Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Slut Shaming of Melania Trump


It’s been quite a while since I blogged. Election night I nearly fired one off which was more full of expletives than content. But, better judgment prevailed, and I went to bed instead.

Over the last four days I’d decided to forgo comments on the election as there are certainly plenty to go around. But, something has come up in the last few days that has caused me to break my silence. Sadly, it doesn’t even have to do with the election itself..

Rather, it’s about the usage of images Donald Trump’s wife posed for years ago. Years before they’d ever met, and when she was living in London.

For the few that have no idea what I’m talking about, prior to meeting her husband, Melania Trump was a model. She posed for a couple nude photo spreads, one even included another woman. This was 21 years prior to the election, and before she had ever met her husband, came to the United States or became a United States citizen.

During the election a spat flared up between Trump supporters and those of then presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Someone posted unflattering, non-nude, photos of Heidi Cruz, which was countered by nude photos of Melania Trump. Arguments went back and forth about who started it. Things seemed to die down as other more important controversies reared their ugly heads.

But, things changed once Trump’s stunning upset happened.

I have seem multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter by people asking if she was the type of First Lady we wanted? The posts usually included Trump’s nude photos. These posts were typically done by people who would label themselves Liberal, and some who even made the point they were Christian.

When challenged on why they felt the need to post the photos, answers varied. Some said it was to illustrate Trump’s double standard of conservative Christian values only to marry a porn star. Some it was to compare her with the current First Lady, Michelle Obama, showing a lack of class in Trump.

But, I’m not buying it. The zealousness of which they’ve been posted suggest it’s being done as some kind of weird retribution against her husband winning the election.

The term slut-shaming was first coined in Finally, a Feminism Blog 101 way back on April 4th, 2010. It can be defined as “…the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual…” Certainly, nude photos could fall under that broad definition.

One person clarified she didn’t have anything wrong with her posing nude. But, if that’s the case one has to wonder about the logic of using Trump’s photos in such a bad light, especially when being used to emphasize a point against her husband.

Probably the most common form of slut-shaming occurs when ex-boyfriends or husbands post photos of their former lovers. Photos, which the women never intended to see the light of day outside of the bedroom. They shared their most intimate images for whatever reason, likely with the idea it would be only between them and their closest friend, only to have that trust broken after the relationship went sour.

People have sued, and those lawsuits have decided in their favor. Posting such images, without a person’s consent, is a violation of privacy and could be considered defamation.

Granted, Melania Trump was paid for her photo spreads and the images are readily available on the Internet. But, I will argue that what people are doing with her photos is just as bad and tantamount to slut-shaming.

Further, let me ask this.

To you mothers. If your daughter gave an ex-boyfriend photos, and he posted those, would you think that was OK? After all she gave them to him for his pleasure. Of course not.

To you husbands. If your wife’s ex-boyfriend posted photos of her on the web without her permission, how would you feel? I’m betting pretty angry.

What is the difference between those two scenarios and what you’re doing when you post Melania Trump’s 21-yr-old nudes considering they weren’t given directly to you?

There isn’t any.

You might respond with “Well, she was paid for those. She knew they’d be freely available; especially the ones in GQ Magazine.”

Interesting argument. But, the thing is that YOU didn’t pay for those photos. Someone else did.

It’s time for you to look at your actions if you are one of those that chose to use these photos, or are considering doing such.  Look deep down inside your soul at what your true motivation was. Ask yourself had your candidate of choice been in the same circumstance would you have been so eager to post the photos? If the answer is no then you’ve illustrated my point.

Let me close by addressing the suggestion that I’m just some typical white male Trump supporter. I will say that Donald Trump was not my first choice for president, and leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And the Oscar goes to… (2016 edition)

movie_and_popcornHere we are again. The annual blog entry with my thoughts on the Best Picture nominations at this year’s Academy Awards!

Please note that, with the exception of seeing The Revenant in the theater, I watched all the films on DVD as they became available so reviews were written over several months.

Comments are based on personal preferences, and don't take into account popularity at the box office.

So without further ado here are my thoughts on this year's Best Picture Nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards presentation.

the-big-short-poster-newTHE BIG SHORT in the first part of the 21st Century, a rogue investor named Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) came up with a new idea to bet that the booming home mortgage would come crashing down. When things didn’t see to go as planned, a deeper analysis showed just how volatile the housing economy was, which eventually brought down some of world’s most prestigious financial institutions.

