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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 REAL 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Is Now Here [Trailer + Pictures]


Star Wars Jj Abrams Harrison Ford Mark Hamill Daisy Ridley John Boyega Anthony Daniels Carrie Fisher Andy Serkis Peter Mayhew Domhnall Gleeson Oscar Isaac George Lucas Lupita Nyong'o Gwendoline Christie Kenny Baker

It's finally here! The teaser trailer you've all been waiting for: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', and while it's not really giving anything away, it looks pretty intense. Vehicles have updated, the stormtroopers are looking shinier and R2D2 appears to have evolved.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens LogoStar Wars returns in December 2015

Since George Lucas announced his retirement from the franchise, there's been all sorts of speculation about what differences could be expected from an updated sequel: though it's difficult to tell from the less than one and a half minute trailer. Everyone seems to be in a rush (especially, in a comical fashion, R2D2) and there's some brand new faces, who all look a little nervous as a voiceover booms out: 'There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The dark side and the light.'

Continue reading: The REAL 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Is Now Here [Trailer + Pictures]

With The "Episode VIi" Cast, JJ Abrams Is Banking On Emerging Young Talent As Well As Franchise Veterans


Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford Anthony Daniels Kenny Baker Peter Mayhew Star Wars

Star Wars nerds, this is your time – the full cast of J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII has been announced and, while some suspicions were confirmed, there are a few new faces to look forward to. The golden trio of Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford and Mark Hammill will return in full for Episode VII, so fans who grew up with Star Wars have that to look forward to, at the very least. At the same time, there are some very, very new actors – as in people with acting credits in the single digits.

JJ Abrams
Following the casting announcement, JJ Abrams has attracted some online criticism for the lack of diversity.

 

Continue reading: With The "Episode VIi" Cast, JJ Abrams Is Banking On Emerging Young Talent As Well As Franchise Veterans

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi Review


Extraordinary
I'll skip the cute introduction. Let me cut to the chase and tell you what you want to know.

Yes, the reissue is as good as the original. Yes, it lives up to the greatness of the rest of the series. Yes, the enhancements are top-notch and they really add to the enjoyment of the film.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi Review

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review


Essential
Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.

I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review


Extraordinary
When the first Star Wars films came along, they filled a collective need. Movies had gotten too serious -- too much realism, not enough escapism. It was a time when audiences wanted to escape from the headlines -- as we still do -- and return to moral, and cinematic, simplicity. George Lucas delivered the goods.

Watching the first two installments in the series again (Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, also the two best films in the series), the most noticeable thing about them is all the ideas that went into them. Lightsaber duels, the Force, model spaceships, Darth Vader's heavy breathing, droids that deliver annoying repartee, aliens that look like Sasquatch and giant frogs, and wisecracking antiheroes like Harrison Ford's Han Solo -- all these things have entered our cultural consciousness. But the makers of the original Star Wars had to think up all these things (or borrow them from non-sci-fi genres).

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review


Essential
Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.

I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review


Extraordinary
When the first Star Wars films came along, they filled a collective need. Movies had gotten too serious -- too much realism, not enough escapism. It was a time when audiences wanted to escape from the headlines -- as we still do -- and return to moral, and cinematic, simplicity. George Lucas delivered the goods.

Watching the first two installments in the series again (Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, also the two best films in the series), the most noticeable thing about them is all the ideas that went into them. Lightsaber duels, the Force, model spaceships, Darth Vader's heavy breathing, droids that deliver annoying repartee, aliens that look like Sasquatch and giant frogs, and wisecracking antiheroes like Harrison Ford's Han Solo -- all these things have entered our cultural consciousness. But the makers of the original Star Wars had to think up all these things (or borrow them from non-sci-fi genres).

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones Review


Good

Spider-Man's hype and box office may have stolen some of Episode II's thunder, but Attack of the Clones finally arrives, three years after its predecessor, The Phantom Menace, and picking up the story 10 years after that installment let off.

