As somebody quite correctly said on Facebook recently, “Nobody on Facebook cares what you thought of Star Wars.”
Very true and quite right too.
This little Star Wars scribble is not intended to be a definitive critique or even a sensible opinion on the movie everyone has been talking about. It’s just my weekly word count on a subject where my mind has spent some time in the last week.
Sam and I didn’t get to see the new ‘Star Wars’ until the day before Christmas Eve. We pretty much started off our holiday with it. I had used every filter I could think of to avoid any talk, spoilers, or opinionating about the film (and look at me now, prattling on about it myself, 'hypocritical git) but Sam had been ‘spoilered’ by some lads in his classroom picking over the more intimate revelations of the plot. That was a shame but he was still intent on enjoying the experience.
Let me cut to the chase. I liked it a lot. We both did.
But I had one or two reservations... niggles.
First the ‘like’ part. It was like old times. It was gleaming and new in the places where it should have been and yet it remained retro and old in all the right places. There was emotional impact in the real world ageing of the returned central characters, something which helped me to almost believe that they really had been out there among the stars since the last time I saw them.
There was spectacle and wit and humour and nostalgia. It was good, really good. We came out pleased and satisfied.
A niggle? Here’s one.
It seemed to me to be more of a Star Wars Tribute Film than a whole new adventure. It was how it might be if there was a pub act of Elvis Presley that was actually better than the real Elvis in every respect… except originality. Of course the new movie had to walk a line of giving the audience what they required, what they would demand. That was a given. But this film went so far with that… It was as if every scene from the original Episode 4 was jiggled ever so slightly and polished up. The threat looked and felt exactly the same, the set pieces were all unavoidably familiar. It was like Old Times. Very, very like Old Times.
Should I complain? I mean it worked brilliantly. I was entertained and a little moved and I even had a shiver or two up my spine, brought on by recognition and memory. But let’s give a little credit to George Lucas. When he went on to make the second trilogy, he may have failed in a number of respects but he went down trying. He was always striving to take us somewhere new in his Universe, always seeking to stretch out. This new offering is remarkable in how very little innovation it dares to bring. “Strap in Folks, we are going on an amazing, high octane, journey but, alas, it’s going no further than memory lane.”
Perhaps this was the opening gambit of a new trilogy that will bring us onward to places and challenges we have never imagined. Perhaps this was just the opening act, introducing us to the players, reassuring us that we are in safe hands.
Maybe next time…
On a lesser point, I spent the film fervently wishing I was watching it in 2D. Alas the 2D option in my town will put you in a boxy little room with no sense of audience or occasion. The 3D annoyed me though, as it almost always does. No matter how they try, it always ends up looking like those gimmick stereoscopic disk viewers we had when we were kids. A couple of layers of perceived depth, unconvincingly overlaid for effect. Changes in focus over-emphasised and nothing of import being brought to the deal. Come back to the big screens 2D, we need you.
Finally, I thought the use of our Irish location, Skellig Michael, was astonishingly effective. I am aware of the issues with the protection of such a valuable place but, my golly, it looked good. I could see it becoming a movie visitors Mecca in the same way as those islands in Thailand which were used to such great effect in the Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ so many years ago.
You can’t please everyone. If the new movie had not been as careful and reverential as it was, perhaps it would have failed and there would be no more. As it was, we were entertained and made to feel good and we paid out enough money to enable us to have another.
In the end, that’s a win.