Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Wakes Up Again

My birthday movie this year, originally to be THE HATEFUL 8 until it under-performed and was yanked out of the cinemas earlier than expected, was the new STAR WARS, admittedly a reluctant choice. My apprehension has been previously noted in an earlier post (DEATH STAR FOR CUTIE), but I opted for this over Oscar hopefuls SPOTLIGHT and THE BIG SHORT because it was indeed my birthday and I felt a need to satisfy my inner geek, 3D and all. (Last time I don those goggles, that's for sure) The result was a pleasant if unspectacular experience. It didn't take long for me to ascertain that THE FORCE AWAKENS was actually a remake of what has come to be known as A NEW HOPE, a title that still makes me throw up a little in my mouth. That's pretty much the J. J. Abrams formula for success, film-wise, that is. He piggy-backs onto the back of proven formulas-STAR WARS, STAR TREK, the Spielbergian SUPER 8-energizes them enough to make up for the lack of originality and goes on to the next,  That's all fine and good for this film since it's exactly what the fans wanted: More of the same. Toss in a ton of callbacks to the first trilogy to make the die-hards weep for their lost youth, stir in new characters that are just makeovers of the old and let's not forget to blow up that Death Star again, people. But don't think it doesn't work because it does,  That is, unless you begin to scrutinize it which any geek worth his pocket protector is going to do, myself included. The new cast is quite good, especially Daisy Ridley as Rey, but if she isn't Luke Skywalker's daughter, I'll eat a bucket of Taun-Taun jerky. John Boyega's Finn comes i n a close second though I didn't buy his conversion from storm trooper so much. Oscar Issac's New Age Han Solo was a throwaway and an opportunity missed-the passing of the torch of Han to Poe. Why didn't these two meet? Adam Driver had some swell moments until he got all all angsty and whiny like...oh, it's a family trait. I see. Daddy issues. (yawn) And was Kylo Ren's real name Ben? Holy Yoda. The whole enterprise (Enterprise? You can't say that here!) all smacked of a well-produced, albeit formulaic TV pilot to me. That's not an insult in this day and age. However, nothing really stood out and the lack of any memorable scene rather than fleeting moments seen through rose-colored 3D glasses, make it all fade into the mist after awhile. That's not to say I didn't enjoy seeing some of the old gang and getting a nostalgic lump in the throat a couple of times. But I also watched RETURN TO MAYBERRY back in the day just to see Thelma Lou, Otis and whoever hadn't kicked the bucket by then. I think Yogi Berra (or was it Alec Guiness? put it best. "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." Sure, it's great to get the band back together, but it would have been nice to hear a few new tunes. My final verdict on  STAR WARS VII?  I could have waited to watch this episode in a second-run house, just as I had the the prequels. And say what you want about them, but at least ol' George tried something original. Sure, he failed for the most part, but it was always his to do so. These days, that ain't gonna put butts in seats. THE FORCE AWAKENS sure has. All it had to do was appeal to the masses and they came out in droves.  It's all in Disney's hands now, just like everything else. It won't be long for  before they put Mouse ears on Vader, Ewoks in The Avengers and a droid version of FROZEN. Enjoy.
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