With it’s gritty language and occasional dialog where the characters talk directly to the viewer reminded me a lot of 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

A great ensemble cast transports me back to the ten years ago, when things were melting down. Particularly worth mentioning are Bale and Steve Carell, (Mark Baum).

At time, the language got to me. I realize it was part of probably part of the original novel and, no doubt, part of the high pressure investment banker environment. But, I got tired hearing it.

Bridge_of_Spies-poster  BRIDGE OF SPIES – During the Cold War, the US thought they were untouchable. Butt, then Francis Gary Powers got shot down without taking himself with the plane. Luckily, they had a card up their sleeve with a Russian spy locked up. But, could publicly make a swap over something neither side acknowledged as happening?

Tom Hanks knocked out yet another  strong performance’'; this time as James B. Donovan. As a person with no political experience, he had to use his trial lawyer abilities to make things happen the way he wanted them to go. Hanks knew when to act like a fish out of water, while at other times a strong force driving the agenda.

For any history buff, this was a great film. It had the look and feel of the period it was set in. It did seem at times to be a bit slow, like a slowly boiling tea kettle.

Brooklyn_1Sheet_Mech_7R1.indd   BROOKLYN –  In 1950s Ireland, a single girl, seeing no hope in her native homeland, is sponsored for emigration to America, where she flourishes in her new surroundings.

The movie is based upon the award winning 2009 novel of the same name, by Colm Tóibín.

Relative newcomer Saoirse Ronan gives a stellar performance as Ellis Lacey (pronounced A-lish). This was her first adult role, and she carried it off fantastically. Her seemingly always moody portrayal lasts throughout most of the film, where she’s challenged by those around her, thinking they know what’s best for her. But, there’s a believable glimmer of hope when things change for her.

Unfortunately, it had a relatively short running time, and left me wishing for more interaction with her family and the Americans who befriended her.

Mad-Max-FuryRoad-poster   MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – In a post-apocalyptic world rival bosses control the limited supplies. One person breaks ranks and tries to escape her bondage to find a better place. Along for the ride is Max, who was captured while wandering the wastelands.

Trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice, George Miller dusted off the Mad Max franchise. In the 31 years since Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was released there have been tremendous advances in movie making. Had they not have been, this film would’ve been simply an addition to the cult series.

What made this so popular was the virtual non-stop action filled with lots of explosions, extraordinary costumes and vehicles set in out of this world-looking environments, and a loud ear piercing sound track.

Deservedly so, it won most of the Oscar’s technical awards. But, any of the actors could’ve been replaced with others, and nobody wouldn’t been worse for wear. That’s saying a lot considering the main actors were Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.

Was this really Best Picture nomination worthy? No. While it was certainly entertaining, it was pretty much devoid of much of a plot, and was just a chase film from beginning to end.

the-martian-poster   THE MARTIANA sudden storm during a manned mission to Mars sends the crew scrambling to escape before disaster happens. Unfortunately, during their departure one of them appears to have been killed.

The next morning astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) wakes up to find he is alone, with what’s left of their base camp in shambles. Through ingenuity he’s able to survive and even communicate with NASA, sending the organization into a race against time to rescue Watney before supplies run out.

The first trailers of this reminded me of a 1960s sci-fi flick, Robinson Crusoe on Mars and I expected most of it was going to be just Watney’s struggles. However, it had a fair balance of screen time from a good crop of supporting actors.

Jordan’s Wadi Rum, with it’s vast scenery and rust red sands, was a perfect stand-in for the Martian surface. 

revenant-leo  THE REVENANTHugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a frontiersman hired to guide a fur trapping expedition into the untamed wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. While guiding the group to a nearby fort, he is brutally savaged by a wild grizzly bear, and eventually left for dead by his the party.

This was a gorgeous film. There are plenty of shots which really didn’t do anything to add to the story; just art for art’s sake.

It’s probably not too far of a stretch to say this was DiCaprio’s most strenuous acting gig, and I’d probably say it might be his best role to date.

One thing that disappointed me was to come home and read about Glass, only to find out a good chunk of what was in the film was fabricated out of thin air. As long as that doesn’t bother anyone you should thoroughly enjoy this film.

