Monday, December 21, 2015

Movie Note:Star Wars:The Force Awakens

Well, it's here: the moment you know you've been waiting for, that magical instant when I tell you whether the new Star Wars movie is worth seeing or not.

That is what you've been waiting for, right?


Anyway, I took my son, El Boyo Loco, with me to see the movie. We got our tickets well in advance, IMAX, 3D, the works. (Geek alert: I also bought the whole set of Star Wars themed 3D glasses they were selling at the theater.) We got there an hour early and there were already 50 people in line to get into the auditorium. But, we got good seats, and after what seemed a nearly infinite number of previews, the movie started, and I started tearing up.

Yeah, I'm a big baby. But I grew up with the Original Trilogy, and that was about as close as I got to a truly spiritual religious experience until I was MUCH older.

So, I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible: No major plot reveals, none of the twists or surprises.

Was the movie worth seeing?
 Yes. If it wasn't, I would be far less scrupulous about the whole spoiler thing, and you would thank me for not allowing you to waste your time.

I don't think it's much of a spoiler to quote the opening line of the opening crawl, so let me say that the plot revolves around the search for Luke Skywalker, who has vanished. That's really all you need to know at this point.

The movie parallels the original, Episode 4, in many ways, and the movie as a whole is clearly intended to be a torch-passing from the original heroes to a new, younger cast, and it does this very well.

Yes, there is a black stormtrooper, and despite all the cries of "racism," there was legitimate cause for concern, at least among the hardcore fans, that the history we knew from the first six movies was being tampered with, since we know that the stormtrooopers are all supposed to be clones. This was dealt with in an almost throwaway line five or ten minutes into the movie, explained sufficiently that it fit what we knew with what we were going to see.

The new central character in the movie are Rey, a young woman living on a desert planet, Finn, the black stormtrooper, and BB8, a droid.

The overall arc of the story concerns the Rey's journey to the Force, and the idea that who we are is less where we are from, but more the choices we make, as one character journeys from Dark to Light, and another journeys from Light to Dark.

I know you've seen the previews with BB8 and are afraid he's going to be the new Jar-Jar, so I am happy to report that, though he is cute, has is cute in an R2D2 way, not a Jar-Jar way, so potential disaster averted.

Along the way, they have many adventures, and run up against the new bad guy, Kylo Ren, who is sufficiently nasty. There are odd creatures, weird music, and enough action to keep you entertained.

I don't know if this is a spoiler, but it involves something on the poster, so caveat lector. There is a giant Death Star-type weapon involved in the plot, and it plays a major role, and is also one of my biggest gripes about the movie. Whereas the Death Star is central to the plot of Episode Four, this one just sort of shows up halfway through without any prior mention, and seems like it was thrown in there simply to have a Death Star-type obstacle for the heroes to attempt to overcome. It could have made a decent movie all on its own.

Funny thing: the new Supreme Leader that everyone says looks like Voldemort? My boy looked at him for three seconds and said "He looks like that guy from the Hobbit." I looked, and thought for a second, and then was like, "Yeah, Gollum." And they are both, in fact, played by the same guy, Andy Serkis. So there you go.

So, overall, hard to talk about without too many spoilers, but I think it's a step up from the prequels. It looks good, and the characters are interesting. The story wasn't quite as tight as maybe it could have been, but good enough to make for a really enjoyable outing, with new characters you'll like alongside some old characters you love.

I know it's rated PG-13, but my son is 9, and he had a heck of a time. There is no cursing, no sexual content, and though there is a LOT of sci-fi violence, there is not very much blood. I do think, though, that the blood there is, is the first I can recall in any movie in the series. But it does play a purpose in the character development.

The lesson that we can choose the Light, even when surrounded by Dark, is one that I think will resonate with parents, and that kids will learn without realizing they are being taught, as it is not being forced down their throats like an episode of some noxious kids show on TV.

So, heck yeah, see it if you haven't already. It is a complete story, in itself, but ends with an image that will leave you ready for more, and soon. I guess there is a Young Han Solo movie due out next year, which is not an official "Episode," and then Episode 8 is due the year after that.

If you or your kids like Star Wars, Original or Prequel, you/they will enjoy this.

P.S. There is one preview, for X-Men:Apocalypse, that kind of disappointed me. I like the prior movies, both the original cast, and the younger versions that they sort-of, semi-rebooted with, but this new one looks like the bad guy is the Original Mutant, who, it appears, is six thousand years old and is supposed to be God. Yes, that God. It's my suspicion from the preview that they are going to play it that way, as fact, at least within the Marvel X-Men universe, and that is disappointing. Remember Star Trek 5? Yeah, no one else does, either. Sad.

P.P.S. I got this t-shirt today, just to annoy everyone around me, because that's just the kind of guy I am. :)

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