fDirector: J. J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, & Michael Arndt
Cinematographer: Dan Mindel
by Jon Cvack
Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this three part series...
As mentioned, the new film is good but not great. When I posted my initial thoughts to Facebook I had friends admonishing that I see it again in order to pick up all the tiny nuances. I disagree. I could say the same thing about I-III given that it’s about the fall of the empire, involving a fairly complex plot. "A Force Awakens" is nothing much more than a remix of “A New Hope” in which a chosen one, living on a desert planet comes across a droid that eventually leads her to join the rebellion and fight against an evil empire that has created a planet sized weapon that can destroy entire worlds. Added, she ends up in the hands of an old Jedi. This doesn’t mean that there’s nothing new to the film. I very much enjoyed Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, having doubts when I learned of his role. I loved the diversity, demonstrating that underrepresented leads can, in fact, carry a story (though this is also why I see it more as a remix than anything else).
One of the largest problems is that J.J. Abrams is just not that cinematic with his direction, carrying his television style into the universe. He can tell a good action story, but it’s far more style than substance (it’s why I’m excited to see Rian Johnson’s take on it all). I hear a lot of people excusing the film, saying it had to reintroduce the world with all of the original elements in order to gain trust. The entire plot seemed to serve this purpose as well.
For instance, when they end up at the Cantina in that forested planet, and that Jar Jar Binks-like hostess showed up and Rey comes across the lightsaber, I couldn’t help seeing it as yet another attempt (after the desert planet) to do a throwback and show off Cantina-inspired characters, having the worst looking one serve as the lead. I then expected the Empire would come shortly after their arrival. I expected planets would get destroyed by the new Death Star. I even expected that Han Solo would get killed, leaving me to imagine how original it would have been not to kill Han and go against what we were expecting to happen. But even this took place in the hackneyed location of a space bridge, where The Empire Strikes back provided us with one of the most iconic scenes in film history.
The point is that, in complete opposition to I-III, I felt far too much like I was watching a reimagining of the original trilogy. People keep talking about how excited it made them for the next films. I agree, except I’m sensing another young jedi-in-training trilogy, which will provide only more of the same from I-VI.
It all reminds me of how I responded to The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, thinking it was such a great film, though never really excited to revisit them. At the time they were good, but like most okay films you find yourself preferring to watch something else. My friends, and from what I recall, most people, were just as pumped and defensive about the new additions. We wanted to love them and say they were great more than we believed it.
I suppose it’ll lead to better films, especially as they get into the individual character stories. I’m also nervous that it’ll meet the same fate as happened to most comic movies; where it’s hard to separate one from the other and the plots are so similar, dealing with global destruction, rather than providing anything of substance per the likes of Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. I hope it gets better. I just don’t think it’s ever going to meet the original’s quality and footprint. Those were films pioneered the genre; creating expansive worlds, no matter how little they actually showed. It came at a time when films of the sort were rare, rather than released every other weekend. It seems that fans are so determined to re-experience those memories, that they’re willing to defend it at all costs. None of these films will earn the prestige of the Original Trilogy. They will operate as expansions packs and updates; providing moments for us to remember as we get those glimpses of all we missed. I don’t think it's enough. The next great Star Wars will probably be a series and not called Star Wars.
BELOW: I was in shock with how bad this character looks, appearing like something from a Pixar movie than a live action film
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