I just got back from the new Star Wars movie, and it was…
…disappointing. The plot made no sense. The character relationships were just there, plopped into place like a collection of action figures. The story was a total rehash of the first movie — Disney and JJ Abrams really played it safe, and made sure to just give audiences the familiar. There were plenty of nods to nostalgia, and the audience clapped and cheered where expected.
It was tired and sterile. It’ll sell toys, but it’s not going to inspire dreams like the original.
After a night’s sleep on it, I have a few more words for the movie.
Pandering. This was more a marketing vehicle than a movie. You could almost imagine them planning it by the clock: introduce the new action figures for a bit, then…Han Solo! and Chewbacca! Audience cheers. After a bit, it’s…Princess Leia! Wild cheers. More action for a while, then…C3PO! Who was just kind of annoying, so weak applause. Then…R2D2! Yay! Except it’s kind of inert. Pining for the big maguffin of the movie, Luke Skywalker! Who shows up at the end.
Mannequins. There was zero character development. Hotshot pilot Poe Dameron is rescued by ex-stormtrooper Finn for totally mysterious and unmotivated reasons, and are instantly bestest friends forever. Rey and Finn meet in confusion, run around a bit, and then are steadfast, loyal friends. Rey and Finn meet Han Solo, go on one short flight in the Millennium Falcon, and suddenly he’s a father figure to them.
It’s also sad what’s been done to Carrie Fisher. I don’t blame her, it’s what Hollywood does to aging women actors: while Harrison Ford can be gray and jowly and wrinkled (and seems to be having some good old sentimental fun with the role), Fisher’s face has been sculpted into a smooth and mostly expressionless mask. She manages matronly sadness, and wearily happy welcome, and that’s about it.
Lazy. While great care was put into planning strokes of sentimentality, the plot was entirely recycled. The first Star Wars had a giant space weapon with a weak spot. The third Star Wars had a bigger space weapon with a weak spot. The seventh Star Wars had an even more gigantic space weapon with…I’ll let you guess. You’d think the Empire would learn something about putting giant space eggs in one gigantic basket or something.
There is a Star War to destroy the giant space planet, but it’s almost incidental — no one seems to care about it very much. And it’s ultimate destruction (come on, that’s not a spoiler, the instant you discern the murky outlines of the plot, you know exactly what to expect — and you can hope that something different will be done with it, but there is no departing from the repetitive line laid down by past episodes, so get used to it) doesn’t seem to be that big a deal in the parade of sentimental reunions, which is the real purpose of the movie. It’s also irrelevant to the ultimate goal of the character’s quest, which is to find Luke Skywalker. Why, I don’t know. The whole fate of the galaxy apparently rests on finding this one last Jedi, but meanwhile, everyone is flinging around Jedi powers all over the place.
Money. This movie is going to do great things at the box office — this was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen turn out for a movie in Morris. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is setting records this weekend. But I have no interest in ever seeing it again. My curiosity was totally sated by one viewing, and while I have fond memories of seeing the first one on the day it opened (and being thrilled with the spectacle!), I don’t get all warm and tingly at the thought of JJ Abrams achieving great commercial success and formulaic Disneyfication setting the standard for all the sequels to come.
For a contrary view, Scalzi liked it. I think, though, they must have shown a different movie in Ohio — he liked it because of the realistic characters and characterizations? What? I can agree that the dialog was better than anything Lucas ever wrote, but still…the interactions between the characters were on the level of something on the comic pages.
I dare you to tell me why Rey and Finn were friends. What the villain’s motivation was. Anything about Luke Skywalker’s personality.