STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I’ll preface this post with the same preface I give whenever I talk about Star Wars, especially the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I’m a casual Star Wars fan. By that I mean I’ve seen all the movies, loved the original three, thought the prequels were okay, and I don’t really know more about this franchise than any other that I’ve seen. I prefer to look at the Star Wars movies as just that: movies.

The more Star Wars movies they make, the more important I think it is that the movies stand alone. The first time I saw the original three, those were the only Star Wars movies that existed. With those, you went into it knowing it was a trilogy, so I thought the three should be viewed more as a whole, rather than three individual movies. But now there are three prequels that come before it. And now one sequel that comes after with apparently more to come. So it’s not a trilogy anymore, but an open-ended film series that is closer to the James Bond franchise than something like The Lord of the Rings. So at this point, if any Star Wars movie is unable to stand on its own, I tend to think it’s more of a failure than a success.

Based on that, I would say Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a failure. Every defense I’ve heard of the movie is centered around the idea that it’s a “set up” movie for future Star Wars movies. That would make sense if Star Wars: The Force Awakens was not the seventh goddamn Star Wars movie. But it is, so I thoroughly disagree with that bullshit argument.

But there were many things I didn’t like about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My immediate complaint was from the beginning, I thought it was insanely boring. I fought to stay awake for the entire first hour. It moved so fast that it didn’t let you get a feel for really anything or anyone in that first hour (and it doesn’t get that much better after that). After that, it was the tone I had a huge problem with. It was way too cheeky, way too self-referential. Even aside from the character of Finn (John Boyega), a reformed stormtrooper, the movie seemed to go to great lengths to humanize stormtroopers. It was funny, yes, when two stormtroopers turned away and walked in the other direction to avoid Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s hissy fit. But who cares about stormtroopers being funny? Was stormtrooper humor something that was really missing from previous Star Wars movies? That, plus a mind-numbingly high number of Han Solo smirks and things like a thinly-veiled reference to the modern phrase “nigga please,” made me cringe so hard I felt like this movie was an old person’s attempt to attract teenagers – which I’m guessing is exactly what it is.

Another big problem I had: Adam Driver as the son of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Now, do I think all actors who play the son of other actors need to look like each other? No, of course not. But when you have goddamn Harrison fucking Ford say “I know you see him when you look at me,” the “him” at least better be good looking. Instead we got:

Actor Adam Driver attends the Season 2 premiere of the television series "Girls" in New York January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT) - RTR3C9GF

Who is somehow supposed to remind Leia of:

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Gonna have to call bullshit on that one.

Speaking of, with as little I had invested into the Star Wars universe I still managed to feel betrayed by Ben Solo/Kylo Ren murdering Han Solo. The first time I saw the original trilogy, I was in love with Han Solo and the biggest stressor in all three movies was not knowing if Han Solo was going to live or not. We all made it through that, only for Han to get murdered 2/3 of the way through Star Wars: The Force Awakens? NO THANK YOU.

I had all kinds of other issues with this movie. Like everyone literally saying “Remember the Death Star? Now we have this other thing to deal with, that’s the Death Star but bigger,” and Han Solo suggesting the plan that blew up the original Death Star with “It worked before.” Yes, we know it worked before because we’ve seen the goddamn movie and yet, we get to sit through it again. And R2D2 acting as the absolute definition of a deus ex machina. And Finn being the most happy go-lucky guy after going rogue from a Nazi-like party that stemmed from battlefield trauma. And Leia looking like she got a Brazil facelift.

This is the kind of movie where I don’t think individual opinions even matter at this point. If you want to see it, you should see it and you’re going to see it. If you don’t want to see it, you’re not missing anything.

Christopher

I did not grow up loving Star Wars. My dad watched Star Trek and ever since I was a child that has been my favorite of the two. In high school and college I definitely got into the habit of trying to shit talk Star Wars just because so many people love it. So knowing that, I did not go into Star Wars hoping to relive some vivid childhood memories. However, I was hoping for a good movie. And unfortunately I don’t think I got that.

The issue I have with this movie is how boring it ended up. They briefly touch on so much but we don’t learn about any of it. It is very similar to the older movie but that’s not even what I disliked the most about it. What I really didn’t like it how it ends with no real direction for the next film. At this point it seems like it could go so many directions. Because of this, I really don’t care when the next part of the trilogy comes out. I will watch it, but I did not leave the theater anxious to see any of the characters again

I really wish the film had been focused more on Rey. I wish the whole story line with Kylo Ren had more behind it before the whole catwalk scene. Overall I just felt like the movie was for everyone so it was kind of for no one? If that makes sense. I really hope the next two in the trilogy are good. Either way, I don’t think I have a big interest in seeing The Force Awakens again.

