Who should direct Godzilla 2?

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The shocking news that Gareth Edwards has stepped down from directing Godzilla 2 is upsetting. True, Godzilla 2014 was far from perfect. It lacked a compelling lead, took some questionable turns, and didn’t feature that much Kaiju action, but it was still interesting to see Gareth’s unique take on the character. He’s said that he wants to direct a few smaller projects, which is understandable (especially after directing Godzilla and the upcoming Star Wars: Rouge One, two mega-blockbusters)  but the question still remains: Who’s to take the reins of Legendary’s Godzilla franchise? I have a few ideas….

Number 5: Peter Jackson 

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Okay, Okay, I don’t necessarily think Godzilla 2 needs to be three hours long ( from a narrative standpoint at least. From a fanboy perspective that sounds amazing!) But no one does “epic” like Peter Jackson. The guy knows how to make his movies feel massive and yet surprisingly intimate at the same time. His King Kong remake in 2005 was very well done (if a little over-long) Which gives me confidence that he’d do a solid job with Godzilla 2. The reason he’s in last place is simply because after Battle of the Five Armies, Peter seems to be burnt out and disinterested in making another giant blockbuster.

Number 4: Matt Reeves

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Much like Peter Jackson, this director knows how to mix spectacle with humanity. Having experience with Giant Monster films in the form of 2008’s Cloverfield, Matt Reeves is also currently at the helm of the Planet of the Apes franchise, with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes arguably being the best of that franchise. While his Apes film was fantastic, it’s his stellar work on his terrifying Clovefield film that makes me really consider him to be a worthy contender for Godzilla 2. The only thing that holds him back from being higher on this list is the Planet of the Apes films taking priority for him.

Number 3: Gareth changes his mind

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You heard me. Despite all the issues with Godzilla 2014, I would love to see Gareth Edwards take another shot at the Kaiju Genre. his love and passion for Godzilla is evident, and if he could just work with a better script, I think we could have something really special on our hands with Godzilla 2. (If you haven’t already, go watch his debut feature film “Monsters”, it’s one of the best Monster movies of the decade) It’s unlikely that Gareth’s going to change his mind at this point, but hey, I can dream can’t I?

Number 2: Sam Rami 

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Sam Rami is known for his films often having a dark sense of humour clash with light-hearted tone, as seen in his Spider-Man films and Army of Darkness. In all honesty, I think this would be the perfect way to approach a film like Godzilla 2, which is going to heavily feature a few of Godzilla’s classic foes such as Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah. I think the tone needs to be just right for a film like this, and while i’d overall like to see it go for a more epic feeling, It would be interesting to see Rami’s twisted and unique take on a Godzilla film.

Number 1: Guillermo del Toro

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You all saw this coming. Del Toro proved his Kaiju worth with 2013’s spectacularly fun Pacific Rim, and seeing this man at the helm of a new american Godzilla movie would be a dream come true for many fans. Del Toro has a very strong love and passion for the Kaiju genre, and would be guaranteed to treat the Godzilla franchise with respect and class, as well las providing us with some of the greatest Kaiju battles we’ve seen since…well…Pacific Rim. While i don’t think the chances of him directing Godzilla 2 are exactly likely at this point, he would still be my first choice to direct the film.

That’s all folks!

 

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Zootopia

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Is there anything that hasn’t already been said about Disney’s “Zootopia”? The latest in their recent line of successful films, Zootopia has become the highest grossing film of 2016 so far, and with good reason. Zootopia attempts to explore some rather heavy subjects, and while it’s story may seem simplistic at face-value, the film is far more complex than you might think. Approaching strong and heavy ideas is one thing, but does the film actually execute them well? In short; Yes. And while Zootopia isn’t perfect, it’s still a well crafted addition to the Disney’s animated library, and one of the best films that 2016 has to offer thus far. Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look.

