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'Star Wars' force finally awakens for fans around the world

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PARIS/LONDON “Star Wars” fans rejoiced at the chance to see the much-anticipated next instalment of the sci-fi saga on Wednesday as the movie began hitting cinemas worldwide, winning mostly glowing reviews.

Donning Stormtrooper and Darth Vader masks, dressed in capes and holding lightsabers, fans young and old turned out for screenings of “The Force Awakens”, some queuing for hours to watch the first “Star Wars” film in 10 years.

Parisian movie-goers got in line before sunrise.

“It is a phenomenon which goes beyond the film itself, it is extraordinary … An event like this cannot be missed,” said Benoit Alix, wearing a Stormtrooper mask.

Most critics heaped praise on the film in the first reviews, published on Wednesday after an embargo.

“As the best ‘Star Wars’ anything — film, TV show, video game, spinoff, what-have-you — in at least 32 years, ‘The Force Awakens’ pumps new energy and life into a hallowed franchise in a way that both resurrects old pleasures and points in promising new directions,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy wrote.

Rottentomatoes.com, which collects film reviews from across the world, had found only three negative notices out of 113 covered by 1400 GMT.

The movie, which stars veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as well as many newcomers, has been shrouded in secrecy.

“I was brought up with (“Star Wars”), I was practically bottle-fed with it,” jedi-dressed Quentin Encina said in Paris. “I have loved it ever since I can remember,” added the 24-year-old.

“For ‘Star Wars’, a sequel is a must,” singer Tim Omaji said in Sydney. “The story can’t end, not yet and I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Eager movie-goers gathered early at London’s Leicester Square ahead of the film’s premiere in the British capital later on Wednesday.

“I love (that) they could gather all the stars from the original movies together because that brings us a sense that they are staying true to the story and I hope they can achieve that,” Louis, a Brazilian exchange student, said.

“The Force Awakens” opens in most countries this week.

(Reporting By Sophie Kinloch in Paris; Anastasia Gorelova and Marie-Louise Gumuchian in London and Jill Gralow in Sydney; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens)


Source: R-HMovies

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Roll over Beethoven, Croatia's 2Cellos go for AC/DC

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LONDON If you were to list the great cello works, you’d probably say Vivaldi, Bach and Haydn and skip AC/DC, Michael Jackson and Coldplay.

But then that would be before you heard Croatian duo 2Cellos tear up the rule book to give the instrument a rock-star makeover.

Classically trained cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser became overnight Internet sensations when their low-budget video of Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” went viral in 2011, getting three million hits in two weeks.

Fast-forward a few years and they are now worldwide headliners in their own right, and released their third album earlier this year, having performed and collaborated with the likes of guitarist Steve Vai, Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

“We were young and played classical music with lots of energy, but we always had this rock animal inside of us,” Hauser told Reuters before a show this week in London.

The pair cite Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and English cellist Jacqueline du Pré as early influences. Then their musical tastes expanded to Jackson and later AC/DC with its lead guitarist Angus Young. Hauser goes so far as to incorporate a few Young-style antics into the pair’s stage show, – at one point dropping to the floor and circling around on his back, all the while never missing a note.

“We’ve shown all the different possibilities (of the cello), especially when it’s combined with classical music. Who would combine (Gioachino) Rossini opera with Iron Maiden,” Hauser added, referring to the duo’s fusion of the “William Tell Overture” and the metal band’s “The Trooper”, which opens their new album “Celloverse” and kicked-off the London encores.

The show started on a gentle-note with beautiful renditions of songs by Sting and U2, but once the opening notes of “Smooth Criminal” sounded, the crowd went into a frenzy, which only grew as the pair rocked their way through hits from Nirvana, Guns and Roses, and of course AC/DC.

The audience – from children to pensioners – even rushed the stage.

A high-energy jaunt through The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” saw the two try to beat Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at their own game.

But the pair bristles at the suggestion they are a covers band. “When we do something we want it to be something special, something unique, we put our own stamp on it,” Sulic said.

Sulic said much of the classical musical establishment appreciated what the group was doing. “We introduce classical music, especially to the young generation. The kids love what we are doing, we inspire them so the teachers are happy and the parents are happy.”

Cello bows shredded, it was time to take it down a notch in London to end the evening with an impromptu Christmas Carol medley sing along and an elegant rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on the G String”.

Regretting the missed opportunity to collaborate with Jackson, who died in 2009, Hauser said the pair would instead like to work with someone unexpected like American rapper Eminem.

“Imagine hip hop and cello. That would be intense,” he said with a grin.

(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)


Source: R-HMovies

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New "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" lets women take the lead

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LONDON The male-centric universe of the original “Star Wars” gives way to a woman warrior and a female version of Yoda in the much-ballyhooed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” that will inevitably take the planet – this one – by storm as it opens this week.

The timing is probably right for a new female superhero, now that Jennifer Lawrence has wound up her stint as the archer Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” movies.

Enter little known British actress Daisy Ridley as the loner Rey, ekeing out a subsistence living as a scavenger of spaceship parts on the planet Jakku.

An invasion by a squad of Stormtroopers, loyal to the militaristic “New Order” that has replaced the Empire of yore, suddenly puts her on a new career path: getting off the planet as fast as possible.

She does this in tandem with fellow British actor John Boyega, who plays Finn, a Stormtrooper who deserts when he is sickened by the carnage of the film’s opening military assault on a desert village.

They are two of the three new main characters. The other one is a new Darth Vader-esque masked villain named Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver.

The torch is thus passed to a younger generation in a new trilogy of the franchise that started in 1977 with George Lucas’s first “Star Wars” and which the Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) acquired in 2012 for $4 billion.

But loyal fans also are going to love this for everything that is not new, from the return of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, his sidekick the Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), the robots C-3PO and R2-D2, plus a cute new roly-poly one called BB-8, familiar spaceships and the plot line that sets up yet another Oedipal conflict between father and son.

Some dialogue from the original films that critics called flat but which has seeped into the world’s collective consciousness is reprised word for word – getting laughs from a screening audience.

“We’ve got company,” one of the characters says when the Stormtroopers invade Jakku, looking for a map that everyone, from the New Order to the Resistance led by Carrie Fisher’s character, promoted to General Leia, wants to get their hands on.

The possessor of that map will know how to find the missing Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker – Mark Hamill’s character – but to say more of that would be a spoiler of the First Order.

What is not a spoiler – and is no doubt what the Disney people would like everyone to know – is that this is a “Star Wars” that is not afraid to shed tears – those being Rey’s. But she is also a woman who can fix a spaceship condenser (or whatever) in no time flat, and seems to catch on to using a lightsaber a lot faster than Skywalker did way back when.

Lupita Nyong’o plays the goggle-eyed Maz Kanata, a dispenser of Yoda-like wisdom who runs a souped-up version of the famous Wild West galactic bar in the first “Star Wars.”

There is even a female Darth Vader-like character played by Gwendoline Christie of “Game of Thrones” fame, whose blond hair just peeps out from under her mask-like helmet.

“A woman always figures out the truth – always,” Solo confides to Finn early in the film. In this feminized “Star Wars” universe, even the Wookie Chewbacca, who took a strong dislike to the young Princess Leia almost 40 years ago, sees a place at the spaceship controls for Rey.

(Michael Roddy is the Entertainment Editor for Reuters in Europe. The views expressed are his own.)

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


Source: R-HMovies

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