Saturday, 16 January 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - some notes

Yes: there will be spoilers.

·        It’s fine.
·       You know that ‘Star Wars’ thing you liked? Plot-wise, this just traces over that with more effects.
·     Even as a kid, I sensed that the dialogue of ‘Star Wars’ (it wasn’t quite ‘A new Hope’ to us then) was deeply lacking, even though I wasn’t able to articulate it. Something about how the dialogue onscreen could be transposed word-for-word to the comic book adaptation that I bought highlighted its limitations. And don’t worry: that dialogue will now be catchphrases and they will be quoted here.
·           John Boyega is good. Of course, I was pre-disposed to be in favour of him because I love ‘Attack the Block’ so. Even so, he shades Finn with just a degree of cowardice that makes him far more interesting and three dimensional than his written gusto demands.
·     But if Stormtroopers are no longer clones here but kidnapped children programmed to be evil, then are we supposed to consider them as more than disposable henchmen and start colouring in their life stories with empathy? I mean, they are kidnapped children…
·   And if, quite clearly, Finn’s brainwashing didn’t take, what does that say about The First Order’s programming?
·  Daisy Ridley as Rey is good too, less sappy than the Luke Skywalker persona coz feisty girls sell these days (and there’s some debate as to whether Leia was short-changed on this in the original series).
·    These are nice alien vistas. Gigantic spaceships in dunes, X-Wings flying over water,  etc.
·   Well okay, this is a universe where robots are programmed to be cute. And where a future Sith lord built a gold robot and programmed it to be whiny and camp. I guess I’ll have to just suck it up and accept.
·  Wow, Rey is sure instantaneously excellent at knowing languages, flying the Millenium Falcon, lightsabers and The Force. Luckily, she doesn’t need any training scenes like Luke in the first series.
· Speaking of which, Finn is pretty instantly nifty with a lightsaber for a former Stormtrooper too. A sanitation Stormtrooper. And they put sanitation Stormtroopers on planet raids? (Yeah yeah, it's a callback to the original or whatever...)
·   Wait, if Han is sacrificing himself for his son’s betterment, doesn’t that getting-ahead-in-the-Dark-Side include blasting entire planets and killing billions and billions? What on earth was going through Han’s head??
·    I like Chewbacca. Why don’t they make anything of his super-strength? He also spends about a scene grieving over Han before reverting to Chewieness.
·   And speaking of destroying planets on a grudge and a whim: what about the planet's resources? Seems like a foolhardy waste... And this is the point where I suspect I’m over-thinking this trifle.
·  The in-jokes and call-backs are everywhere, all the time. This simultaneously will please nostalgic fans and prove annoying.They help to poke a little fun at itself, like when Rey gets Kylo Ren to take off his mask because it makes him harder to understand. Or no, it’s a new jacket. But it’s probably just a lazy cop-out when another Death Star planet destroying thingy is revealed and they just act light-hearted about his groan-worthy development by jokingly justifying it because it’s bigger.
·    There’s a lot of good visual stuff that comes at you so rapidly it bypasses a lot of critical faculties straight to the pleasure zones. The screen sure is busy and going back to the more DIY and lived-in feel of the original series is a good, good move. Even so, I find I’m dwelling on the arbitrary logic and plot holes so large you could build another Death Star in them. It seems it’s as careless as it is satisfying to franchise fans.
·    JJ Abrams is good at revamping old franchises. The structure of action scene/change location/another action scene is greatly limited but it mostly works for this.
·     It looks the part and mostly captures the tones of the original but the thin storyline does not hold any surprises at all, so there’s a feeling of disappointment.
·           It’s fine.
·        I bet if I still had it, my collection of ‘Star Wars’ comics from when 1977 right past ‘Return of the Jedi’ would be worth a  small fortune now, if I still had it.

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