Star Wars: The Force Awakens

New from The Movie Snob.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens  (D+).  I was around 10 years old when I saw the original Star Wars in its original theatrical run, and I have been a fan ever since.  But despite all the critical acclaim and crazy box office this new movie has reaped, I just didn’t care for it.

Seems like everyone else is being careful to avoid spoilers, so I’ll be careful too in case there is still someone out there who hasn’t seen it.  Suffice to say, even though it looked like the Rebellion had completely routed the bad guys at the end of Return of the Jedi, thirty years later bad guys are still pretty much running the show in that galaxy far, far away, requiring a new generation of plucky heroes and heroines to rise up and save the day.  I’ll admit liking a few things about the new movie.  The actress (Daisy Ridley) who plays the new heroine, Rey, is pretty likable.  There were a few homages to the original Star Wars that brought a smile to my face.  But on the whole, I didn’t feel the magic.  It just felt like a lot of breathless running hither and yon (and at 135 minutes, there’s a lot of running to be done).  I thought the two main bad guys were pretty badly miscast (Domhnall Gleason, Brooklyn, and Adam Driver, While We’re Young).  Oscar Isaac, who was so good in Ex Machina, is wasted in a tiny role here.  And I know this is science fiction, but director J.J. Abrams conjures up some technology that seems way, way, way beyond anything even hinted at in previous Star Wars movies.  (I thought he committed the same sin in Star Trek Into Darkness.)  Finally, I found myself thinking all too often, This is just goofy.  In short, I thought the movie was a big disappointment.

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While We’re Young

The Movie Snob checks out an indie.

While We’re Young  (B).  Here’s the newest film from director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale).  I was hooked by the premise: a childless married couple about my age starts hanging out with a newly married couple in their 20s, with unpredictable results.  Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum) and that cute little buck-toothed Naomi Watts (St. Vincent) star as the older couple, and Adam Driver (Tracks) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!) star as the younger couple.  It wasn’t really laugh-out-loud funny, but it was definitely amusing to watch Ben and Naomi try to keep up with the youngsters; not so amusing to watch Ben (playing someone exactly my age) try to come to grips with losing his youth.  (An arthritis diagnosis hits him particularly hard.)  The plot was so-so, but the characters were fun to watch.  I say check it out.

Tracks

A new movie review from The Movie Snob.

Tracks (B).  Well, this movie has already disappeared from Dallas-area theaters, but you can probably still catch it on one of those newfangled “netflicks” or something.  Anyway, it is based on the true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who set out to walk across Australia, east to west, with four camels and a dog back in the late 1970s. Mia Wasikowsks (Stoker) stars as Davidson, and although she turns in a nice performance, I was left a little unclear what would possess someone to want to do such a crazy thing.  Adam Driver (Frances Ha) co-stars as a National Geographic photographer who pops in from time to time to take some pix of the adventuress and her camels.  The flick also gives you a close-up look at what camels are really like—big, ornery, and possessed of big, pointy, nasty teeth.  There were surprisingly few snakes, spiders, and crocodiles, though.  Anyway, I enjoyed it, and I look forward to comparing this film to the upcoming Wild starring Reese Witherspoon (Mud).