Thursday, December 24, 2015

So, I got around to watching the new Star Wars picture yesterday.  And... eh.  Not terrible, not great, a passable spectacle with some lovely set-pieces and decent action sequences.  It was too busy, too long, and the script didn't make a lot of sense, carried along on a stream of dream-logic by which characters appeared when they needed to appear and possessed knowledge when they needed to supply that knowledge.  The settings often felt... hermetic, insular, cramped.

One of the great aspects of the original movie was the vast, empty vistas of the various locations, especially Tunisia and Guatamala.   The original Star Wars was a journey through a haunted unknown world, and we felt small and vulnerable before the trackless world outside Luke's sandy work-shed.  At times the new picture approaches that sense of horizontal vertigo, that this great ghostly potential might suck you right out of your seat into the beautiful void.

But the director and the editors are in too much of a hurry to let the space between things breathe. They clearly wanted the picture to be *both* A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back at the same time, in the same story.  But both movies inhabited their running-times totally, with no real space in between that could be clipped and trimmed to interweave them together the way they are in The Force Awakens. There are about three sub-plots too many in the picture, and it comes across like a wrestling-match in a telephone booth.

Almost all modern pictures are in too damn much of a hurry, afraid of silence, afraid of stillness.  They forget that motion only has impact in the midst of stillness.

Still, at least it wasn't the prequel trilogy, and they've beaten the demon CGI into submission.

BTW, is it just me, or does JJ Abrams' entire film career consist of cinematic fan-fic?  Super-8, Star Trek, The Force Awakens - they all play like a clever, technically proficient fanboy making peculiar off-tone stories out of beloved but somewhat out-of-character toys.


which_chick said...

This impressed me more than I expected. Sam drug me to the damn thing after a beer-n-reuben dinner out, so my defenses were low, but still it did not suck as much as I thought it would. Ten pounds of sugar in a five pound sack, yes, but still not as bad as what could have been in that sack, y'know? It's been, what with The-Force-Is-A-Chick-This-Time and Not-Really-About-Mad-Max and the fanfic come to life that is Jupiter Ascending coupled with Jessica Jones and Supergirl on the small screen, not a bad year for chicks in heroic lead roles. I'm kinda okay with that.

That said, I feel like the Star Wars universe is way too full of whiny wimpy bad guys who are seduced by the dark side. Not since Vader has a bad guy been cool and in the prequel, they made Anakin/protoVader uncool. I understand that evil must be defeated and stuff, but it shouldn't always have to look like a two year old who has been told he can't have another plastic dinosaur toy. I want classier, more capable, more seductive evil. Give our heroes somebody worth beating. Also, if in movie #2 they go to redeem the puerile idiot who patricided in movie #1, I will stop watching. In my world, some sins are unforgiveable.

And finally, what kind of evil empire does not, after six movies, recognize the narrative importance of the Skywalker/Organa line and exterminate them all so that they can have a peaceable and coherent evil empire? You can't just strand one of the damn family on a desert planet so that it can make a living doing salvage and befriending robots because that winds up with your Death Star or Death Planet or whatever getting exploded. Don't you remember What Happened Last Time?!? *sigh* (It has not yet been proven that our hero is of the line. But, y'know... if I were a betting woman...)

Mitch H. said...

I hope against hope that Rey isn't related to anybody of note, but the Abrams version of the Star Wars universe seems to be about the size of a small country county, with about as many people, most of them somewhat related to each other. You know, one of those TV-series counties with the county seat being the only town of note, maybe one or two inbred hamlets full of were-panthers out in the sticks, a couple farmsteads, and a dark forest for evil to lurk in.

It drove me kind of nuts that neither the First Order nor the Resistance seem to be either in charge, or accountable to anyone in charge. As I understand it, they're both insanely over-equipped militias duking it out across lawless, disordered wastelands. The plot of the movie seems to be a Sonny Bunch-esque argument in favor of the old Empire, because the New Republic seems to be indistinguishable from mere anarchy loosed upon the world.

Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: I have not seen Star Wars ep VII yet... I will, and sort of expect it's tailored to shorter less-refined attentions. I'm still angry about what J.J. Abrahms has done to Roddenberry's Star Trek canon. As for Disney's Star Wars, they might have done well to have the producers and screenwriters watch Kurosawa's catalog for its cinematography and that long-drawn aesthetic affectation that makes me love the visual experience of Kurosawa, the most artful anime, and war horses like Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey...

I hope you and everyone in your life are doing well in 2016...

Benjamin said...

Oh sorry, above 'anonymous' is me, Ben H.