Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Apparently the moratorium on spoilers for Star Wars is over, although personally I don’t think it should end until a film is released to streaming or rentals. The theater experience is not as good as my house, even though I don’t have an especially great television or sound system like I used to. Movies in theaters are generally awful experiences. There are very few movies that would get me to go to a theater anymore. Not any of the comic book movies, not The Martian, not Interstellar, not any of the upcoming nerdy movies coming out this year, pretty much nothing … except a new Star Wars movie. A Star Wars sequel. With the original cast in it.
So I went. Because obviously I had to go on the first weekend or there would be spoilers everywhere. Because everywhere I go on the Internet would be talking about Star Wars. Probably even in-game. Maybe trying not to spoil it, but probably spoiling it anyway.
Anyway, I loved it. They definitely brought the fun back to the Star Wars universe, and that’s what was missing from the prequels. I loved the new characters. I loved them so much that they completely upstaged the old characters. Don’t get me wrong–Han was fantastic, and Ford did a fantastic job of recreating all of the classic Han-isms (I particularly noticed some very familiar hand gestures and how he kind of flails his body around when he starts running), but I felt his character should have matured a bit more. I mean, he’s still a smuggler? Really? I guess some people never change but you’d think he could find an easier way to make a living after saving the galaxy a few times.
I would have liked to see a little more exposition about what’s happened in the Star Wars universe in the last 30 years. We only got tiny little bits and pieces about a few characters, but not near enough to explain anything. Like, for example, what happened to the Empire? It was still there at the end of Jedi, it just didn’t have an Emperor. And if we assume it collapsed into nothing and the Rebellion “won,” why is the Rebellion still rebelling in Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
But then again, the politics of the Star Wars universe was never what made it such a fun trilogy. It’s not like I cared about what the “Galactic Senate” was that Tarkin said they’d swept away when I watched Star Wars as a kid. I was just like, “Space battles! Blasters! Lightsabers! X-Wings! Tie fighters! Cool!” Only as an adult do I wonder about the galactic ramifications of those space battles.
I do think they should have explained how Coke-bottle-glasses-lady ended up with Luke’s blue lightsaber in her basement, though. Just a sentence. “Oh, I found that in a Cloud City exhaust port, along with this severed hand.” It was the biggest head-scratcher I remember from coming out of the theater.
By the way I’m sure all of the above questions have been answered in some weird Star Wars message board where people have already analyzed every frame of the movie, but my point is that it should have been more obvious to a casual viewer. (I, for example, have only seen it once and am already fuzzy on many of the details.) It doesn’t count if you have to study a movie frame-by-frame to find the answers. :)
Here’s the real spoiler: I pretty much expected Han to die as soon as I heard Harrison Ford was going to be in the movie. “Oh, Harrison signed up, huh? I guess Han dying will be part of the plot.” There’s just no way they could have signed him up without killing off the character. So his death scene was not even a tiny bit surprising to me. It was so obviously going to happen that I wasn’t even a tiny bit emotionally affected by it. I was just like, “Oh, okay, checked that off the list.”
Like I said, to be honest, I cared more about the new characters. The part that did emotionally affect me was when Rey pulled that light saber away from Kylo Ren, and that classic Star Wars music swelled (which I’m almost positive was a cue from the original movie–the one with the best music–I feel like it was around the time that Luke was looking at the burned corpses of his aunt and uncle), and Rey was standing there looking like she had just found her true purpose in life (just like when Luke was looking at those burned corpses). I got really choked up at that. And that last scene where Rey held out that light saber to Luke and you could just feel the gravity of it all in their expressions. I was like, yeah, this is what Star Wars is all about.
Speaking of light sabers, I loved how they went back to the old-style fighting, where the light sabers looked like they weighed 100 pounds and everyone was flailing them all over the place. That’s some classic Star Wars, too.
Criticisms: A little too many coincidences. A little too much comedy. A little too much crammed into one movie. Not enough backstory. Kind of a shame we didn’t get to see the old gang together anywhere.
By the way, I didn’t mind the similarities to the original Star Wars because The Hero’s Journey was a classic story with classic archetypes long before Star Wars ever came out.
As if a new Star Wars wasn’t enough, The X-Files is back!
I thought the first episode was a little shaky and had too much compressed into a short time. I didn’t like the “history lesson” at the beginning, and while it was a blast to see the classic credit sequence, I feel like they should have brought it up to date. As far as the episode itself, I honestly couldn’t follow what was going on the first time I watched. Was it an alien conspiracy or a government conspiracy? A government conspiracy, but with aliens on the side, apparently. It was never clear to me why “they” wanted to take over America. But in a way, that’s how The X-Files mythology episodes always were, especially toward the end: Most of the story was in what the characters didn’t say. You had to read between the lines, and watch the episodes more than once. And a lot of things were left to the imagination.
While I was a bit nervous after the first episode, I thought the second episode really nailed the classic X-Files experience. It was a classic Mulder and Scully whodunnit. It’s really surreal to watch these episodes (on live television, with real commercials!). Everything is the same, but everything is totally different. The actors are obviously older, and the characters have obviously evolved (Scully acts so tired all the time, and Mulder looks like he’s barely clinging to his sanity), but they’re still basically the same as they ever were, doing things the same way they always did.
I never missed any episodes of The X-Files for the first seven seasons, then I got a bit spotty on the last two seasons. Not that I didn’t like them, per se. Just my life circumstances changed, and of course back then you actually had to be in front of the television at the right time to see the shows you wanted to see, or wait a year for an expensive DVD set. In fact I kind of liked Doggett and Reyes and I kind of wish we could have seen where those characters were 13 years later. (It’s possible they’re both dead and I just don’t know it… I don’t think I ever watched the entire ninth season… but I feel like they were both in the Series Finale somewhere. I guess they’ve been erased from the canon since then.)
I also wish there was a way for them to work in The Lone Gunmen somewhere, but, well, you know. At least if you watched that short-lived series, you do.
Anyway, can’t wait to watch more. I’m watching them live and also later on-demand to maximize my influence on the ratings. :)
Edit, much, much later, 5/7/2017: I just happened to re-read this post and I wanted to add that they did work in The Lone Gunmen! In a very weird way. But they were there. Also, Reyes did make another appearance, but I didn’t fully understand or like her character’s choices.