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Disney making a film about anthropomorphized Animals is nothing new, With films like 1973’s Robin Hood and 2005’s Chicken Little being the studio’s most notable examples. While those two films had rather varying degrees of success to say the least, Zootopia takes the concept and does wonders with it. The amount of sheer creativity and attention to detail that’s given to this world is staggering, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney’s working on a “Zootopia” themed park right now. The primary location of the film, Zootopia, is made up of several different areas and locations that each have their own distinct look. One minute we’re in the snow covered tundratown, and the next we’re in the   dark and damp Rainforest district. All of these locations have nice detail and atmosphere, but I wish we could’ve spent a bit more time in a few of them. The film has mostly good pacing, but the third act feels a tad rushed. This is really just a nitpick, but it’s only a flaw worth mentioning because the first two acts flow almost perfectly, While the climax in particular feels like it needed just a little more kick.

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As you’ve probably guessed by now, the animation featured is some of Disney’s best Computer animation to date. While I wouldn’t call it’s visual style game-changing, it’s still a confidently crafted piece of art. Animators deserve far more credit than they currently get, because they’re just as (if not more) talented actors as the celebrities  voicing the characters. The character animation on the two leads specifically; Judy Hopps  and Nick Wilde, is wonderfully expressive and really helps convey their emotional story arcs. Speaking of the characters, Judy and Nick play off each other well, and while their relationship is played mostly for laughs near the beginning, the film takes a surprisingly emotional turn about half-way through, and their friendship becomes even more meaningful and interesting as the film goes on. The supporting cast of Zootopia is just as memorable and funny as you’d expect from a Disney animated feature, from the intimidating and sometimes humorous police chief Bogo, to the slightly oblivious yet irresistible officer Clawhauser, each of the major characters leave an impression, and will most likely stick with you after the film.

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The only character I was less than thrilled with was the villain. The film’s antagonist isn’t bad, and their plan is actually pretty despicable, but I’d really like to see a big memorable Disney villain again. We haven’t really had one that’s stood out since Princess and The Frog’s Shadow Man. The most interesting thing about Zootopia, by far, is it’s social commentary within the story. The main antagonist in Zootopia is discrimination, an issue that’s extremely relevant today. I don’t generally talk about politics or any real-world issues in my movie reviews, but you’ve all seen the news. The different types of animals  in the film could easily represent various races, and though some may find the film’s message against racism less than subtle, It’s nonetheless very powerful, and it’s execution is handled maturely, yet simply enough for all ages to understand and appreciate.

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This is possibly Disney’s most topical film they’ve ever produced. the film features topics and themes that range from prejudice, identity, and even racism.  Zootopia is yet another fantastic entry in Disney’s recent era of instant classics, and it’s deserving of it’s place as the biggest film of the year so far, both financially and critically. Despite some minor pacing issues, this is one of their best modern films yet, and one of my favourite films of the year thus far.

Lazer Team

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For those who don’t know, Rooster Teeth is an online production company that’s produced a plethora of  creative and funny internet shows, most notably the Halo-based comedy “Red vs Blue”, The Super Hero parody series “X-Ray and Vav”, my personal favourite; the Anime fantasy “RWBY”  I would say I’m a casual fan of the studio’s work overall, but their fanbase is just as big as any given hollywood franchise you could  think of. It was only a matter of time before the company decided to produce their first feature film, and after a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014, Rooster Teeth was finally able to treat fans with the big screen Sci-fi adventure known as “Lazer Team.”, which got a small theatrical release in early 2016. Is it as funny and sharply written as Red vs Blue? Or is Rooster Teeth’s first feature film effort a weak one? let’s have a looksy

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The story for Lazer Team is pretty basic. Four idiots stumble upon a crashed alien spacecraft that holds a technologically advanced suit inside. Each of the four protagonists take a different peace of the suit and put it on, causing the suit to activate as each piece genetically locks on to each character. The government eventually catches up with them, and once it’s revealed that an alien threat is on the horizon, The four are taken to a government facility and trained to work as a team to stop the alien invaders. Now if you think that sounds dumb and cliche, you’re not wrong. The film’s premise sounds dangerously close to last Summer’s Box office Bomb “Pixels”, but what really makes this film work better than “Pixels” is the comedy. Yes, the low budget crowdfunded film’s writing is more clever than Sony’s big budget blockbuster. The team at Rooster Teeth take the absurd premise of Lazer Team and run with it. It may not the funniest product they’ve produced, and not all the jokes it bullseyes, but when it’s funny, it’s VERY funny.

