So, let’s talk about Star Wars

December 16, 2015

I have tickets to see the new Star Wars movie at 1:30 am Thursday/Friday.  I wasn’t determined to see the movie straight out of the gate, but friends acquired these tickets and who am I to say no?  Let’s just say, as someone who camped out (briefly) for Episode I, I am completely and totally enamored with the modern convenience of online ordering and assigned seating.  I will take a nap and head over to the theater a half an hour before curtain, because I am getting too old for this sort of thing.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking a lot about how to approach the movie.  Has there ever been a movie with so much cultural baggage attached to it?  So much expectation before a single digital frame has even played?  After the culture phenomenon of the first trilogy, the rather brutal failure of the prequels to live up to the acclaim of their predecessors — what the heck do we do with this?  Also, I have a paid gig to write a review for this puppy, and I’m trying to come up with a framework for that — a grading rubric, in a sense.  What constitutes success for The Force Awakens?  Is it enough that it entertains?  Does it have to be objectively a good movie?  Does that look different than a good Star Wars movie?  What do I, personally, as someone who grew up with this franchise as part of my core programming, want out of this movie?  I want it not to suck, of course.  But what does that mean?

Add into that the immense amount of commentary — visceral, emotional commentary — playing out on social media.  People who are exploding with excitement.  Other people who are exploding with disbelief that anyone could be excited about these movies.  Plus that really hard-core group of Star Wars fans who ought to be excited about this movie but are so upset that the Expanded Universe is now alt-canon that all they can do is foam at the mouth.  And I’m like, really?  You can’t keep a couple of different universes in your head at the same time?  I was never attached to the Expanded Universe.  There are great big chunks of the EU that I’m ecstatic about not having to pay attention to.  Seriously, is there anyone who liked the Yuuzhan Vong and thought they were a good idea?  They were so clearly an attempt to inject 90’s grimdark into the Star Wars universe — which wasn’t built for grimdark.  So much of the EU doesn’t feel like Star Wars to me.  (What does?  Rogue Squadron.  Tales of the Jedi.)  And that leads me to. . .

What am I looking for in a Star Wars movie?  Amazing feats of derring do.  Engaging characters who are brave and charming.  Engaging alien characters.  Banter.  Sense of wonder.  Planetscapes and spaceships.  An epic sense of story.  Innocence and optimism.  Respect for the original trilogy’s story — but something new.  Show me corners of this universe that I’ve wondered about but haven’t seen yet.  Build on the world without bashing holes in what came before.  I want a movie that makes me happy.

There are those who believe this movie will fail to deliver anything resembling a satisfying experience, by whatever measure.  They can’t understand why my friends and I are so stinking excited for this, but I know why:  We have the makings a classic redemption story here.  I’m not saying we’re going to get it — but what if we did?  What if we got a new Star Wars movie that we could be excited about instead of apologizing for?  That actually overcomes the negative expectation established by the prequels.  Redemption.  One of the most classic, satisfying story archetypes there is.

Yeah.  That’s what we’re looking for.



6 Responses to “So, let’s talk about Star Wars”

  1. kyle Says:

    Episode IV was an amazing movie. As great as the elements of Harrison Ford, Luke and Leia, the 2 robots and the Wookie were, to me the keystone of that movie was Alec McGuiness. If ‘the force’ is the framework/backdrop to the entire SW saga, then it changes everything if ‘the force’ is something adult/mysterious, or if it’s childish and simplistic. Which SW universe do I want the new SW to live in?

    Episode IV was set in an environment that looked very much like the middle east, which brings up those kind of desert religious overtones. And the architecture of the buildings there that was both modern and ancient.

    I read McGuiness could barely tolerate the things that had to come out of his mouth about ‘the force’. He brought a depth to the role that made the audience feel that there was something there in this ‘force’. That’s been missing ever since, not a rubber Yoda. And not the dreadfully serious – no sense of joy or humor – ‘jedi’ of I-III.

    So as many fantastic elements as there may or may not be in the new flick, if they want the world they live in to be complex and interesting, going back and dipping in the well that McGuinness provided could make a huge difference. And probably will to me watching it. I guess that’s my rubric.

  2. This is one “event” movie for which I’m going to skip the opening weekend — theaters will be packed, plus my Mom thinks it might be something fun to go see on Christmas Day.

    I actually don’t mind the prequels that much. Or, at least, I don’t particularly hate them. I’m indifferent to Eps. I & II; my favorites are Eps. III-VI, though that last one only just. (Really, guys? Another Death Star?!)

    While I certainly hope that this latest one will be good, I will not be that surprised if the overall reaction from fans is the same as Episode I, since A) The Star Wars fandom is so huge and varied it’s virtually impossible to please everyone, and B) As with Ep. I, films as anticipated as this hardly ever meet people’s expectations, unreasonable or reasonable though they may be.

    Anyway, as a closing, enjoy this satirical column on the unpleasability of Star Wars fans.

  3. Ralf The Dog. (S. Patrick Marino) Says:

    I will be happy as long as, it starts with a young Kirk driving a 1960s convertible off of a cliff to music ripped from the Matrix.

  4. kyle Says:

    Jared the Audrie Summers column is hilarious!!! I loved that. Doesn’t even strike me as that satirical! Even as I am wholly unknowing about alt-canon and any expanded universe. As far as seeing SW, a quiet theater will serve me just fine. I like elbow room so I am planning to go see in the new year. I’ll keep one eye shut when it comes to reviews till then.

  5. Saw TFA, but I don’t want to talk about that. Here is what I loved about SW/TESB: 1 youth, coming of age. The rest were adults (of various dispositions, but still):
    Luke: Youth
    Ben: Adult / Mentor
    Princess Leia: Adult
    Han: Adult, albeit a rascal
    Chewie: Adult
    Vader: Evil Adult
    Grand Moff Tarkin: Evil Adult
    Wedge/Biggs/Red – Gold – Blue Leader/Porkins Adults
    R2 – Adult
    C3P0 – Clown

    But, it was a coming of age adventure / quest. In a pure sense. Episode 6 had resolution and redemption, useful end notes for a story arc.

    EP 1-3 had precoscious kids (young Anakin, young Amidala), ala Ender or youths who aren’t coming of age. Ambiguous adults. And Jar-Jar. If it had had more of the coming of age for good or ill of Anaking and Amidala, it may have worked. Instead it had politics and ???

    Need the new stories to have more of the adults acting like adults, and the kids actually growing up and becoming individuals who change the story, not plastic puppets moved around by external forces and back room deals.

  6. […] the fanfic, the memes, the theories, and the love show no sign of slowing down.  Especially after grappling with my own difficulties in figuring out how to approach reviewing the movie.  How can I possibly separate my love of the […]

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