Generally speaking I would say I loved the new Star Wars movie. I watched it twice so far and will watch it again. But while my heart is still buzzing with happiness over a Star Wars movie that captures what Star Wars is, let’s dig into some of the particulars about the movie and then the direction of the Star Wars universe in general.
P.S. there will be spoilers.
1. The general absence of green screen production made my heart soar. I don’t care how good digital animation gets, it doesn’t compare to the physicality of … the physical. Having a body in a suit is much better than a stand in sporting a green leotard while you say your lines to a face on a stick. Even a puppet can at least be seen and touched. This movie largely brought things back to the Jim Henson way of doing things. For that I am very grateful. However, there were at least two digital characters which stood out to me as being unnecessarily cartoonified. The little woman with glasses can almost be forgiven because she was made so well. But if you’re going to make a digital creature, don’t make one that could just as easily been played by a small woman. The other is Big Pappa Leader Man, which is just about as ridiculous a name as he was actually given, aka, Supreme Leader Snoke. Hold a moment while I gag. This character also did not need to be digitally animated. It could have very easily been played by an actual person, though I personally would have done away with the character altogether. The third digitally animated character is one I’m giving a pass because surprisingly I didn’t mind BB-8 all that much and I didn’t think of him as computer animated, though I understand why he had to be so.
2. The basic story line is, well, basic. The characters and their back stories are interesting. The acting was great. But the formulaic structure of the script left a lot to be desired. I will even give a pass for the light side dark side conflict because that is just largely what the star wars universe is about. But a third death star? And no, making it look different and calling it something different doesn’t count. It’s a death star and it is destroyed the same way the others were, which is dumb. And while I’m talking about the death star thingy, which this time actually destroys stars, how do you have enough stars to drain? Does the death star planet move from star to star? The movie could have spent more time on something different. Something new. A twist. A focus on the people a bit more and large moon-sized weapons less.
3. Deviation from the previous cannon is disappointing. I can understand the desire to start fresh, especially considering the hundreds of star wars books previously approved by the hand of Lucas. At least in the original “aftermath” of episode 6 there were no death planets. And those books came out like fan fiction, well written, to fill in the gaps after the movies had run their course. Now we have books and comics written so you will buy them in anticipation of the next movie and help you fill in the gaps and make sense of the movies. The same tactic seems to be employed with the Marvel universe … to the point that a friend of mine has simply stopped trying to keep up. Disney understands the money that can be had from the Star Wars universe. But I implore them not to make it into something built for cash flow instead of build for imagination flow. Because the cash flow will run dry as the heart of the mission deadens. Keep the energy of J.J. Abrams and trash the books like Star Wars: Aftermath which read like they were by a 16-year-old on summer break.
In conclusion, I want a true Star Wars universe, sure. But I also want something that continues the saga, not that just rehashes it. And I want a world built on delving into the fantasy not just one that takes in the cash with forced (no pun intended), formulaic storylines and comic books you have to read if you want the story to make sense, and then find out that it really makes no sense anyway and they just teased you into buying worthless stories.
So has the force awakened? Maybe. But right now it’s checking the time and trying to decide if it wants to sleep through the next movie or come alive.