Thursday, 17 December 2015

STAR WARS 7.0 review (Spoilers ahead, beware)

Some movies pull (the weight of) their lineage really well. Episode VII had not one or two prequels to sit on but SIX and though some of them were awesome and others … slightly less awesome, each of the previous Star Wars had tons of lore, tons of subplot and a lot of classic moments, fan favorites… And when you’re making Episode SEVEN, you either stand entirely on that foundation or you detach yourself completely from the formula. It’s rare to see a movie with a perfect combination of both. 

I tried reading as little as possible about it, watched no trailers or interviews unless they were Force-fed to me (Force, get it?.... mnjah :D ), dived in no forums discussing why Kylo Ren’s lightsabre is as it is … (Ye, I got it, he’s conflicted) And I tried to really lower my expectation, because I ruined The Martian with very high ones, hearing really good reviews. But still I loved it. I really didn’t want it to end. I kept thinking – I know someone’s going to die, I know it’s been two hours, but don’t end, don’t end, don’t end… Actually counting the scenes from the only trailer I did see, thinking if we’ve gotten to that part already or not? Because if there’s one thing that really fucks up my whole day, is an excellent movie ending and I know it’s gonna be another fucking year before the second instalment gets me another fix.

But enough about me. It’s a great movie. If you have the imagination to comprehend it, it’s amazing. Just the scope of it  - all those years past, all those big ships in the sand, the legends that make too little difference… I have to see it at least three more times. Luckily, I have nerdy friends. Let’s talk the retro good bits: you had to have X-wing fights and you had to have lightsabre fights and Jedi Mind Trick whammy moments and Millennium Falcon and a sinister puppet master (and he’s big! Well done! And hello again, Andy Serkis) and a crazed Storm Trooper commander… Who plays that dick? Oh, Domhnall Gleeson, right. Of course. And greedy smugglers and chatty droids and Death Stars and unlikely friendships and glass submarine screens and bunkers with Resistance in them and canteens and so on and so forth… Double check on all of those. Down to the opening credits. Then there were some novelty good bits: some people actually take off their masks. A lot of them go Full Dredd and you still wonder who was it that played them so well (yes, I’m looking at you, Gwendoline Christie, you’re a hot cookie), but the two that do get to go full facial, are the lead protagonist, Finn and the lead antagonist, Ren. Finn is the first Storm Trooper we meet as a person, otherwise they’re just numbers in weird costume statement. But he’s cool. And I really like that they managed to show love between two characters that isn’t the traditional, “let’s make babies cause I like your boobies” kind of love. His relationship with the heroine is believable and heart-warming. You can see they truly like one another, but there really is no need for romance. Especially because you get to see an old romance, an old flame, Han and Leia, and you get to learn how badly that turned out, despite their great love for one another. Sometimes you mean well, but you still spawn Hitler. With a hilarious temper control problem.

My favorite scene in the movie is when Rey is being kept in the torture chair and she kind of tries to get the courage to snarl back at her torturer by taunting him about the mask and he just takes it off, no big deal. Her expression is the best one in the film, I thought. It’s not a gruesome disfigured monster at all (yet), it’s just a boy! That throws her a little. Gives her a bit of hope, but then immediately makes her disgust even deeper, because she sees through the costume – he’s just a sick brat. Talented, to be sure, and powerful, but just a messed up little boy. I knew Adam Driver will be playing Ben/Ren, so I knew he was going to be good looking, but I was surprised they made him so… puny? Layered, yes, and torn, yup, but perhaps Darth Maul spoiled me. I know Darths are just puppets, doing the Emperor’s dirty work. Still, he was awfully, willingly played. Or maybe I’m just not used to the Sith being so many dimensional. I also loved the scene in which he’s aloofly trying to seduce Rey to his awesomeness and she kicks his ass. Weakly played, boy, really :D You may have a fancy saber, but you’re a little bit on the Jon Snow variety when it comes to the real world. 

Another really good character, one I couldn’t get enough of – Dameron, the pilot. Loved him. I’d totally undress that one, especially with planets blowing up all over the place and you can never tell who’s next. 

I liked that they killed Solo the way they did... From the get-go. I thought if they're going to bring back an ancient character, having him fuel the emotional turmoil of the next generation would be the perfect way to see him off. You get to see how messed up his kid really is, or wants to be, burning bridges while standing on them, you get to see how adventurers die - for something they believe in - and you get to see that he had friends till the end - new friends who will seek to avenge him and set things right, things that he couldn't. I thought it was the least surprising outcome. Who else who connected the stories so well would die instead or how else would the new generation solve their own problems if he persisted?
Now for the few bad things, things that bothered me. Or just the one thing. The acting is a lot better here and so is camera work, and the dialogue also, to some extent, but there is a lot of music-acting and I don’t like that. A lot of very long moments where people are sort of just staring and shaking and the music is translating what they’re supposed to be going through. Someone said Stephen Spielberg owes half his Oscars to John Williams – I got that exact vibe here. Fine, have the battles super noisy, but there really is no need for a screaming booming orchestra when someone dies. We get it. It’s awful. We’ll miss him. 

So now we’re hooked … again … on a number of cool new people. From the watered down version of Keira Knightley, who does her job perfectly and is always flawlessly groomed, shaved and all, to a very, very old Luke Skywalker. And truthfully, nobody can remember any movie that Luke or Leia respectively did between then and now. The time table IS a tad confusing, because you have to bend your mind around the fact that THEIR mother was whom we saw recently and they are the ones who fell in love when I was born in 1977, and this is the continuance of THAT story … Bendy, yes. Not to mention I haven’t watched any of the cartoons. I have no idea if some of the answers are there. Lore galore, I said it. Am really curious on whose kid the girl is, though, Han and Leia’s, an obvious choice, or is she really Luke’s? True, a Jedi shouldn’t have kids, but I’m feeling they’re going to pair the big reveal of Episode V to VIII by saying: Ren… she is your second cousin twice removed!... and abandoned, as all the kids seem to be in these parts … Am glad they didn’t kill him off like they did Maul in the first round. I’ll enjoy watching them meet again, and catch whatever the other one is containing, light and dark. No shocks there. You could make those two more polar opposite if you made them in mirror image and with crayons. 

There wasn't much of a story yet, nothing pass the scroll intro - everyone is looking for Luke, the last Jedi, hoping that will somehow fix everything. Rinse and repeat cycle, really. New hope, new threat... Balance, unbalance, balance again. Fine by me.