Friday, July 22, 2016

Inexplicable Movie Review: The Final Star Wars movie (as of 2015) and the series

Note: Spoilers follow for the entire Star Wars movie series, although mostly The Force Awakens.

With our watching of The Force Awakens earlier this week, my girlfriend and I have now completed seeing (almost) all of the Star Wars movies worth seeing. While the re-watching didn’t surpass my initial Big Screen experience, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it on second viewing.

Namely, as opposed to the original trilogy, The Force Awakens has the pacing and hallmarks of a modern movie, while still having touchstones for longtime fans. Watching them in close proximity, I was struck by how slow the original Star Wars is in its pacing, as not much really happens in the initial hour or so. Like, we haven’t even gotten to Mos Eisley yet, if I’m remembering correctly.

In contrast, the first hour of The Force Awakens has some fun, like Rey’s run through the market, and Finn and Rey escaping the Imperial New Order ship. Plus, there are plenty of “Holy shit!” moments, like the discovery of the tarped up Millennium Falcon, and the first appearances of Chewbacca and Han Solo.

If there is a major downside to The Force Awakens, it’s that I can’t imagine the movie being completely intelligible and satisfying to first timers. Yes, there are new characters  that can hook them (Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren), but a good portion of the movie’s fun comes in the form of crossover roles between the trilogies, allusions and cameos.

Anyway! Here is my reckless speculation and thoughts for the rest of the upcoming movies:

- Doing “young” Han Solo movies seems like the stupidest thing ever to me. Maybe the films will actually be good, but why? Just why? It seems like craven IP recycling on the part of Disney. Seeing how quickly and strongly the new characters, especially Rey, were embraced by fans of The Force Awakens should be a hint that you don’t need to risk tarnishing Han Solo. Speaking of…

- The Rogue Squadron movie looks great. I’m fine with a somewhat-grittier take on Star Wars as long as the series as a whole doesn’t trend in that direction. Part of its charm to me is that while it does have darker moments (Darth’s reveal, Luke getting his hand chopped off, Darth burning in the lava), it doesn’t embrace the Darker and Grittier manta that too many other properties have. The absolute last thing I want is a ton of Star Wars movies that try to emulate Batman Begins (on the good end of the scale) or the new Superman movies (ugh, just ugh).

- If they’re looking for more Star Wars back lore to translate into movies, there are two already established things that make sense to me, that wouldn’t clash with already established storylines. 1) Shadows of the Empire, a Nintendo 64 game starring Dash Rendar. Taking place between the second and third movies, it basically explains how carbonite Solo gets to Jabba. 2) Something piggybacking on Knights of the Old Republic, the awesome Bioware RPG series. The games are set far in the distant past, even by Star Wars standards, and have some good twists and turns.

- Karen liked The Force Awakens more than the three movies of the original trilogy, but she was disappointed that nobody got their hand chopped off. The reveal of Luke with a metal hand at the end wasn’t enough. I had to remind her that because these movies are set in the distant past, they’re actually documentaries, and it would just be wrong to make up facts like that.

- Going forward, I’d be shocked if Rey was Luke’s daughter. Firstly, because they don’t look anything alike, and secondly, because it would be bizarre if Luke, Leia and Han Solo were all seemingly in the dark or negligent in monitoring his daughter. The likeliest answer on the Internet suggests that she has Kenobi blood in her, which seems likely to me, given her strength in the force, her age, and the fact that Luke’s lightsaber responded strongly to her. My second thought is that Luke was able to find some “force sensitives,” people strong but untrained in the force, out there in the universe. However, regardless of the answer, there will seemingly be some Character Gymnastics to explain this previously unknown Jedi being in the picture. (i.e. If she or one of her heirs was alive in the first trilogy, why did Yoda and Obi-Wan only seem to think that the Skywalkers were the last Jedi?)

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