Unless you’ve been a hermit for the past couple of years, you’ll be aware that a new Star Wars film is on the way. Recently it was named as The Force Awakens and today the first teaser trailer for this film was released:

It’s impossible to get major impressions of this film from one brief glimpse, though I would dare say my initial impressions are positive. The look of the ships is faithful to the original films and there’s the impression this is a ‘lived-in’ galaxy, rather than the more plastic-looking prequel trilogy.

There are some moments of intrigue. The villain (presumably villain) is walking through a dark forest with a unique new lightsaber design. Who is the guy in the Stormtrooper armour in the middle of a desert? Who is the girl on the landspeeder? Finally, how do we interpret this talk of the Force awakening?

The teaser has done its job – it has whetted the appetite. Now we just have to wait for more.

I’ve recently been engaged in a brief discussion with someone about a particular film, Titan AE. It’s wasn’t a particularly memorable film in my book, not terrible, but not especially good either. It might score 7/10 in a pinch, but only in a pinch.

I digress. The discussion concerns whether Titan AE can be regarded as a violent film. After all, it features earth being destroyed, which would involve the deaths of billions.

If examined from a military POV, yes, the act of destroying a planet is violent. This is not however, how film makers and raters define violence. There is no disemboweling, beheading or limb chopping. No is being burned alive, or tortured or raped.

(Film are also defined by nudity and language, but that’s rather by and by in this instance).

There is also the necessary distinction between the outlandish sci-fi setting of Titan AE and it’s fantastical technology, and realistic or true stories which involve genuine consequences (such as WWII stories). One is the portrayal of unrealistic events in an unrealistic setting and the other is something far more relatable. The authorities that rate films take this sort of thing into consideration.

There is the argument that the bad guys in Titan AE act for no good reason when they destroy earth. I disagree. Whatever claims the Drej make about being invincible are just that – claims. The events of the film demonstrate they are vulnerable and it’s established that the Titan Project was seen by the Drej as a potentially significant threat to them. To the Drej, a first strike policy is the best defence.

Now to quote directly from this discussion:

Are you out of your mind?  Titan A.E. should have been rated at least PG-13 instead of the PG rating it got.  If I were a dad, I would not only bar my kids form watching such a movie, but also teach them to despise Titan A.E. for its incredible and sometimes “clean war”-style barbarism.  I would not let my children play with war had I been a father.

The big thing here is simply that I would not restrict my daughter so unnecessarily, and I wouldn’t encourage her to hate things at all, let alone to the point of such enduring hate and fixation on a movie. I think I know which premise is more psychologically harmful in the long term.

Avengers_Age_of_Ultron

So the first trailer is up for Avengers: Age of Ultron. This will be the second of the Avengers films, following on from the 2012 film and the various films that have followed (such as Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

There were some interesting moments in a trailer that was more about intrigue than action – Ultron, in what appeared to be a state of disrepair, staggering toward our heroes, Thor grabbing Tony Stark by the throat – people doing ballet??? Hulk fighting a souped-up Iron Man suit, and some few faces too… plenty to ponder, and to look forward to.

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I have rarely enjoyed a film as much as I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy tonight. From the funny little dance we get from Quill at the start of the film, to his funky moves at the end, this film keeps things refreshingly light and yet also manages to offer up real heart. You warm to all the characters – from the surprisingly eloquent Drax to the wise-ass that is Rocket, to Groot’s innocence, Quill’s badboy ways and Gamorra’s quest for vengeance, each character has something of worth.

The bad guy is a little flat but we don’t get to see enough of him, which is a shame as he could have been an interesting enemy. That said, he offers a few good scenes of malice.

The scope of the film is huge and both the sets and CGI work is top-notch. The film is beautiful, with lots of strong attention to detail.

I also loved the soundtrack. The use of 80s songs rather than a traditional score makes the film seem more down-to-earth. I loved this film and it is one of the few I would consider seeing at the cinema again.

I don’t usually go too nuts about upcoming films. Yeah, there are a few I’ve been excited by (Star Trek 09, Star Trek into Darkness, Revenge of the Sith, The Avengers), but as a golden rule I don’t go nuts for films.

That said, there is one film I am very keen to see next year – and no, it’s not Star Wars.

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I can’t say I’ve been too much of a follower of Marvel comics. Sure, I was aware of most of the characters, but the whole saga was on the edge of my awareness.

Since seeing the first Iron Man film back in 2008, I’ve developed more of an interest in this little universe Marvel are building. Whilst not every film has been amazing, they have generally been good, and the ambitious project will reach eleven films when Age of Ultron comes out.

I am very much looking forward to this film, though first I need to get around to seeing Guardians of the Galaxy!