On Sunday, I went to see Star Wars Episode 7. The reviews and commentary on Facebook overwhelmingly positive, I still entered with a significant degree of restraint given the catastrophe of the prequels.
Let me divulge of few things first before rendering my decision. First, I love JJ Abrams. Lost and the Reboot of Star Trek is all I’ll ever need. Secondly, I’ve gone to quite a few very good movies and disliked them the first time. Among them include, The Big Lebowski, Unforgiven, Fargo, Ocean’s 11 and even The Wrath of Khan. I have an idea of what the movie is going to be, and of course, I’m disappointed. A second viewing usually does the trick though.
On other hand, I did no such speculation here. Can you tell where this review is going?
Finally, I’ve written a few screenplays myself, and while the more film knowledgeable among you inherently understand the importance of conflict and an antagonist, I had to learn that. Sitting from a movie chair or on the other end of a pen, I didn’t comprehend the purpose of a Dean Wormer to make the Delta House funny. “My comedy is funny, why do I need conflict,” I asked people more learned.
It became apparent to me in watching a rather bad movie called Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. The leads were delivering funny lines but I wasn’t laughing. The process was finally revealed when the dramatic tension showed up in the form of the ex. Now, the funny lines made me laugh.
There’s my seque.
We learn from the opening scroll that out of the Empire an evil called the New Order has arisen, and to counter, Luke has disappeared. The force always shaky in this one, the race is on to find the old Jedi and make sure everything stays on balance in favor of the light.
The stakes in place, the opposing shades takes their standard positions. As such, a droid once again preserves the crucial information, and we are awakened to the chase to unearth our old hope.
On the dark side, we have a sufficiently angry antagonist who vacuum seals his face in deference to more family connections.
Seeing this before, a new wrinkle does emerge in the form of Fin. Played by John Boyega, the Stormtrooper’s conscience overcomes the indoctrination that the order imposes on its automaton army.
The defector then joins forces with Rey (Daisy Ridley). Reminiscent of our MIA master and also relegated to a planet of dust, she’s definitely in search of something too. However her restlessness plays out by keeping her confined to a subsistence existence that yearns for the return of her disappeared parents.
Nonetheless, Rey takes to the heavens and hyper drive as seamlessly as her predecessors, and the duo clearly are meant to superimpose a working romance over the stormy Han-Leah model. It even tends to amuse.
But the chance for the clouds to sufficiently gather mostly stop short in the wake of the moment we have waited 32 years for. Harrison Ford shows up like he’s still waiting for the check to clear after his wooden performance in Indiana Jones 4.
The presence just isn’t there, and the comedic, romantic edge that helped propel the old plots, are blatantly askew. Carrie Fisher isn’t much help either, which brings me back to the basics.
Does the film simply lack the conflict needed to make it go?
The urgency to find Luke isn’t quite on par with finding the Lost Arc before the Nazis get God on their side. Meandering over the action, the film never really makes you feel like the fate of the galaxy rests on the other moment we’ve been waiting 32 years for.
Again in Ford’s defense, maybe it’s just impossible to resurrect a character that’s entirely fresh in our minds but a lifetime removed for the actor.
In additionally giving the production the benefit of the doubt, the Star Wars universe is really contained in a pretty small box. Technology vs. spiritualism wrapped up in a mythological Oedipal Complex, how many storylines can there be…
Or maybe I just need to see it again.