Thursday, December 17, 2015

the force needs more sleep

Inside the Glenwood Theater
A long time ago, in a theater on the other side of town, I had the opportunity to attend the opening night of a relatively unknown feature film at the Glenwood Theater in Overland Park.  It was the only place in town showing the movie.  Star Wars was an incredible journey through space, time, and fantasy in worlds light years away.

We knew very little about this movie, excepting the hype my uncle had put into describing it.  He insisted we go, guaranteeing we would enjoy every minute of it.  He was right.  Indeed, I sat through the movie nailed to my seat.  The special effects were amazing for the time, and captured the imagination.  In spite of what many say recently about the movie, it did not really introduce anything new or unexpected that most science fiction fans were not already well acquainted with.  It did not inspire me to go out and build a rocket, robot, to become an astronaut, or a coder.  Tom Swift Jr. had already done that; yet another situation introduced by the same Uncle.

The movie brought together two of my favorite subjects, Science Fiction and Revolution, into one amazing story that was completely believable.  I had read quite a bit of both topics by that time and very much perceived the movie an immediate reflection of the continuing struggle throughout the history of humankind, between those greedy for absolute power and total domination of those who simply will not be dominated.  For me, the movie validated that rebellion was not only necessary at times, but often was an imperative in the universe.  It also spoke to another subject lurking in the back of my mind; organized religion, God, and all that moves us.  The Force was as good of a name for all of that as any, and brought everything into perspective without even trying or creating animosity; well, except in the worlds introduced by this saga.

Fast forward to today.  I am not one that is particular interested in seeing sequels, usually do not go see a movie more than once, and do not generally go out of my way to go see an updated movie either.  They are all tend to be seriously lacking, in one way or another, so I was a little hesitant to bother with latest rendition.  Offered the chance to catch this opening act though, I decided since I had been to the first, I might as well go and see what all the fuss is about.

We arrived a couple of hours early to avoid the crowds, which turned out a great idea.  The closer movie time came, the more chaos ensued in the lobby, compounded by folks in costume for the event, and an R2D2 drifting about the lobby.  Later Storm Troopers and the royal family joined the fun, with folks swarming around to get a photo with any or all of the characters.  We had plenty of opportunity for that early on, even though it was only with the R2D2.

The movie was good, but not groundbreaking, and nothing to write home about.  The special effects were equivalent to anything out right now, and not particularly innovative.  The acting was generally good, but the characters lacked any depth at all, excepting those from the first film making extended cameo appearances.  The story was generally disappointing, and nearly plagiarism.  The writers should be ashamed of themselves and George Lucas, embarrassed.  I really expected more than just a re-write of the first movie.  How cheap and unimaginative.  While it was probably inspiring to the younger folks, it generally lacked the depth and purpose of the original feature, and there was a point or two that really did not resonate well.

The character Kylo Ren, son of Han Solo, and grandson of the infamous Darth Vader came off as a whiny little brat that needed a good thrashing.  Although, perhaps that was the intent; or the writers just did not know how to create that perfect villain, or maybe Adam Driver is just a bad actor.  It is hard to know, and only future editions will establish certainty on either point.  The character was not dark, foreboding and oppressive, except in costume; even then, not so much.  It was simply a typical angst riddled adolescent, with no apparent cause for discontent, who murders his father.  Yes, he murders his father. I would say by treacherous and deceitful means, but I think everyone say it coming from the sniveling little pestilence.  He pretends to “see the light,” asks for help, and then stabs his father through the heart.  It did disturb everyone in the audience, likely only because somebody had the audacity to kill Han Solo.  I was only surprised that Disney would seriously go down that path.  Regardless of the morality of the issue, is that really a lesson Disney really wants to embed in the minds of those still forming opinions on the appropriate course of action for their grievances?

As mentioned previously, the story pretty much followed that of the original, with very little variation.  A lonely Skywalker descendant leaves a desert-like planet with a robot on a mission to deliver a message stored in the robot.  They meet other people that help them and are reunited with long lost family.  They learn of a weapon similar to the Death Star, but now planet-sized.  The Rebels blow it up.  Just about the time you thought it was over though, the story whiplashes disjointedly to a sub-story and the discovery of the lost Luke Skywalker.  The End.  The underlying story of revolution?  Marginalized.  It seems that after multiple generations of war, the Rebellion is still a scattered minority with no hope of winning anything more than the occasional battle.  It seems the Force needs a bit more sleep

Although, do not mistake my grievances for dismissal or distaste of the feature.  It was a pretty good adventure movie with a generally good story and relatively good acting.  It was a Disney movie.  If I had never seen any of the Star Wars saga, I might have had a much higher opinion of the situation.   It just failed to meet my expectations and all of the hype surrounding it.  Is anyone else sick of Star Wars merchandising and commercialism yet?

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