Take Off The Nostlagia Goggles: 'The Force Awakens' Is Terrible

Take Off The Nostlagia Goggles: 'The Force Awakens' Is Terrible

2.5/10: This nothing more than an abysmal remake of the 4th film, losing any redeeming qualities in a desperate attempt to rake in as much money as possible. 135 min / 2015 / Abrams
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I had originally planned to write a review of the film “Crash,” a superficial, cliche overview of racism rendered all but worthless by its structure and development. However, upon viewing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” I was alarmed. I wondered if I had missed some golden scenes that give the film its own feeling, its own themes and its own plot. However, after about 15 minutes of reading other people’s summaries and analysis, I came to the tragic conclusion that I had indeed seen the same film. Now, I am in a state of disbelief that this film had received remote acclaim, and grossed $2 billion. JJ Abrams has made a fortune for doing nothing. “The Force Awakens” is a systematic failure of filmmaking: the camera work is bad, the dialogue is bad, the acting is largely bad and the structure of the film is awful, so derivative and unoriginal that I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed plot development. I kept futilely hoping that the film would come into its own, but alas all that remained after over two hours was dreck. There are innumerable gripes I have about the film (Snoke sounds like the name for a 5-year-old’s stuffed animal) but will stick to my larger issues.

The camera work oscillates between fan service and bad shots. To be fair, there are two shots I found effective. The first is during the opening scene. The shot switches between shallow and deep focus of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow). It does an excellent job of concisely capturing their reactions and was a welcome stylistic flourish. The other excellent shot was a carefully crafted one on the bridge during the Starkiller Base assault. Light from the top streams in a long shot that gives the moment between Han Solo and Kylo Ren an almost religious quality, which the scene itself reinforces. It was a rare moment that wasn’t contrived, and was epic in itself. Outside those two more laudable moments, the camera work lacks any ingenuity. It is filled with references to the original trilogy. The opening shot of the film is a direct re-tread of a scene in the fifth movie when Darth Vader’s destroyer is introduced, which is a nice symbolism for the entire film: an inferior retread of the original trilogy. Among the most overt are the Millennium Falcon taking off from an identical angle when it flees from Mos Eisley, and a terrible rehashing of the wonderful Cantina scene, with even the same camera swoop surveying the bar. It's all done due to a creative void; Abrams is a vacuous ventriloquist, and there is never a desire to expand on what the original trilogy did, just to recreate it for maximum profits and fanboy acclaim. Watch the unveiling of R2D2 scene again, the camera swoops at the ground level and gazes at the robot with a monolithic admiration, as if the audience is staring at the Pyramids or Taj Mahal.

There is no fundamental difference between the plots of “The Force Awakens” and “A New Hope.” The escalation, the evolution and the character development are fundamentally the same. Consider the premise: an orphaned child with Force powers is reluctantly dragged into the battle between rebels and a powerful evil organization after the person runs into a droid carrying a valuable secret. That opening is even filmed in the same damn order, with the First Order/Empire attacking the rebels and forcing the droid to flee, then depiction of daily life for the hero, and finally them discovering the secret and having to flee their home planet. This decision to recreate the fourth film’s glacial first 40 minutes is confounding given that that is “A New Hope’s” weakest facet. There was no thought behind retreading that ground; it was just mindless fan service designed to appease people rather than try to make a film of any worth. "The Force Awakens" even highlights its own startling unoriginality when the rebels discuss destroying the Starkiller Base. They note it is functionally the Death Star again, only bigger (one of the films many failed visual gags). That is emblematic of the film’s ethos, just create the fourth film, modernize the film and make it “bigger,” which will hopefully obfuscate that the film has nothing to say. The stakes are not raised in any meaningful way; the film is not more epic or interesting, just lazy and devoid of ideas.

