WE BECAME INSTANT FRIENDS BACK IN elementary school. I do not recall a day going by where we did not see each other during the school day. At some point we fell into a routine of either getting together after school or talking on the phone before dinnertime. I remember when a fast food restaurant was built in our neighborhood; the two of us felt like such adults when we met there to try it out on our own. Granted, the money came from my allowance; but it was my first time going to a restaurant without my family, only my best friend. I still remember ordering the chocolate shake for dessert and savoring every single drop of it. My best friend had the vanilla one so we could taste each other’s and decide which one we liked the best. There were so many firsts in my life that he was a part of through the years. We both were cast in a school play, we sat together on the school bus for our first field trip and we both experienced taking public transportation for the first time to an amusement park; these are just a few of the many things we did together. It was not until college when we first experienced doing things on our own; it was a hard transition for me. AFTER BEING TOGETHER FOR SO LONG, I found myself experiencing a sense of loss. We still communicated with each other but as college courses began demanding more of our attention, we sometimes let a day or two go by without talking to one another. As our college years advanced our interests diverged into separate areas; new friendships and activities filled the void. Whenever I came home from school, we would find time to get together. It was like time had not passed by because we would immediately pick up where we left off, as if we had just seen each other the day before. However, during these get togethers I was aware I was talking about people he had never met; it seemed weird for some reason. After spending so many years together, I knew we were headed to different places in our lives. We shared so many good and bad times together, I to this day think about him from time to time and wonder what type of life he is living. Similarly, having been part of my life so long, I wondered what it will be like for me not to see these Star Wars’ characters once I finish watching this last installment of the movie franchise. A THREATENING MESSAGE HAS THE RESISTANCE scrambling to confront an enemy they thought was no longer a part of the First Order. With Adam Driver (Logan Lucky, BlacKkKlansman) as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express, Scrawl) as Rey, John Boyega (The Circle, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Finn, Oscar Isaac (Life Itself, A Most Violent Year) as Poe Dameron and Richard E. Grant (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as General Payde; the story in this film had its work cut out for it. Because the writers had 42 years of Star Wars history at their disposal, they were placed at a disadvantage from the start I believe. Let me first start with the positive things about this picture. The special effects were their usual eyepopping brilliance; the creativity was good, and the acting skills of Adam and Daisy drove this movie to its conclusion. Unfortunately, this film was good not great. I thought some scenes and characters were thrown in just to market new toys. There were a few scenes that felt like the writers were rehashing the past to make a connection with older viewers and one especially reminded me of a different film entirely. The thing is, I can understand not taking a risk with the last film; however, I felt things were a bit stale. On the other hand, there is such an emotional attachment to these characters that for any fan it would be hard not to care about them. I know I will miss the Star Wars universe; but I still will be able to look back fondly at the memories it gave me.
3 stars – Star Wars fans 2 2/3 – non-fans
THE KIDS IN THE CLASSROOM SETTLED down when the teacher came in with a new student. He was thin with long legs under a shorter torso. With all of us looking at him the teacher introduced him; his name was nearly identical to mine except for the first letter. He was directed to an empty seat. When he came up to his seat he dropped his notebook and pencil box on the top of the desk, making a loud smacking sound. The way he sat in his chair was weird looking to me. He was slouched down, with his legs sprawled out and one arm propped up on the back of the seat. No other student in class ever sat that way as far as I could remember. The teacher noticed and asked him to sit properly in his seat. I thought there was a slight pause before he acquiesced. During the rest of the day there were other peculiar things he did. Like at recess, he had no interest in joining any of the games the students were playing on the playground. Instead, he leaned back on the fence and stared at the school building, only shifting his gaze at times to the students around him. HE BECAME WHAT ONE COULD REFER to as a “bad influence” on some of the students. There were already a few students in class who were not nice to the other students. With the addition of this new student, they got bolder with their actions and looked to him as their leader. For example, with the girl who sat in front of him he smeared petroleum jelly on her long pigtails. She was not aware until later when she was playing with one of the pigtails and her hand felt the greasy mess on her hair. The