Monday, December 28, 2015

STARS WARS -- my review

Okay, by now everyone who’s been dying to see the new STAR WARS has seen it (twice). No SPOILER ALERTS necessary. I won’t divulge any surprises. Hell, I’m still confused over several plot points – little things like “Where the hell are they now?” and “Who’s that person?”

But overall I really enjoyed the film. To me it felt more like a reboot. It’s the original STAR WARS but with way better dialogue and vastly improved special effects.  All that's missing is the bikini.

I must admit I’m not a STAR WARS freak. I did love the very first one, and saw it in preview so I had no expectations. I had no idea what I was about to see. And it really rocked my world. The next two were… good. And then either they all got worse or I just didn’t give a shit anymore. I recall seeing one later one in IMAX and being bored to death. I passed on the last two or four; I don’t know which. It was all just a blur of explosions, Natalie Portman, and Muppets.

So J.J. Abrams had a tough assignment. Could he satisfy the hardcore fans and re-energize an almost 40 year-franchise? The answer is a resounding YES. He did it by going back to what made those original films great. True, that often meant recreating scenes they’ve already done, but I think the audience was just relieved to see “Star Wars” again and not Jar Jar Binks.

They were also ecstatic to see the original cast. Abrams did this with his STAR TREK reboot as well. Bring in familiar Vulcans like Leonard Nimoy to help pass the torch. So too with STAR WARS. Loved seeing Harrison Ford and Chewbacca (who’s aged well, by the way). And Carrie Fisher (who’s been through more shit than Princess Leia.). Mark Hamill appears and gets second billing. (May the force of good representation be with you.)

But the real standouts were newcomers Daisy Ridley and the droid. These were breakout roles for both. I’m sure when Spielberg watched the film he said, “Damn, that droid would have been great in LINCOLN as Thaddeus Stevens.”

The other highlight was John Williams’ iconic score. And to Abrams credit, he was not afraid to lean heavily on it, reprising familiar riffs at key times. As opposed to Guy Ritchie who went out of his way to change and destroy THE MAN FROM UNCLE, Abrams embraced what was thrilling about the STAR WARS franchise. That stirring music blaring during an eye-popping galactic dogfight made the theater shake. Well done, sir.

From what I understand, STAR WARS fanatics are satisfied, which can be a taller order than saving the universe. And for us casual fans, it was a fun rollicking two-hour thrill ride. Is it the movie of the year? It had the largest opening in history and continues to set boxoffice records. More people will see it than all the other Best Picture nominees combined times ten.

So no.


Daniel said...

I'm a huge Star Wars fan (I was four-years-old when the original film came out, so I was the exact right age to fall in love with the franchise). I even love the prequels (well, I love 2 and 3. I like 1). So now that I got my bona fides out of the way...

I liked "The Force Awakens." It was entertaining. But I didn't love it. And I think the reason I didn't love it has to do with Ken's comment that it felt like a "reboot." This film isn't a reboot. It's part seven in an ongoing story. As such, it has certain responsibilities as a story that a reboot doesn't have. A reboot can start over. It can mine the past for what worked and remake it while wiping the slate clean. A sequel, on the other hand, has a responsibility to move the story forward, to show us things we haven't seen before. To take us forward in directions we haven't experienced yet. This story didn't do that. All it did was repeat the same story beats of the original film from almost 40 years ago. Did it do that well? Yes. In many ways I think it tells those story beats better than the original film. But it didn't move the story forward. It didn't give a raison d'ĂȘtre for its existence (other than to burnish Disney's coffers).

I would have been happy with a full-on reboot or remake. But call it that. Do what "Man of Steel" did and start from scratch. But as a sequel I thought it failed.

Tobi said...

Re: The biggest opening EVER!!!
Doesn't this have a little something to do with how WIDE it opened? A friend, wintering in North Miami, told me it ran on all the available screens over the first weekend. They couldn't even find anything else to see for a few days. Even in the multiplexes. Then, everything went back to normal and they were able to see Brooklyn. ( a real treat, by the way).

I'm still waiting for the crowds to dissipate. For people of my vintage, the nostalgia is not only for our own fondness for the first film. It's also for the memory of how thrilled our children were when we took them to this movie. It was a great era for these kinds of films. Remember the thrills of Close Encounters and ET?

