Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Hangover




WARNING: Spoilers like your drunken mum on Christmas Day with the Bond movie.

Don't want to know then shove off!

Like a LOT of 40-something Star Wars fans I looked forward to THE FORCE AWAKENS/ Episode 7 with more than baited breath. Since last December when the teaser trailer was released (to moans about black stormtroopers** and crossguards on lightsabers) I have waited patiently along with my peers and the newer generations of Star Wars fans to go and see a movie that would hopefully piss on the woeful memory of George Lucas's poxy prequel trilogy.

The Only Trilogy That Matters was finally getting a sequel. Getting Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford in a movie together was like getting Abba to reform and tour. This movie promised big and had huge potential. The same bloke who turned Star Bleech! into a decent franchise, JJ Abrams, was directing and the whole thing had the same promise as the first time Wayne Rooney played for England.

In the last few months I have downloaded and watched the Only Trilogy once again and own some Star Wars merchandise. This includes an orange lava lamp that looks like a swarm of Tie fighters and star destroyers going to battle in a big tube of marmalade. Also a Darth Vader mug with a lid, that rests on my mantlepiece as it's too precious to drink out of (and the effect of taking part of the head off to drink from it reminds me a little too much of the "monkey brains" sequence in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

 


But I digress...

I bought my ticket for the 12.01am showing on 17th December about 8 weeks before the film was on. VIP seat at the local Vue cinema for the 3D presentation of the first showing ANYWHERE aside from the premieres in America and London a few hours before, and that terminally ill bloke who got a private screening. On about the 10th of December I went in and bought a pair of Kylo Ren (new bad guy Sith warrior person) 3D glasses in case there was a queue on the night.

I got there a full hour before the film was due to commence and chatted with other eager, trembling fans in the foyer. When the film FINALLY commenced the tension was palpable. I felt a warm glow as the Lucasfilm logo appeared. I closed my eyes momentarily and smiled when "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." came up on screen. And like everyone else I was elated when the Star Wars music blasted out the speakers and the yellow letters began to crawl up the screen.



The problem was and still is that Star Wars 7, at the end of the day was one FUCKING depressing film, a fact I was blinded to for days due to being so overawed by its otherwise awesome nature.

For a start the ending of Return of the Jedi left us with a lovely feeling of loveliness about just how lovely it was now that the horrid Empire and the Emperor were gone. The bastard special editions even included footage of galactic citizens pulling down statues of Emperor Palpatine while singing in the streets. Back on Endor our intrepid heroes were having a cuddle round a camp fire while Ewoks played drums on stormtrooper helmets. Luke gazed whimsically into the funeral pyre of Darth Vader...his father, while the ghosts of Obi Wan, Yoda and that little cunt who doesn't like sand stared back and smiled. The whole thing suggested a "They lived happily ever after" vibe and for years we held onto that. Even the poxy prequels had a few redeeming features and one was that they showed just HOW hard the struggle was, right back to the previous generation.



Happy endings all round. Then the kickass, well acted, great special effects, awesome twists, cool characters, class reunion that is THE FORCE AWAKENS exploded onto the screen. As much as I loved this film the depressing bits were many:

1). Stormtroopers are now people we can emote with. Far from being the inept, bumbling, can't-shoot-for-shit idiots from the Only Trilogy, they have feelings. Finn was a stormtrooper and his friend (another stormtrooper) dies in his arms after wiping blood on his mask. What was fun before was that we weren't required to give a shit about the stormtroopers. They served as disposable mooks for our heroes. Now we can feel guilty when they die, especially as they appear to have been taught how to shoot straight in the intervening 30 years.



2). The implied happy ending from RETURN OF THE JEDI never happened. The empire fragmented and the strongest bit became the Nazi-esque First Order. Luke ended up failing to recreate the Jedi order, and indirectly got most of his pupils killed in the process. Han Solo and Princess Leia had a son who turned out to be a petulant brat who ended up joining the dark side, killing the aforementioned Jedi trainees and becoming Kylo Ren. This in turn broke Han and Leia's marriage and they split, with Leia becoming a fat old woman and Han taking up smuggling again with only Chewbacca for company.



3). The Death Star was one scary, badass weapon and could blow up entire planets. THE FORCE AWAKENS introduces us to Starkiller base, a terraformed planet that can blow up (deep breath) ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEMS. We see lovingly graphic footage of what it feels like to be on a planet about to get hit by a Death Star laser (in this case stolen energy from the nearest sun) which now solves that nagging doubt about what the population of Alderrann felt like just after Tarkin gave THAT order.

4). A weapon that can blow up planets is badass evil. A planet that can do the same thing to a whole solar system is the equivalent of watching the ending of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS. This is a movie that focuses on bad guys and good guys and the struggle of good vs evil. Genocide on a scale so immensely vast it can barely be imagined, isn't an aphrodisiac to enjoying a good old sci fi flick. This scene is horrifying and while well made, killed the mood for me and a lot of others in the theatre I was in.

5). Han Solo confronts his son Ben Solo/ Kylo Ren on a scary looking bridge over a vast abyss of fogginess. After talking solemnly for a short while, Kylo/ Ben then shoves his lightsaber into his father's body and lets it fall over the edge of the bridge. Seeing one of my childhood heroes becoming a victim of patricide wasn't a great moment. As heroic ends go, it was up there with the best of them BUT no one who's loved Star Wars for 38 years wants to see Han Solo get murdered...let alone by his own son.




6). No Luke until the final minute of the movie. No matter how you look at it, this sucks. 

So...although I loved the movie and I'll probably go and see it again more than once (looking forward to trying IMAX and then D-BOX) and it's stayed with me for days and I'm glad I went to the midnight presentation on the first day and all of that....at the end of the day the film can be summed up with "It didn't get any better in the galaxy after RETURN OF THE JEDI, in fact it got a whole lot fucking worse."

Oh, and Daniel Craig plays the stormtrooper that threatens to tighten Rey's restraints.

Now you know.

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** No one really gave an earwig's fart that there was a black bloke in the new STAR WARS. Cries of "wacism!" due to the complaining were misplaced. 99% of us were fucked off that when they could have shown the Millenium Falcon, the original cast or even some lightsaber action...they showed a stormtrooper sitting up with his helmet off.

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