

Rating: 55%

What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)

Well word has reached me about Leonardo DiCaprio getting high praise for The Reverant. And I intend to see it sometime soon, but until then, here's a film my family and I recently saw that has another big performance from the guy.

Plot: Gilbert is a young man who works as a clerk at a grocery store in a sleepy town called Endora. He lives this occupying life where he looks after his morbidly obese mother and his brother with a developmental disability, Arnie. Gilbert tries to juggle taking care of his family and prepare for Arnie's 18th birthday party, while he tries to gain a love life with a girl named Becky.

This is a moving film. It captures the world of this quiet, dead-end town, and you feel what an impact it is to people who live there. It does however have some predictable moments. There are elements to the story where you can probably figure out for yourself what is going to happen, or get a good idea of part of how the movie will end. A lot of that is from the fault of how the film sets up the characters and their relationships with one another. For example, one of the very first things that Gilbert says via voice over at the very beginning of the movie, is how it's a surprise that Arnie has stayed alive when he was expected to die before he was 10. I'm not really giving anything away when I say that though, because the film doesn't necessarily give anything away either when it gives us exposition like that. It sort of plays around with our expectations, so we still have the mystery of whether or not something is going to happen. In the end, how the story ends, might be what you expected, thought not entirely.

This is also one of these films that leads to look back and ask "what the heck happened to Johnny Depp as an actor?" This is one of those performances that we need to see him in more often; something more serious and dramatic and more original where we can take his acting seriously as opposed to performances that are basically just Tim Burton films and movies that he more or less gets casted in based on his eccentric performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirate films. Here, we get the struggle that Gilbert is going through and feel for how he is trapped because of how he has to take care of his family after the death of his father. Leonardo DiCaprio gives the most stand-out performance that I have ever seen him do. He gives an excellent performance giving us this mentally challenged boy from the movements, to the way he talks, to the facial expressions - heck, throughout most of the entire film, I don't even see him as DiCaprio. I see him as this poor, mentally challenged boy named Arnie. That's kind of a rare feet for him in my opinion. As good of an actor he is, he is sort of one of those people where in the long run, you see DiCaprio as this character, instead of just seeing the character. So it's nice to see a film where the latter happens when we see DiCaprio. Granted, sometimes he comes off as a little annoying, but it's also the reasonable kind of annoying, in that this is a character that had mental problems, and thus he can't help how he may acts around people.

And that's my review for What's Eating Gilbert Grape? It has its predictable moments, but it otherwise delivers a nice, film with some of the best performances from Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. If you haven't seen it and you feel like watching something decent on Netflix, this is not a bad film to check out.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Rock-A-Doodle (1992)

Plot: Chanticleer is a rooster who makes the sun go up for this farm by crowing/singing. But when the Grand Duke of Owls, uses one of his henchmen to make him forget to crow so that the sun would come up on its own, he is kicked out of the farm and left to find work in the city. The Grand Duke of Owls takes advantage of this, as he plans to keep the sun from ever coming up again, causing eternal darkness and rainfall, threatening to flood the land. This is all told via storybook in live action, to a boy named Edmond, whose family is apparently hit by the same rainfall as the animals in the farm. Edmond calls out Chanticleer's name in hopes that he will crow again before the flood makes it to his home, but the Grand Duke of Owls comes instead to punish Edmond by turning him into a kitten so that The Duke can eat him. But the animals of the farm come to save him and tell him that Chanticleer actually did raise the sun, and they need him back to do it again.  

I want to start of saying that I already knew about the story and some other elements to this film just from having seen the Nostalgia Critic review for this movie, which is why I never saw it before. But I recently had the urge to just say "screw it" and watch it anyway, so here we are. But I must say, as bad as I expected it to be, I didn't think that it would be so bad that I would view it to be almost just as bad as A Troll in Central Park - heck, even worse in some elements.

 Like A Troll in Central Park, this film is littered with plot holes. But the problems with the story here are more confusing to say the least. First off, the claim that Chanticleer did raise the sun when they thought he didn't is bull crap. The rest of the film seems to stand on its claim that his voice raises the sun, but we do see the sun come up without him crowing when he's kicked out of the farm. And that is only the first out of three if not four major problems with the story. The second one you can guess would be how the early event of the film is apparently happening the same time Edmond's mother is telling him the story via story book. I can go on and on about the other problems, but these two in particular are the most confusing. A Troll in Central Park had problems about what was happening in certain areas in its story too, but they weren't so bad that you can be confused on how the story is set up.                  