What makes the film a special kind of awful is the characters, either due to the acting, dialogue or at times, both. The film’s terrible fan service and imitative nature could be overlooked, even forgiven, if the characters and dialogue were strong. Remember all of the reasons I complimented the script of “8 ½?” Well “The Force Awakens” is the exact opposite. It is a terrible script. Half of the lines seem to have been pulled from a compendium of cliche action movie lines: e.g. “We’ve got company” or “That’s impossible! “We have to try” (the second isn’t verbatim, but that idea). Another chunk of the dialogue is, as many other elements are, designed to milk nostalgia as much as possible, e.g. “This place have a garbage chute?” “We're home, Chewy.” Now, to discuss the characters: Even in his 70s, Harrison Ford has not lost his charm, and the scene in which he attempts to talk his way out of trouble (the dialogue portion) has the humor that the other two hours and 10 minutes needed. It was a call back to the old trilogy while still offering something new. Unfortunately, the rest of his dialogue seems designed to recall his time in the original trilogy as much as possible, and he is certainly the most consistent nostalgia pull throughout the film. Carrie Fisher as Leia functions similarly, but unfortunately she was never a good actress, and age did not help that. Boyega as the rogue trooper, Finn, is generic, as is his character. There is nothing that separates him from any other defector in film. The film wastes the power of Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. The actor, who was brilliant in “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Ex Machina,” has turned into a “Top Gun” character. He should be spitting abysmal one liners with Tom Cruise, though he does the first part of that plenty. Rey is probably the single most obvious example of the scripts overall negative trends. Abrams took Luke and made him a girl, and apparently thought that because Rey is female, that he should take out all of Luke’s charm and personality. Rey is determined and brooding to the point of caricature. She lacks any defining personality trait, a sense of thought behind her actions. She as a serious character isn’t bad in and of itself—I certainly think there should be female characters taken seriously—but not when it sucks out any chance at a personality. And finally, Kylo Ren, the greatest catastrophe of the film. Driver is stolid to the point of wooden, and there is none of the turbulence, confusion and frustration that he should have been afforded. Ren is an angsty teenager. Instead of the touching portrayal of a man torn in two, someone who is pulled by dichotomous sides of good and evil (his true nature and his obsession with power), he has the existential profundity of a Puddle of Mudd fan. Kylo Ren’s emotional depth makes a kiddie pool seem like Mariana’s Trench. To be fair, there are moments that seem to indicate Abrams wanted to make Ren a complex internal Jekyll and Hyde (scene with Vader mask is telling), but his ineptitude prevented more admirable character designs to reach fruition.

“A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” are so effective because despite the dark plots and high stakes, the films never lose their charm. The fourth and fifth films contain a hint of camp throughout the proceedings that makes them fun, engrossing even. The problems with the sixth film and the prequels is that they went too far into the camp realm (Ewoks, Jar-Jar), and now the reverse has happened. The film attempts to move Star Wars into the modern blockbuster vein, which is why “The Force Awakens” fails so utterly. Star Wars 4 and 5 are original films, they are charming, the characters are memorable; “The Force Awakens” is none of these things. Star Wars’ personality is not “The Dark Knight,” which it feels every blockbuster attempts to emulate now. JJ Abrams has produced another cash cow for Disney, but in doing so sucked any memorable moments, charm or silver lining from the franchise. This atrocious, venal film does nothing new, has nothing to say, contains nothing to remember and certainly leaves nothing worth pondering. Hopefully, Abrams will ponder this article.
Cover Image Credit: Starwars.com

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80 Nicki Minaj Lyrics Perfect For Instagram Captions

"Yo, you seen my last pic, go double-tap that for me."
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Nicki Minaj lets the world know about her amazing Instagram skills in Beyonce's "Flawless," when she raps "Instagram another flawless pic." Do you have a #Flawless Instagram picture but need a clever caption to go with it? The Queen of Rap has plenty of Insta-worthy song lyrics.

*(Some lyrics have been edited to keep this article "PG". Feel free to look up the real Nicki Minaj lyrics if you hate the radio edit.)


When you want to diss a hater:

    1. "You couldn't get a fan if it was hangin' from the ceilin."
    2. "I'm throwing shade like it's sunny."
    3. "I'm in my own lane, you ain't in my category."
    4. "These (girls) couldn’t test me even if their name was Pop Quiz."
    5. "Yo, people will love you and support you when it's beneficial. I'ma forgive, I won't forget, but I'ma dead the issue."
    6. "Not that I don't got good vision, but I don't see competition."
    7. "I’m Angelina, you Jennifer. Come on (girl), you see where Brad at."
    8. "I look like "yes" and you look like "no"."
    9. "But if you're ugly it's a no text zone."
    10. "If you are my rival, then that means you're suicidal."
    11. "Shout out to my haters, Sorry that you couldn't faze me."
    12. "Trash talk to 'em then I put 'em in a Hefty."
    13. "Like I mean I don't even know why you girls bother at this point. Like give up, it's me, I win, you lose."
    14. "All these haters mad because I'm so established."
    15. "Competition? why yes I would love some."

















