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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Review

Essential

Appealing both to a new generation of viewers and fans of the series since the beginning, this 30-years-later sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi is a thrilling adventure. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams has managed to capture the tone of the original trilogy while telling a story about young, vibrant new characters whose connection to the overall saga deepens intriguingly as events unfurl.

Over the past three decades, the Empire has regrouped, forming the First Order to crush the Old Republic for good. And the plucky Rebellion hasn't offered much resistance since leader Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) disappeared. The Empire's top henchman Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is searching for him just as diligently as the rebel leader General Leia (Carrie Fisher). But the real action is happening out of their grasp, as disaffected storm trooper Finn (John Boyega) teams up with rebel pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) and then feisty scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and expressive droid BB-8. Along the way, Han Solo and Chewbacca (Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew) find themselves back in the fray. And everyone is startled when there's a strong stirring in the force.

Abrams beautifully recreates the scruffy, clanky mechanical atmosphere of the original trilogy, infusing scenes with witty banter and John William's soaring score to throw us right back into that familiar galaxy. This includes the saga's main themes: the temptation of power, how true heroism is often accidental, and the tension between parents and children. Combine this with a plot that propels itself with a series of unexpected adventures and battles, all centred on the characters, and the film taps strongly into the teen in all of us.

Continue reading: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens TV Spot Trailer


After the victory of the Rebel Alliance over the Galactic Empire and subsequent demolition of The Death Star, you'd imaging life in a certain galaxy would be a little more subdued, but as we soon learn, life for Princess Leia, Luke and Hans wasn't exactly easy following their small yet essential victory.

30 years on and to most citizens - humanoid and alien - the stories of evil Lord Darth Vader and the Jedi Masters are just a legend, a story they tell their children that starts with the well-known overture: 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away'. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh film in the Star Wars series and is an additional story to the original Star Wars outline.

The film follows a set of new characters as they join the battle and fight the evil forces once again threatening to destroy their galaxy. The Force Awakens was directed by Jj Abrams and sees a number of cast favourites return to the story including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

'The Raid 2' Ups The Ante And Expands With Glorious Results


Iko Uwais

After his lean, gritty Indonesian action thriller The Raid stormed the box office in 2012, Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans could have easily repeated that film's simple linear attack in the sequel. Instead, The Raid 2 is an epic gangster movie with added martial arts fighting.

The Raid 2The Raid 2 Is A Triumph For Gareth Evans

"The first one I saw as a survival horror film," Evans says. "This one is a crime thriller. The first one was about tension and suspense, and for the sequel I wanted to expand and tell this big sprawling crime saga about these families, father-son issues and all these different relationships."

Continue reading: 'The Raid 2' Ups The Ante And Expands With Glorious Results

'The Raid 2' Is Not As Good As The Original. But It's Damn Good.


Iko Uwais

Among the smorgasbord of movies on offer for cinemagoers this weekend is The Raid 2, Gareth Evans's sequel to the classic 2012 Indonesian martial-arts movie, Redemption. 

The Raid 2'The Raid 2' Branches Out From The Original

The first effort followed Special Forces rookie Rama (Iko Uwais) who is instructed to hang back during a covert mission to extract a brutal crime lord from a rundown fifteen-story apartment block. It was a high octane thrill fest with genuinely ground-breaking fight scenes, masterfully directed by the Welsh filmmaker.

Continue reading: 'The Raid 2' Is Not As Good As The Original. But It's Damn Good.

The Raid 2 Review


Good

After the linear kick of 2011's surprise Indonesian hit The Raid, Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans is back with an epic-style sequel that sags under the weight of its ambitions. Indulgent both in its storytelling and in each set-piece, this two-and-a-half hour thriller owes more to Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs than to The Raid. But even as it wears us out, its expertly staged fight scenes keep us entertained.

Immediately after that original raid, young Jakarta cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is recruited by his boss (Cok Simbara) to infiltrate the local mafia. This requires Rama to go to prison for two years to protect fellow inmate Uco (Arifin Putra), earning the trust of Uco's father, the fearsome mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). When they're released, Rama joins the family firm. But Uco is impatient to inherit the empire, and secretly plots with wildcard thug Bejo (Alex Abbad) to spark a turf war with the Japanese gangster Goto (Ken'ichi Endo).

Evans tells this story as a sprawling mass of talky plotting and outrageous fight scenes, as Rama works his way into the mob and then has to clean up the increasingly nasty mess. Each brawl is more frenzied than the one before it, and we can't help but laugh each time Rama turns a corner and confronts the next thug (or gang of them) in his way. Highlights include a frankly insane car chase, the climactic kitchen battle and two specialised baddies: a hammer-swinging deaf girl (Julie Estelle) and a skater-dude (Very Tri Yulisman) with a metal baseball bat.

Continue reading: The Raid 2 Review

The Raid Review


Very Good
This riotously entertaining Indonesian action-thriller is packed with cleverly staged carnage. There's very little in the way of characterisation or plot, although there's just enough of both to hold our interest.

Rookie cop Rama (Uwais) kisses his pregnant wife goodbye and heads out for an intense day at work. The team is raiding a run-down tower block to capture vicious mobster Tama (Sahetapy). Led by tough-guy Jaka (Taslim), they aren't remotely ready for what happens next, as Tama offers the building's residents free rent for life if they kill the cops before they reach the 15th floor.

Full-on war ensues, and soon there are only a handful of police officers left.

Continue reading: The Raid Review

The Raid: Redemption Trailer


Rama is a rookie in an elite special-forces team. He, along with the rest of his co-workers, is set a mission: to infiltrate an abandoned apartment full of criminals and take down a notorious drug lord, who resides on the fifteenth floor.

Continue: The Raid: Redemption Trailer

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Movie Review

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Movie Review

Appealing both to a new generation of viewers and fans of the series since the...

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens TV Spot Trailer

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens TV Spot Trailer

After the victory of the Rebel Alliance over the Galactic Empire and subsequent demolition of...

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The Raid 2 Movie Review

The Raid 2 Movie Review

After the linear kick of 2011's surprise Indonesian hit The Raid, Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans...

The Raid Movie Review

The Raid Movie Review

This riotously entertaining Indonesian action-thriller is packed with cleverly staged carnage. There's very little in...

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The Raid: Redemption Trailer

The Raid: Redemption Trailer

Rama is a rookie in an elite special-forces team. He, along with the rest of...

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