Thursday, May 5, 2016

Some Scattered Thoughts About Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

It is somewhat ironic that you have to drag the Star Wars universe out of the hands of its original creator to actually get a watchable film taking place in it again, but then, creating something doesn’t necessarily mean understanding what’s best about it.

Sure, you could argue that a lot of the impact of J.J. Abrams’s film lies in the way it harnesses its audience’s nostalgia and general love for Star Wars and I couldn’t exactly call you wrong. However, you could just as well argue that doing this is actually what this particular film should do, respecting what the audience loved about the original trilogy and using it as the stepping off point for its variation of the original tale, instead of pretending to make everything new. And, while the film does perhaps repeat one plot beat of the originals too many, it gives most of its repeats little twists that to me feel very important. I don’t really need to explain why there’s more than just one difference between the scene between Kylo Ren and Han Solo and the parallel scene in the original trilogy nor why that’s important, do I? And while we’re talking about changes, to my eyes, it’s rather important and special too (in a good way) that Abrams also gives us a new entry in a beloved nerd mega-franchise whose heroes are a young woman and a young guy of colour, building on what came before and reaching towards inclusivity not as something to be prescribed in a dogmatic manner but as something that’s just normal (in all the good meanings of that word).

I also found myself decidedly happy with the film’s look which brings the Star Wars aesthetic back to its 70s SF paperback cover roots (that’s a compliment), its expectedly exciting action sequences (seriously, if you’re operating in the blockbuster world, good action sequences really should be a given by now, though it doesn’t seem to hurt Michael Bay his films only have crap ones), and the general air of the film very much caring about the tradition it stands in.

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