The Force Awakens, by CR
I am pleased to welcome my first guest to this blog. I asked my good friend and fellow churchwarden Clint Redwood to post his views on what is possibly his favourite subject.
Star Wars – The Force Awakens
Reviewing anything like Star Wars presents possibly as much likelihood to offend as any discussion on politics or religion, and so I will tread carefully.
While I don’t intend for there to be any major plot spoilers for episode 7, it is impossible to discuss anything without there being some implications from what is said, so if you haven’t seen it, and care about not having it spoiled, then what are you waiting for!
I’ve seen the film twice, and to my surprise enjoyed it more the second time around. I suspect this is because I was more relaxed the second time, since I wasn’t waiting for something to be terrible.
This is a new Star Wars film for people who loved episodes 4, 5 & 6. There is lots of retro styling, and it has managed to avoid most of the annoyances that Mr. Lucas put in to episodes 1, 2 & 3. The primary plot is not very original, but that can be forgiven as the characters are very interesting, and the film asks lots of questions, which we now hope will be answered well in episodes 8 and 9. There are one or two irritations, of the “why did they do that” kind of thing, but perhaps they too will be answered in the next film.
I saw it in IMAX 3D, and this is by a long way the best live action 3D film I’ve seen. Where most live action 3D movies seem forced or somehow “wrong”, this manages to make you “forget” it’s 3D most of the time, and just looks stunning.
The core characters are really good, and one who seems quite important at the beginning thankfully turns out to have quite a small part, since they were rather irritating.
What I particularly like is that the “theology” has moved on, and that makes the world much more complicated and interesting.
In episodes 4-6, the line has always been “Once you start towards the Dark Side, forever will it dominate your destiny.” There is no hope of redemption in Yoda’s worldview. Luke however, refuses to believe the masters he trusts, but instead follows his heart, and is proved right in the end – Anakin is redeemed, if only at the cost of his life.
In episode 7, this one-way path to the Dark Side isn’t clear. One of the characters resolves to move from the side of evil to that of good, and another struggles to keep their resolve to remain evil.
Did Luke change everything when he refused to believe there was no longer any good in Darth Vader? Or have we culturally moved from a place where there is a clear “good and evil” to where it’s a lot more shades of grey, between light and dark, and so that is reflected in the scriptwriting?
Having always had the Emperor as my hero the bad guys in episode 7 are a really interesting bunch. They achieve a level of savagery that makes the Empire look like pussycats. I am never going to be attracted to them in the way I was to first Darth Vader, and then even more, the Emperor. They are just not “cool” in any way. Perhaps that is again, a reflection of society. In the 70’s, we knew the enemy was “bad”, but there were limits to the level of destruction they were prepared to go to. They held “proxy wars” in various countries, but in most people’s view, the cold war was just that – cold. Now we have Al Qaeda, and even they seem tame compared with ISIS. There is no boundary to the fear, no level of hostility to which they will not go, as was evident in Paris so recently.
John Williams hasn’t let us down, and has again provided a wonderful and evocative score. Perhaps the most beautiful music he has ever written is reserved for one of the most shocking scenes of the film. It was actually more shocking the second time you see it. The destruction is so much more personal in this film, than it was in episode 4, and thus you feel it so much more than before.
In summary, this is a great film. Is it as good as 4, 5 and 6? I’m not sure it is. I watched them again in-between my first and second viewing of 7, and I fell in love with them again, so I’d say 7 is not quite as good; but on my second viewing of 7, I fell in love with it too, so it’s a pretty close run thing.
Thank you, Clint. Feel free to comment as usual, people. Next time, I will be ruminating on the first two months of the site…