Now as much as Doug Walker covered so much about this movie as the Nostalgia Critic, there's two elements that I don't think he covered quite as much as he could have. The first element is the characters. Actually, Walker recently did an interview with Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and they talked about how, unlike their films back in the 80s, their financiers for their films in the 90s gave them less control with their product and would demand changes that make things simpler and dumbed-down, and it really shows here. They try to make it so inviting to be in an adventure with Edmond and the farm animals, but they come off more like cut-off boards of characters. The prime example is Edmond, who needs to believe that he's not helpless despite his small size. Not only is this a story line that has been done before, but personally, I don't think it really paid off. Maybe I missed something, but it didn't look like there was a real resolution with Edmond's fear. I think he was suppose to conquer his fear by supporting Chantacleer, but even if that was the case, it doesn't really add up to the obstacles he was facing prior. The only character that appeared likable in any way was the dog, Patou. But that's only because he was voiced by Phil Harris; the guy who did the voices for Little John and Baloo in Disney's Robin Hood and The Jungle Book respectfully.

As much as I was aware of how bad the soundtrack was for Rock-a-Doodle, I didn't expect the majority of the music to be songs to be really, really, short. I knew beforehand that a lot of the music was pointless - and they most certainly where. But given that this is an animated musical made by Don Bluth, I imagined that they would at least be around 2-3 minutes long like his other films from the 90s - i.e. Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park, Pebble and the Penguin and Anastasia. Granted, some of them are at least 2 minutes long officially speaking, but even then, they don't have much weight, because the dialogue or the action covers most of them up. The rest of them were no longer than 40 seconds or so.

And that's my review for Rock-a-doodle. It has a plot with major problems, characters that are underdeveloped and uninteresting, and had a lackluster of songs that aren't even needed most of the time. If you grew up with this film and have a sense of nostalgia to it, fair enough. But otherwise, this is one Don Bluth that may not have pissed me off like A Troll in Central Park, but is almost just as bad if not worse in some areas, that this is one Don Bluth film that you should skip.

Rating: 10%

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Die Hard (1988)

As most of you probably know already, Alan Rickman lost his life to cancer. It goes without saying that this is a sad day to have lost such an actor like him just a little more than a month shy of reaching the age of 70. So to honor his memory, I figured it's time that I stop holding off on re-watching and then reviewing one of the films he's most well known for apart from playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films: Die Hard.

Plot: John McClane is a New York cop who is visiting his wife, Holly in L.A. at the Nakatomi Plaza  where she works. But when a group of heavily armed men lead by Hans Gruber takes control of the tower, taking Holly and the other employees hostage, it's up to McClane to face Hans and his men and save the hostages.

Let's not beat around the bush; Die Hard is an action classic. As Jeremy Jahns put it best in his own review of the movie, "Every year or two, the filmmakers in studios are like 'alright, we gotta make the new Die Hard; the new Die Hard of modern day.' Problem is, Die Hard still holds up as a sweet-@## action movie, so Die Hard is Die Hard of modern day." Whatever you have seen in other action movies nowadays, are likely stuff that are in Die Hard. The cop on cop partnership, the jerky chief of police who keeps getting in the way, the big catchphrase, it's in other film from that time, but it's done so well in this movie.

A point that some people commonly say nowadays, is one of the major problems with the later Die Hard films. And that is they make John McClane like any other major bad-a action hero, when in fact what made him likable in the first movie, was that he was more human. With most action films like some of the later Die Hard films, the hero is more capable of kicking butt - usually with ease, making the danger they face not as dramatic. But here, the danger is indeed real. He may be a cop, but what he is facing is something out of his league. He's outnumbered, his resources are limited to whatever he finds from the men he manages to kill, he has little to no help apart from communicating with Powell, and he has to use his wit to get things done - heck, sometimes the choices he makes are not always the right one. This makes him more human, and thus more relatable to the audience, as it can make you imagine yourself in his shoes. You may not do all of the things he does if this happened to you, but you still watch the movie picturing yourself in this situation.

The supporting cast is also a lot of fun to watch. Alan Rickman does an excellent job as Hans Gruber. He and Bruce Willis work off each other so well without hardly ever being in the same room. He also gives the right amount of showing that he still is a threat, while still irritated at what a thorn on his side McClane is. He also delivers some of the most memorable jokes in the film. Reginald VeUohnson was also great as Powell - again, like with Hans, he pulls off having this strong relationship with McClane with little to no scenes where they are in the same location. The most memorable of Hans' henchmen apart from Karl in my opinion, was the Asian guy, Uli, just because of that cute moment where he's taking a crunch bar from this snack stand as he and another henchman are getting ready to fight policemen who are trying to get into the building.

The action? Pff, it's awesome of coarse. Little to no shaky cameras, explosions only when necessary, the choreography to the fight scenes are not fast pace, it just gives us a more believable but still very epic action.