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The cast is composed of Rooster Teeth regulars for the most part. All four of the main characters are played by actors that fans of Rooster Teeth will recognize. From left to right in the image above, we have Michael Jones as Zach,  Coltin Dun as Herman, Gavin Free as Woody and Burnie Barns as Officer Hagan. All four actors have good comedic timing as well as pretty decent chemistry, which is a necessity for a film of this nature. (although of the four, Zach and Herman really do steal the show)  Hardcore fans will get the most enjoyment out of the film, since they’ll recognize many faces and possibly even catch some of the more subtle easter eggs hidden throughout. (Bonus points if you can spot the RWBY cameo) While non-fans will still find enjoyment here, it’s the longtime Rooster Teeth fans that will really get a kick out of Lazer Team and appreciate it the most.

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Each of the main characters being stuck with a different piece of the spacesuit gives the film a great excuse to focus on the Teamwork aspect that harkens back to other successful team-based films like Ghostbusters and The Avengers. The film was given more money than the crew had initially asked for, so the props and special effects are actually quite good.  The crew’s goal was initially $650,000, and they ended up with $2,480,421, so while the film still very much has an independent feel and look to it, I was surprised by how good a lot of the special effects were. Make no mistake, the film isn’t exactly going to win any awards for visual effects or cinematography, but for what it is, it’s a nice effort for the studio’s first feature. I won’t go into specifics for spoilers-sake, but there’s a set piece near the end of the film that’s visually quite impressive, thanks to some very well crafted practical effects.

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Lazer Team isn’t the best Rooster Teeth has to offer, but it manages to have a lot of fun with it’s premise and works with it’s small budget effectively. I can’t imagine a Rooster Teeth fan not finding at least SOEM enjoyment out of the film, but as a casual fan, I still thought the film was quite enjoyable for what it was. As long as you know what you’re getting into; a small sci-fi team flick with some laughs, I think you’ll have a good time.

Deadpool

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Was there any better time for Deadpool to come out? 2016 is most certainly the most comic-book movie dominated year we’ve had yet, and what better way to kick things off than a Superhero film that turns the whole genre completely on it’s head. If you’re unfamiliar with the title character, Deadpool is a Marvel Comics Anti-hero who’s almost always portrayed as a character who KNOWS he’s in a comic book and he manages to have as much fun with the concept as he can by consistently breaking the fourth wall. It’s a really creative idea, but could it translate well to film? Actually…It really does!

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Don’t get me wrong, Deadpool is by no means a perfect movie. The film’s biggest fault is actually the story. It’s not cringe worthy, it’s just not very original. The film is basically a fairly by the numbers superhero story, featuring all the same story beats and tropes that you’d expect to find in the film of this genre. Again, it’s not a terrible story, it’s just nothing really new. However, while Deadpool fails at crafting an original plot, the execution of said plot is beyond genius. The film is told un-chronologically through the use of flashbacks, which allows the film to jump back and forth from the origin story to the big action set-pieces in a clever and unpredictable way. There’s a constant energetic feeling that the film gives off thanks to its superb editing and comedic timing that I haven’t seen in a blockbuster since Mad Max: Fury Road. Even if you know where the film is going There’s never a dull moment thanks to the over the top action and consistently   funny characters. (and seriously, this film might have the funniest opening credits sequence you’ll see all year.)

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Speaking of characters, some fare better than others, but it a solid cast overall. It’s abundantly clear that Ryan Reynolds is having a blast playing Deadpool, and his love for the Anti-hero shines through his fantastic and often hilarious performance. I thought it was a great decision on the filmmakers part to give Deadpool’s mask expressive eyes. It really helps capture a comic book feel and helps make the character stand out. (I’m also thrilled that they’re carrying this “expressive eyes” technique over to Civil War For Spider-man) As anticipated, the most entertaining characters besides Deadpool himself are the few X-Men that play supporting roles, Colossus is played by Stefan Kapicic and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Dat name tho) is played by Brianna Hildebrand. Both characters bounce off Deadpool nicely, and Colossus in particular might be my favourite character in the film. The CGI used to create the character looks fantastic, and he gets some of the funniest lines and moments in the film. Sadly, not all the characters stand out. The villain in particular, Ajax (played by Ed Skrein) is a pretty weak antagonist. He serves his purpose I suppose, and he does get a few funny lines here and there, but the character is by no means memorable.