You properly acknowledge the significant contribution of the theme music. All of those films were buoyed by their magnificent scores.

Brian Phillips said...

Hello, Ken!

I didn't see Star Wars, but I did watch the pilot for "Open All Night".

There are eight episodes currently posted, however, neither of the two that you wrote.

jcs said...

I enjoyed the film, but "reboot" is a very kind term to use for this film.

A cute robot that carries a top secret message? Check.
A battle-hardened father figure that gets slain? Check.
A Jedi master who lives in seclusion and needs to be located to save the universe? Check.
An inhabitant of a desert planet who has a nebulous family history and turns out to a potential Jedi? Check.
A Death Star with a weak spot? Check.
A drinking hole at the end of the universe populated with scoundrels from all over the galaxy? Check.
A masked heavily breathing dark knight? Check.
A father-son conflict? Check.

Hey Mr. Kasdan, George Lucas called and he would like to get back the copy of the original script (STAR WARS - A NEW HOPE) that you borrowed.

Peter said...

"Okay, by now everyone who’s been dying to see the new STAR WARS has seen it (twice)."

Twice? Pah! Seen it three times and plan on seeing it a fourth.

Yes, it does have a lot of callbacks to the first one, but I thought it was a perfect balance between the familiar and the new. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I don't mind admitting I got choked up with emotion when Luke Skywalker appeared.

The BB-8 droid is not only adorable, it shows how a non-human character should be handled in contrast to the way the hideous Jar Jar Binks was delineated. Abrams infused BB-8 with more character and likeability just with a tilt of its head than Lucas achieved by giving Binks reams of loathsome dialogue which he must have thought would be hilarious once audiences saw it. "Mesa Jar Jar! Okey day!" Puke.

One note of dissent, though, Ken. Empire Strikes Back was merely "good"?!! Outrageous!

VincentS said...

I saw the movie last night and I agree with you, Ken - especially your comments regarding John Williams' score. Nothing boggles my mind more than a reboot or sequel that takes out the most iconic parts of the original. Last year there was an attempted musical stage production of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO on Broadway with an entirely original score - they ditched Maurice Jarre's LARA'S THEME! I think it closed in previews.

Danny T. said...

I liked the STAR WARS movies okay. I liked this new one. I'm not just nutty over them, though. I've never gotten that. A guy in my office has seen this new one nine times and said he burst into tears when he saw Luke Skywalker again for the first time. He says he plans to see it several more times. See, I don't get that. Like I said, I liked the movie. I liked all of them. I don't have orgasms over them, though. I doubt I'll see this one again until it shows on home video.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Saw it last night in a theater so crowded, my wife and I sat waaay apart, but the $26 dollars for a buck's worth of popcorn made us feel so much closer...

I liked it. It was good for someone who pretty much missed all of the sequels/prequels/Idon'tcarequels in between. Fun to see the old friends again.

Only one 'say what?' moment was when Finn (John Boyega) says he worked for the sanitation department. ?? Why couldn't it have been Accounting or something? Same effect: little knowledge of the interior of the target. Aw, maybe I'm just gettin' old, but still...

Can't wait to choke on a SW action figure in my next box of Flakes for Ancients.


May the Farts Be With You

Johnny Walker said...

My girlfriend and I absolutely LOVED it -- and she's not a sci-fi fan at all. We watched "machete" order of Star Wars movies (IV, V, II, III, VI) in preparation and were totally primed to see how on earth JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt (who surely deserve some mention in your review, Ken??) could manage to continue the saga, introducing new characters, and just overall interpret the Star Wars universe. My expectations weren't high.

They did such a brilliant job that I feel like it's the sequel I've been waiting for since I saw EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (the best of the Star Wars movies). It was just brilliant in every way, and was actually better than some of the original trilogy (which just makes me wonder how anyone calling themselves a Star Wars fan could nitpick it -- this was much more enjoyable than RETURN OF THE JEDI, never mind THE PHANTOM MENACE).

The creators did a brilliant job of not only creating a new story, but also creating new characters... that I ended up caring about. In fact, I'd say it was possibly the old characters that felt more out of place.

