By Robert A. Vella
In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, legendary filmmaker and Star Wars creator George Lucas uttered this unfinished sentence:
“I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…”
Obviously, Lucas was referring to selling his controlling interests in the Star Wars franchise to Disney in 2012, and had second thoughts about expressing his honest feelings about that move in mid-sentence. Although he has subsequently backtracked his comments with an obligatory clarification, I’ll speculate about how he might have finished that sentence:
… commercially exploits them with no consideration whatsoever for preserving the essential and unique qualities of the original art form.
Well George, you should’ve realized that beforehand.
Despite my Lucas-like view of the corporate-controlled movie industry which feeds the baser instincts of humanity for profit (see: Idiocracy), I reluctantly agreed to see the new Star Wars film. Here’s my brief review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
Although I might be director J. J. Abrams most negative critic, particularly for his disrespectful evisceration of Gene Roddenberry’s visionary Star Trek creation (i.e. Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness), I must admit he largely preserved the essence of Lucas’ grand story of interstellar good-versus-evil while delivering a visually stunning film worthy of its high status. I’ve heard Abrams was very concerned about “not screwing up” Star Wars, and in at least that regard he succeeded.
What I liked
- The visual effects and scene sets were hugely overwhelming, possibly the best I’ve ever seen.
- The story was solid, and it remained true to its predecessors.
- The character of Rey, the scavenger/heroine (played by actress Daisy Ridley), was well-developed and compelling.
- The new droid BB-8 is pretty cool even though all it seems to do is follow the good guys around like a puppy dog. I’m sure children will love it.
What I didn’t like
- This was the least operatic of the Star Wars films.
- The dialog between characters was often weak and predictable.
- The story copied too many items from its predecessors, such as a grossly scaled-up Death Star, a gratuitous exotic-alien-filled bar scene, and the momentous death of a wise old protagonist, which all point towards a lack of creativity in writing.
- Many of the new characters appeared as successor plug-ins for the original roles, with Rey as the new Jedi-in-waiting replacing Luke, renegade stormtrooper Finn (code name FN-2187, played by actor John Boyega) replacing renegade smuggler Han Solo, a former protégé who turned to the dark side (Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver) as the new antagonist replacing Darth Vader, and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) replacing Emperor Palpatine.
- The depth of malevolence portrayed in the evil bad guys is terribly overdone. Darth Vader pales in comparison.
Because of its superior visual effects and adherence to the original story, I rate this film as 3 ½ stars (using a 0-4 scale). Star Wars fans young and old will enjoy it. We can quibble over my criticisms if you like.