Rogue One

 

A straight forward fight between good and evil. This film is magnificent. I had forgotten how good it was and was only really watching it to tweak my new home cinema sound system.

It’s hard to believe that Star Wars is forty years old. No video, dvd or internet in those days. I missed the first film even though my sister was an ucherette at the local cinema. I caught Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back on a double bill, sat on the front row of the balcony, in one of the old giant screen cinemas, all now long gone. I was never the same again.

Rogue One as I’m sure you already know is the immediate prequel to Eposode 4. A small band of rebels who strive to steal the plans of the Death Star that Princess Leah is taking to the Alliance and conceals on R2D2.

If you haven’t by some miracle seen it yet I won’t be giving away the plot. It’s heroic, brilliantly portrayed by an inspired collection of previously little known actors in the central roles. It’s got George Lucas’ name on it and if I was him I would be so proud of this film. It really rocks. It’s Star Wars but without the quirky, goofy humour that we all love, and actually all the better for it.

The strength of the film lies in it’s solid plot. It’s a stand alone story woven within the fabric of Lucas’ epic masterpieces. There are great characters especially the central six.

There are also main characters from the original film cleverly intertwined to tie it all together. Brilliant.

At the end I was connected and you can’t ask more than that.

They keep on making the films. I thought the last sequel was brilliant too. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for great entertainment, but of course, it’s so much more.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s great. If you have and it’s been a while, it’s worth seeing again.

 

Thank you to Faramond Frie for his great artwork.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a fantastic film. The original was ground breaking. Based on Phillip K Dick’s, “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep,” it was the great cyberpunk world of sleazy streets and magnificent architecture set in a future Los Angeles of flying cars and deep space exploration.

Made in 1982 it was a brilliant multilayered film of film noir, Dashiell Hammett type detective, Science Fiction, beautifully ambient, with the story of the human condition and the gift of life told through the experiences of a small group of androids, or human replicants, who had a four year life span and were fighting their mortality. A complex and intelligent film that the studio forced director, Ridley Scott, to put a commentary voice over, so that the less sophisticated cinema audiences might know what the hell was going on. Blade Runner was a film that inspired a generation.

So quite a lot to live up to. I rewatched the original the week before, thankfully the directors cut, long ago restored to it’s original glory.

The first twenty minutes were a surprise. A step away from the Los Angeles of the future. A little slow as the plot was developing, I was starting to panic. Still, no need to worry. We were soon catapaulted back to that steamy Los Angeles world. That mix of back street Hong Kong or Shanghai, replicant prostitutes, street markets selling robotic parts and organs. That mixture of flying cars and pedal bikes. If you have ever taken a taxi ride in Cairo at night it is full of fast moving images. Beautiful, amazing and scary all at the same time. All the cars driving as fast as they can, like around the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, but with no head lights, dodging, camels, donkeys, carts, pedestrians and all the other completely insane drivers. When you arrive at your destination unscathed it is like being reborn.

The greatest of Science Fiction uses it’s world as the backdrop to tell a great story. Scott’s dystopian world is the stage for a new complex twisting plot that continues and builds on the original story of 2019, now thirty years in the future. I thought it was very well done and I left the cinema feeling lifted, entertained and inspired.

You can’t ask more than that. Harrison Ford, bringing back the role of Deckard was brilliant. Perhaps this film will inspire a new generation. It should do. I hope so.

The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies – Film Review

bilbo

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Tonight I watched the final film of The Hobbit.

Absolutely fantastic.

I would imagine like many authors of Sci Fi / Fantasy I was a Lord Of The Rings nut. Read the book a lot when I was young. Taped each episode off the BBC radio production in 1979/80 and listened to it over and over again, to be replaced in time by CDs and mp3. And, of course, the films were fantastic and the extended versions even more so.

 So when I heard The Hobbit was to be made in three films, like everyone, I was surprised. The second film dragged a bit in places but the scenes with Smaug and in Mirkwood were incredible.
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The latest one is just incredible. Who cares if it plays fast and loose with the characters and plot.
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Smaug’s conversation with Bard the Dragon Slayer is breath taking and the special effects, scenery, architecture and fight sequences are just so exciting and beautiful and awesome. It wasn’t perfect, occassionally a tiny detail could of been better, but overall I was in awe. The action sequences are electrifying and just keep on coming, never stopping the quality. I think the best fight scenes ever, although the sequence in Balin’s Tomb in the extended version of Fellowship Of The Ring take some beating.
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Martin Freeman is truly brilliant. His acting career has gone from strength to strength, and Peter Jackson gives him some great lines. Also fine performances by Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Luke Evans as Bard the Dragon Slayer, Evangeline Lilly and Aidan Turner as the romancing elf and dwarf, a surprising and entertaining performance by Billy Connolly, and a marvellous voicing of Smaug by Benedict Cumberbatch.
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I was talking to a good friend before the film and he hasn’t seen the Hobbit films and didn’t care for Lord Of The Rings.
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I suppose you love it or don’t. Clearly I’m not a professional film critic but I watch a lot of films. This one’s fantastic. It’s loosely based on the book and much more tied to The Lord Of The Rings especially character wise. But, as I have said, who cares? Unless you are a dyed in the wool purist, if you like Tolkien you are going to love this film.
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