The new cast were all fresh faces, hired for their ability to play the role, rather than star power, and they did a great job. They helped sell what JJ Abrams was apparently going for throughout the film: Transporting you to a completely different universe, a million miles away from ours. Pure fantasy, just like people experienced in 1977.

Towering on top of all of this was Abram's masterful direction. I had worried that it was going to look too different from the other movies in the saga, that it was going to be a STAR TREK style lens-flare overload. I needn't have worried. While it is very different to the way Lucas directed, I found myself not missing the largely static camera (and especially not missing the endless political discussions in CG corridors of the prequels). This world felt ALIVE.

Abrams has apparently made as much with practical special effects (as opposed to computer generated) as possible, and it really makes a difference. The result is a much more grounded universe than ever before -- Star Wars has never felt more like a place you could go and visit.

I think this sense of reality makes Star Wars much more approachable than it's ever been before, too. That, along with the charismatic cast and much appreciated injection of humour, make me think that *anyone* could enjoy this movie -- provided they go in with a somewhat open mind, at least.

Despite it being very long (almost as long as this review), I wanted more the moment it ended. My only concern now is that the franchise will fall into less capable hands. These guys clearly got it. They knew how to make it work, and they did it, against all odds. They captured the magic that many of us thought had been lost... but because Disney wants to churn these things out as quickly as possible, they've handed the reins over to other directors already.

Yes, Rian Johnson is brilliantly talented, but I just don't want any more Star Wars disappointments -- Abrams and company have shown they know how to make it work, Rian is going to have to prove himself.

Still, this was the best experience in a cinema I've had all year -- and somehow the 3D actually made it better, too. I don't know how, as it never has before. Brilliant job all round from everyone involved!

Johnny Walker said...

PS - It's funny seeing people claim this is a "reboot", or that it "stole" from the original movie. Those people apparently haven't watched the original in a long while and are getting a bit confused. For a start, many of the allegedly "stolen" things are simply knowing nods to the fans (like space bars filled with interesting characters -- hardly a plot point), or themes from the entire saga (father/son issues). And yes, it has a "Death Star" in it, but so did RETURN OF THE JEDI. In fact JEDI has many of the things in it that the first film did (desert planet, droids with secrets, etc.) but nobody calls it a reboot. (If George Lucas can lazily bring back the same weapon and just make it bigger, I don't see why Abrams and company aren't allowed to -- at least this one was slightly different, in JEDI it's literally the same thing.)

Also, considering that Lawrence Kasdan was responsible for writing many of the things that some individuals are claiming he "stole" (he co-write EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI) it's especially silly.

Ryan said...

Some of you people are insane.


Hundreds of years from now when the rest of the crap movies people call "classics" have rotted into dust and been long forgotten, THE FORCE AWAKENS will be celebrated as one of the finest artistic achievements in all of man's history.

If the goal of making movies was to someday make the greatest movie it will ever be possible to make, then they could stop making movies right now. No one anywhere at anytime will EVER make anything better than this. Don't even bother trying. You can't.

See it. See it ten times. See it a hundred times. You will never... ever... ever... EVER... see anything better.

Covarr said...

I would give this movie a solid 7/10. I was looking at IMDB and it seems like the vast majority of reviewers gave it either a perfect 10 or a 1... and I kinda suspect most of those reviewers decided in advance how they were going to feel about the film before they saw it.

It wasn't perfect by any means. It had a few serious plot issues, and some very ADHD pacing (seriously, the movie is nonstop), but despite its problems I still enjoyed it. It had heart, the characters had personalties and depth and interesting relationships, and it was in most ways a better film than the vast majority of action movies over the past decade (to be fair this is mostly a testament to how much the genre has sucked lately).

All in all, I liked it. It was good. Not great, not perfect, not bad. Good.

Scott Mumford said...

I'll read this in detail after seeing the film.

What I REALLY want to read is your reaction to The Hateful Eight. As a Tarantino fan, I was....well, see it and let's talk.

Howard Hoffman said...

I'm gonna wait until it comes out on DVD and they replace all the music with public domain tracks to save money.

Canda said...

To our friend Ryan above who said, "No one anywhere at any time will EVER make anything better than this", I can only ask if this was subtle sarcasm, and mocking the fans, OR have you never seen CASABLANCA?

jcs was on the mark above by mentioning all the similar points in this film from previous versions.