And that's my review for Die Hard. Do I really need to say anything else? The protagonist is relatable, the other characters are memorable, the action is full of thrills, it's just a great, classic action movie. If you have not seen it yet, do so.

With all of that said, farewell Alan Rickman, and thank you for all your memorable performances that you have given us over the years. Requiescat in pace (rest in peace in latin)

Rating: 100%

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Hateful Eight (2015)

Plot: The eighth film of Quentin Tarantino is about two bounty hunters named Major Warren and John Ruth who are on their way to a town called Red Rocks to collect their money from their collected bounty, including Warren's prisoner, Daisy Domergue. But when a blizzard hits, they have to stay in a stagecoach lodge for a couple of days. But all the while, there is something that is amiss.

The most general way I can describe this movie, is that it is indeed a Quentin Tarantino movie with all the acting, dialogue, story, violence and so on that goes with it. The Hateful Eight is filled with terrific performances from the entire cast, from Samuel L. Jackson, to Kurt Russel, to Walton Goggins - heck, even Channing Tatum. Maybe it's just me, but I find that to be a "well how about that" kind of deal for Channing Tatum to be in a Quentin Tarantino movie. I just never thought I'd see him in something like this, so good for him. And they use the almost 3 hour running time so well with introducing and developing these characters, and their relationships with one another so that the suspense keeps on building and building. I like how films like this can take so much time developing characters to fully create the experience. Because at the end of the day, The Hateful Eight is not just a movie, it's experience. Similar to Django Unchained, it is the second half or so that is what really makes this movie; all the twists and turns, and over-the-top gory violence galore that keeps you wondering how is this going to end. The music is excellent; just hearing the main theme at the beginning of the movie set up the film perfectly. The only possible nitpick I have for this movie is, is it just me, or was Tim Roth's character, Mobray, a little too similar to Christoph Waltz's character, Dr. King Schultz, in Django Unchained in some scenes?

And that's my review for The Hateful Eight. It's has great performances, suspenseful drama, fun over-the-top violence, it's everything you expect from Quentin Tarantino to have a darn good time. If you haven't seen it yet, do so as soon as you can.

Rating: 90%

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Small One (1978)

I know Christmas is over, but part of why this hasn't been reviewed already, is because I finally saw it for the first time on Christmas Day, and naturally, I was focused on my presents among other gifts since then. But I don't have a lot to do now, so I'm going to finally review Don Bluth's animated Disney short; The Small One.

Plot: Set around the time Jesus is about to be born, a young boy has to sell his best friend, an old and weak donkey named Small One. So with his father's permission, he goes to the city where he tries to sell Small One to anyone who will give him a new home, despite no one wanting to buy him apart from the tanner.

This film can be summed up in one word that my sister, Jenny kept using as we watched it; sad. Even a little before The Boy's father tells him that Small One has to be sold, we both thought that this movie was sad. Almost instantly, you care about Small One and The Boy and how deep of a bond they have, making it depressing, knowing that something sad is going to happen to them. And it gets worse when they go through the majority of the film trying to give Small One a new home, when people either intent to kill him or will hurl insults at how old and weak he is. It does have its lighter moments, like when we are first introduced to the characters, and when we are given this song that these three merchants sing that is rather catchy. But for the most part, all we are seeing is this struggle that The Boy and Small One go through just to find a new home for the donkey. The ending may seem a little easy to figure out, but even if you do, it's still very touching.

And that's my short review for The Small One. If you dislike this kind of film because of how sad it is, like Jenny does, I definitely understand. But it is otherwise a great, emotional animated short from one of the animation legends that is worth checking out next Christmas if you haven't seen it already.

Rating: 100% 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Thank The Lord for relieving me and my family of the burden of doing everything we could to have little to no information of this film until we finally saw it. My dear viewers, you don't have the slightest idea how much of a relief it is. Anyway, I just finished watching it a second time, so I'm all ready to go to finally give you my thoughts about The Force Awakens.

Plot: It's been about 30 years since the events of Return of the Jedi, and Luke Skywalker has disappeared, while the First Order is looking to destroy him and the Republic. While Leia Organa is leading the Resistance against the First Order, a droid named BB-8 contains information on the whereabouts of Luke. So it's up to a former stormtrooper named Fin and a scavenger from the planet Jakku named Rey to bring BB-8 to Leia while they are hunted down by the First Order, lead by the powerful Kylo Ren. 
It's not that this film beats the crap out of the prequels, it's just that it bathed the star-ways in their blood. Not only is it good, but the makers of this movie where very, very, very, VERY, smart with how they handled it. It had the right mixture of both the old and the new elements to the franchise, that showed that this truly is Star Wars the way the story should continue: with the Jedi all but extinct, the empire (loosely speaking) as a terrible, giant force against the republic, and best of all, The Force is a giant mystery that flows around life - none of that midichlorians crap. 