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One of the highlights of Deadpool is how seamlessly it blends the humour with the action. One hardly overshadows the other, and it helps create some really fun and absurd action sequences. This is no doubt thanks to a fantastic script that knows how to balance things out just right in order to make a fun Deadpool movie. Given the title character’s violent nature, the action is predictably bloody and gory, but the humorous tone throughout keeps things from becoming too gruesome or dark.  (A fair warning though, if you can’t stand the site of blood then this movie’s probably not for you.) It’s sort of like a Quentin Tarantino film; Over the top, gory, crude, but also witty and clever. The Deadpool costume itself is one of the best and most accurate depictions of a Comic-book character in a film to date. It looks PERFECT. Almost like he leaped right off the comic page and onto the big screen.

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I can’t see any Deadpool fan being disappointed with this movie, I really can’t. It’s a perfect adaptation of the beloved character and a really fun time at the movies. As a movie on its own, it could have been better in a few areas. The story could’ve been a bit less predictable, and the villain could’ve been stronger, but you’d be surprised how easy those flaws are to forgive when everything else is handled so confidently. It’s certainly not for everyone, But for those who want a Comic book film that feels unique and offers something new to the genre, it’s a real treat. Recommended!

The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave

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Haven’t you heard? Dinosaurs are cool again!! Yep. They finally made another one. After almost a decade without a new Land Before Time sequel, Universal pictures has sent Littlefoot and his pals on yet another quest. I’ll be the first to admit that I love the Land Before Time. Though the first film is still the best (and arguably the only “good” one) I still have many fond memories of most of the sequels that followed, with my favourites being the ones featuring Chomper, and the “Great Longneck Migration”. The series ended on a crappy note with 2007’s “Wisdom of Friends”, which is by far the weakest film in the series, so I was actually kind of relieved that the franchise was going to have a chance to redeem itself from the horrible previous instalment. Was bringing the franchise back after such a long hiatus really worth it though? Let’s take a look.

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First of all, the Film’s title, “Journey of the Brave” seems very interchangeable. You could call any one of the Land before Time movies “Journey of the Brave” and it would make no difference whatsoever. The film’s story revolves around Littlefoot and his friends going on an adventure to search for Littlefoot’s  father, who’s gotten himself stranded in the Mysterious Beyond on his way to the Great Vally. If you’ve seen any of the previous Land Before Time movies, there’s nothing really new here.  The story is about as basic and predictable as a Land Before Time movie can get, with very few twists or surprises in store if you’re familiar with the franchise. Having said that, the movie’s presentation is decent. Certainly not the best animation we’ve seen from the series (I noticed more than a few errors) but overall the look of the film is generally pleasing. It’s incredibly nice to see 2D animation being utilized again, even if it is for a direct to video sequel.

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My biggest problem with the visual aspect of the film however is the setting. The majority of the film takes place in a band and boring rocky/Desert-like landscape, and it’s just not as interesting or creative as some of the other locations that our heroes have traveled to in the previous films. Still, at least we get some creative Sharptooth designs. The added feathers and horns offer something new in regards to Sharpteeth in the film. The characters, despite many of them having different voice actors now, have pretty much stayed the same. The main gang (Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, Petrie and Spike) Don’t really get any new development, but they’re still as loveable as they’ve ever been. My biggest complaint in regards to the characters is how Chomper and Ruby are utilized. Those two have been heavily featured in the recent LBT television series, and I was excited to hear that they were finally going to be featured in one of the films. Sadly, Chomper and Ruby’s role in the film really just amounts to an extended cameo, and as a huge Chomper fan, that was pretty disappointing.

