Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars (Force) Lightning Take




Tuesday I finally saw, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and I say finally because when a movie of this magnitude opens and you have to wait a few days, it seems like an eternity.

So after only seeing it once I thought I'd hammer out a quick lighting review of salient impressions while they were still fresh in my mind.

Initial impression, it was pretty good.

No not great.  When I tell people what I thought they seem perplexed.  "Not great?" they question.  As if I'm not sure in what I am saying.

I'm sure.

JJ Abrams seems to have a problem with other peoples properties.  Too slavish to the original material.  Give him his own thoughts and he usually nails it.  I remember his Star Trek sequel, "Into Darkness" and I don't recall it fondly.  In fact, when it was revealed that Abrams was going to reboot the Star Wars franchise I remember thinking, "Good luck to you people, he nearly sank the Trek franchise."

Full disclosure, I am Star Trek fan first and foremost.  It's not that I don't love Star Wars, I do.  But it came out when I was in college so it wasn't imprinted on my psyche like it was for so many that saw it in their respective childhoods.  So, any criticisms to follow you can take with a grain of salt if you like.  I prefer to take a more adult view of "The Wars."

What I did Like...

 
Whoever decided to cast Daisy Ridley as Rey is a genius (and if it was Abrams you all can pat yourselves on the back.)  

Rey is the emotional center of the movie and Ridley is brilliant in this role.  Her emotive quality is always etched across her face.  Whether it is in courage, sadness, joy or fear Ridley nails it.

We should be thankful she is the future of the franchise.

The Heart String Moments

 
Despite this moment being spoiled in the teaser it still pulls at your heart.  Believe me, you can feel it deeply.  Just seeing Harrison Ford as Han Solo sets off a cascade of warm memories.  Truth be told, this is almost his movie.  He is in it quite bit.  Quite a bit!




Yes, my heart swelled when I saw Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.  Yours will too if it already hasn't.  The reviews haven't been to kind to her.  Too bad.  Princess freakin' Leia.  (And I'm a Trekker remember!)  Echoes of, "I love you" and "I know" will ring in your head.




There is an action sequence at the beginning of the movie featuring the Falcon and it is utterly spectacular.  What an edge of your seat thrill ride.   I saw it in 2D (I tell people I wanted to see it in it's original format to be faithful to the original release.  I'm kidding.  The 11:45 a.m. screening was packed and the 3D at 12: was too.)  I can only imagine what a 3D version was like.  Guess I''ll have to go back.



John Boyega has real comedic talent.  With humor, timing is everything and he has it.  I think they tried to add a romantic element to his character but I have to say I didn't feel it.  No, it wasn't the forced PC nature of it.  It just didn't feel organic to me despite the lead up to the two characters involvement.  You can judge for your selves.

Speaking of character, In, Finn, Boyega's character, the add an element of self pity and yes, a little cowardice.  It's in his self preservation or let's say, survival instinct.  Not everyone is born a hero.  Sometimes you have to find it in you.



This element of self pity, fear and cowardice is also embodied in the character of Kylo Ren.  It's no spoiler to reveal he is the baddie in this movie.



Adam Driver knows craven.  Well done.  If there is any complaint to his character, we don't get to see enough of this.  He stomps around a lot and he has anger issues (you'll see.)  

In adding cowardice, self preservation and self pity to the story it gave great depth to the tale.  In a franchise that inspires hope and heroism it was a welcome diversion.



What I didn't like...


 
Unbelievably, there isn't enough Poe Dameron in the movie.


 

Oscar Isaac has the perfect cut as the resistance leader X-Wing pilot.  Perfect.  Sadly, he is underutilized and to compound this, he disappears in the movie and mysteriously reappears and his reappearance seems oddly out of context!  JJ!  We better see a lot more of him in the next move.

Speaking of underutilized.



   

Yep,  we better see a lot more of Captain Phasma in the next movie.    I won't spoil here.  That's coming and it is a biggie.



The Musical Score


 

The musical score is a little underwhelming.  Yes, it contains all the original tunes but sometimes it is oddly lacking.  There is a major light saber duel in the movie and you'd expect the music to rise.   Anytime a light saber is introduced the music should swell.  For that major duel it was meh only.

Speaking of that duel there is a moment that everything slows nearly to a halt.  Sure, I get what it's for and you will too if you haven't already seen the flick.  But please.  A bit too slow.  Any decent opposing duelist would take advantage of this "reflective quietude" and strike.

Not here!


Okay the Big Spoiler Complaint


Last Warning





















Still with me here?  Okay, you've been warned.






 Luke Skywalker isn't in the movie.

