Sunday, December 20, 2015

We are All Awakened!

I saw SW: The Force Awakens with my family on Friday.  It was delightful.  Even the previews were delightful.  Ok, not all of them, but the sloth at the DMV was fantastic.  Anyhow, I was most impressed that no one (except a troll at a certain website) tried to spoil the movie.  I was surprised by that, even as the big twist in the movie was ... (Spoilers below the break)

Entirely predictable.  Sad to see Han Solo killed by his son, but given that Harrison Ford wanted Han to die a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, this outcome was not that surprising.  Indeed, my wife apparently realized early in the movie that Han was going to die, but as an editor, she has keen skilz in predicting such stuff.

Even though it was not surprising, it was certainly moving, and, yes, paralleled Obi-Wan's death in Star Wars.  One of the complaints people have had is that the movie parallels the original too much.  I didn't have a problem with that.  For me, the keys are that this movie captured the spirit of the first three movies and did a great job of establishing the new characters.  Oh, and Han Solo was pretty terrific, including yet another bungled smuggling operation.  Indeed, in the movies, his smuggling career was lousy at best.

The casting was great, as Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaacs are really, really good at what they do, and had fantastic chemistry with each other and with the old folks.

Best line?  Poe's opening to Kylo: do you start talking or do I?  Again, Isaacs oozes charisma, and this moment in the movie set a tone and made it clear that the movie was going to have the right spirit.  Also, the movie had some dark stuff, but remained firmly in the light.  Serious stuff but with many comedic lines, great expressions, and much good Chewie shrugging.

Best action sequence?   Perhaps the x-wings taking out individual storm troopers standing next to the good guys.  The light saber battle at the end was good, although we knew the outcome once Daisy got a lightsaber (the downside of knowing this is a trilogy is that it sucks out some suspense). 

Best chills moment?  When Rey force grabs the lightsaber that had been stuck in the snow.  That topped Han showing up and Han meeting Leia. 

Worst training?  Kylo Ren is not that great with a light saber as it took him a while to beat a neophyte (Fen) and then lost to a rookie who just started tapping into the force (Rey).  He was most unimpressive as a Sith.  He could force choke people and do some basic mind reading, but kept failing his missions. 

I will surely have more thoughts after I see it again, which will certainly happen soon enough.  I am, indeed, fully awakened.

Would we care this much if prequeels didn't exist or were good?  Probably not quite, but a fourth star wars movie is worht a heap of excitment


L'il Steve said...

Generally agreed-- especially on the great casting.

Here's what I didn't quite get-- the politics! Don't quite understand how the Republic is the resistance? And if the First Order is the remnants of the Empire, they are pretty powerful. Just who is in charge of this galaxy long ago far, far away?

Steve Saideman said...

My guess is this:
After the Death Star, the galaxy is largely split between the New Order, which inherited the parts of the Empire that the New Republic didn't get AND The New Republic. The Resistance is the rebellion within the territory held by the New Order. So, the New Republic arms and supports the resistance.

Anonymous said...

That's right (taken from one of the new TFA books: Abrams and Kasdan based the First Order on post-WWII Ratlines, though it also reminds me of "What If" scenarios of an expansionist North Korea.

Steve Saideman said...

Also, check out this io9 33 questions and possible answers

L'il Steve said...

Thanks. Ended up seeing a similar explanation at Vox. I suppose that makes enough sense, but the film could have been *much more* clear about that with only just a little more explication.

On an semi-related note, after watching the original trilogy for the 20th or so time in the past week, Empire stands alone to me. Also, the gut punch impact on an elementary-age kid in finding out Darth Vader is Luke's father pretty much as memorable as anything in my childhood. If for no other reason, people should watch in order of release. And why I'm extolling the virtues of Empire, all the Star Wars music is brilliant, but it is especially so in that movie.