Feels like were off on a similar arc to the original three films, too.

Chris said...

I enjoyed it. I grinned during the opening crawl, spent the first twenty minutes or so being a cynical bastard about it and somewhere after that I just went along for the ride. I admit I was choked up by part of it, so it was a success on that level.

I'm amused that I saw this and Hateful Eight during the week, both films that are so much of their own particular styles or genres that I have a hard time discussing them while comparing them to other films. So my recommendations to my friends have to start with "Do you like Tarantino?" and THEN we can talk things out.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I decided Disney + 40yo franchise = remake I could skip. I may see it eventually, but not in any hurry.


Johnny Walker said...

jcs was completely off the mark -- several of the points he claims were in the original film weren't actually there (and only appeared in the sequels written by... Lawrence Kasdan -- so I'm not sure who would be asking who for what script back).

Les said...

I saw Star Wars as a kid and loved it, from the moment the introduction appeared on the screen and you needed to read faster than the writing disappeared, but am not a Star Wars freak. My question for Star Wars lovers is: does the first movie still hold up as a fun experience? I saw it a few years ago and it seemed painfully slooooow. Still damn innovative, but plot-wise very slow. I think they were stuck in the garbage compactor for half the movie.

And the prequels stunk because I was more scared of 10 real life Storm Troopers than I could ever be of 100,000 CGI bad guys (I think Lucas just fell in love with the technological aspect of film making while totally forgetting that acting and an actual story count). I have not yet seen the Force Awakens but I hear JJ Abrams understood and corrected this.

Tim W. said...

First of all, I was a huge fan of the original (NOT the recent trilogy) and loved the movie. I did feel, however, that it was in many ways a reboot with too many parallels to, especially the first movie. So much so that when the "death" happened I had seen it coming from a mile away because I saw the parallels from the first movie.

That said, I'm excited that the franchise seems to be back in good hands, again and can't wait for the next one.

blinky said...

The new Star Wars, now with a super sized Death Star, a Slacker Darth Vader, a Jabba-like fat guy in the cool bar scene with every strange creature from the prop department, thousands of evil Stormtroopers reenacting the 1934 Nuremberg Nazi Rally scene from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will.

My snarky review:
A lot of time is spent on getting the old gang back together again. No Jar-Jar this time, maybe episode Vlll if we are lucky. A lot of things have not changed after 30 years. Catwalks over giant chasms still do not have safety railings, hello OSHA! Stormtroopers still can't shoot straight. Cute little droids still have not mastered English and speak in beep-beep binary. A major character, rhymes with Sans Bolo, gets light sabered to death. I am guessing his ex, rhymes with Princess Heya, will get hers in Episode Vlll. Not to worry, because in episode lX after a new species of Ewok Teddy Bears vanquishes the Stormtroopers, they will return as a happy ghosts from The Force Afterlife to reunite with their slacker Vader spawn who will definitely get his in the third reel of the last episode.
JJ Abrams really is king of the remakes. No lens flares in this one though...

Glenn E said...

The message should be abundantly clear to all residents of the Star Wars universe: Beware of family reunions on catwalks. If you should find yourself approaching such entanglements, please consider moving over to the nearest billiard room.

Sincerely, Dark Side Property Mgmt.

MikeK.Pa. said...

"As opposed to Guy Ritchie who went out of his way to change and destroy THE MAN FROM UNCLE."
Ritchie did that the day he cast Armie Hammer, who also destroyed another iconic TV series figure - THE LONE RANGER. Like Jennifer Aniston, I wonder how Hammer gets film work. Talk about good representation. Mark Hamill, who I thought would become the star Harrison Ford became, might want to switch to Hammer's agent.

DBenson said...

Liked it a lot, even if it was a bit too eager to do over stuff from the original. There's a potential Robot Chicken sketch in the notion that the bad guys keep going back to the Death Star plan:

--"Okay. First Death Star, blown up. Second Death Star, blown up. Who's got a new idea?"
--"Another Death Star."
--"Uhm, yeah. Anybody else?"
--"No, you don't get it. We make it BIGGER. I mean, WAY bigger."
--"Go on."
--"We make it so damn big, we can have trees and snow on it."
--"I like what I'm hearing ..."

