Posts Tagged ‘Daisy Ridley’

The Destiny of a Jedi

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Director: J. J. Abrams

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Richard E. Grant, Domnhall Gleeson, Keri Russell, Lupita Nyong’o, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan

Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens director J. J. Abrams returns to the director’s chair to head up the final instalment of the new Star Wars film, Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and astutely pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy which made the franchise so famous and utterly unique: Star Wars released in 1977, The Empire Strikes Back released in 1980 and The Return of the Jedi released in 1983.

Along with the full complement of cast from the recent Star Wars films including Oscar nominee Adam Driver (BlackKklansman) as the conflicted Kylo Ren, along with Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn, there are also brief glimpses of the original cast members including the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

In a genius stroke of casting, Billy Dee Williams reprises his role as General Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as he was last seen in The Return of the Jedi and had a key role in the betrayal of Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt in The Empire Strikes Back.  

The Dark side or in this case the First Order is represented by the ghoulish Emperor Palpatine played by Ian McDiarmid (The Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith) who is naturally revealed as the arch villain along with General Pride played by Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

The Rebels struggling to fight the First Order include Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron played by Oscar Isaac along with a gang of droids lead by R2-D2, C-3PO and BB-8 and of course the roaring Wookie Chewbacca who is insanely missing Han Solo.

If viewers are not a fan of the Star Wars franchise then don’t bother seeing The Rise of Skywalker as this film is strictly for Star Wars fans and those very familiar with the original trilogy which director J. J. Abrams deftly gives a nostalgic nod to.

With as many plot twists as the galaxy, The Rise of Skywalker will keep audiences guessing while they are absolutely dazzled by the superb visual effects especially the final battle and of course the Jedi versus Sith showdown with blazing lightsabres.

Star Wars Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10  is strictly recommended for Star Wars followers.

Let’s hope once parent company Disney starts turning a profit on its international streaming services that the gigantic studio will decide to roll out another three films to answer all the questions regarding the destiny of the remaining Jedi and her mysterious identity.

Strengthening the Universe

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyongo’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Anthony Daniels, Kelly Maria Tran

Looper director Rian Johnson draws significant parallels between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back even including such iconic characters as Yoda and featuring a substantial role for Luke Skywalker played again by Mark Hamill.

At two hours and 32 minutes Star Wars: The Last Jedi could have been cut by half an hour. Which is my only criticism. After all The Empire Strikes Back made in 1980 was just over two hours long.

While the second half of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is absolutely thrilling particularly the final battle sequence on a white salted mining planet complete with red earth reminiscent of the battle between the Empire and the rebels on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

The first half drags a little, particularly the Jedi scenes between the reclusive Luke Skywalker and Rey wonderfully played by Daisy Ridley, who is battling to grasp the extent of the force.

John Boyega reprises his role of Finn with the help of a feisty newcomer Rose wonderfully played by Kelly Maria Tran which should appeal  to a diverse audience which is exactly Disney’s cleverest marketing ploy since buying the rights to George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise and effectively reinventing the Galaxy and strengthening this cinematic universe.

Notable cameo’s include a superb performance by Oscar winner Benicio del Toro (Traffic) as DJ who certainly injects some life into the extremely long narrative especially when Finn and Grace meet him when they go in search of the elusive Master code breaker, a briefly glimpsed Justin Theroux, safely ensconced on a decadent casino resort planet, a vibrant episode in the film.

Another notable scene stealer is Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Rambling Rose) as Vice Admiral Holdo who frequently clashes with the bravado of flyboy Rebel poster pilot Poe Dameron wonderfully played again by Oscar Isaac.

The most poignant scenes are played by the late Carrie Fisher reprising her role for the last time as the iconic Princess Leia just wiser and with a more sensible hairstyle, guiding the resistance like a faded debutante. Look out for a nostalgic reunion scene between Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi delivers remarkably on the action front and director Rian Johnson should be particularly commended for also writing the screenplay, no easy feat considering the weight of the franchise and the expectations of the fans.

Yet despite the length, Johnson rises to the challenge and delivers an absorbing sci-fi epic which will satisfy the legions of Star Wars fans globally, judging by the record breaking opening weekend internationally of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is highly recommended viewing best to be experienced in true cinematic splendour with surround sound and some like minded companions. The film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

A Tangle of Strangers

Murder on the Orient Express

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Lucy Boynton, Olivia Colman, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Odom Jr. Tom Bateman

Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) both stars as the infamous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot  and directs another remake of the classic Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express featuring a stunning cast including Oscar nominees Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street) and Oscar winners Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love).

Sporting a profoundly massive mustache, Branagh takes Hercule Poirot to new extremes in this 21st century remake which is glossy and possesses sumptuous production design but like all extremely long train journeys is boring in the middle, despite the spectacular scenery.

