STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

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Directed by J.J. Abrams

Star Wars, the cinematic behemoth. The meaning of pop culture. The religion of the new age. I decided to base my judgement of The Force Awakens on whether or not it was better than the prequel trilogy that preceded it. Thank my lucky Millennium Falcon, it was. When you have the childhoods of millions of people in the palm of your hand, it’s in your best interest not to Jar-Jar Binks it, and J.J. Abrams would’ve known that from the beginning. A sort of New Hope for millennials, Episode VII has the winning formula in spades, with solid action sequences and a surprising amount of humour that felt both traditional and fresh at the same time. Whilst I thought the dialogue was at times a bit hammy and clunky, I instantly thought of the five year olds who would be running around, reenacting these scenes – brought back down to Earth, I remembered that these films are meant to be for everybody, and for everybody they are.

It doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, instead feeling more like an homage to the past and a set-up for the future, Episode VII does do precisely what it probably wanted to do in the first place: make every single person in the audience feel like a kid again, watching Star Wars for the first time. Oh, and make over $1.5 billion in the box office.

B+

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EX MACHINA

Directed by Alex Garland

I’m forever a fan of Oscar Isaac. For me, he remains the best thing about most, if not all of the productions he stars in. The production design of Ex Machina does a stellar job in translating the stark coldness of the film, but I have to admit that the film never elevated beyond it’s sleek, intellectual exterior. For a film to discuss what it means to be human, it feels like a disservice to have Domhnall Gleeson’s protagonist character remain practically one-dimensional for the entirety of the whole film. Ex Machina is essentially the cinematic equivalent of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz: shiny and impressive, but lacking any resemblance of a heart. At least it still has Oscar Isaac.

B-

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers defy expectations yet again with a beautifully sombre story about a 1960’s folk-singer who just can’t get his shit together. Oscar Isaac embodies the role flawlessly as we’re given an insight into a man slowly but surely peeling away. What a gorgeous soundtrack. The Coen brothers mastered the art form a long time ago: “Inside Llewyn Davis” is no exception.

A+