The story is considerably more convoluted this time out. Former Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) is now a senator in the Republic, and nefarious parties are repeatedly attempting to have her assassinated. Assigned to protect her are Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and a growing-up Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), now Obi-Wan's apprentice. Soon, Jedi bosses Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) split the two up: Obi-Wan is tasked with tracking down the bounty hunter who tried to kill Amidala (which turns out to be Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison), father/clone of young Boba Fett). Anakin is tasked with serving as Amidala's bodyguard.

Obi-Wan scours a "secret" watery planet (there discovering a massing clone army allegedly purchased for the Republic ten years ago), and then tracks Jango to another planet, where he finds the opposition led by (try not to snicker) Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), who is amassing a droid army for war against the Republic.

Meanwhile, Amidala and Anakin fall in love (awwwwwwwwwwwww), but since she's a politician and he's a Jedi (bound to supress emotion -- which just ain't takin'), they have to keep their romance a secret (just like in The Bodyguard!).

Side stories galore take characters all over the galaxy far, far away... including the inevitable stop on Tatooine to help Anakin's mother and long spells on Coruscant, the 100%-urban capital planet.

On to the nagging questions: Foremost, Jar-Jar is back, and his part is not insubstantial; the character is as grating as ever. But all eyes are on Christensen, and he fills the shoes of Skywalker admirably, though he has apparently been given the sole direction to act like a really bratty teenager.

The use of CGI is on overload, and while many of the sets (real or digital) are quite successful, many of the backdrops are not -- notably the cheesy oceans on the clone planet and an especially flat cathedral-like hallway Yoda scoots through. When the CGI interacts with real-world elements (like when Anakin rides a fat sheep-like creature), the effect is about as believable as Barney being a real dinosaur.

Also out of place is the movie's silly patriotism, with frequent pontification about loving democracy (and this from a former queen -- albeit an "elected" queen... uh, okay) and the Republic. One speech actually includes the earnestly corny line, "The day we stop believing in democracy is the day we lose it!" I say the day Star Wars becomes nothing more than a political platform is the day we lose it.

At 2 1/2 hours in length, this installment is a bit long-winded and bladder-challenging (compared to 2:13 for Episode I and a little over 2 hours for A New Hope), but the decision to go "epic" at least makes room for lots of action when Amidala and Anakin aren't busy smooching. The action starts right at the beginning, with an impressive skycar chase through Coruscant, and ends with an equally smashing "big battle scene" that easily outdoes the one in Menace. Best of all, though, is the already famous Yoda light-saber battle, which is as funny as it is thrilling. That said, the pod race in Phantom is still probably the best action sequence in the series so far.

Less impressive are the talky parts, which haltingly attempt to create a romance between Amidala and Anakin. The love story just doesn't work and it's very awkward, maybe because George Lucas is simply out of touch with the realities of youthful romance, or maybe because the leads didn't have chemistry. I don't know for sure. I do know, however, that if Anakin Skywalker is going to play the cool outcast he shouldn't act like a baby around his would-be girlfriend. And Amidala's 11th hour confession of love comes completely out of left field, a necessary plot point because we know she has to eventually bear two kids by the guy.

In fact, much of Episode II feels like it's ticking off items to make sure we get to the appropriate state of the galaxy by the end of 2005's Episode III. There's still a long way to go -- Anakin has to turn evil and disfigured; Amidala has to have two kids, split them up, and have one become the princess of a planet still not introduced in the series; Yoda and Obi-Wan have to become hermits; and then there's the matter of the Death Star, which has to be built. Episode III is either going to be a complete disaster or a work of genius.

Altogether, the movie is enjoyable despite its nagging script inadequacies and crummy "down" scenes. The action is fun, the acting is good enough, and the direction is capable, if not inspired. If you're a die-hard Star Wars fan, you will like this better than Episode I (though I grade them roughly equal), but it still won't hold a candle to the earlier films.

