Thursday, December 24, 2015

5 x 5 Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So, I guess this blog wouldn't be earning its keep if I didn't say something about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

1. I saw the original movie on the second day was released - I guess that would have been May 26, 1977 - and I can still remember the frisson of excitement I felt as a movie-loving college student and SF fan at the opening scene: man, those effects blew 2001 right out the water. I liked the movie a lot, but I never became a fan in the popular sense of the word. I saw the sequels as they came out, I saw the execrable Phantom Menace later, and skipped the rest, and have never more than dipped a toe in the Extended Universe.  I understand that there are apparently people who are wee bit more invested in the franchise than I am.

2. If the intent behind of this film was for Disney to let all the aging die-hard fans see that the original look and feel of the movies is back, that they can ignore those nasty prequels, wrap themselves in the familiar, and know that everything is going to be okay, then I imagine that they have succeeded. Almost the entire movie is a callback and/or a shout out: plot elements, comic relief, set pieces, all of it.

3. I might be too harsh a critic on that front, as I had similar issues with the second Star Trek reboot movie. But I think it a fair assessment to say that even accepting that context and approach, the film does not fully exploit what should have been the emotional climax of the film involving two main characters.

4. I also wonder how this nostalgia-based strategy plays with the fans of the extended universe, who are familiar from comics, books, cartoons, and web content with a vast array of characters and settings and circumstances far removed from the original trilogy. I guess it's working out, since the movie has already made a jillion space-dollars, but it seems counter-intuitive to me.

5. All that said, I will watch any movie that has Rey daringly doing some derring-do. Finn was cool and I liked him, but Rey is awesome.