I do have to warn everyone that if get sick at torture and mayhem, you might get really ill with the beginning where Glass is mauled by the bear. It may be the most graphic movie scene I’ve ever watched. The good news is that if you make it through the first half hour of the film, you’re probably going to make it through the rest.

room-larson-poster-gallery   ROOM An 11ft by 11ft room is the entire world for Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) . While there’s a door and a skylight, those are windows to the World, a place they’re forbidden to go. Their only contact is Old Nick (Sean Bridges), the provider of everything they need.

This was Emma Donoghue’s first feature length script, and based upon her award-winning 2010 novel of the same name. I have a special place in my heart for screenplays which are penned by the author of the original work.

To be honest, I found this film slow. VERY SLOW! It took a good 20-30 minutes before we finally found out why they found themselves in this predicament. I expected it to pick up at that point. But, it really doesn’t. The latter of the film moves along just as slow.

Larson won this year’s Best Leading Actress Award. Her portrayal is fine for the role, and I haven’t seen the other nominees’ performances. But, it didn’t leave me dumbstruck. The real gem of this film was 9-yr-old Tremblay, who knew nothing of the real world. His innocence was believable, and I look forward to further things from him as he matures as an actor.

Rounding out the main cast were veterans William H. Macy and Joan Allen, as the parents. Great talent. But, anyone could have probably played these roles, and had just as much impact on the film.

The film wasn’t bad. But, was it really one of the best eight films from all of last year? Not so sure.

spotlight-poster  SPOTLIGHT – In 2001 the Boston Globe’s special investigative unit, Spotlight, turns it’s attention on a sexual abuse case from several years prior. What first appears to surround one priest, eventually exploded into one of the most horrific scandals in American history, including the cover up to try and sweep it under the rug.

This is certainly one of the best films of the year, and can probably be said of the last decade. The richness and depth reminds me a lot of another investigative journalism movies, All the President’s Men.

It boils along slowly as the team uncovers fact after fact about the scandal, until they break things wide open in the blink of an eye.

A great ensemble cast, anchored by Mark Ruffalo (Mike Rezendes), kept me interested from beginning to end.

* * *

So what would have been my choice for Best Picture?


This was probably the easiest choice for me over the last four years since I started my post-Oscar reviews. Despite the creepy subject matter, it kept me interested from beginning to end without having some kind of flaw.

The only other film that did that was Mad Max: Fury Road. But, I just don’t consider that one Best Picture material because of the simplistic plot.

Previous entries:
And the Oscar Goes to… (2013 edition)
And the Oscar Goes to… (2014 edition)
And the Oscar Goes to… (2015 edition)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Is this really a Gouda idea?


The last few years Frito-Lay has run the Do Us a Flavor campaign, where people could submit flavor concoctions they savored. Some were wonderful, while others left any sane person scratching their head.

Alas, they’ve come up with a new idea  for 2016 called Flavor Swap, which matches four current flavors vs. four newcomers; let the “best” flavor win, with the losers being banished to potato chip history.

I still hold out hope that someday Sizzlin’ Shawarma will be on most grocery store shelves across America! But, until that day arrives, and in the interest of do diligence, I offer you my critique of the new flavors, and how they hold up against the old standbys.

* * *

Smoked Gouda & Chive vs. Cheddar & Sour Cream

SMOKED GOUDA & CHIVE: Pleasant aroma. But, I’m not picking up smoked Gouda. I have to try really hard to pick up a Smoked Gouda flavor too. At first taste, it actually reminded me of a light Camembert. Not what they were going for, I’m sure. Any chive was lost on me.

CHEDDAR & SOUR CREAM: With one whiff from the open bag, there’s no question what this flavor is supposed to be. The aroma of medium cheddar is readily obvious. As for the flavor, while the cheddar is definitely there too, the “sour cream” part makes it not as obvious.

WINNER: Cheddar & Sour Cream

No question for me here. There was no doubt of the cheddar flavor when having the older variety. While the Smoked Gouda & Chive wasn’t bad, it just didn’t hit me with what it was supposed to be like the newcomer.

* * *

Fiery Roasted Habanero vs. Flamin’ Hot

FIERY ROASTED HABANERO: Pretty nondescript aroma. More potato aroma than habanero. Slight smokiness to the flavor. Not as strong as I’d expected. Spiciness is there. No question about the heat. It hits you almost immediately when you start eating. Not a blast furnace. But, a pleasant level of heat. None of that terrible bright orange dust I honestly expected to see.