When you want to tell people how awesome you are:

    16. "If I'm fake I ain't notice, cause my money ain't."
    17. "You can hate me, but why knock my hustle? I'ma be the queen, no matter how they shuffle."
    18. "Let me make this clear, I’m not difficult, I’m just ’bout my business."
    19. "I'm feelin' myself."
    20. "Excuse me honey, but nobody's in my lane."
    21. "Put me on a dollar cause I'm who they trust in."
    22. "I don’t say “Hi”, I say “Keys to the Benz.”"
    23. "I've been hot since flip phones" "Running this game for 5 years. Guess that's why my feet hurt."
    24. "Hotter than a middle eastern climate."
    25. "My money’s so tall that my Barbies gotta climb it."
    26. "No, I'm not lucky, I'm blessed, yes."
    27."I ain't gotta compete with a single soul."
    28. "'X' in the box, cause ain't nobody checking me."
    29."Excuse me, I'm sorry, I'm really such a lady."
    30. "Honestly I gotta stay as fly as I can be."














When you're hanging with your clique:

    31. "Cherish these nights, cherish these people. Life is a movie, but there will never be a sequel."
    32. "I’m with some hood girls lookin’ back at it."
    33. "We dope girls, we flawless. We the poster girls for all this."
    34. "Pretty gang, always keep them (boys) on geek."
    35. "The night is still young, and so are we!"
    36. "If you ain’t on the team, you playin’ for team D, ’Cause we A-listers, we paid sisters."
    37. "Pretty (girls) only could get in my posse."
    38. "Cause we the mean girls, y-yes we so fetch."
    39. "We fresh to death, down to the shoes."
    40. "Ain't at no wedding but all my girls cake tops."
    41. "Got a whole bunch of pretty gang in my clique."
    42. "Clap for the heavyweight champ, me, But I couldn't do it all alone, WE."
    43. "Put your drinks up, It's a celebration every time we link up."
    44. "I'm with some flawless (girls) because they be mobbin' pretty."


















When you're hanging with your significant other:

    45. "He tryna kick it like a ninja."
    46. "He could tell that I was wifey material."
    47. "Ayo, I just wanna be your first go to."
    48. "You got spark, you, you got spunk. You, you got something all the girls want."
    49. Find me in the dark, I'll be in the stars, Find me in your heart, I'm in need of your love."
    50. "They holler at me, but it's you, you."
    51. "I'm not living right, I’m not living if you’re not by my side."
    52. "I just wanna be somebody that can add to, your wife, be a friend, be a teacher and a fan, too."
    53. "I just wanna be your favorite."
    54. "He was the realest, I was the baddest, we was the illest."
    55. "I know you can save me and make me feel alive."
    56. "Yes I'll be your girl, forever your lady, You ain't ever gotta worry, I'm down for you baby."
    57. "Baby you my everything, You all I ever wanted."

















When you're single and loving it:

    58. "You could be the king, but watch the queen conquer!"
    59. "Thats why I'm crowned queen, and I ain't looking for the prom king."
    60. "I like independent, like July 4th."
    61. "I ain't never need a man, to take care of me."
    62. "He be like, "Yo, you so legendary", But he can tell just by my face he ain't getting any."
    63. "I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin."
    64. "I don't even brake when I'm backing up, I'll swerve on a (boy) if he acting up."
    65. "So many boys in here where do I begin?"











When you're just living life:

    66. "I never worry, life is a journey. I just wanna enjoy the ride."
    67. "Tonight is the night that I'ma get twisted."
    68. "I’mma keep it movin', be classy and graceful."
    69. "So make sure the stars is what you aim for, make mistakes though."
    70. "And we gon' hangover the next day. But we will remember this day."
    71. "My only motto in my life is don't lose."
    72. "Take me, or leave me, I'll never be perfect. Believe me, I'm worth it."
    73. "I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn't mean you're alive."
    74. "I wish that I could have this moment for life."
    75. "If I scream, if I cry, It's only 'cause I feel alive."
    76. "I can't believe it, it's so amazing. This club is heating, this party's blazing.""
    77. "It's so amazing, I figured out this world is ours for the taking."
    78. "I am not a girl that can ever be defined."
    79. "I got next, I'm gonna shine."
    80. "This is my moment I just feel so alive."















Cover Image Credit: Nicki Minaj

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The Queen Of Soul Leaves A Story To Tell And A Voice That Cannot Be Replicated

Aretha Franklin may have passed on, but her legacy will live forever.

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On March 25, 1942, Aretha Franklin was born. The daughter of a well-known and highly respected Baptist Minister and Gospel singer from Memphis, Tennessee would soon move to Detroit, Michigan, where Aretha would meet lifelong friends and musical contributors.

