Tuesday, December 22

Star Wars, Episode [IV/VII]: [A New Hope/The Force Awakens] ([1977/2015])

Directed by [George Lucas/J. J. Abrams]

Perhaps Episode VII should have been named The Same Old Hope…. While there are admittedly a couple of stretches in the parallel, by and large this adaptation from Ross Douthat’s piece in the New York Times online [LINK] is dead on:

You’ve got an orphaned Force adept unaware of [his/her] powers living on a desert planet near an old man played by a famous British actor who probably holds secrets to [his/her] past; [he/she] then meets up with a droid carrying secret plans that its [Rebel/Resistance] owner hid inside it just before [he/she] was captured and tortured by [the Empire/the First Order]. You’ve got teams of stormtroopers scouring said planet in search of those plans, killing innocents along the way. You’ve got an evil general who wants to rely on a planet-destroying superweapon instead of the Force and who’s in a rivalry with a mysterious cloaked figure for the trust of a strange deformed [Emperor/Supreme Leader]. You’ve got the stop at a cantina-style watering hole filled with smugglers and crooks. You’ve got the destruction of [a] planet(s) crucial to the [Rebel/Resistance] effort midway through the movie, and then you’ve got the threatened destruction of a [Rebel/Resistance] base on a verdant planet by the same superweapon, which can only be averted by an X-Wing attack on a single weak point. You’ve got a confrontation between the cloaked figure (actually, decloaked by this point in the story) and an older, wiser force for good who knew him intimately before he fell, which ends with the older wiser figure being killed while our young hero[ine] looks on in horror. And then you’ve got the X-Wing attack itself, which succeeds in blowing up the entire enemy super-base literally seconds before the superweapon is scheduled to fire on the base where [Princess/General] Leia and a group of [Rebel/Resistance] leaders are watching the attack unfold.

To be fair, I did enjoy it, but there was little new here. Just the original film recycled for a new generation, with some critical elements retooled to the sensibilities of said new generation. Maybe that’s what was needed. Perhaps most importantly, given the misbegotten mess that Lucas himself made of the film franchise, this first post-Lucas offering did look and feel a lot more like “real” Star Wars than the “prequels” that came between. Hopefully with that being accomplished, Episode VII may serve as a springboard for Episodes VIII ff. to actually add something to the mythos.

Cheers, and Thanks for reading!