But chances are when it's said and done, you aren't going to be talking about Episode II for its good things. An impromptu conversation with another filmcritic.com staffer set us off on a number of incongruities and simply baffling moments that might be pointing to Lucas's senility. For example: When did R2-D2 become able to fly? When did Obi-Wan become afraid of flying (or afraid of anything for that matter)? What's with Jimmy Smits and his Elizabethan collar? Since when does a Jedi Knight have to go to a library to figure out where a planet is? And why didn't Lucas get the hint about Jar-Jar Binks the first time around?

Mysteries of the universe, I tell ya.

The DVD answers few of these mysteries, with eight deleted scenes (see Natalie Portman lose her accent!) and various effects-oriented documentaries. There's even a trailer for a mockumentary about R2-D2. Amusing.

Teddy bears' picnic.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi Review


Extraordinary
I'll skip the cute introduction. Let me cut to the chase and tell you what you want to know.

Yes, the reissue is as good as the original. Yes, it lives up to the greatness of the rest of the series. Yes, the enhancements are top-notch and they really add to the enjoyment of the film.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi Review

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith Review


Very Good
Here's your "Revenge of the Sith" review in a nutshell: It may well be the best of all six "StarWars" movies -- with the caveat that you need to have seen the other five films to truly grasp its significance.

The cunning dexterity and gravitas with which George Lucas snaps into place every remaining puzzle piece in his epic 30-year storyarc is remarkable. The talent of Hayden Christensen will surprise his detractors as he portrays a complex, compounding crisis of conflicting loyalties thattear Anakin Skywalker apart, leading him to slip ever more rapidly toward the Dark Side of the Force. The potent sensations of betrayal and inevitabilitythat fuel the climactic duel between the young Jedi knight and his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi are positively goosepimpling, even though every "StarWars" fan knows the outcome and has been waiting for this moment for years.

These elements, coupled with much improved dialogue, far fewer scenes transparently designed to foster inevitable tie-in video games,and genuinely compelling emotions make up for the myriad of shortcomings that plagued the previoustwo"Star Wars" prequels.

Opening in the midst the Clone Wars between the crumbling galactic republic and an alliance of separatists that is really a frontfor the evil Sith Lords (all those villains called "Darth This" and "Darth That"), "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge ofthe Sith" is surprisingly character-driven. The plot revolves around the volatile, brash young Anakin being appointed by the increasingly powerfulChancellor Palpatine (soon to be revealed as Darth Sidious) to be his personal representative on the Jedi Council, which has for centuries tried to maintainpeace in this galaxy far, far away.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith Review

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones Review


Good

The climactic lightsaber duel in "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" has to be seen to be believed. It puts the awesome Darth Maul/Obi-Wan fight in "The Phantom Menace" to shame, and it's one of the big pluses in a mixed blessing of a movie that is a vast improvement over its immediate predecessor, but sometimes in fits and starts.

Any fan will have the same reaction to this showdown: As it's about to begin, you'll laugh, because with the characters involved the idea seems almost absurd. Then you'll cheer, because George Lucas knows you're laughing, and plays into it beautifully. Then your mouth will drop open in amazement. How did he pull this off? This is so cool!

Suffice it to say, this scene -- and the huge battle that surrounds it as the fabled Clone War begins -- is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones Review

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Review


OK
With all the spirit of its predecessors but none of the magic, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" can ultimately be summed up with two expressions: "cool!" and "feh."

What's cool?

Continue reading: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Review

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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...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

It's been thirty years since the Rebel Alliance; led by the noble Luke Skywalker, the...

Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

30 years ago, the Rebel Alliance struck their killing blow against the Galactic Empire. The...

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back Trailer

Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back Trailer

The Rebel Alliance struck a terrific blow to the Galactic Empire with the destruction of...

Star Wars: A New Hope Trailer

Star Wars: A New Hope Trailer

The galaxy is in turmoil. A Rebel Alliance is rising up against the villainous Galactic...

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Trailer

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Trailer

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. A trade dispute on the...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Set three decades after the devastating events of 'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the...

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