Thursday, December 24, 2015

Star Wars Forcibly Awakened

I’m not entirely sure how to look at this film.  (Except that this post will be without spoilers)

The originals shaped my childhood.

The prequels belonged to the generation that was the same age I was when the first came out.

These theoretically have the same aged target audience as all the others, but the inclusion of the classic cast and a director that is a huge fan of the films they appeared in could skew it.

It’s also a concern since the director from a franchise he was critically and financially successful with suddenly jumped ship to make this film.  He came to work for the rival fandom because it was a personal favorite.  That attitude previously caused too much of a slavish devotion to what had gone before and mangled the X-men and Superman franchises back in 2006.

It is possible Abrams’s shift could have sunk both Star Wars and Star Trek.

Personal questions also weigh in:

Will I be unfairly negative because this film’s existence erases the excellent Timothy Zahn and A.C. Crispin expanded universe stories?

Will I be unfairly positive because this film’s existence erases all the other expanded universe stories?

Do I view The Force Awakens with fresh eyes, as if I’ve never seen a Star Wars film, to judge its own merits?

Do I watch it through my daughter, to gauge how it works with the target audience that has always known the vast, expanded Star Wars universe?

Do I watch it as the “what happens next?” I’ve been wondering about since age 13?

How do I separate the hype, the nostalgia, and the foreknowledge from the actual film?

Of course…

A Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Jeffrey McGinley, Age 7.

This was a very fun and exciting movie.  It felt like Star Wars movies should, filled with action, suspense, laughs and adventure. 

This time the good guys were much cooler than the bad guys. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something about having Darth Vader as a favorite.

The bad guys this time were more like the kids on the bus who steal my hat. They're intimidating, get in trouble and think they are the cool kids; but they're really just mean, unlikable jerks.

Losing the “All Lived Happily Ever After” ending of Return of the Jedi was worth it to get new, good Star Wars movies. 

[45 year old Jeff chiming in here, I guess Neil Gaiman was right about knowing where to end stories to get happy endings in the first volume of Sandman.]

The ads were sneaky enough to keep us all surprised about what part the new people played in the story. Those new people all worked together really well, were very likable and felt like a Star Wars family - like the original cast did.  They got just as many cheers for the cool stuff they did as the old cast did for their great introduction scenes. The special effects were really cool too, and looked more real than the video game look of the prequels.  There were a bunch of cool and nifty aliens, and a fun droid that was full of life and personality even though it was basically a beeping circle.  All those parts made it OK that the story was a bit of a repeat.

[The repeated beats in the plot work because Star Wars is at its best when based on Joseph Campbell’s universal myth, The Hero’s Journey. The plot elements stay the same, but the method and reactions to the elements of the journey and how they journey affects each character’s arc are what changes.]

It was awesome to see the old cast come back. The droids and Leia were fun to see.  The audience should have clapped more for Leia though; she’s still a fantastic leader and is commanding and caring. People confuse me sometimes. At least the second time we saw it the crowd reacted to her well.  That one was in IMAX 3D. Picture a feature length ride on Star Tours.   WOOOOOO!

Han Solo was amazing as an older, grouchier but still fun to be with version of himself.  Chewie was perfect and AWESOME!  He fired his bowcaster more in this movie than all the other ones combined! And it was just as AWESOME as we always thought it would be!

[Chewie was perfect and AWESOME!  He fired his bowcaster more in this movie than all the other ones combined! And it was just as AWESOME as we always thought it would be!]

Besides the cast, Lawrence Kasdan came back to write it, Ben Burt made the cool sounds, and Phil Tippet and Denis Muren consulted on special effects. Plus John Williams wrote the music, instead of other film groups where someone else sticks bits of his songs together to make the later movies.  This way all the new characters got musical themes that matched up with the ones the old characters had.

[Yes, I really was that much of a movie and special effects geek at age 7 to know all those artists and what their contributions were.  Even before the internet, I’d watch and read every shred of information on these films possible.  That’s why I can still say the garbage compactor serial number is 3263827 without stopping to look it up.]

Overall this was a fantastic and fun movie.  It had bad guys that were so bad you want to yell at them on the screen and cheer when they lose.  It had heroes that made you feel good, and want to hang around with them. It’s good for people who have been fans since my age, and new kids just meeting this galaxy far far away. I can’t wait to see it again, (for a third time at least) and I’m even more excited about where it will go for episodes VIII and IX.  I’m too hyper to talk about details now. I'll do that when I calm down in a couple of weeks.

One small warning- There are some sad parts. The sad parts are just like the sad parts in the other Star Wars movies for any new kids watching them, so it’s not too big a deal…
But boy did that old guy who lives in this head with me cry a lot.


Kim Luer said...

This is quite possibly the best movie review I have ever read.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you.
Perhaps I should do all my writing as a seven year old.
I doubt most people would notice.