Welp. I finally did it. I went and saw the Star Wars.
I think I waited the right amount of time. There were only 12 people in the theater including one annoying brat. These days that qualifies as the best moviegoing experience of all time. Even so, we still defied the odds and had one of the glowing-screen folk in our midst. Who says you can’t have it all?
If you haven’t seen the movie yet you might want to leave now. And hates you, I do.
Here’s a quick refresher to catch up those of you who haven’t heard about Star Wars before. It’s a subtle theatrical exploration of the concept of binary thinking and dualism. Me good. You bad. Me Tarzan. You Jane. Light meat. Dark meat. Night. Day. Boy. Girl. Blue. Pink. Open. Closed. Heaven. Hell.
You get the idea. Just in case you don’t, that’s where Star Wars rides in like John Wayne to save the day. Speaking of the Duke…
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”
–George Lucas, Star Wars observer
I digress (this has nothing to do with the new movie) but that’s some of the sickest shit I’ve ever heard. Apparently, according to this guy, anyone who’s ever done something on the yonder side o’ the binary can’t be a hero. Hell, he can’t even have a wife.
The concept of the anti-hero is lost on George Lucas. Or, maybe not. After all he’s the creator of Jar Jar Binks.
The point, perhaps too subtle for Lucas, is that Han shooting first is one of the elements that made the movie was it was. I have to use the past tense here since the original version is no longer made available. Places like iTunes only offer the George Lucas table scraps. Which is perfect for followers of the Greedo Shot First sect.
Yes, Han shot first. Everyone except George Lucas knows this. That was the whole point of the scene. It established the character. It gave him street cred. Without it, his salvation at the end of the movie (spoiler alert) makes no sense. Mythology? That’s the absolute thinking of someone who drank too much of his own Kool-Aid. Lucas is a Sith? Absolutely.
Anyway, enough about that. We all know you’re here to enjoy me using my lightsaber to ginsu the new movie. The cutting room floor has nothing on me.
When I talk about Star Wars with my wife I sound exactly like Dr. Sheldon Cooper. I admit that. #firststep
The Force Awakens has a Mozart problem. Too many notes. What is a “note,” pray tell? George Lucas has his notes much like J. J. Abrams has his infamous “mystery box.” Look it up. It’s a thing.
A note is storytelling element or moment that is repeated. Oft repeated. Ad infinitum. Until one feels queasy and feels the urge to vomit. Until one screams inside one’s own head. You get the idea.
Examples of notes? It might be a repeated phrase. Someone yelling the word “no!!!” That whole light/dark thing. I’ll provide a few more examples as we move along, move along.
The Force Awakens starts off on a desert planet. (Clever readers may be now detecting their first hint of note.) But wait. It’s not Tatooine after all. As Abrams breathlessly informed advance media, it’s a planet called Jakku and a whole new place. Which, as it turns out, it absolutely indiscernible from Tatooine. Notes.
Important information has been secreted away inside a droid who escapes to the planet surface and gets chased by stormtroopers. Yes, that’s the plot of the new movie. You just can’t make shit like this up. Unless you’re using the original movies as a blueprint. Notes.
That new Star Wars movie isn’t canon, right?!
Now it’s time to check off those formulaic boxes. Rey is the new Luke Skywalker? Check. Finn is the Han Solo? Check. Poe Dameron is badass? Check. Maz Kanata is the new Yoda? Check. Han Solo is the new Obi-Wan Kenobi/Qui Gon Jinn? Check. Bad guy with a mask and a voice changer? Check. Mysterious hologram giant head of a super evil villain in a special room where people kneel and bow? Check. Super powerful weapon that blows up planets? Checkity-check-check-check.
Now playing the role of the Empire is the First Order. Now playing the role of the Rebellion is the Resistance. I figured after the destruction of the second Death Star the Rebellion was well on it’s way to becoming the new Establishment. It was their day. They were in charge. Ewoks even sang a song about it. But now somehow they’re the Resistance. And, oh yeah, the First Order has stormtroopers and TIE fighters and the Resistance has X-wings. Any resemblance to previous movies is purely intentional.
In fact, things have gone so horribly wrong since we thought it was safe to leave the galaxy in the hands of Luke, Han, and Leia, that people nowadays don’t even know about the Force. Lightsabers? What are those? Darth Vader? Who’s he? Han Solo? You mean he’s real? Who knew our heroes could fuck things up so badly?
Speaking of Leia, remember when Obi-Wan said Luke was their last hope? And Yoda said, “No, there is another.” We all know he was talking about Luke’s twin sister Leia. (Obi-Wan later explicitly says same.) The original trilogy leaves us with the belief that it is her destiny to become a Jedi, too. And we know she’s going to be badass. What happens instead? She gets promoted to the rank of General where she languishes behind a desk. Apparently she has no Force powers at all (except tingly feelings) despite all the midichlorians pumping through her veins. “I don’t wanna be a Jedi like my father,” Leia said, stamping her feet angrily.
Everyone in the Star Wars universe has daddy issues.
Wait. Kylo Ren has Darth Vader’s mask? We know that sucker got burned in the pyre on Endor by Luke Skywalker himself. Apparently the mask survived the fire. Okay, now what? We have to believe that Luke decides to keep it as a momento (unlikely) or that he leaves it there for a surviving stormtrooper to find and keep as a war souvenir.