look on her face was one of horror. When she told the teacher, the new student denied it. Without proof, since he had hidden the jar of jelly in another desk, nothing happened to him. But the teacher started to keep her eye on him. I was sure she knew he was the culprit. Except for the small band of boys who hung around him, he never fit in with the rest of the class. It was such an odd thing to me because I had to work extra hard to just fit in, so as not to stand out among the students. I know it can be hard to be the new kid; you can see for yourself in this updated version of a past, horror movie. NOT HAVING BEEN ABLE TO MAKE friends yet in his new neighborhood Andy, played by Gabriel Bateman (Lights Out, Outcast-TV), received a special gift from his mother. It was the most popular toy on the market and Andy’s mother Karen Barclay, played by Aubrey Plaza (Dirty Grandpa, Ingrid Goes West) was sure the doll would become Andy’s first friend. She should have asked the doll first. With Mark Hamill (Star Wars franchise, Airborne) voicing Chucky, Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis, Widows) as Detective Mike Norris and Tim Matheson (Redline, The West Wing-TV) as Henry Kaslan; this latest version of the Chucky saga was already at a disadvantage for me. Remembering the older films, this one did not have the tense shock value needed to bring the story to life. Chucky’s antics were easy to figure out and that is even with holes in the script. There were different avenues available to make this story compelling if only the writers would have worked harder in giving deeper emotions to the characters. There were a couple of amusing lines, but, I could not tell if the script was trying to be sinister or campy. Compared to other film choices out there presently, this picture does not have the chance of fitting in. There were several bloody, violent scenes.
1 ¾ stars
USUALLY AT ANY TYPE OF event I attend the crowd acts accordingly. At a wedding most of the guests are cordial and jovial; whereas at a funeral most people are solemn and respectful. This is the norm but never underestimate the person who is highly charged emotionally. I attended a funeral where 2 guests made a scene and one of the grieving relatives yelled back at them that they would “rot in hell.” Oh and there was that wedding where the bride and her new mother-in-law got into a shouting match in the middle of the reception; it was not pretty. Overall though I have to say there is something about going to an event where everyone is in a similar mood. I do not know if each person is feeding off the emotions of another person but I feel an energy that connects everyone; the best example is a rock concert, where everyone sings along to the musical artist. ONE PLACE WHERE I do not always find consistency in the crowd’s mood is at the movies. There have been times where I sat in my seat perplexed at the viewers’ reactions around me. Where they were guffawing with belly laughs, I found myself getting bored with what I felt was a lame attempt at humor. Other times I am the one sitting in my seat with tears rolling out of my eyes; while the people next to me are focusing on their tub of popcorn, not one teardrop getting squeezed out of their eyes. I certainly do not look at this as a right or wrong situation; everyone has the right to feel the way they do without any type of judgment. That is one of the main pillars I use to write my movie reviews. You may notice I try to never tell someone they can or cannot see a movie; I am simply offering advice and sharing my experiences during my viewing of the movie. If anything I am more curious to hear other people’s views, for I feel that helps me be a better reviewer. However in regards to today’s picture, it was obvious everyone was feeling the same thing—extreme joy and excitement. HAVING TRAVELED FROM AFAR to ask Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill (Airborne, Brigsby Bear), for help in fighting the First Order; Rey, played by Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express, Silent Witness-TV), could not understand Luke’s determined resistance. She had no idea she was not the first one to ask for his help. This next installment in the Star Wars franchise included Carrie Fisher (Wonderland, This is My Life) as Leia Organa, Adam Driver (Paterson, Silence) as Kylo Ren and Oscar Isaac (The Promise, A Most Violent Year) as Poe Dameron. For a movie watching experience this action, adventure fantasy provided everything one needed for an emotional ride of thrills. Kudos to the director who kept control of the pacing of the story; there was a steady dose of drama, humor and excitement through the 2 hours and 32 minutes of running time. I will say the script was weak in several parts, where there could have been more thoughtful drama. Personally I wanted the First Order to remain menacing and wished Finn had been given more scenes. Without giving anything away one of the love interest story lines was a waste of time. Interestingly I found the acting was better in this sequel than the previous movie. There was more back story to the characters which I appreciated and as for the fight scenes, they were imaginative and thrilling. If you are not a fan of Star Wars chances are you will not care to see this movie; but if you want an easy “share the moment” experience with the people sitting around you then this film will not disappoint.
3 1/3 stars