Murder on the Orient Express is set in 1934 and starts off promisingly with a fantastic opening, attention grabbing scene at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and then moves on to the Orient Express, a luxury train service which travels from the chaotic train station in Istanbul right across Europe to Paris.

As the gangster Edward Ratchett is found murdered in his compartment, stabbed multiple times everybody becomes a suspect on the Orient Express and soon Poirot has to interview all the cast as the train is stuck in an icy tunnel somewhere over Yugoslavia. A tangle of strangers confined to a luxury train which has gone off the rails.

Everybody is not what they seems, which is natural considering this is an Agatha Christie novel and while the cast does an admirable job, it is really Michelle Pfeiffer who wows audiences with her demure yet slightly vicious portrayal of globetrotting husband seeker Caroline Hubbard who stands out among a fairly impressive ensemble cast. Pfeiffer really acts.

Dame Judi Dench’s turn as Princess Dragomiroff is hardly noticeable, while the best scenes in the film are between Pfeiffer and Branagh.

It is refreshing to see Michelle Pfeiffer making such a glorious big screen come back as she truly is a brilliant actress, not to mention singer – for she also sang the film’s original song at the end.

Without revealing who the killer is, needless to say Kenneth Branagh will be returning with another big screen adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, Death on the Nile. Should be fascinating if only he would curb that mustache.

Audiences that enjoyed the original seventies film adaptations of the Agatha Christie novels, will enjoy this ambitious if slightly flawed remake. Think Evil Under the Sun.

Recommended viewing but whether the film will dazzle at the box-office in an increasingly cluttered 21st century CGI film line-up remains to be seen. Murder on the Orient Express gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

 

 

 

Reconciling the Myth

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyongo’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels

Thematically set 30 years after The Return of the Jedi, director J. J. Abrams reconciles the myth of the original and iconic Star Wars Trilogy when he takes over as conceptualizer of the new Star Wars trilogy, given a touch task of remaining faithful to the original trilogy while introducing millennials to the original Star Wars iconography.

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In a genius casting move, Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings all the original cast members back from the first trilogy including Harrison Ford as Han Solo, the rarely seen Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and the illusive Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker along with all the lovable companion characters including Chewbacca, and of course the droids C3PO and R2D2, which made up the original Star Wars. Even the Millennium Falcon is revived, which is enough to satisfy the original fans. Believe me, there are a lot of fans out there!

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The new cast includes Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, a former Stormtrooper turned Rebel. The Empire so prominent in the original series has been replaced by a more sinister totalitarian regime called The First Order which includes the evil General Hux, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn) and the conflicted Kylo Ren brilliantly played by Adam Driver. Oscar Isaac (Drive) stars as Poe Dameron an expert Rebel X-Wing fighter pilot who has hidden a hologram into his droid BB8 about the whereabouts of the mythical Luke Skywalker, the last remaining Jedi Knight.

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As the continuous action moves from outer space to distant planets, the first of which Jukka resembles Tattoine, the desert planet in the original Star Wars, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is visually captivating, with a vast and imaginative array of droids, monsters, bounty hunters and sinister forces all beautifully orchestrated to give what audiences came to see: An adventure story set in a Galaxy Far Far Away to the memorable music by John Williams.

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Oscar winner Lupita Nyongo’o (12 years a Slave) plays Maz Kanata an E.T. like creature sympathetic to the Rebel cause. The chemistry between the diverse cast is amazing and adds to the magic of The Force Awakens, most notably the newcomers Daisy Ridley as a scavenger Rey, whose own propensities for becoming a Jedi open all sorts of questions and British actor John Boyega as Finn who immediately establishes a rapport with the infamous Han Solo as well as Poe Dameron whom he rescues from a gigantic looking Death Star.

Star Wars 1977

The production design and visual effects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are spectacular and Oscar worthy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is definitely for the fans of the original trilogy, the films directed by George Lucas which captured the imagination of a generation of boys and girls back in the late seventies and early eighties.

star_warsIf it’s any indication, I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back while on holiday in Atlanta, Georgia in America back in 1980 when it first premiered and The Return of the Jedi in 1983 in the old Embassy cinemas in central Durban.

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Judging by the packed cinema and the international media hype surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens will do exceptionally well at the Box Office and this new version is recommended to fans of pure science fiction and to all those who grew up on the original series. It’s comforting to know that American director J.J. Abrams who reignited the Star Trek franchise, now in partnership with Lucas Films and parent company Disney, plans on making two more Star Wars films to complete this new re-energized trilogy and introduce Millennials to a whole new universe of Star Wars characters.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is highly recommended viewing, brilliantly orchestrated by reconciling and paying tribute to the original mythical trilogy while seamlessly blending in an entire new batch of characters. May the Force be with us at least until 2019.

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