FLAMIN’ HOT: The ambiguous name leaves a little doubt of what it is exactly supposed to be. Perhaps jalapeño? Slight peppery aroma to it. Chips have that artificial bright red color to them. Heat takes quite a while to build up compared to the habanero version. More smoky flavor here, though there’s an underlying hint of a BBQ sweetness which  really didn’t belong.

WINNER: Fiery Roasted Habanero

I like the heat better in this one, along with the more natural color. The flavor is closer to peppers than the Flamin’ Hot.

* * *

Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs vs. Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

OLIVE OIL & HERBS: Opening the bag there’s a wonderful herby aroma of rosemary and thyme. The herb flavor you get is light and compliments the olive oil flavor. It’s not overwhelming, which is a good thing.

SEA SALT & CRACKED PEPPER: The salt is pretty light, just enough to compliment the pepper. The pepper is clearly there. Not very hot when you first taste the chip. But, there’s no mistaking it as something other than freshly ground black pepper. I like the thickness of the kettle cooked chips. Surprisingly there’s no really oily flavor to them, as some kettle-cooked chips can have. I’d buy these again, especially with some plain sour cream to cool off the black pepper.

WINNER: Olive Oil & Herbs

As much as I like a good salt & pepper chip, the perfect balance of the olive oil and herbs is definitely a keeper!

* * *

Korean Barbeque vs. Honey Barbeque

Let me preface all this by saying I LOVE BAR-B-QUE! There’s something like the fall off the bone goodness of slow smoked pork ribs and brisket.

KOREAN BARBEQUE: Odd aroma. It’s not huge so you might have to go looking for it. But, it’s there, and I’m not exactly sure what it’s supposed to be.

Flavor-wise they start out delicate. But, as you eat more, first comes soy and sesame, followed by roasted meat (reminded me more of chicken than the beef on the bag label), garlic and other spices. Finally, the sweetness follows on the backend. After all is done, I’m left with an aftertaste that definitely reminds me of Korean BBQ.

HONEY BARBEQUE: The aroma is muted at best, and not even as noticeable as the Korean one was. Plus, it really didn’t scream BBQ to me.

There’s no “meat” flavor in this one. It reminds me of a light version of the BBQ chips I had way back in elementary school, just minus the red powder that always used to decorate your hands after sticking them deep into the bag.

WINNER: Korean Barbeque

Truthfully, pretty much a wash. But, since the Honey BBQ is so close to normal BBQ flavor, I think I’ll be voting for the Korean version just to get some variety.

* * *

So overall, it seems I liked the newer flavors better. But, it could have went either way on a couple. I’d suggest the new campaign was a flop, and didn’t peek my interest like trying new flavors did. But, marketing did accomplish one thing. I ended up buying eight bags of chips, compared to the four I did each of the last couple of years.

You have until this coming Monday, March 21st, to cast your votes at

Friday, January 8, 2016

movie review: The Hateful Eight (70mm)

(reviews may contain spoilers for those that have never seen the film or are unfamiliar with the characters.)

* * *

THE HATEFUL EIGHT – 70mm Roadshow Edition (2015)

Eight strangers take refuge in a lonesome roadhouse, waiting for a blizzard to pass. All they have to do is wait it out. But, that might be easier said than done.

* * *

The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarintino’s second homage to the Spaghetti Western genre.

The 70mm Roadshow edition includes an additional 20 minutes, with an opening Overture and Intermission, like the olden days of theater. While I could’ve done without the intermission, it was neat hearing Ennio Morricone’s overture music, which was straight out of his earlier works, such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West.

Tarantino and Cinematographer Robert Richardson made the daunting decision to film this in Ultra Panavision 70 format.

The normal aspect ratio of high definition televisions is 1.78:1, meaning that for every foot tall it is, it’s nearly two feet wide. The Hateful Eight’s aspect ratio is 2.76:1, making it a short, but very wide image. This extremely wide screen lends itself to magnificent vistas, yet gives the cinematographer enough latitude to keep both actors in a closeup conversation.

To understand how unique that is, one has to look at the very short list of films shot in that format. The Hateful Eight is only the 11th film ever to be shot in UPV70, and the first since the Charlton Heston epic Khartoum, back in 1966, when I was a wee lad of one-year-old. All the lenses had to be rebuilt, and camera bodies were retrofitted to mount them.

The 70mm film stock adds a pleasing grain texture to the film (yes, I said grain!) which is something you don’t see in most of today’s digitally mastered films.

My theater seat was up near the projection booth, so I could actually hear the film passing through the projector; the sprockets methodically clicking along; adding to the old school atmosphere. 

