Saturday, December 26, 2015

Movie review: The Force Awakens

So I went to see the new Star Wars, “The Force Awakens,” with my son.

I thought there were some interesting points. They brought back some of the original characters.  They brought in some new characters.  Some of the plot appeared to be a bit recycled as well, unfortunately.

For me, it was a sequel, part of a series.  I’m expecting to keep watching it.  I’m expecting to find out what is going on.  I expected to be left hanging at the end.

OK, so the villain was not depicted as really intimidating.  He has childish temper tantrums.  He looks like Severus Snape — kind of pouty.  He does battle with a guy who has never held a light saber before and does not instantly slaughter him. Still, I’m expecting this villain to be more intimidating later.  He’s not ripe yet.

My son was much more harsh. 

He said he had seen some Star Trek movies directed by J. J. Abrams.  He said “J. J. Abrams just doesn’t know how to do big. This is Star Wars.  It’s supposed to be big.”  I was impressed that my son was following this director and knew who he was. 

It made me think about Tom Hooper, who directed “The Danish Girl.”  He was certainly capable of making even ordinary scenes quite visually impressive — though there were other issues with that work.  I wondered if it would have been more visually impressive with Hooper.

We went home and watched the phantom menace again.  This was a bit of a challenge.  it’s on VHS tape.  I haven’t actually used my VCR in about 10 years or so.  The picture kept migrating off screen — like we used to get with poor broadcast signal — with the top half of the picture on the bottom of the screen and the bottom half on the top half of the screen, and a dark line between.

Still, I had to agree that the older movie was more captivating. 

The music was certainly much more dramatic.  We called those older movies space opera.  The music seemed subdued by comparison in the recent movie.

George Lucas spent more time scanning the space craft, slowly, so that you could really appreciate their size or craftsmanship. 

My son pointed out that when they destroyed a planet in the original Star Wars, they built up to it and
 had Princess Leia being really upset while watching it.  Here they just destroyed planets willy, nilly with no reaction by anyone.  Just fireworks. It seemed more fake than in the original movie.

Actually, when I think about it, I didn’t think this woman who is essentially the main character, was acting all that well. 

My son wished they had hired Idris Elba to do the villain’s voice in the new Star Wars movie, because he thought Elba would have been able to do a real villain voice.  I asked my son, who has a nice, full, bass-baritone voice, how he would have done the villain voice.  He’s actually quite a good actor, though he’d never do it for an audience.  He said he wouldn’t try to imitate James Earl Jones, because he wouldn’t be able to do it as well. Instead, he demonstrated with a hoarse, hissing whisper, which certainly could have been effective.

Also, he pointed out, and I guess he was right, that when they used the force, it wasn’t as credible as it was in the earlier movies.  This was partly due to the sound effects.

Still, I wonder, if it had been really grandiose and pompous, like the originals, would we accept that now?  Doesn't it make sense that these are people who are kind of muddling through?  Not sure.

Anyway, I really thought Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher did well — much their old selves.  The big surprise was Mark Hamill.  Somehow he was suddenly the Luke Skywalker of that first, old movie (“New Hope”) — just loaded with charisma and presence that he hadn’t had in the later movies.

Of the newer performers, I was most impressed with John Boyega.  I thought he was great throughout.

Adam Driver I'm reserving judgment on.  Like my son said, he doesn't have that kind of charisma like the original Darth Vader, but maybe he's not supposed to.

Yeah, ok, I guess I have to concede my son’s point that if the original movie had been like this one I probably wouldn’t have been as excited about the series.  I’m not sure that’s the point, though.  My son said he wouldn’t necessarily want to see the sequel of this one.  I think I would.

Anyway, we went on Christmas day & it wasn’t very crowded, which was nice.  And we saw it in 3D.  I expected the 3D to make it more exciting, but it didn’t seem to.

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