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THE WOMEN (2008)

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Elizabeth

The Women sort of does to women what Tyler Perry movies do to non-white people and, yes, women. While I appreciate this movie employing so many great actresses, just like how I appreciate Tyler Perry employing so many non-white actors, The Women doesn’t really do any good in the end because of the anti-female stereotypes it perpetuates.

It sounds like a really great, novel idea to have a film only have women; The Women contains no men (not even extras), except for a male baby at the very end of the film. This is especially true when you consider how many movies have little to no women in them. However, I think it’s safe to say that these movies that have only men do not have all of their male characters constantly talking about women. That’s not the case with The Women; though there are no men seen in the movie, they are all the female characters talk about. Men are the roots of all of the problems, whether it’s a cheating husband or a tough male boss. Because all the characters constantly talk about men, it makes the lack of men extremely obvious and extremely strange. I mean, there are men in the world, and even though this movie is centered around women, that doesn’t mean you can walk around New York, or attend a fashion show, or do much of anything without seeing a single guy. It’s weird and distracting and, ultimately, stupid.

The stereotypes that are shown in The Women are also stupid and weird. In the opening scene we see Sylvie (Annette Bening) in a department store. We see things from her perspective, which is a weird Terminator-like vision that lets her hone in on in-season bags and shoes. Is this how women shop? Was I born with a defect that makes this not possible for me? And when Mary (Meg Ryan) finishes fighting with her husband, she sits in the kitchen with a stick of butter, a box of cocoa powder, and a jar of sugar, and dips the butter in the cocoa, then the sugar, and eats it. I know the stereotype is that women eat junk food when they’re upset, especially about men, but come on. And of course, Sylvie is a career-oriented woman, which means she doesn’t have a partner or children. And Edie (Debra Messing) is a stay-at-home mom, which means she has a shitload of kids and is also pregnant during the movie. Alex (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a lesbian, but only because she’s tired of men. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, but it would be nice if the character was an actual, 100% lesbian rather than the safer, I’m-sick-of-men-so-I’ll-try-women bisexual.

So, no, The Women doesn’t do anything for women. At all. Except make this particular woman feel sort of sick.

Christopher

This is a movie I know wants to do some fantastic stuff for some around the world. The problem is I think they thought just about that a little too much. The main problem with The Women is that the title is literally the movie. There are only women in this film. And I don’t think that’s necessarily what made it so weird, it’s the fact that all of these women are having problem in their lives because of men! Pretty much if not every scene in this movie, they mention some man in their life, BUT WE NEVER SEE THEM!! The closest was a time when we heard one drive away; it’s super weird.

Because of this aspect in the movie, I have a theory that this movie was not set in the present. I believe that it is set in some future where there just aren’t that many men. I mean it when I say, WE NEVER SEE A MAN. So all the shots on the street, all women. So what I believe is really going in this movie is the fact that when a woman finds a man to marry, she better hold on tight cause it needs to work out to keep him. This even includes when people cheat on each other, cause the overall advice in this movie, is that when your man (or you) cheat, you just have to be the better person and still try to make it work . . . such a good way to view marriage.

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY . . . (1989) – SUPER SPECIAL 100TH POST!

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Christopher

This was pretty great. A friend of mine for San Antonio, Tommy, used to say that Seinfeld would not exist without this movie. I can completely see it. This movie was so dry and funny I’m embarrassed it took me so long to see it. I think this is a pretty great way to finally meet the person you’ll marry, later in life with a better understanding of who you are.

Elizabeth

This is our 100th post, and I wanted it to be about When Harry Met Sally. It’s a movie we’ve been meaning to watch for a while (I’d seen it, Chris hadn’t), and it’s good and funny and romantic and we’re all those things, too . . . so, it worked out!

But I really do love this movie. I don’t think it’s all that easy to find a romantic comedy that is sweet and pleasant but still isn’t afraid to use the word “fuck.” And while the characters have quirks I wouldn’t call either of them quirky, or even neurotic (reading the last page of a book first or being particular when ordering a restaurant doesn’t make you neurotic in my book). I’m not saying Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are playing complete average Joes in this, but they’re really relatable. I’m also always struck by how really beautiful Meg Ryan is here. I think she’s sort of weird looking now, I guess from plastic surgery, which is sad. And though they’re not in it a ton, I think it’s worth mentioning how great of a supporting cast Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby make here.

But anyway, usually only sad or very beautiful things make me cry in movies, but the end of When Harry Met Sally makes me tear up. The line, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” is, honestly, one of the best lines in any movie, ever, I think. Because it’s really so true, and so sweet and just so great. I also think this movie highlights the fact that you might meet someone great in college and not even know it, until years later when you meet again, something that Chris and I both know quite well.