When the film starts we’re treated to a long slow moving shot which takes us from a closeup of an old wooden cross to the rugged snow covered scenery of southwest Colorado. All that undisturbed whiteness actually gave me a chill, and I had to cover myself with my coat to keep warm.

But, with all that said about the scenic gorgeousness, you’d better soak in the first half hour of the film, because once that’s gone you’re pretty much cooped up inside a single-room roadhouse for the remainder. But, Richardsom makes good usage of the wide format inside; even in the extreme closeups.

The ensemble cast is incredible, including Academy Award nominees Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern.

Jackson’s familiar sarcastic wit is riddled throughout the film, and plays well against the drier characters. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him nominated again for an Academy Award. (1995 – Best Supporting Actor – Pulp Fiction).

While all of Tarantino’s characters were fascinating, he seemed to take a particular interest in building up Maj. Marquis Warren’s back-story (Jackson), particularly when playing opposite Bruce Dern’s character, a former Confederate General.

Playing somewhat second fiddle to Jackson is Kurt Russell, as the bounty hunter John Ruth. While Jackson’s Warren is impeccably dressed, John Ruth looks more at home deep in the mountains, with his thick animal pelt coat, and big handlebar mustache. At 65-years-old, Russell still packs an impressive theatrical punch in his acting.

At first I didn’t care one way or the other for Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue. It seemed like she was just along for the ride for most of the first half of the film. But, once the intermission was over, Domergue became more pivotal, including a very important exchange between Daisy and the local sheriff, (Walton Goggins).

Now a word about violence. Anybody whose either seen, or heard, about Tarantino’s films knows there’s going to be a fair amount of violence, and this was no exception. If you’re squeamish about blood, torture and general mayhem, The Hateful Eight probably isn’t for you. Or putting it another way, Count Dracula would be a well-fed 400 pound fat man if he’d drank all that blood shown in this film!

And I’d be remiss for not mentioning the foul language. While there wasn’t a huge variety of it, there was a tremendous usage of the word “nigger.”

I purposely spelled that out above to make a point.  If you’re offended by my single usage of the word in this review, you’ll be leaving the theater absolutely livid. Tarantino received quite a bit of heat for its liberal usage in Django Unchained. You might have thought he would have toned it down a bit here. But, it’s the exact opposite. Of course, Samuel L. Jackson gets in on the act too, so in retrospect I’m not sure why I was surprised.

There are a couple of death scenes which had theater goers laughing. I even chuckled a bit at Tarantino’s exaggeration of reality.

Besides the above-mentioned intermission, there were a couple other things I might have not done. Tarantino divided the film into six chapters, and took the time to display the chapter and chapter name on the screen. This added nothing, and broke up the flow.

Additionally, when we came out of the Intermission we were greeted with Tarantino’s voice reviewing some of what had just happened. Tarantino’s East Coast accent is more suited for a Jersey Mob flick, than a Spaghetti Western. I understand what he was trying to accomplish. But, it just sounded unnatural.

I haven’t been mesmerized by a three hour film in quite some time. I went in knowing it’d be violent, and I accepted that. It’s a stylized homage to the westerns of the late 1960s, not an attempt at portraying a real life story, which another theater-goer suggested to me after we were leaving.

If you particularly like westerns, I’d definitely seek this one out, and if you can see it in the roadshow version, choose that.

RATED: 8.5 out of 10 STARS

* * *

The Hateful Eight is currently showing in nationwide release. A full listing of show times and locations can be found at Fandango.

The 70mm Roadshow Edition is in very limited release, and according to one of the workers at the Grand Lake Theater, they will be the only Bay Area theater showing the extended version in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

movie review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster(reviews may contain spoilers for those that have never seen the film or are unfamiliar with the characters.)

* * *


Over thirty years has passed since the epic battle around the Moon of Endor. Since then, the Dark Side has regained power with a new secret weapon which is designed to bring the Republic to its knees.

* * *

It’s safe to say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most anticipated film to hit the silver screen in quite some time.

In all honesty, I wasn’t necessarily as eager to run out and see this film, as I had been of the previous six. With the exception of Star Wars: A New Hope, I had seen them all on opening day.

Part of the reason was that ever since the announcement that J.J. Abrams would be helming the latest installment of the franchise I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was never a big fan of Lost, and I think it’s an abomination what he’s done to the Star Trek universe.

