Darke Reviews | Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

This review is of course SPOILER Free.

SPOILER FREE got it?

Good.

On top of that since anyone who reads my reviews is seeing this as a foregone conclusion the review will take a different tone and style than usual.

It’s been a full decade since the debacle that was George Lucas last run at the helm of the Star Wars franchise. His prequel trilogy is rightfully lambasted by many, though they do have a few redeeming qualities here and there. A few. By and large they deserve to be confined into cell block AA-23 and then thrown into a trash compactor. The acting was bad, the effects were bad, it was over produced and under directed.

J.J. Abrams comes along in 2006 and gives us Mission Impossible 3. He then goes in 2009 and writes his resume cover letter with Star Trek; a film many acknowledge (and bemoan) is more Wars than Trek. Lo and behold he lands the impossible job of reinvigorating a franchise many felt might be irredeemable. Talent is brought in to write in the form of Michael Arndt (Oblivion, Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and, in a brilliant move, Lawrence Kasdan. The man who gave us what is critically considered the best of the Star Wars franchise, Empire Strikes Back. Kasdan was also the pen behind other greats, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Silverado, and Return of the Jedi. This is what was missing.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The parts that were supposed to be intentionally funny – were funny. I laughed. The theatre laughed.
  • The reveals of old favorites – the audience cheered.
  • There is no Jar Jar, there is nothing like Jar Jar, if you consider that a spoiler…well deal with it.
  • The effects are PRACTICAL when they can be and there are A LOT of practical
  • That which must be CG is and the movie is largely better for it. The flight sequences with the X-Wings look so much better on the big screen than they did when I first saw the trailer.
  • John Williams returns to do the music.
  • Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac have real chemistry. I want to see more of them.
  • Girls can look up to Daisy Ridley’s Rey. She’s a good character.

The movie could be called

Star Wars: The Force Apologizes

Is it flawless? No. There are a small score of issues  I have with it. Some of the CG isn’t as good as it could be. Some of the acting isn’t as good as it could be. Some of the editing isn’t ..ok a lot of the editing isn’t as good as it could be. There are flaws. Yes.

That said, the movie makes every single attempt it can to make up for the last three movies and does so with great passion.

Should you see it?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I really enjoyed it. It took me back with Nostalgia and then gave me some new things as well.

Should you see it in 3-D?

If you don’t have a problem with 3-D, absolutely. There are shots that beg for the 3D treatment and shine because of it.

Should you wait?

Eh…no. Mostly so people can talk about it with you. They will want to.

Are you buying it?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

 

Trailers in the Darke| X-Men: Apocalypse

I am literally bouncing in my seat watching this.

 

  • Archangel – looks…ok
  • Jubiliee
  • Mohawk Storm – looks incredible
  • Nightcrawler
  • APOCALYPSE looks better than I thought he would.

Also the final shot…..Yeah. this needs to be out already

Darke Reviews – Krampus (2015)

What may, or may not, surprise many of you is that I am a traditionalist about my holidays. I celebrate Halloween the way it is meant to by the romanticized American traditions and I also celebrate Christmas the same way. I have a real tree every year, there’s a fire in my fireplace, stockings, nut crackers, egg nog, the whole deal. It’s what I grew up with, the Rockwellian holiday. Even had a White Christmas once as I recall. Watch that every year. Watch Bing Crosby and David Bowie sing together. It really is my second favorite  holiday even if it will be alone for a long time coming.

Christmas

                The stockings were not yet hung by the fire with care.

So how what do I think of a horror movie not based around Christmas, but based ON the holiday?

Let’s discuss my bias for the director Michael Dougherty and his previous work Trick R Treat; which is the only other major directorial role he has. This is a loss. The man knows how to shoot a scene and build tension. He has a clear love for the holidays like I do, and takes that into the film. As one of the three writers on Krampus I can see his influences throughout as he writes in such a way to relish that what makes the holiday and simultaneously comments on the darker aspects of it as well. Todd Casey, one of the other writers, comes from a background in grown up animation with work on GI Joe Resolute, Green Lantern Emerald Knights (really good), and even the Thundercats reboot. This tells me he remembers what it was like to be a kid, the moments of joy, and laughter, and fun and knows how to bring it to screen in a way that’s appreciable by adults. The last writer is Zach Shields, a producer of The Conjuring. By their powers combined….something got pooched. Dougherty was the sole writer on Trick R Treat, so I don’t know where it went …ok.

This is the story of white above middle class suburbia and that Rockwellian over produced Christmas. The story of how one well to do white collar family is visited by their obnoxious blue collar family and the loss of innocence and faith and hope from the one of the children. A child who knows Santa doesn’t exist and still wants to believe. I think I am that child some days as my two favorite holidays near. This is what went wrong; the characters literally are stereotypes, they don’t feel real. They feel like what the media tells me families like this are. Except not, the suburban family is played straight as if they have very few faults, with the blue collar family being so painfully obnoxious I was counting the moments until the carnage I anticipated coming. I wanted to watch them die. They have next to no redeeming qualities and are just so over the top it is clearly the script, not the actors at fault; it’s that bad. Conversely the suburban family does have flaws, but play much more loving and overall healthy….ish. The only thing that these families have in common is that they do love their kids; which was a pleasant surprise. I don’t consider that a spoiler as it has no bearing on the film and truth be told falls into one of those redeeming qualities mentioned before.

Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation, Black Mass) plays the movie beautifully straight; so whilst I vex over the characters themselves, the actors do what they can to elevate it. Scott does his part, along with Toni Collette (Hostages, Fright Night). Emjay Anthony, as the child Max, turns a performance that could have been painful and hard to watch into something just a touch more without being unrealistic either. He’s still a kid and the part doesn’t forget that. The presence of the grandmother Omi, as played by Krista Stadler whom is a veteran actor of German films and TV brings the connection to the original myth of the Krampus fairly deftly. There’s a beauty in the fact most of her dialogue is in German with subtitles.

There are parts of the production that feel over produced and too clean to be real. There are some significant logic (and physics) fails a few times in the film that made my eyebrows arch and took me out of the moment; but otherwise the technicals are solid. Some poor fool over at Weta studios had to take this and make it not totally laughable.

 

Krampus_Old

Good luck with that…

Turns out they did. He has a physical presence that time is spent to maintain. I won’t say he isn’t ridiculous looking, but with what they had to work with they did good. They made the minions kinda terrifying as well in a way I found pleasing to my aesthetic. They didn’t go for the overt gore either which was another joy. There is one scene, however, that the CG work is beyond ludicrous; but in the context of the moment I didn’t really care considering the events transpiring right then.

TL;DR?

Krampus is a fantastic holiday horror. It mocks much of how we spin modern christmas while telling us point blankly what to cherish. It does some things I didn’t expect and am glad they did. The biggest weakness is the characters themselves at times, I want to see a horror movie where I don’t wish death on the majority of the cast. The movie lacks most of the fun black humor that lived in Trick R Treat, but it does have moments where I heard the audience and myself laugh. It was pin drop silent the rest of the time as it does a good job with tension.

All in all, if you are looking for some alternative fare of the horror variety, give Krampus a chance. It isn’t particularly new but does tell an old story in a modern way. I find as I talked about it I enjoyed it more than I thought I did.

Also I am adding a new segment to the TL;DR; after some look back at my DVD purchases this year, or lack there of.

Would Jessica buy this? Yes