Sunday, November 29, 2020

Home A & E Film Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Photo provided by Disney Studios.

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The first part of this review is a general overview of  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” free of spoilers. Below a fold will be a bit more specificity. Finally, after one more fold, I’ll give flat-out details that may spoil your viewing experience. So the more you read, the more know. You’ve been warned! And I counted only maybe a half-dozen Abrams Lens Flares and nine Lucas Wipes!

Although the prequels are a low bar, yes “The Force Awakens” is more akin in quality, scope and aesthetics to the original trilogy and much better than its woeful prequels. Say what you will about J.J. Abrams as a storyteller, but his stuff looks good.

Obviously it’s a kick to see the original cast, to say nothing of hearing that theme music again, and even seeing the tie-fighters and x-wings battling in newfound glory. It wouldn’t have worked as well if it had been a reboot with new actors in the old roles since there’s a huge nostalgia factor at work.

Although newcomers Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) all do well, cheers will erupt when Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) first appear; they’re the real stars of the film, and provide most of the humor as well.



But to get more specific, few films can put a smile on your face with an opening tile crawl. Thankfully, this preamble is fairly concise, but nostalgia also softens the problems with the film, specifically it being a recycle of the original in many respects, including more amazing coincidences that allow for the narrative to continue.

After a disturbing start that shows the Stromtroopers are basically the heartless SS of a Nazi Empire (now called The First Order), they once again prove to be the worst soldiers available, bumbling fools incapable of hitting anything that needs to be missed for the sake of the story.

Described as garbage and all but forgotten, the Millennium Falcon amazingly fares crazy well against multiple and more-advanced ships with a new pilot and a green soldier who barely knows how to work its clunky guns. Use of the Dark Side is spotty at best, jettisoned right when it would be a better idea to just choke someone from across the room. Outright monsters destroy every bad guy in their way, but decide to simply capture the good guys and allow ample time for escape. And don’t forget the grade-school level exposition, over-explaining every little connection and character motivation.



But could anything live up to “Star Wars: The Hype-Machine”? In 2013, both Carrie Fisher (General Leia) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) supposedly had begun a vigorous regimen of diet, exercise and stunt training to prepare for their roles. It turned out to be more mere hype, since neither do more than stand around and chat for their scant screen time (with Hamill doing less than even that).

But can fans admit that it falls short? I’ve seen way too many perfect A scores for “The Force Awakens”, which tells me no; it’s too hard to separate yourself from the source material and the original experience to admit that “The Force Awakens” is just another in a series of J.J. Abrams’ redo’s.

“Super 8” was basically “E.T. The Extra Terrible”.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” was “The Wrath of Khan Again.”

And now “The Force Awakens” is a “Star Wars” retread, complete with a doe-eyed hero stuck on a planet of sand waiting for something more… indispensable Resistance intel hidden in a droid to keep it from the Empire… good guys captured and tortured by the bad guys for their knowledge of the intel… the bad guys have a ship the size of a moon that can wipe out whole planets with a single shot… the Jedi have vanished to the point that most consider them myth… the apprentice of a famous Jedi serves in the evil empire while he struggles with the dual nature of the Force… a father-figure is killed by light sabre wielded by someone he used to trust… the big bad Death Star-ish ship blown up by small x-wings that fire on an obvious target out in the open… all culminating with a new apprentice in need of training approaching a seasoned Jedi Master.

We waited 30 years for the same basic story?

Hmpf. At least it looked good and had the original cast. Without that, we’d all be crying ripoff.

**1/2 stars 

135 minutes 

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence 

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Writing Credits: Lawrence Kasdan (written by) & J.J. Abrams (written by) and Michael Arndt (written by), George Lucas (characters)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill , Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Mayhew, John Boyega, Kenny Baker, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Greg Grunberg, Christina Chong, Simon Pegg

Rich Bonaduce is Vice President of the Utah Film Critics Association, co-host of “Critical Mass,” a Salt Lake-based movie-review show, and a contributor to Read more of his reviews at

Mark your calendars! Our 12 Days of Giveaways starts Dec 1! ✨⁠

With giveaway items from local businesses such as @gotbeautydotcom, @woodhousedayspa, @cactusandtropicals and many more, you won't want to miss this! 🎁⁠

Here's the idea: ⁠
⭐ Tag a friend on our giveaway post who you believe should win the giveaway item! The person you tag is then entered to win! (Friends can tag one another) 💑⁠
⭐ Be sure to follow us (@slmag) and the giveaway provider on insta! ⁠
⭐ Entry deadline will be at 10PM. The winner will be announced at 11:59PM and a new prize will be posted at 8AM each day. ⁠

#giveaways #win #contest #christmas #gift #holiday #12daysofgiveaways #slmag

A holiday letter from our editor, Mary Brown Malouf:⁠

"It’s the season for celebration. And let’s face it—it was a bad year for cheer. Nevertheless, though masked and socially distanced, we will join together again this year in love and joy for one another. We will clink glasses, feast, toast to a better future and enjoy what we have, taking care to live in the moment. Remembering the good times in the midst of the not-so-good and pledging to support one another."⁠

Have a wonderful and safe holiday. Cheers! 🥂⁠

To read the full letter, go to the link in bio.