I am happy to say that Abrams pretty much stuck with the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality with SW:TFA, and didn’t try to rewrite canon. Had he done so, I think he’d have been mercilessly crucified by the fan base, as opposed to the Star Trek fanbase, which seems to have embraced the overused crutch of time travel to get rid of things he didn’t like.

But, with all that said, perhaps Abrams embraced that safe comfort zone a little too tightly.

SW:ANH started out with a battle in space around a desert world, where the forces of evil are looking for some stolen plans. The good guys escape the planet to deliver the plans to the Rebel Alliance where they launch a last ditch mission to destroy the ultimate weapon.

Flash forward 38 years later to SW:TFA. Forces of the Sith have come to a desert world to find some lost plans, and attack a defenseless world. Good guys go on a quest to bring a droid, which has the plans in its memory, to the latest incarnation of the Alliance, where an epic battle is waged to destroy an ultimate weapon. Along the way they stop by a cantina loaded with all sorts of creatures, and later someone dies.

Sound familiar?

This film was neither a remake, nor a reboot. It was supposed to be a continuation of the saga, so they could have stretched their creative minds a bit more with little damage to the franchise.

Right after the show’s familiar credits scrolled into the distance we were greeted with by Star Wars – the Next Generation.

Relatively little known John Boyega and Daisy Ridley easily step into the shoes of the new franchise standard-bearers. When Lucas cast SW:ANH he made the conscious effort to hire little known actors for Luke and Leia. I’m glad to see Abrams followed suit with Finn and Rey. Both characters have a genuine innocence to them, and I look forward to watching them grow as I did Luke and Leia three decades ago.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the new bad boy on the block, dressed all in black, with an odd helmet and faceplate which reminded me more of Shredder, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, than Darth Vader, though we are force-fed an homage to Vader in case we didn’t already figure it out. Ren’s major trademark is his red lightsabre equipped with two small guards reminiscent of a pirate’s broadsword. I guess they felt the need to make it unique. But, it looked cheesy compared to Darth Maul’s double-bladed weapon.

Of the major players, I think Driver is going to really need to grow. Not necessarily his acting. But, the character itself. Throughout the film I kept looking for a break out moment. Frankly, I was more interested in the danced around back-story of the character than what actually took place on the screen. The penultimate encounter with Han Solo was predictable, though I’m not sure it could have been written any other way to further the plot along.

I have to admit at being disappointed at the lack of screen time and dialog for Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, Wizards vs. Aliens). If Captain Phasma doesn’t have a major part down the road she’s going to be remembered as this trilogy’s Jar Jar Binks.

Six of the major cast members are reprising their roles. A cheer went up within the theater as we got our first glimpse of a graying Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and the silky haired Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Despite the hair color and wrinkles, Ford hadn’t lost a step.

The banter between Solo and Rey was nicely done, and I became quickly comfortable with watching them, and I never really thought about it being newcomer and veteran, nor a passing of the baton, so to speak.

Mark Hamill’s screen time was extremely limited, at times seeming like a spinoff off Where’s Waldo? When we finally encounter Hamill he looks more like Santa Claus than the nimble Jedi we all knew and loved. I can only imagine he’s going to have a much more integral part.

Leia (Carrie Fisher) has dropped her royal, in favor or the rank of general.  Reluctantly, I’ll admit that the first time she appeared on screen I turned to the guy sitting next to me and said, “Boy, she didn’t age well.” I wasn’t expecting her to come out in the little leather number from Return of the Jedi. But, I wasn’t expecting the frumpy dressed woman I saw, who looked at times like she might have forgotten to stop by the makeup trailer that day.

Adding insult to injury, she seemed to be going through the motions when delivering her lines. She’s definitely been relegated to a supporting role this time around.

Last, and not least, the Laurel and Hardy of the droid world, C3-PO and R2-D2 are back. Joined by a small round BB-8, which must’ve made the toy makers happy.

So did I like the film? Yes, though I didn’t have that familiar shiver flashing up and down my spine as I do when I really enjoy a film.

What’s important to remember is that this was a foundation for Star Wars by Disney. We’ve got two years to go before we see which direction the Mouse is taking it.

In the meantime, they’re already gambling by bringing us a prequel next December. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will takes us back to a time when many Bothans died bringing the Death Star plans to the Rebels. Not sure what to think of that.

RATED: 6.75 out of 10 STARS

* * *

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently showing in nationwide release. A full listing of show times and locations can be found at Fandango.