Aretha Franklin was engulfed in music from the day she was born and, by the middle of the 1950s, Aretha had learned to play piano and began singing alongside her sisters in the church choir. It was during this time that Franklin first met strong, historical figures, such as Clara Ward, Smokey Robinson, and civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson. These are notable family friends that would stand by Aretha's side many times in the future.

Like many people finding themselves in the spotlight, there is more to Aretha Franklin's story than what is put in the tabloids. There are deeper events in her timeline that contribute to her emotion-filled voice. At the small age of six, Aretha endured her mother's leaving of the family and death four years later.

Aretha began a family of her own at the age of 12. In 1956, Clarence, Franklin's first son was born. Two years after, Aretha gave birth to her son Edward.

In the years that make up the start of the Franklin Clan, Aretha Franklin signed to Columbia Records and moved to New York. Moderate success would be found in the next five years of her music career. In 1961, Aretha Franklin was married and conceived her third child, Teddy Jr., with her newly-wedded husband.

While moderate success is admirable, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records and, in 1967, released an album "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You" with a hit track of the same name giving Aretha Franklin her first Top 10 hit.

Following the great success of her 1967 album, Aretha moved on to release other critically acclaimed hit songs, including, "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Chain Of Fools" and more, earning her several Grammy awards and the cover of Time Magazine, where her nickname, The Queen Of Soul, was born.

To the outside world, Aretha Franklin was constantly moving up, but, behind closed doors, Aretha's personal life was struggling. Ms. Franklin has a history of arrests for disorderly conduct and reckless driving. She had also developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Franklin divorced her abusive husband, Ted White, and allowed the experience to serve as inspiration in the studio. Aretha was married and gave birth to her fourth son, Kecalf, in the 1970s. The relationship would end in 1984.

Along with her growing popularity as a singer, Aretha Franklin became a symbol of pride for many black Americans during the climax of the Civil Rights Movement. Many women, also looked to Aretha as a strong black woman that is living proof of what Black Women can be.

Aretha Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, becoming the first women to ever be listed.

As times changed and music continued to redefine itself, it became difficult for a soul-gospel singer to stay in the spotlight. Nevertheless, Aretha Franklin always found a way to release a hit that transcended the ever-changing boundaries of music. With collaborations, covers, an autobiography, and The Presidential Medal Of Freedom awarded in 2005, Aretha Franklin never left the minds of all who cared to listen and pay attention. She continued to inspire multiple generations and give breath-taking performances that reminded the world why she was, indeed, The Queen Of Soul.

Aretha Franklin spoke to hearts around the world with the utter of one subtle note. Her ability to stay relevant, no matter the age group, amazed but did not surprise. The world knew she was one of a kind. The world knew there was only one Aretha. Through the years, Ms. Franklin never altered to fit in and never strayed away from the type of music she wanted to produce for the happiness of others. Her name alone is a cause for celebration. The amount of records she holds is mind-boggling. Her music narrated, not only her personal endeavors but the lives of people worldwide. A personal connection can be made when listening to any of her songs. Aretha Franklin is a standing ovation within herself.

Little did the outside world know, Ms. Franklin had been battling illness for years, behind-the-scenes. Although occasional rumors would ring of her health, Aretha dodged all questions and killed all concerns with poise and a brilliant smile. She did not want the world to know of her health issues, no matter how small. A longtime friend of Aretha Franklin told People Magazine, "She has been ill for a long time, She did not want people to know and she didn't make it public." Word spread of a battle between Aretha Franklin and Pancreatic Cancer for many years, although, of course, no confirmation or details were given on the matter.

It started to become hard to hide the ailing condition of The Queen once shows frequently began to be canceled, due to doctors orders. Aretha had announced in February of 2017 that she would be retiring from music, but may take the stage at select events. Franklin was true to her word and returned to the stage in August of 2017 and at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's Enduring Vision benefit gala in November of the same year. Fans became highly concerned by the more than noticeable shift in Aretha Franklin's appearance.

A close friend of the phenomenal singer told TMZ, "she could go at any time," and mentioned that she was down 85 lbs. This information was given two weeks ago. Unfortunately, better updates did not follow.

On the morning of Thursday, August 16, 2018, The Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin passed away. She leaves behind her soul-touching music, a record of more than 20 chart-topping R&B; hits and 18 Grammy wins, and anthems that will live for ages. She is survived by her four sons.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and, while the physical body that is Aretha Franklin has moved on to Glory, the teachings and inspirations of her soul shall live forever. Like many idols before her, it is indeed hard to say goodbye, but let us be grateful for the time we had to witness the greatness that is Aretha Louise Franklin. May she rest in sound peace.

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