Happy Friday! We all know the best way to celebrate the end of the week is with a cocktail 😉! ⁠

🍸 And our next highlighted cocktail is the perfect way to start your weekend. @alibislc's 'Far From The Tree' by Clif Reagle:⁠

1.5 oz. @shdistillery Bourbon⁠
1.5 oz. Utah Honey and Akane Apple Shrub⁠
.25+ oz. @waterpocketdistillery Snow Angel .25 oz. lemon juice⁠
Barspoon of simple syrup⁠
2 dashes Regans Orange Bitters⁠
Combine in shaker over ice, shake and strain into a footed glass. Serve with dried apple garnish.⁠

“My goal for this drink was to make it with as many local ingredients as possible,” says Reagle, “and seeing as the farm scene is pretty quiet in November I decided to go with a classic method of fruit preservation: the shrub.⁠

VOTE VOTE VOTE AWAY! Grab our magazine, grab a cocktail (or make it yourself) and get voting. Cheers!🥂⁠

Link in bio to vote and learn more about Clif Reagle!

Yes. Thanksgiving is going to be different this year. So instead of stressing out to prepare a meal, help support local restaurants who need our love this Thanksgiving. 🦃⁠

Restaurants are doing what they can to make this Thanksgiving seamless for us. With offerings of curbside pick up, meal kits, and even delivery, ordering out this Thanksgiving seems like a no-brainer.⁠

Oh and did we mention no family-sized mess to clean up afterward? That’s a win-win in our book. 😉 Check the link in bio for full list of restaurants. 🍽️

Don't forget to vote in our 2020 Cocktail Contest!! 🍸🍹🥂⁠

Our next highlighted coktail is @thecopperonion's “Not Today Satan” by Frank Mealy:⁠

1.5 oz. @shdistillery Bourbon⁠
1.5 oz. pear shrub (Champagne Vinegar/Earl Grey simple 2:1)⁠
.75 oz. lemon juice⁠
Preheat glass with hot water. Mix ingredients, pour into the hot glass, top with hot water and garnish with cinnamon stick, star anise and dried pear.⁠

Mealy is a full-time bartender for the Copper Group. “Inspiration for this drink came from the expectation that we’re going to be running our outdoor patio season longer because of Covid.” People are more comfortable sitting outside, Mealy says, “So I wanted to make a hot drink for the colder months.”⁠

VOTE VOTE VOTE AWAY! Grab our magazine, grab a cocktail (or make it yourself) and get voting. Cheers!🥂⁠

Link in bio to vote and learn more about Frank Mealy!

Our 2020 Cocktail Contest is live!! 🍸🍹🥂

We’ll be highlighting our cocktail contest contestants throughout the next few weeks. Starting with @takashi_slc’s “Red Dirt Garden” by Crystal Daniels:

- 1.5 oz. Amaro Bilaro
- .5 oz. @shdistillery Barrel-strength Rye
- .75 oz. Lemon juice
- 1 oz. Red rice orgeat made with @redbuttegarden botanicals
- Pinch of Jacobsen Salt from @caputosmarket

Daniels garnished her cocktail with banana leaves and an edible begonia- if you can’t get the begonia, another colorful edible bloom will do. 🌺

VOTE VOTE VOTE AWAY! Grab our magazine, grab a cocktail (or make it yourself) and get voting. Cheers!🥂

Link in bio to vote!

Did you know that the first woman to cast a ballot in the United States voted right here in Salt Lake City?

In 1870, on her way to work as a schoolteacher, Seraph Young stopped by SLC’s old City Hall—right across from the Capitol—and made history as the first woman to vote under a women's equal suffrage law.

Like many of us, Young voted early in that election simply because she had to get to work on time. Her story reminds us of the power ordinary people have to make history. Now, get out and vote!

Photo: Ron Fox

Our November-December issue is on stands now!!⁠

And our annual cocktail contest is open for voting! Take all precautions, support our hardworking hospitality community and remember to smile. 🍹🍸🧉⁠

Pick up a magazine, grab a cocktail and vote! Happy November, everyone! ⁠

Check the link in bio to vote.

Trick or treat? COVID cases are getting scary.

111K confirmed cases and 601 deaths in Utah.

Link in bio for a little op-ed on face masks. 😷

Here in Utah, we live on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute and Ute Tribes. Today we celebrate the people who first called this land home. We remember the struggles and tragedies they endured and recognize the fight for justice and autonomy that Indigenous Peoples still face. ⁠

Go to the link in bio to give to Diné Bikéyah and support Bears Ears. 🏜️