Star Wars — Force Awakens

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WHERE WE ARE WAITING TO SEE STAR WARS AND THE PROJECTOR BREAKS DOWN

So I am actually writing this in the dark of a movie theatre (for our second look at the new Star Wars). The projector just broke down but only after Dee and I had suffered through all the hundreds of ads – about 25 minutes worth. (Maybe that is a record?) When the movie tried to boot it went through this bizarre phase where sound was OK, but the picture was replaced by a still from one of those ads we had just been tortured with. It was maddening.

We then went through three of these false-starts. Now we are being ferried into the 3:30pm session. (From our original 2:30 timeslot).

Some people are getting narky. The cinema people were very nice and apologetic. They just gave us all free tickets but now some people are demanding their money back. I can’t see the value in doing that. I know it’s really disappointing – but it’s no reason to take it out on the poor staff who probably have no idea why the technology fucked up. I have seen this sort of anarchy when our flight to the States got cancelled a few years back. Maybe this is the power of Star Wars. But in saying that if I hadn’t already seen the film maybe I too might have gone all Wookie on that shit. 🙂

(ASIDE: FIRST, MIDNIGHT, VIEWING)

So we saw the new Star Wars at a midnight session. It was my very first midnight movie-going experience. Two months ago I chose the 12:02 session (as opposed to the 12:01 session) just to avoid any nerds dressing up or any other distractions. I wanted to study this film. Be clear-headed and absorb it as entirely as I could.

So I tried to have a nap at 8pm but I only slept for 10 minutes in the space of 1.5 hours of frustration. I was just too excited.

Eventually Dee woke and we were on our way. We stopped at McDonalds (cause we were strangely super-hungry) and it was full of Star Wars fans. I scoffed down my cheeseburger and chips and we were there. I expected some epic lines but it went super-smooth. Although the place (Indooroopilly) was stuffed full of people and every theatre was booked out and all the movie sessions were starting at almost the same time — everything went pretty smoothly.

There was clapping at the beginning, but apart from that, everyone got down to business  — just like me. We all took this so very seriously. And here is why:

CONTEXT

Star Wars is of course hard-wired into my existence. It has literally always been there. I don’t even remember seeing the first two movies for the first time. (I did sit through the first 30 minutes of Star Wars in roughly 1978 as a 3 year old – but at the Mos Eisley Cantina scene it got a bit too much and I begged my dad to leave.)

So until it appeared on TV – I had to piece together what actually happened in the movies from what was told to me in the school yard and what little else I could pick up just in the ether. It may seem ridiculous, but I managed to gather an incredible understanding of the entire story, with just word of mouth and what clips were shown on TV. Plus there were comic adaptations too (borrowed of course) making-of books (similarly just rifled through at a friend’s house) and crude “audiobooks” (which were only just the basic story with grade 2 text and the audio aspect was some sound effects by R2 telling you it was time to turn the page). On top of that virtually all characters and major scenes had pictures everywhere and plus those appearances on The Muppets were just magical.

But in my tiny brain – despite NOT ACTUALLY SEEING the movies didn’t make Star Wars any less valuable. Maybe it even made it bigger. There was a mystery to them and an extra majesty when I finally got to view them.

See we were too poor to go to movies and if we did go to the movies it was at the drive-in which was cheaper and you got better value — two movies. So I think it wasn’t until grade 2 when I saw Star Wars properly — in black and white — and maybe grade 3 for Empire. (We didn’t get a colour TV until I was in year 7.)

So the idea of “Star Wars” without actually seeing Star Wars was more about the characters. It was the Kenner action figures you got at Christmas or for a birthday. The story was kinda important – but it was those characters that really made it. In the yard at the kindergarten and eventually at school I remember we would act out the movies, even though I was oblivious to the plot. So when I was told in this game I was playing “Lando Calrission” I demanded to know: “Is he a good guy or a bad guy?”. The answer made me love the movies even more. “He’s a bit good and a bit bad.”

I didn’t really know how this worked, but to play this apparently conflicted character, I guess I did my best. In retrospect “Lando” was a character that was probably just left-over. Everyone else wanted to play Luke or Han.

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THE FORCE AWAKENS REVIEW (SPOILERS ALERT)

PART ONE: WHAT MADE THIS FILM WORK

It really nailed the new characters (with one tiny exception). And I would say all the old characters (with one tiny exception) just stepped up too. They were so real – alive – and you cared about what happened to them. They were funny — like REALLY funny and they reacted to situations in a way we could all understand.

When the first trailer came out I watched and I literally teared-up when the theme hit and the Falcon smashed out and it did that massive loop with it’s vapor-trail drunkenly following behind. I watched it again and again.

And I devoured all the forthcoming trailers and TV spots and the international versions. I didn’t care if it spoiled the film. I watched the nerds speculating and deconstructing the details on YouTube.

And you know what? It didn’t ruin the film. It just added an extra dimension. With one exception. When that scene with Han and Kylo came about I KNEW EXACTLY what was going to happen next. I had guessed it myself: (There was that scene in the trailers of Rey getting super-upset looking downwards). And from the trailers I knew there was the light-saber battle between Rylo and Finn in the snow and obviously that was yet to happen.)

I wasn’t pissed off at all. Dee grabbed my arm like she knew too. And of course we knew Harrison Ford had wanted to be killed-off ever since ESB — hence the carbon-freezing scene.

Making all this seem even more poetic was the fact Han had had some fucking amazing scenes in this movie. He had so many jokes, so much coolness and was still a hit with Leia (despite dumping her). As a fan-boy, watching for the first time, at about 1.22minutes in, I decided he was the best thing about the movie. But of course upon reflection I realised there were other incredible elements.

