Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Sequel is the Prequel is the Original... yawn...

Analysis of The Force Awakens…

Or: the Sequel is the Prequel… all over again

Finally got to see Star Wars 7 on Christmas day… and it was fun.  Enjoyed it.  Hard to give it a rating because “it’s Star Wars” and not subject to normal ranking.  It was nice to be able to take my son and daughter to a first-run SW movie – spoiler free even – and just enjoy the experience.

And now to rip it apart.

The TV Guide line for this would be “An orphan on a desert planet meets a droid on a mission and joins the Rebellion to destroy the evil Empire’s giant superweapon and learns about the Force.”  Sound familiar? Really too familiar. I guess I am a classic Lucasian and not a new JJ’er.  I shouldn’t have been surprised: Jar-Jar Abrams took the best parts of the Star Trek movies and put them through a blender and relaunched a franchise – thank you sir – but really…. He seems to lack any logic and real “oh wow that blew my mind” ability.  Glad to hear someone else is doing #8 – but sadly, Jurassic World dude is doing #9 so it may be another “Hey, remember how you liked the first movie? Let’s just do that again.”

So we have a big ship over a desert planet – check. The whole Poe gets the map and puts in droid and tries to escape was good.  Liked Max von Sidow.  LOVED Kylo stopping the blaster bolt! Really think he should be bigger and have a better voice.  He takes off his mask – and it’s Gene Simmons’ son!  No, it’s that guy from “Girls”… which explains why when he’s face-to-face way too long with Rey, he brings out her power.  What a nice boyfriend… kinda funny looking, but an effective Dark Side dork.  All the other bad guys seem to be Nazi sterotypes – and I can’t believe Kylo doesn’t just kill the other non-sith weiner who bosses him around in front of the Big Boss. Lame villains overall.

Like Finn’s escape. He and Poe get 5 minutes together so they can pretend to be great friends later.  The new characters are distinct but didn’t really get a sense of who they are yet.  Oh well, there’s time… not like Rey will warp across the universe in 5 seconds and find Luke or anything.

BB-8 is very cute. Nice emotions… almost as good as Chewie. 

So why a desert planet… again? Why not a desolate rocky planet… or forest… or swamp… or tundra… or ANYTHING ELSE except having someone whistfully looking at the sky on a desert planet and wishing they were elsewhere… except Rey wants to stay there to wait for the parents who dumped her force-sensitive butt on… hey, she looks like Padmae… she uses the force…. Bingo – Luke’s lost love-child. Done. Solved.  No need for more movies.

Plucky character and plucky droid for instant bond and she turns down +money for it. I liked the fact that both good and bad were hunting the droid and Luke.  …. And we magically end up on the Falcon… do some loop-de-loops… and get found by Han and Chewie.  I guess all the star systems are really close together.  In fact, JJ did this in Star Trek – having Vulcan and another planet in visual range so you can torture Spock… evidently, the Starkiller planet is close to the Republic homeworld so it can be blown up ASAP and then target the Resistance base right away… because using ships wouldn’t work?

Ok… so besides the useless line of ‘oh, it’s sooooo much bigger than the old Death Star… because it is an actual planet they carved up to make it shoot lasers’… apparently, lasers than can travel faster-than-light and hit a planet far away…. And charges by sucking up a sun….  Hey, so they only got 2 shots from one sun? You build a HUGE weapon in a planet, charge it twice – and then it is useless?  Has it got a warp drive so you can move it to the next system and suck that star up? Ok, it worked in the first Star Wars (apparently, the Death Star is mostly superweapon and slow hyperdrive.) My point is – if Alpha Centauri was building a Death Star and shot it at our planet… we’d have about 4 years to evaculate. And if it only had 2 shots in it... that’s seems like a waste, even for the military-industrial complex. It must have some sort of hyperdrive… or maybe it uses super-space-wedgies to send it’s beams all over and them slowly float to the next star system.   Otherwise: there’s a guy who hates me on an island in the Pacific with a bazooka… and no way of getting off the island – I think I’d still sleep ok at night.

You know how if you put on Pink Floyd and Wizard of Oz at the same time, a lot of weird coincidences happen? I bet if you play A New Hope and Star Wars7 at the same time, you end up in the cantina at the exact same time. “Oh look, more aliens and cyborgs… and we found Luke’s lightsaber on Cloud City and brought it here so you can have visions of your father… I mean Luke.”  (I actually thought Kylo would have been Luke’s renegade son – but it works with Han as well.)  Nice interplay between Han and Leia – makes sense for their characters.  If only the Skywalker family would stop going “Hey, my relative kill a billion people on those planets… but I still sense good in them.”  I told the kids, if they kill a billion people, I’ll put them down like a sick puppy and don’t expect them to become a Force Ghost either.

Apparently, the storm troopers learn basic stick fighting in case they encounter a jedi… or an ewok? And no, C-3P0 – nobody wants to here about your arm.  Nobody even recognizes you – even Anakin who built you kept quiet on Cloud City.  STFU! And R2 has some data, but we can’t tell which system it is… unless we had some of them thar computer things and match the stars… we better wait until R2 wakes up because the galaxy is soooo big… except we can find Luke in 5 minutes when we want to.  You’d think in a universe this small that vacuum salesman would have found Luke already since the planets are all nearby….

I would have liked to see Finn and crew sneak into the base using the sewers…. Would have been sensible.  The whole time I was going “they are going to kill Chewie!”  Thank goodness it was only Han.  Makes sense – he was supposed to die in Return of the Jedi…. And was frozen in case Harrison didn’t return for the third one and they could just say ‘yep, he’s hanging around somewhere’…   and I’ll bet Harrison did a Leonard Nimoy thing and said “I’ll return one more time… but you have to kill me off”.  If he was Nimoy, he’d be directing the next movie! Sure seemed familiar with all that running around in corridors and NOT getting shot by Stormtroopers.

Han’s death makes sense – it is the ultimate severing of ties to your old good life if you want to embrace the Dark Side. The alternative would be Kylo going ‘yes, I will be good now, Dad” and walking off to hug his mom and be a rebel.  Ugh

Kylo is wounded, so that explains Finn not instantly dying in his duel with Kylo.. but apparently, the more you annoy Rey, the calmer and stronger she gets.  I told my daughter “if you are ever fighting a Sith and DON’T kill him when you have a chance, don’t bother coming home.”  I assume all the important bad guys – Phasma, Kylo, those annoying Nazis – all made it off the base safely since everyone is scheduled to appear next movie. 

I know everyone likes to bash the prequels… but this had the same feel for me… perhaps less even.  I ‘liked’ it, but it felt like a tv movie launch.  No real ‘oomph’, sad to say.

At least it will spawn a lot of cool toys and figures.