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There are some new characters to be found, such as the forgetful Pteranodon Etta (voiced by…Reba McEntire!?) And the hyperactive Nothronychus known as Wild Arms. (Voiced by Damon Wayans Jr.) Neither of these characters are particularly memorable, but Wild Arms does get a few funny lines here and there, and Etta does get a pretty good song titled “Look for the Light”. As far was one-off LBT Characters go, these two are harmless. Speaking of songs….eh…they’re okay. Not the best nor the worst that the franchise has to offer. “Look for the Light” is the clear highlight of the soundtrack, but that’s partly due to the fact that it’s the only one I can actually remember. The rest of the songs seem like retreads of older and better Land Before Time songs. That’s not to say the music’s bad or anything, far from it. For a straight to video film the music’s actually pretty well done. It’s just not very memorable, and doesn’t hold a candle to the music in some of the classic entires.

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Y’know, for all it’s faults, It was great to see a new land Before Time movie again. I have a soft spot for this franchise, even when it’s at it’s worst, and seeing this film brought me back to my childhood, despite all the problems I had with it. I say this because while the film is far from perfect, it’s worth checking out if you’re a longtime fan of the franchise, or if you have a kid that’s into Dinosaurs. Perhaps I’m letting this one off the hook too easily, but screw it, I had a good time. Recommended.

Kung Fu Panda 3

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“I’m not trying to turn you into me. I’m trying to turn you into you.”

The Kung Fu Panda franchise is, in my honest opinion, the greatest series that Dreamworks animation has ever produced. They’re not mere parodies of the Martial Arts genre, but rather artistic, heartfelt, hilarious and powerful films that clearly have an immense respect for the genre. The first film was an instant classic, combining modern-age filmmaking techniques with classical Chinese philosophies and lessons proved to be a winning combination for the studio, and thus a sequel was quickly announced. The Sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, is not only one of the best sequels ever made, but is also one of my favourite movies of all time. It had all the humour and heart of the first film, but also introduced a memorable villain, raised the stakes and advanced the story wonderfully, giving the characters more development and depth. So, in case it wasn’t clear, the Kung Fu Panda movies friggin’ rock. (Did I mention that both films also have beautiful scores that rival the Lion King?) After a long five year wait, we have The third film, which was intended to be released during the 2015 holiday season, but was instead pushed to the beginning of 2016 to avoid Box-office competition with Star Wars. (Okay, there was no official statement about this being the reasoning behind the release date change, but c’mon…why do YOU think they changed it?) Needless to say, I was excited to revisit this series after such a long break, but how does it hold up? I’m happy to say that I can now officially call Kung Fu Panda one of my favourite Trilogies of all time, because all three films are stellar.

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Like the previous two films, Kung Fu Panda 3 succeeds at being a fantastic martial arts film as well as being a very effective comedy. The story of the Dragon Warrior continues as Po (voiced perfectly once again by Jack Black) meets his biological father, Li Shan (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and learns of a secret Panda Village that survived Lord Shen’s Panda raid several years ago. At the same time, an ancient enemy known as “Kai” (J.K Simmons) returns from the Spirit Realm, intent on stealing the Chi of every Kung Fu master, and destroying the legacy of Grand Master Oogway (the wise old turtle from the first film.) Let’s just say…Kai and Oogway have a complicated relationship.  Did I make that sound compelling? I hope I did. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with this franchise as of late. I’ve been a fan of the franchise for a long time (with the second film in particular really standing out to me as sheer brilliance) but just recently I’ve become engrossed in the world that these films create. Much like the first two, Kung Fu Panda 3 greatly respects the genre of Kung fu and Martial arts films. You can tell that the filmmakers were trying their hardest to make the action scenes mind-blowingly cool and the storyline greatly engaging.

