As a fan It's practically impossible not to get excited for another Star Wars movie. With Lucas finally locked away in hybernation we can finally get on with telling a story with some sense and cohesion....right?! Sometimes barricading your feelings against a steel reinforced wall of objectivity is the only available option. Hype is a disease that must be exterminated on site and without mercy, it served us in our younger days just fine, we called it hope but allowing it into a conscious mind now is a death sentence for any film or property 'carrie-ing' the thing around. Attempting to avoid this hype was a tall order. Every other post in the past week has been a review, a meme or a hype post from a friend. The biggest question is this: how do you get excited about something with out getting too excited about something?
It sounds dramatic. When something is loved so intensely by so many how can it not be.
Last night Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released. Millions of cloaked nerds attended sold out shows across the country and we were right there among them. The movie felt very familiar, which was a good thing, but something felt like it was missing.
Spoiler free thoughts below.
From the trailers we extrapolated some information. The young newcomer dressed like a stormtrooper was in fact a stormtrooper. One aspect of the plot that felt difficult to digest was that this trooper just snapped out of his mind-trick and fucked off. Really!? So the troopers aren't clones? So who are they? Individuals who seem to think the empire is an awesome place to work i suppose. There was a line from Kylo Ren to the General stating: You should have used a clone army, much more loyal." Or something of that ilk. So would this Finn character be the only exception, the only sheep ever to have turned black....yes i realize the symbolism here; its pretty much fed to the audience. A white storm trooper who emancipates himself from the 'slavers'. Removing his 'mask' to reveal a young black character. It wasn't wrong for them to add this to the plot, the problem is we as an audience have been conditioned to believe stormtroopers are a means to an end. They look cool and say shit sometimes and that's it. This excerpt from 'Wookeepedia' explains it.
"As the clones' accelerated aging process began causing their physical skills and abilities to deteriorate, they were replaced by non-clone volunteers and conscripts. Nonetheless, several clone troopers would remain in service to the Galactic Empire."
Ah, ok. Its a hodgepodge then. Films are much like video games, and a film series more so. You have to lead the audience or gamer by the hand for a bit and show them the world and develop the dialogue to fill in the spaces. When you teach a 'participator' something within the world you've invented for years then simply change it, it feels cheap and nonsensical. To begin a new Trilogy of a beloved franchise with fanatical fans with this stormtrooper story is an interesting choice. Guess mofuckers love stormtroopers.
At the mercy of the reader this comparison could seem like a bit of a dick move but hear it out. The world of Star Trek is fully realized. The advantage of Star Trek is they had episodically contained stories and a hell of a lot more time to explore their ideas. Star Wars has had a battle with storylines from the beginning. The lore is there but there but its burried in off shoot novel series, comics, games and cartoons. So there has been very little screen time to explore them further, we give the franchise a bit of a 'free pass' with a lot of things that Star Trek would never be allowed to get away with. This is a theme with Star Wars and something that many of us unconsciously abide by. What then has to be done is to 'show' the movie. To use all the visual elements to help tell the story without dialogue. This could turn ugly if investigated further so well just move on to the cool stuff..
The coolest and most badass part of the movie by far is Kylo Ren. The first moment he began to speak you could sense everyone in the audience holding their collective breaths hoping he hadn't suffered from 'Bane syndrome' but he hadn't. Thankfully that virus was contained within the Milkyway Galaxy. This Sith will certainly end up being a fan favorite. His voice is perfectly done, his costume is instantly as iconic as his lightsaber. He is definitely the most emotionally conflicted and juvenile villain to come along in quite a while, which works very well and gives the antagonist a great amount of depth and by the end of the film his transition is clear.
Approaching this series from another (JJ Abrams) perspective seems all too easy. The world is built, the characters are established. Its not hard to imagine the round table creative conversations surrounding this next trilogy. "Just give the audience what they want" or "Yeah, whatever you did before...do that again but newer." must have been popular phrases. And that's what we got. Keeping it safe with the first installment was a very good move the more its considered, but the fan service was overwhelming and almost too much to take. So many things that have happened already have miraculously happened again. Like watching any comedy sequel. "Well that was funny so lets do the exact same thing again, it'll be great." Not so much.
Simply put, Evade Gismo had a great time watching The Force Awakens. At the very least it an excellent setup for the follow-up films. What felt like it was missing from this film was an individual identity. But maybe that was the point.
We will have a no holds bared 'VENT' and 'SPOILER FILLED' version of the Force Awakens review during the holidays. In the mean time, do your best to enjoy your families company and have a drink on us!