Well, he is, but not until the very, very end and it is anticlimactic.  Not only anticlimactic but overly drawn out too.  I wanted to walk into the screen and grab the light saber out of Rey's hand.  And the helicopter shot?  Too obvious and it only added to the drawn out nature of the final shot.


What is also confounding to me is they missed a major opportunity to re-introduce Skywalker to the saga.  

A major opportunity!

I'm still spoiling here so here it is.  When Finn and Kylo Ren are having their light saber duel in the snow, Finn falls and loses his light saber.  Remember when Luke used the Force to retrieve his saber from the snow and defeat the Wampa in The Empire Strikes Back?

Ren tries something similar here.  The saber begins to quiver and flies past Ren into the hand of...

Rey.

Okay fine. She can use the force.  We got evidence of that already.

When that light saber quivers and shoots past Ren it should have landed right in the hand of Luke Sywalker.

The theater would have exploded.  (We had a fun crowd.)  Imagine Luke showing up to the rescue, defeating Ren and spiriting Finnn and Rey away.  

What a moment!

That they missed.

How could they have not thought of that opportunity?  Seriously, it puzzles me.

Luke Skywalker deserved his big hero moment and it should have been in a climactic scene.  As it was, he stood mute atop the cliff side.

"Hello, Luke, may the force be with you"

No?

See you in the next movie then.
 

3 comments:

  1. Well this is unusual - normally I agree with most of your posts, but this time it looks like we'll be agreeing to disagree. Except for a few things, such as Rey. I really loved her character - she is just great. Ridley did a perfect job with her: an absolutely strong and independent character, but not man-like.

    Finn was great as well, and I totally agree - his comedic timing is right, and in the hands of a different actor it could have been all wrong, Finn could have come off as worthless and ONLY a sidekick. Even though there are many who see Finn as little more than a black-guy sidekick, they are completely missing the boat. Finn just is who he is, someone who is experiencing cognitive dissonance, someone who is transitioning from be a trained follower to someone who will (probably) think for himself with conviction. That takes time.

    As for Kylo. Well I didn't enjoy the character much and would have disliked him completely if I hadn't read some of the books. I won't talk about them much - I don't know if you wish me to - but if they follow some of the events in those books (and there is at least one scene taken right out of them, but with the characters exchanged), then there is room for Kylo to evolve. In defense of the movie, Kylo is right and proper set up to be the redemptive character in the series, and COULD be done really well. We shall see.

    3D - it drove me crazy. 3D is fun, for a while, but 2 hours and 16 minutes of it was not enjoyable (for me). Maybe because I wear glasses... Far away things looked huge and things that were close looked like tiny miniatures. I can't wait to see it in 2D!

    And Luke. Here is where I really disagree with you Dave, but totally respect your view! It's only my opinion. Going into the movie, I expected Luke to either be the main Evil Dude, or he would show up at the end. That it was at the end he showed worked well in my eyes, he was where he most likely would end up, squirreled away somewhere, not wanting to face anything. I thought the scene between Rey and Luke was very well done, leaving a lot to the imagination. I loved it. Big guess here: Rey is Luke's daughter! What do you think?

    Harrison Ford still rocks as Han Solo! He's way better as an older Han than an older Indiana. He was fabulous.

    I could go on and on but I'm too hung over. Thoughts?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ingrid, good to hear from you.

      You know what else bothers me about the Finn story line is that they leave him unconscious. It would have been great to hear some more of his thoughts but as it was they left him limp and out of it. Another puzzling choice.

      As for Kylo Ren, that's what we need another story of redemption. Do they have to copy everything!!?? Maybe his journey should be one of perpetual loss.

      Yes, we will have to disagree on Luke. Look at it this way, now his story crowds Rey's. We'll have to find out what happened to him instead of focusing on Rey. Bad move in my mind. If he had gotten his moment we could have focused on Rey as the story progressed. Now we will have to see both. Not a bad thing. Just not a Rey thing!

      I think everyone thinks Rey is Luke's daughter. Maybe they will give a twist somehow. Ben Kenobi's grand daughter?

      Ford was a little creaky don't you think? Maybe it was good they killed him off. Still, I love him too.

      Super congrats on your hangover lady. Encore for New Years day???

      Thanks Ingrid!

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  2. If Luke did what you suggest, Kylo has to be defeated, I mean Luke can't lose to a guy who can barely hold his own again Finn, a non Force person. Killing Kylo removes the buildup for the next movies of his interaction with Leia, Luke and Chewie after killing Han.

    What I think they really missed out on was a Han / Luke reunion and scene together. With Han dead, that will never happen now. That would have been a moment. The cynical smuggler and the idealistic Jedi from ROTJ meet 30 years later.

    ReplyDelete