Diane D. said...

I haven't seen it; I've never been a big Star Wars fan, although I did like the first one. I suspect the thing I'm going to like best about this one is the review you've written of it, which had me laughing from the first paragraph, "Where the hell are they now?" to the last paragraph, which consisted of two words--two little words--that rhymed--and were the last two words to a hilariously snarky question/answer. And the Thaddeus Stevens/LINCOLN reference, OMG. I'm not a writer so those things may not be as funny to someone whose talent rivals yours, but I'm just grateful for the immense enjoyment I get from this blog, and that includes some of the commenters.

jcs said...

Johnny W.,

Holster your blaster and sheathe your lightsaber. First of all, I enjoyed many of Lawrence Kasdan's flicks. I don't care whether he will write a sequel to his film THE BODYGUARD since he's the guy who penned RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC. I greatly appreciated the "nods" in VII, especially the accidentally activated table-embedded board game aboard the Falcon.

All my points refer to A NEW HOPE, but plots re-surface within the original trilogy. The droids (and Luke) are searching for Jedi master/father figure Obi-Wan in A NEW HOPE. I wasn't referring to Luke trying to locate Yoda in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, although - admittedly - that would have been a much better comparison.

After the last three STAR WARS episodes - which THE NEW YORKER's Anthony Lane compared to food poisoning in his recent review - I was quite happy about VII. I thought it was very original to explore the human side of a stormtrooper with a conscience and make this a central plot point. Kudos for that, but the rest of VII contains a lot of recycled material. You can call this hom(m)age, sampling, "nods", reboot etc. The bottom line is that there certainly must be other, more original stories the script writers could have pursued. The universe can't be that limited.

It was good entertainment, but I think it should be taken cum grano salis.
(By the way, Vader wore a mask for purely medical reasons, but why Kylo Ren?)

Bob in Southfield said...

I saw the movie this (second) weekend and the there were hundreds of empty seats for a prime Sunday evening showing. I agree that it seemed like a reboot, or that certain checkboxes were listed and one by one checked off. It was enjoyable if all too familiar.

One thing that seemed off to me was the Finn character, taken from his parents and trained to be a Storm Trooper, had no problems killing scores of other Storm Troopers. Minor quibble.

A major problem I had with the movie was one that Ken praised. The score was WAY TOO LOUD and intrusive over the dialogue. I usually don't notice the score as it enhances the movie. In this film it's like adding too much black pepper to the fish--it overwhelms, not complements it.

All in all, it's a good movie and a great reboot.

Johnny Walker said...

jcs What "father-son conflict" was in A NEW HOPE ;)

Harold X said...

Not so much a reboot as bringing audiences up to speed and introducing new characters to carry on in the sequels. Plenty of in-jokes for the fans, and a strong cast for Episode VIII. I have no complaints, and will probably see it again in a while -- gee, I hope it stays in theaters for a while.

Harold X said...

Sorry about the double "for a while."

Joe S. said...

I agree with your review quite a bit - but I must say I'm surprised by your praise of John William's score. As a HUGE fan of William's scores, I was quite disappointed with this one. While it was nice to hear the old themes again, there was no new major theme that I can remember. As bad as the newer trilogy (the prequels) were, the one great thing was the absolutely epic scores -- just listen to "Duel of the Fates." I walked away without humming a single bit of music, which was very disappointing.

YEKIMI said...