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I found the concept of “Chi” very interesting in this film. Much like the previous film’s theme of Inner Peace, the very idea of Chi is what ties the whole film together. Described as “The Energy that flows through all living things.” It adds an extra layer to the film that elevates the story into becoming a more meaningful tale. It was very easy for me to identify with Po’s conflict in the story, learning about who he is and what makes him Po. As someone who’s currently struggling with defining themself, this was just the kind of movie I wanted to see. The story itself might be paced a little too quickly this time around, as certain developments and scenes seem to end almost as quickly as they appear, but this is really only a problem when compared to the pacing of the previous two films, which both had near perfect pacing. Nevertheless, there is never a dull moment in Kung Fu Panda 3, and the true heart of the story, that being Po’s journey and relationship with his biological and adoptive fathers, is nothing short of excellent. The film also has an entertaining villain in the form of Kai. While his personality’s not anywhere near as fascinating or complex as Lord Shen’s from the previous film, Kai is still a powerhouse of a villain. His character animation is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and I loved the way the animators made use of his blades during the action sequences. His character design is also beyond terrifying. There’s a shot where he approaches the Vally through a green mist/fog while swinging his chained blades across the ground that still gives me chills whenever I see it.

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One aspect that’s remained consistent throughout all three films is the incredible animation. Oh. My. Gosh. Guys….this animation though. Where do I even start? I already praised  Kai’s character animation, but truthfully, all the characters are beautifully and expressively animated. The fight choreography is once again engaging, and the action sequences rival what any given summer blockbuster has to offer. One of my favourite aspects of the film was the new location known as the Spirit Realm. Without spoiling too much, the scenes that take place in the Spirit Realm are gorgeously realized, and are the true highlights of the film visually. Speaking of visually, this is also the most stylized looking Kung Fu Panda film to date, with a heavy emphasis on the lighting and editing to help tell the story in a unique way. The score is once again provided by Hans Zimmer, and the man doesn’t disappoint. My personal favourite track by far is “The Dragon Warrior” but I also have to give extra credit to the new version of “Kung Fu Fighting”, which is nothing short of epic.

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I want there to be more Kung Fu Panda movies. Dreamworks apparently had the series mapped out to six films, but that plan moving forward will depend on this film’s success. I get the feeling that Dreamworks was potentially prepared for this to be the last one though, as it feels like a highly satisfying conclusion to Po’s story arc and the trilogy in general. To say I recommend this movie would be an understatement. I implore you to go see Kung Fu Panda 3 on the big screen. If you have yet to see the first two, then watch them first for context. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Po and his pals, but if it is, I want to thank the entire team behind the Kung Fu Panda films for creating such an entertaining, powerful, funny and beautiful trilogy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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What does Star Wars mean to you? Anything? Everything? Nothing? For me, it certainly means a great deal. Growing up, The Star Wars Saga was a collection of stories that I often revisited. I love all six films (despite the many flaws found in the Prequels) And couldn’t bring myself to hate any one of them. There was a lot riding on the latest entry in the franchise, The Force Awakens. It was without a doubt the most anticipated movie of the year, and fans expectations were through the roof. Did the film live up to expectations? Or was it a huge letdown? Everyone you ask is going to have a slightly different answer, but read on if you want to hear my thoughts. Also, fair warning, This review WILL contain Spoilers.

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Star Wars has always taken familiar stories and re-imagined them into something new. When George Lucas wrote the first Star Wars, the story borrowed many aspects from films and shows he had grown up with. J.J Abrams does something similar with the Force Awakens, as the film borrows heavily from A New Hope in terms of it’s story and how it plays out. At first glance, this seemed like a flaw to me, because the film seemed overly familiar. However, upon seeing the film a few more times, I discovered something important that I had somehow missed in my first viewing. The film may be similar to A New Hope in many ways, but it definitely has it’s own voice. It feels like it’s own thing, while still respectfully paying tribute to the original three Star Wars films visually and narratively. It admittedly plays things a little too safe at times, but since this film is meant to be a re-introduction to the Star Wars universe, I can’t really fault Disney for choosing to make a familiar sure-fire crowd pleaser as their first outing, rather then try something risky and new. The Force Awakens has a lot more humour, and while opinions on this choice will vary among fans, I enjoyed the more light-hearted nature of this story. It had a bit of a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe (but not overly so) and the jokes were written and timed well. The action scenes aren’t as impressive or memorable here as they were in the previous films (though it is especially awesome to see the Millennium Falcon back in action), but the character interactions and development have been greatly improved this time around.