I also like how things have changed since the events of Return of the Jedi. Instead of the Rebel Alliance, it's the Resistance, which is supported by the Republic. Instead of Princess Leia, it's General Leia. Instead of the Empire, it's the First Order. And instead of the Sith leading the First Order, it's...just two people who follow the dark side of The Force. In fact, the last part is the most interesting to me; that they don't make the main force of evil specifically Sith Lords (at least that we know for sure). They appear to just be Force Users that follow the path to the dark side, like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine originally were before the prequels titled them as the Sith. And as much as I love the on going fight between the Jedi and the Sith - whether in these films or the expanded universe, as my favorite aspect of Star Wars, I can't deny that this works much better for a seventh movie. It's more simple, it touches more into, again, what the villains were originally, and for all we know, Kylo Ren and his master could be a force of something darker and more destructive then the Sith somehow. Who knows?

One of the major highlights of this film's strength is the characters. The new characters were 100% likable almost immediately. It only took a few minutes into their first appearances, and already I was rooting for Fin and Rey, and I even got a few laughs out of BB-8. Then you have Kylo Ren, who is the most awesome villain in a Star Wars film since Darth Maul. His mask was cool, his big brooding voice fit him perfectly, and it goes without saying how awesome his lightsaber is. But he wasn't just simply some latest version Darth Vader. He had his own identity, where he is also more human and has much more of a conflict in what he believes. And of coarse, there's the appearance of the original characters: they played off with the new characters very well. It is great that the old characters weren't there just to be cameos because they're from the original trilogy. It especially was a lot of fun seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca again. In fact, as far as the original characters go, this was kind of Han's film more then anyone else's. Would I have liked to seen more? Absolutely. There were some new characters that did not get as much screen time as I would have liked - particularly Captain Phasma. And I personally was really looking forward to seeing more of Luke Skywalker. I know what they did with him was perfect for the sake of the story, but at the same time, I was sort of disappointed.

A lot of people view the story to this movie as basically just A New Hope retold. Not to say that it does every little thing precisely like that, but it has a lot of beats that are very similar to A New Hope. But the good news is that they did it the right way. It gives us a good sense of nostalgia that helps us become more comfortable - given how some of us feel about the prequels, but it also has the right changes that makes it its own story, which is backed up by how invested we are with the new characters. And what is really great, is that there's so much mystery to the story too. True, there are some things that are revealed sooner then you probably expected - most of which, I really appreciated that, that was the case. But there were so many things that were vague in this film (i.e. the formation of the First Order, Kylo Ren's full background, and like I said earlier, whether or not Kylo Ren and his master are Sith Lords or something more), that it leaves you desperately wanting more. 

I was presently surprised about the humor in this movie. There were so many jokes that worked so well - some of them where still funny after watching the film a second time. I would go so far as to say that it easily is the funniest of the Star Wars films. This isn't to say that some of the other films didn't have their humorous moments, but the cleverness and delivery of the jokes in this film was on par with the comedy we get in the Marvel films. In fact, given that they both are owned by Disney, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some connection to how the comedy to these films have worked so well that they practically guarantee that their audience will laugh constantly.

The action in this film is great. And when I say that, I'm really referring to the lightsaber fighting during the climax. As much as I enjoy the lightsaber fights in the prequels - namely the fight between Qui-gon, Obi-wan and Maul, and the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, I have to agree with my brother, Johnathan that this was much stronger. The fighting on the prequels is mostly just clashing swords with kicks and spins and so on. And while those fight are great to watch, the fights here are more like the duels between Luke and Vader in both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, in that it's more genuine in an emotional level. When you see these people swinging their laser swords at each other, you know that they are truly trying to kill each other.  There's no special choreography or anything like that from the prequels, it's just these characters putting all of their emotions into either trying to kill the other person or trying to stay alive.

And that's my review for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. It has a smart story, lovable new characters - while still giving us some lovable moments with the original characters, the comedy is great, the action is terrific, it's a ton. Is there room for more? Yes. Do I understand if you think it's a little too much like A New Hope? Absolutely. But I think we can all agree that it is so much better then the prequels, and if anything else, leaves you wanting to see more. Some people say it's the fourth best one, others say that it might be better then at least Return of the Jedi. I think the latter might be a stretch since RotJ is a classic, but at the same time, I can't deny that I'm growing attached to this film. I've seen it twice in theaters already, and I am looking forward to seeing it many more times in the near future.

Rating: 90%