The next one will have Luke Skywalker not wanting to have anything to do with either the First Order or the Rebels and will have squadrons of his lawyers flying out to issue cease and desist orders and filing complaints about stalkers with whatever court has jurisdiction in the matter. R2D2 and C3PO willo finally quit bickering like the two old guys in the TV show "Vicious" and get married, thereby setting off all the Kim Davis clones that were created when she was ejected from Earth and found floating through the galaxy holding her breath. BB8 will be "best droid" and then hire himself out as a can opener over his unrequited love of R2D2. General Leia Organa will finally bitch slap the girl that's always hanging out behind her for stealing her "cinnamon bun" hair-do and be arrested and sentenced to riding on the coat tails of the people who did all the actual dying while blowing up the Death Planet. Chewbacca will develop mange and lose all his hair because of the constant complaining of his new sidekick, Rey, about his shedding and the "dog fart smells" that she cannot get out of the Millenium Falcon no matter how many windows she opens. Finn will continue to fake that he is in a coma until he gets injury pay. Kylo Ren will become the new creepy face of the fast food chain "Burger Thing" hawking the new sandwich Roasted Han. Poe Dameron will be offered the presidency of United Galaxy Airlines & Spaceships after the board sees video of him flying through fire, exploding debris and sacrificing all of his other teammates and returning to his base only 10 minutes behind schedule. The First Order will finally be destroyed when they get the electric bill from GalaxaCon Edison for stealing the star energy to recharge their Death Planet and are driven into bankruptcy. Han Solo will be reincarnated as Jar Jar Binks son and immediately commit suicide only to be reincarnated as an Ewok.

WizarDru said...

"(By the way, Vader wore a mask for purely medical reasons, but why Kylo Ren?)"

In the various Star Wars alternate media, wearing helmets like that has become kind of a thing for bad guys. I thought Kylo Ren was actually a clever idea: you can't out-Vader Vader, so you go sideways and make your villain a Vader-wannabe, instead. He's wearing the helmet for three reasons: 1) it looks cool, 2)to give the audience a reveal and 3) he's emulating his grandfather in the most emo way possible.

DBenson said...

Last note: Peter Mayhem was inside the Chewbacca costume again. Make all the jokes you want about the wookie looking good for his age, Mayhem must have stayed pretty healthy to suit up again.

Post last note: Reportedly they kept him surrounded with crew members on location for fear of Bigfoot hunters.

Johnny Walker said...

@WizarDru Glad I'm not the only one who came to that conclusion. It seemed obvious that in order for this to be VII (and not a completely new story) that it would need to have echoes what came before. For me Kylo was absolutely terrifying. An angry, lost young man clinging onto something (and worshipping something) he doesn't fully comprehend.

The Curmudgeon said...

My son-in-law Olaf is a huge Star Wars fan and he's mad at me for merely liking VII. Sorta, kinda liking it. Certainly better than the second trilogy -- I made it through II once -- couldn't stand the thought of seeing III. So this was certainly better than that.

Put it this way: J.J. Abrams did less violence to the Star Wars franchise than he did to Star Trek. So that's good. I liked the new trio -- although if the girl turns out to be who the Internet says she is, I think I'm done. I mean, can't the Smiths or the McGuillicuddys or maybe even the Goldbergs have the Force too? Please! There's billions of people out there and we can only have one family with the Force?

And speaking of billions -- what is this with blowing up entire planets? In the first Star Wars (OK, in IV), we blew up a single planet. Now we blow up multiple planets at once... that's progress? Such casual genocide. And we're supposed to think that the kid who's the #2 guy in the organization that blows up planets by the handful is redeemable? That we should want him to come home? Killing his own father was nothing -- he was complicit in killing 10 billion other fathers and nobody seems to blink.

What good is it to rule a universe if you have to kill everyone in it in order to gain control? Why do none of these bad guys ever think of that?

I had just gotten out of college when the first Star Wars movie came out -- and I was blown away by it. It was something really original... even if you could see all the borrowings... after all, everything comes from something else, right?

Maybe it's because I'm nearly 40 years older now, but it just didn't seem particularly fresh or original to me.

Plus I couldn't get past the thought that young Ben Solo looked an awful lot like a young Professor Snape....

I didn't hate it... but I think Casablanca's place in the pantheon of all-time great movies is entirely unthreatened by this bit of fluff.

Andy Rose said...

@Donald Benson: I know he was credited as Chewbacca, but I seriously doubt that Peter Mayhew was in the suit for anything but some standing and sitting shots. He is a bit stooped over now and hasn't been able to comfortably walk without a cane in years... there's no way that was him on film running or climbing a ladder. More than anything, his casting is just a nod of appreciation to Mayhew and another way to tie in to the originals to make fans happy. They gave the original R2-D2 Kenny Baker a BS "consultant" credit, although he was replaced by Jimmy Vee as the performer for the character.

Jennyfromtheblock said...

