Monday, April 18, 2016

We Agree/ReWatch: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2015, JJ Abrams (Super 8) -- cinema/bluray

the return of the double colon (which sounds painful)

Nope, didn't do the geek tradition. Did not get out and see a Star Wars movie multiple times in the cinema. Blame it on age and life. Blame it on the meh.

But I did buy the Bluray in the first week, allowing for a first post AND a rewatch post at the same time.

The first thing I have to say is that, and you may slap me for this, but I think Abrams may have been setting us up for a Star Wars universe on TV with this movie. It just felt like it was framed and styled for TV. Its hard to find precise details for this thought, but many many scenes felt they were pilot episode stylistic choices. But then big sequences like the Millennium Falcon chase scene were too big for TV, so I am not sure. Anywayz, its a blog post not a review, so thought out in the open.

Holey Moley, it was that long ago, and Kent reviewed his cinematic viewing in December.

First up, the bad. For whatever reason, be it the marketing, the hype or the current era of spoiling everything but I did not experience the butterflies I usually have associated with that first blast of brass when a Star Wars movie begins. Right there, I knew I would be underwhelmed purely based on my own psychology.

This was not prequel fatigue. Despite my well known dislike for the second and third, I stand by my fondness for the first prequel movie. I dislike the story choices that were made in the latter thirds of the trilogy, but love the spectacle. But all that was to the wayside as I approached this movie, knowing it had dispensed with Lucas's bungling and was going in its own direction. But it's an entrance, a new entry point into an existing franchise. Not a reworking, like his Star Trek, Abrams uses this movie to set his tone, for better or for worse.

I am also kind of annoyed by Abrams singing a familiar song. He hits all the right notes, but they are familiar notes. Do we need another desert planet? Do we need the Death Star's bully big brother? Do we need another trench run? Do we need another sage diminutive alien? Expanding upon that, I realized that I had very little to be awestruck by. Each movie has something unseen to show us, something unfamiliar. If Episode IV had the desert and the Death Star, Episode V had the snow battle and Episode VI had the forests. In The Phantom Menace the planet of Naboo is amazing to see, and even my dislike for the other two cannot discount the wonder of Coruscant and that amazing orbital battle. But here, we get sand planet, Death Star analog, Luke analog, Darth Vader analog, Yoda analog, trench run and destruction of Death Star. The familiarity overshadows the incredible wonder of that crashed star destroyer.

So, I like the movie, a lot, but I was not given chills.

What do I like? Because I have gone for a couple of paragraphs about what I didn't like? Well, despite being another loose clothed orphan on a desert planet, I love Rey. I love her self sufficient, anti-whiner attitude as she scavenges for saleable parts in the wreckage the previous generation's war left behind. Imagine being able to still find parts 30 years later? And she falls into the hero trope without a thought for herself.  I love Finn, because he is everything that is NOT Star Wars. He is a second guesser, not sure of himself, a hero by moral choice and he flies in the face of every character that came before. He is different. Poe Dameron, while being the best pilot in the galaxy and an ace agent for the Alliance, is a great character but I think is a bit of an egotist. His claim, "my work here is done," as they fly away from the exploding Death St.... er, Star Killer Base is a little dismissive of everyone else who was there? I think he is probably going to fall a few notches as the series continues. 

As previously said, I love the ruins of the star destroyer, I love the scene of the X-Wings speeding over the waters of the lake, I love the peek inside the new Empire and its shaky dynamics. I have always said it's easier to complain than explain what I love. But what I really love is that this movie is all about setting up a world for Rey and Finn. No, I don't definitively see love-interest, but I see them going from obvious small players to big players, and not just by chance, like Luke. They are going to actively choose their destinies, choose to expand their own roles.

That said, the Rogue One trailer gave me chills.