Thoughts About Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This is not a review, but I feel remiss not offering any commentary whatsoever, yet, on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As of this writing, the film has been out for two-and-a-half weeks, and I’ve managed to see it twice. What I’m writing may be stream-of-consciousness and a bit unstructured, but I promise to be honest. Just so you understand where I’m coming from, I’m a 47-year-old guy, and a pretty big Star Wars fan. Not such a big fan that I’m one of those folks who dresses up in costume to see the film, or for any reason, really. A big enough fan that I went to see Episode I on its opening day, back before it was so easy to buy advance tickets. A big enough fan that I still have a few pieces of choice memorabilia from my childhood, like my well-worn copy of the The Star Wars Storybook, which came out just after the first Star Wars movie, and contains a few photos of scenes that were cut from the theatrical release. Anyway, you get the idea. Some spoilers ahead, read at your own risk.
Overall, I loved watching The Force Awakens
I didn’t go see The Force Awakens on opening day. Honestly, the massive public movement to but up all the tickets and go see the film as soon as humanly possible was so widespread that it made me want to wait until everyone-and-their-brother had gotten the hype out of their system. I mean, at risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I felt like a lot of people were just going because this movie was supposed to be a big deal, and that they might not all be respectful of the thing in the theatre. I just didn’t want to be stuck in the first big wave that might include people texting and checking their email or asking a bunch of questions. But, I was only able to hold out for a few days and then I couldn’t resist any longer. Not surprisingly, there were a million bajillion trailers. But, once the Lucasfilm logo flashed by quickly and that signature crawl started, man, I felt it. I mean, I didn’t expect it to start right out with “Luke Skywalker” and the same core characters, and it was so awesome I don’t mind telling you that I got a little choked up.
A Feast For The Eyes
I thought there was a lot of beauty to take in here. Plenty of really well-composed shots. Especially in the opening sequences on Jakku. The really wide shots of fallen AT-ATs and Star Destroyers were breathtaking. And I thought that J. J. and company brought some new angles as well. One shot I recall had us staring at a far away star, only to see it slowly eclipsed by the ever-growing shadow of a huge starship, from which we see several tiny craft depart, fly toward us, and pass us by in a flash.
The 3-D was tasteful
I don’t always go see movies in 3-D by default. Movies are so costly nowadays, when it comes down to it I usually would rather spend my money on some awful popcorn and a ridiculously large and expensive soda. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that when it comes to a big visual effects film like this, there are more showings and seats available in 3-D. That’s what I found. But, I wasn’t at all put off by the 3-D here, I thought it was well done and for the most part added to the film without drawing a ton of attention to the effect itself.
An Unusual Villain
Kylo Ren is weird, right? I haven’t put a ton of thought into this, but typically Star Wars villains are all sinister and cool in their own way. Darth Vader is the pinnacle of this. Sure, he’s kind of angry in the beginning scenes of A New Hope, but in general the guy gets a stern tone in his voice, but that’s about as irked as he gets while he force-chokes a guy to death. Boba Fett? Mega cool. The weirdest suit of armor you’ve ever seen, a rocket pack, one of a kind weaponry, and he’s not afraid to go up against a Jedi with a blaster and a power lasso. Jabba the Hutt? Come on, the guy is a gangster. He doesn’t move very quickly, but he’s beyond comfortable with that, and clearly to be feared. Darth Maul? The guy might let out a growl, but he takes on two strong Jedi, and though he’s ultimately defeated, he’s brutish and graceful at the same time, and appears to barely break a sweat. Kylo Ren, though? The guy is a mess. I mean, he’s barely got his act together. He’s constantly throwing temper tantrums. He’s committed himself to the dark side, but he feels a draw toward the light, and for someone who fancies himself a dark lord of the Sith, he’s awfully forthcoming with talking about his “feelings”. I get that he’s supposed to have this complex about not being able to live up to his heritage. It just feels strange, after seeing the film, to see action figures and posters of the guy. I mean, are kids going to being playing with their Kylo Ren figure, thinking “I’m really upset!” or “I’m an emotional wreck!” Before the film even came out, one of my son’s grandparents got him a Kylo Ren placemat at Target. This showed up at our house, and I told my wife I was against it – because I didn’t know anything about the character except that he was a bad guy. She told me I was being a control freak and to let it go. To be fair, she’s usually right. In this case, though, I feel vindicated. I’m looking at the placemat as I’m writing this; my son is only eight, he doesn’t know anything about the character. We haven’t decided if he’s ready to see the film yet. Regardless, I think the character works well in the film, but maybe not as well outside.
Alright. I am realizing that I’ll have more to say than I can put in one post. More to come. Thanks for listening. And please offer your own comments!