I'm in my 60s, so the first three Star Wars were a big part of my formative movie-going life. The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite. We went Christmas Day and I was happy to see my old friends making jokes and while older, less stiff than in the original three. Kudos to Abrams being a better actors director than Lucas. But, I thought it was way too long and around the 10 minute mark on the 15 minute clock to the First Order recharging their Death Star -- I thought "this is just silly." Maybe the 3D glasses were giving me a headache and maybe I was hungry, but I found myself not caring, just wanting it to end. Also, how many Nazi-like regimes are these guys gonna float until they realize they need to try something new???

I think Daisy Ridley is going to be a huge star and I want my own BB-8, but I'm not planning on seeing any of the sequels.

Maggie said...

Well, I'm a fan of the movies, and I was excited to see this new movie. However, I won't be paying to see any more of them. I never expect anything to top the original trilogy--my favorite is "Empire Strikes Back." I liked the prequels okay. I mainly found it interesting to learn more about the Jedi culture and see Yoda in action and how Darth Vader came to be. Stuff like that.

But this new one was so boring! I could see everything coming a mile away, and I am not a person who ever solves a TV mystery (or tries to) or ever tries to "figure out" a story. I just watch and go along. But this new Star Wars movie drew so heavily from the original three, I think the writer should be embarrassed for so blatantly rewriting them. And yet, the writer still messed up some fundamentals like Luke needing training versus the new girl who just picked up the light saber and did well. We saw in the prequels how Luke learned to fly, and the new girl says she's never flown before but does great. The new Star Wars lost the struggle and heart of the characters in favor of the Loud Noise and Bright Lights. I guess they figured we'd be so dazzled we'd forget that the story is really just a re-hash or Star Wars Lite.

Finally, the Han Solo moment. Again, all I could think is "You, of all people, know you should never walk out onto the bridge. No good ever comes from that." And it was just devoid of all suspense. Basically, I just thought Han looked like a fool, and he's a guy who made his life about being cunning and clever and living by his wits. And here he just looked like a daggum fool. Also, the new bad guy is not really scary or menacing. He's more of a petulant overgrown teenager. And he pulls the helmet off repeatedly which decreases the mystery and foreboding nature of the look. Vader had to wear it; this guy is literally using it as a prop or masquerading in it. (And the voice is not great. And what is with the Voldemort knock-off bad guy/bad special effects master of the new bad guy? Silly looking blob version of Voldemort.

Clearly, I watched this and saw some of the greatest hits of the original movies with some Harry Potter mixed in along with King Arthur/Once and Future King/Sword in the Stone.

Star Wars is a simple story and this kind of tale can be really satisfying to watch. But the characters need to grow and struggle and become skilled, so we can pull for them and worry that they might fail. And then you build a world (see J K Rowling). This really was nothing new.

And it's telling that I can't remember the main characters names well. I remember Rey--who by the way should close her mouth once in a while. I was bored enough to notice it's almost always open. (Maybe she has sinus problems and can't breathe through her nose? It happens to me. Or maybe she's trying to seem awestruck and it's ACTING?) (I had a lot of time to think about this during the movie.)

I guess I can look forward to finding out Luke is Rey's father or Han is or something like that. I guess Luke will train her in the next movie. And maybe he'll sacrifice himself to teach her about honor. And, of course, she'll have to battle it out with the new bad guy/helmet head or maybe blobby Voldemort in one of the movies. But I won't pay to see it. I'll watch it when it comes out on DVD. And I can borrow it from the library. Pretty sure I'll be able to stand it if I can take it in 15 to 20 minute stretches while folding clothes or chopping vegetables...Sigh.

Kaleberg said...

I thought it was a pretty good sequel and a great introduction for anyone who is seeing his or her first Star Wars movie. As I had expected, there was some recapitulation, but there's been a forty year gap since the last episode. The action moved right along and the writer and director respected the conventions. That was one of the great things about the original Star Wars, Lucas trusted the conventions. He didn't try to be particularly clever or creative. He realized that there was a reason certain story elements and characters worked and there was no need to change things just for the sake of changing them. As one character said to another in Children of Paradise, novelty is as old as the hills.

(To those commenters who were annoyed that the plot was predictable, avoid Kurosawa's Ran. It's just King Lear in Japanese dress. Talk about predictable.)