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Part of what makes the film so enjoyable is it’s cast of characters. It’s wonderful to see old favourite return like Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 (My two personal favourites) but it’s the new characters that really carry the film. Finn and Rey in particular are very interesting. Finn’s conflict is something we haven’t seen in a Star Wars movie before. He’s a Stormtrooper with a conscience, and this is shown brilliantly within the opening sequence of the film. Without the use of any dialogue, you’re able to tell exactly what Finn’s character is all about just by seeing his actions and reactions to the chaotic opening sequence of the movie. Rey’s character is also given a dialogue-free introduction, and it’s handled extremely well.  Like Finn, we get to know her character very quickly thanks to clear and clever introductory sequence that harkens back to Luke Skywalker’s character arc in A New Hope. The film’s lead villain, Kylo Ren, is one of the most interesting Star Wars villains we’ve had in a long time. He’s not a mute bad-ass like Darth Maul, or a calm and wise villain like Darth Vader, but rather a complex and immature individual that’s being torn apart as he struggles to find his place in the dark side. He’s the kind of villain that you feel sorry for, but can also be very intimidating and unpredictable when he wants to be. As I mentioned earlier, seeing the return of the classic characters is as thrilling as you might expect, with Harrison Ford’s performance as Han Solo being the highlight. Luke Skywalker’s role in the film was unexpected, but powerful, and i applaud Disney and the crew for showing so much restraint with his character.

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One of the most memorable new characters of the film is the Droid, BB-8. Behaving like a beach-ball version of R2-D2, the little droid has plenty of screen time and is actually quite important to the plot.  He does admittedly become less important as the film goes on (he’s barely in the third act) but he’s still a fun new addition to the cast, and it’s great to see him interact with C-3PO  and R2-D2. Unfortunately, some of the characters that seem really interesting aren’t given much screen time. There’s Poe, a Rebel X-Wing pilot that gets a few good laughs, but is ultimately not in the film for very long.  the biggest offender of a lack of development and screen time though is Captain Phasma, the chrome captain of the Stormtroopers. The marketing leading up to this film heavily featured Phasma, but her character does practically nothing in the movie itself, and it’s really a shame, because her character design looks so good, and her character has real potential to be interesting. Here’s hoping we see more of her in Episode 8.

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Speaking of Stormtroopers, they’re given a sleek and imposing new design, Despite the fact that quite a few scenes featuring them are played for laughs. Stormtroopers are almost always the butt of jokes amongst Star Wars fans, so seeing them be portrayed in a slightly comedic light felt oddly meta. I still prefer the classic Stormtrooper designs overall, but these new designs are certainly a welcome addition to the series. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about the old-school approach to the film’s visual effects, and while there is a good amount of CGI used, mostly in the aerial action scenes, the film’s uses practical sets, costumes and props for most of it’s characters and settings, and the film as a result looks amazing. I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy the Prequels, but seeing the franchise return to it’s home-made style roots with the special effects was nothing short of wonderful. The film makes use of CGI sparingly but appropriately, mostly to enhance certain sequences and locations, but also for scenes that would be too difficult to achieve otherwise.  You can’t talk about A Star Wars movie without discussing the music, and The Force Awakens has a good soundtrack, but it’s not quite as grand as some of Composer John Williams previous work on the franchise. It’s an enjoyable score with some memorable cues, just Don’t expect to find a track as epic as 1999’s “Duel of the fates” here.

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Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens the best Star Wars yet? I wouldn’t go that far. Is it one of the most enjoyable and entertaining films of 2015 though? Without question! The film is not without it’s flaws; but the positives really do outweigh the negatives. i’d recommend this movie to just about anyone with an interest in the Star Wars saga, but chances are you’ve probably already seen it by now. If by some odd and unlikely chance you’ve not gone out to see The Force Awakens, I can assure you that it’s worth the price of admission to see it in the theatre, because a movie this gigantic deserves to be enjoyed on the big screen.