PART TWO: LEIA

So speaking of “Leia”. She was so necessary to the magic of this new film, but let’s face it — she was a bit ordinary. Her voice is a bit weird these days and she just doesn’t have the look of desperation in her eyes like she had before. When Indiana Jones looked back and saw that massive boulder rolling towards him I bet he was channelling Carrie Fisher.

So it was a bit hard to connect with her — except for that interview she did with her dog on that US breakfast show. Amazing. I don’t care.

PART THREE: JOKES

I fucking loved all the jokes. Star Wars (A New Hope) had so many jokes in the first stanza or two. The banter between R2D2 and C3PO was hilarious. The bit where R2 is in trouble with Luke and then beeps something apologetic to C3PO — who says, “No, I don’t think he likes you at all.” R2’s next dialogue betrays some hurt. “No, I don’t like you either.” C3PO replies.

But this movie had jokes almost the whole way through. Really, really funny stuff. It was hilarious. And as incredible as it is to say THE TWO BEST JOKES were made by droids. There — put that in your pipe and smoke it! And the THIRD (and FOURTH maybe) best joke was made by Chewbacca. Again, a character that has no intelligible dialogue and limited facial expressions. But still we all got it.

Next in line for comedy was Han (who really stole the movie as far as everything really). He was such a glorious presence and every scene he had he rocked it out.

PART FOUR: WHAT BEING A FAN MEANT

I know this movie has been labelled “fan-service”, maybe even derided that way. All the critics that make up the 5% on Rotten Tomatoes that have dissed the film, and the other 95% that probably referenced that fan-service aspect have said it was essentially a re-boot of Star Wars, almost a Special Edition disguised as a sequel. Look, I get that critique. It does seem super familiar. Like the major characters must be forever thinking, “Why is this all happening (almost exactly the same) all over again?” Han even jokes about it towards the end. While they contemplate that deja-vu I will say there are a bunch of diversions and a bunch of surprises I experienced while watching that 12.02 session on Thursday morning.

PART FOUR.1

The character I thought was just stupid was the “Supreme Leader”. I know General Hux (played by Domhnall Gleeson) was a bit stupid too, but the CGI just looked so exposed against the rest of the movie. And he looked (and behaved) almost exactly like Voldemort. I mean, come on. In such a brilliant movie, these short scenes I can forgive. (But hey Disney – just don’t do it again — alright?)

IMG_9044.JPGFrom left to right: Lego Chewy, Kylo Ren and General Hux. (Avec ginger side-burns) 

PART FIVE: WHAT I FOUND EXCITINGLY DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS NEW FILM

1) Rey learns the Force just on her own. Although we suspect her heritage, she is badass enough to work it out. She is also a FAN of Han Solo just like us. She is so positive but has that complexity which we see in her vision and her devotion to get back to Jakku.

2) It’s definitely got more jokes (see above). It’s almost a gag every minute for the first hour and a half.

3) It ends with a super teaser. And I know Empire ended a bit like that — but that movie didn’t end on a SCENE that needed a resolution. Luke looks so brilliant up there on that lonely mountain like the Hermit from the tarot cards or Led Zeppelin 4.

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4) REY! She ripped shit up. Acting-wise she really looked so convincing. You felt for her from scene one. I loved her enthusiasm. One of the first characters in Star Wars to be actually excited to be thrown into this story.

5) FINN! His arc with BB-8 was so cool. That bit where he was accused of theft (or worse) made it so much more funny when he turned it around to make a deal with BB which resulted it that incredible thumbs up. So, so good

6) BB8 had a much bigger emotional role than his “counterpart” R2D2. He seemed a bit more bad-ass as well. So ready to expose Finn and be brutally torturous too. R2 was my favourite character from the old movies but BB-8 has charmed the fuck out of me. You could really physically see when he was sad. Whereas R2 just got kicked around in Star Wars, BB-8 had his heart torn out. He went through a big bunch of shit in the first half of the movie and looked just as much the orphan as Rey did.

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7) Poe! Poe Dameron had that charm and raucousness and swashbuckling nonsense.

8) A new B-Wing!

ASIDE: LUKE’S LIGHTSABER (spoiler!)

So in the movie Rey discovers “Luke’s Lightsaber” — which is apparently the saber that didn’t just belong to Luke — but it belonged to Anakin too. Though the one in “A NEW HOPE” and the one in “EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” were a tiny bit different: they looked much like this:

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Rey touches the weapon and has various visions. (this was a really cool bit in the movie btw). Flashbacks it seems but maybe the clairvoyance Luke had in ESB. So I have a feeling there is some future elements in this sequence. But I am probably wrong.

I will say that I definitely hear Yoda in that sequence and I shit you not: Obi-Wan says something too with the word “Rey”. I may be wrong.

But it is curious how that lightsaber came to be there. I mean — didn’t it have the same tragic fate as Luke’s severed right hand?

And here is a picture of the aforementioned saber from the Force Awakens trailers:

lightsaber.jpegTBH: the scene above doesn’t seem to be actually in the movie. WTF? (there were other bits from the trailers and teasers that weren’t in the actual film)

Looks pretty similar. Maybe even exact.

So if I am getting this straight — that lightsaber is the very one that was cut from Luke’s arm and fell into the pits of Bespin’s Cloud City — seemingly lost down through those clouds forever.

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But it is possible if it didn’t fall towards the centre of the planet and be crushed by all sorts of atmosphere. It just might have got stuck at the bottom of that massive pit in Cloud City where Luke and Vader battled and was eventually discovered by someone. And just like The One Ring in Lord of the Rings, it was strong with the force and this rescue was deliberate and by hook and crook it made it back to Luke. (Spoiler)

I’d like to think that. That makes more sense than Han and Chewy just choosing that point in their life to salvage the Falcon (and rescue Rey and Finn and BB8).

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