Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Force Awakens

A New Hope is almost 40 years old. Not to discredit what Lucas originally accomplished, but it’s become a fairly dated movie. And so I didn’t mind that this new Star Wars followed a lot of the same beats. The major plot points and character types are very similar, making The Force Awakens feel more like a reboot or remake rather than a full-fledged sequel. But, man, Star Wars really needed a reboot. After the atrocious “special editions” and prequels, I’m just glad this franchise can be good again. The Force Awakens is a good movie. Because audiences have seen so many other sci-fi and superhero moves since 1977, though, the wow factor isn’t quite there. It’s not going to rock your world, but it should at least let you forget Episode I.

Seriously, this is what I was hoping Episode I would have been. If that turd had been as good as this, maybe I wouldn’t have grown into such a cynical adult. The Force Awakens was made for fans by fans. It rekindles the spirit of the original trilogy by not overdoing it with CG effects, but modern movie techniques certainly help out. The dogfights are spectacular, and the background aliens are fun without being goofy and ridiculous. In fact, while the trailer may not show it, The Force Awakens can be pretty funny at times, and that’s without resorting to fart jokes and characters stepping in poop! God, what a relief…

But I knew JJ Abrams and team wouldn’t make those mistakes. They know better. My only concern going in was Harrison Ford. He’s come across as bored and tired in the last 10 movies I’ve seen him in. Fortunately, he does a decent job here. The real accolades, however, go to all of the new characters. Yeah, they tend to mirror the same personalities we saw in A New Hope, but I actually think these guys are better. They’re more complex and interesting and less whiny! Plus, that BB-8 droid… I’m already preferring him over R2-D2. He is fantastic, and knowing that’s an actual prop makes it so much cooler. I already can’t wait to see what they do with the next movie now that the tone has been set.

The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie

They really want you to know that this is from the same studio who made the Ice Age movies. Not only has a lot of the advertising included a “from the makers of” tagline but the movie itself opens with another one of those obnoxious Ice Age squirrel shorts. With the movie also being preceded by several trailers for other cookie-cutter 3D kids’ movies, I was really worried when The Peanuts Movie finally started. Fortunately, this won’t ruin your childhood like a Transformers or Ninja Turtles movie will. Blue Sky Studios did a great job in capturing the atmosphere and heart of the Peanuts property. The animation in particular is fantastic. That’s really what drew me to go see the movie in the first place. The style is great in a modern/classic way and often feels like you’re watching stop-motion animation. It’s the most enjoyable eye candy since The LEGO Movie.

Unfortunately, the story isn’t of the same quality. It tends to meander a lot. I’d heard that the ending in particular was a sticking point for some, going for more of a traditional Hollywood landing. But I felt like that was okay here. This could have easily turned into a huge battle of good vs evil like so many other small-to-big movie adaptations. Rather, The Peanuts Movie is a series of tiny victories and, this being Charlie Brown and all, plenty of failures. Charlie Brown faithfully maintains the role of the underdog, and all of the other characters feel just as spot on. However, I really didn’t like how much screen time was dedicated to Snoopy’s Red Baron fantasies. Snoopy already plays a big part in the main plot, so giving him an extra story felt overly superfluous. Every Red Baron scene had me thinking, “Can this please be the last one?” If they had made that the short at the beginning instead of the dumb Ice Age one, the movie would have felt more complete overall.