Meanwhile, down on Tatooine, I mean Jakku, we meet the scavenger Rey, a scrappy loner with a past. And a pilot, too. For reasons unknown she scours for parts inside Empire junk that literally litters the entire planet. Somehow, even though they look ancient, she’s still able to come up with parts that have value which she returns to the nearest grocery store and redeems them for deposit value.
Around that same time a defective stormtrooper, Finn, rescues a heroic X-wing pilot and steals a TIE fighter. Even though he’s not rated on the craft, Poe Dameron quickly learns how to fly the thing. (Just like Will Smith in Independence Day. Yeah, that’s plausible.) Even so, they get distracted by their own witty banter and take fire, which only damages them enough to deposit them safely on the planet surface.
Long story short, Finn and Rey are quickly hunted down and manage to dance around TIE fighter laser blasts long enough to make a run for a nearby pile of junk. Yep. You guessed it. That hunk of junk turns out to be nothing less than the legendary Millennium Falcon, although strangely no one had a clue. That’s one well kept secret. And, luckily, it’s unlocked, the keys are in the ignition, and it’s got a full tank of gas. It’s 300 miles to Chicago. It’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Yes, I also had a cameo in Star Wars The Force Awakens. I played the part of Bantha Doo Doo #7.
After a shaky start, Rey quickly masters the ship and is soon flying it better than Han Solo ever did. Who needs him? Despite this, he still shows up (with a youthful Chewbacca) and is soon hogging lines from the newbies.
They soon come up with some zany plan. Whatevs.
Soon we meet Maz Kanata, the new Yoda. She may not be a Jedi master but she’s got something going on. The house she’s had for thousands of years is quickly blow to bits by stormtrooper meanies. Stay tuned to future installments to learn more.
One cool new character is Captain Phasma, the most stylish stormtrooper in galactic history. She’s played by the actor who brings Brienne of Tarth to life on Game of Thrones. I’ve instantly gone from wanting to be cleaved by sword to craving a shot from a blaster in the gut. She’s so dreamy. Swoon.
She’s the keeper of the stormtroopers. We learn early on that they have to be “conditioned,” something she tries to do with Finn but fails. At last, some of the exciting stormtrooper backstory is being given the exposition it so richly deserves.
But wait. What’s this? The First Order decides to hold a pep rally. Ever seen 4.2 trillion stormtroopers standing in formation? Fun fact: Only one of them is a live actor. The rest were digitally added. Yawn. That’s so Lord of the Rings and The Phantom Menace.
Weirder, though, is the pep rally itself. Some guy takes the stage and delivers a motivational speech. To stormtroopers? These conditioned fellows? Who knew that they needed coddling? Memorandum. To: Stormtroopers. From: Management. Subject: Team meeting. Attendance is mandatory. For absolutely no reason at all we’re going to lay out all of our plans. We want you to feel included. If you have any ideas be sure to drop them in the suggestion box.
Chandler Bing reviews Star Wars: Could that Nazi imagery BE any more subtle?!
More stuff happens but I’m getting bored with this. Kylo Ren is the new Darth Vader. He’s an emo master of the Dark Side. So much so that he even has a defective red lightsaber he built from his own Star Wars Lego set. He has some of the strongest Force powers we’ve ever seen. Stopping a laser blast in its tracks? Immobilizing people with a gesture? Helping himself to knowledge locked away in a resistant mind? No problem. Dick Cheney would have loved this guy.
Rey has some Force powers of her own but she has never been trained. Hell, she’s barely even heard of the Force and considers it a myth. We can’t let that get in that way of the plot, though. Strapped to a chair she has a light bulb go off and realizes she can suggest to the weak-minded stormtrooper to let her go, and be a dear and leave me your weapon, too. It’s a perfect example of an awesome scene that makes absolutely no sense.
I thought Star Wars TFA was a fresh look at the worn out “good vs. evil” paradigm. We don’t often see such subtle storytelling.
Eventually she goes up against Kylo Ren in a lightsaber battle. What? Yeah, that. The well-trained master of the dark side up against an untrained neophyte of the light side who’s basically never even held a lightsaber before.
What should happen is that Kylo cuts her in half in about 4.2 seconds. But she gets the better of him. Yeah. She’s that good.
Say what you will about George Lucas but in six Star Wars movies he made there was always a duel with people who actually knew lightsabers.
Suffice it to say a lot of shit in this movie makes no sense at all. We’re just supposed to enjoy J. J. Abrams whipping shit out of his “mystery box” because it’s entertaining.
Eventually the movie wraps up in a very carefully laid out way, perfectly setting the stage for the next movie. We all heard Mark Hamill was in this movie, too? No worries. Let’s fly over and say howdy. You’ll literally find him as the guru at the top of the mountain. Even though he sucks so bad at training Jedi. He’s special.
Mark Hamill must be pretty steamed about that Oscar snub.
I have many more thoughts but I’m pushing 2,000 words and that’s a lot. So I’ll cut the post here like a severed arm on a cantina’s floor.
I give Star Wars The Force Awakens two lightsabers. Two lightsabers right through the gut!