If you have not seen the new Star Wars film and do want to know anything about its plot, do not read this post.
So a couple of weeks ago, Ellen and I went to see the new Star Wars movie. To be upfront about it, it was more of a check-the-box thing for me; something like seeing every movie based on a Marvel or DC Comics character.
When I saw the first Star Wars film, now Episode IV: A New Hope, with lines of people waiting to get in that wrapped around the block, I found it remarkable. It was so different than the kinds of films I was used to seeing and as a Star Trek fan and Science Fiction reader at the time, anything about space was fun to experience.
I also really enjoyed the second film, now Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, which I found actually a bit complex and complicated in its plot. Though the big reveal that Darth Vader was Luke’s father could have been guessed at by the similarities between the name Vader and the German Vater which means father as pointed out by Beca in Pitch Perfect. By the way, did anyone like Pitch Perfect 2? A big disappointment.
The third film, now Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, I found a total cop-out. Darth Vader went from being James Earl Jones, who had heft and weight as a sort-of disembodied voice and who went through a climatic choice between his life’s work, evil, and his son, picking his son (more on that later) only to become Sebastian Shaw when unmasked and as a spirit at the end of the film. The whole film with its teddy bear Ewoks and no one actually dying was a big disappointment.
I then, like the lemming I am, went through six years of watching three prequels, the less said of them the better. All had actual actors in them, as opposed to the original three which had perhaps two, Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness; none of the actors however acting. All three proving that George Lucas needed an editor (or perhaps a writer) to do his scripts. And remarkably also had Jar Jar Binks, the one character, other than Darth Vader who I really really wanted to die and disappear, kept coming back in film after film.
Star Trek at least tended to have a 50% batting average, every other film was pretty good. Star Wars through the first six films had barely a 33% positive result.
The interesting thing is that I never bought into the plot. While it was obvious that the Empire was bad (duh), it was much less obvious that the Jedi were good. I tend to being a populist, free market guy. The good guys in Star Wars were dependent on a hereditary based leadership with only a tiny group of people having ‘The Force’ which was needed to protect everyone else. Normally that would be the formula for the bad guys. And yes I understand my level of hypocrisy here, after all I really liked Frozen which sort of had the same approach though thankfully without Jar Jar Binks as a Senator.
The new director JJ Abrams had done a pretty good job of rebooting the Star Trek movies, I enjoyed both of the Star Trek films he was associated with so was interested in what the new film would be like, especially when it was clear that he was brought in to take the series in a new direction.
My take was that the special effects were fine and seeing the old characters was fun, like seeing Spock in the newer Star Trek films. Hmm, like seeing …
I have one overarching thought here. The original series took three films to show an arc illustrating a conflict between a father who was focused in one direction and a son who was focused in a different one. In the end the father was willing to sacrifice himself in service to the son’s journey. It was supplemented by lots of alien characters and a few fights between fighters in space (green squadron, red squadron, …). And the big overpowering and seemingly impervious weapon of the Empire, the Death Star, had just one tiny little itty-bitty weakness (bad engineering I guess) which if the good guys could just attack that one spot would blow the overwhelming impervious Empire’s weapon up.
Thank goodness the new Star Wars film, Episode VII, had nothing going on that was similar to that.