Star Wars 7: The Sequel To Leonard Part Six

No one asked me about Episode 7 BUT…

It was pretty good.

I took my niece to see it. She’s 12, it’s her first Star Wars movie. I had offered to watch Episodes 4-6 (THX remasters on VHS) with my nieces before, but their interests mostly lie in movies where Jennifer Lawrence hunts people down with a bow & arrow. Granted, one day they’ll figure out where the idea of padding out a simple adventure story into three movies or more came from.

I feel bad for people my age who show Star Wars to their kids and feel obligated to start with Phantom Menace. Those kids tend to think that Episodes 1-3 are the best. And as Episode 7 hit theaters to reviews excessively raving to harsh criticism that makes virtually no sense, some people of the clickbait writer variety would write nonsense about how the prequels were secretly genius.

Which is utter nonsense. I was dragged to see Attack Of The Clones. I don’t recall any moments of excitement or suspense. Thanks to the fantastic Clone Wars cartoons (the Genndy Tartakovsky ones), I had some hope (some NEW hope!) for Revenge Of The Sith. It was the okay but in retrospect only because you could go uphill, eventually, from the boring piece of crap that was Phantom Menace.

Darth Vader the little boy, bacterial infection that creates the force, Darth Vader the little boy who built the complex robot C3P0, the scenes that seem to go on forever because the people who edited Episode 4 were nowhere around that day I guess, the pod race everyone claims they love but it also went on forever. I can’t remember a goddamn thing spoken from one person to another (these are not unknown actors, many of them have carried movies by themselves) in this movie outside of “Yippie!”

These are the only things I can remember from the film. What I remember from seeing it is turning to this guy who was dragged along with a group of 20 die hard Star Wars fans on opening night, who turned to me, and we both shook our heads. I don’t even remember what low point of the film this happened. “It could only get better from here,” I thought…but it NEVER DID.

And I never mentioned JAR JAR in this list. Jees louise, JAR JAR.

How did no one turn to visionary director George Lucas as Jake Lloyd shouted “yippie!” every other scene and say, “this isn’t working.” “There has to be another way for him to convey excitement.” “A lot of this will raise questions both for the classic series you created as well as the barely coherent backstory about trade tariffs that somehow drives Padme from planet to planet and that’s why we’re making this movie.”

Episode 7 had a lot to make up for. It starts with a time-span between Jedi and itself that I think is long enough for everyone (even within that fictional universe) to consider the stories from the prequels to be, literally, a lifetime ago. That’s a start. Why the Rebellion that defeated the Empire in Jedi is called The Resistance is silly. The Empire is now called The New Order and they don’t seem to be in charge of anything, but I may have missed whatever their exact scope of control over the universe is. They just seem to be this upstart operation that, after some planning and bullying tactics on desert craphole worlds, built a Death PLANET to start destroying whatever The Resistance is. And really, it seems like The New Order is a New Rebellion. What happened after Jedi? Did they not resume their intergalactic senate? Come up with some new democratic interplanetary rule? Or did they not want to use “The New Republic?”

There are many similar themes & ideas in this  movie that could easily derail from the story, and the story itself, that almost mimics A New Hope, seems incomplete. (We know there will be more movies, corporate IP holder. There doesn’t HAVE to be a half dozen or so loose ends, resolve a few things in this move, we’ll see the other ones.) Some of us (me) have no intention to read any NEW expanded universe stories, so more questions abound:

-Who is the Andy Serkis character? And who cares? I felt zero danger from this character, and have little interest clicking on theories on what prequel or original series character he was. I’ll find out next movie, I guess.

-Captain Phasma: Aside from the opening bit where her squad terrorizes some desert Resistance characters, what does she do exactly? She’s also not really that scary. And there’s a reason why Emo Kylo Ren is so popular on Twitter: none of these bad guys, though indeed bad guys, seem any more difficult for a revived Luke-led Jedi Resistance to take on. Like, if he’s mastered the Jedi power that flows through everything and hasn’t been treated with Dark Side Penicillin, he could Yoda-mind-trick the lot of The New Order into finding a new hobby and buying him some micro brews from Hoth.

-What was up with the generic octopus/Beholder monster? If there was any part of this movie that dragged on, it was this. This was the worst, flattest scene in the movie. It seemed like it was part of some other story, and not important to anything in the plot…and that’s saying a lot considering that Rey & Finn bump into Han & Chewie here. I’m sure there could have been a more exciting way to have them meet with Han & Chewie, and then introduce the bounty hunters after them.

-Why the SAFE by-the-episode-4-numbers plot? To paraphrase Mark Waid, the new copyright holders did have to win back the fans’ trust. And he’s right. It’s not what George Lucas would’ve done? Again, I don’t know who wasn’t standing up to him during the prequels to stay on target and make coherent, simple, yet powerful adventures, but his vision was boring and too many of us paid good money to see all three, simply out of obligation. But there aren’t a lot of surprises. Once the giant planet that blows up other planets is introduced, really, we know where this movie is going.

-Planets aren’t that close to each other, can’t see each other that close like that, and definitely if a planet in your solar system that close was destroyed you’d feel it.  Hooboy you’d feel it.

That said, the rest was pretty amazing. I don’t know why there’s so much criticism for Rey and Finn, because they’re awesome and the actors who play them are awesome. My favorite scene in the whole film is Rey sitting at the foot (literally) of a fallen AT-AT, putting on a dusty Rebel pilot helmet while she watches a starship leave orbit of her craphole desert planet of crap. She probably wouldn’t have had to say anything about herself for the rest of the movie, I felt like I knew exactly who she was and what she was hoping for.

Whether you saw what was coming when Han confronted Kylo Ren or not, I thought the setup was perfect. A single light in the middle of the room and, most importantly, no music. The music in the prequels was persistent and considering how lame the action was it never heightened anything; it often didn’t fit and sometimes undermined whatever suspense we were supposed to feel. Some restraint was shown here to let two people have it out, and as a result it built suspense. Kudos, movie.

It’s not a perfect movie. I enjoyed it, and I didn’t think I would, and definitely nowhere near as much as I thought I would have. Most importantly, my niece, who is seeing this movie at nearly twice the age I was (probably)  when I first saw Star Wars (she’s a preteen less impressed with over the top sci-fi movies) really enjoyed it. And she’s into it. She’s now interested in Star Wars and I didn’t think she’d ever want to check these movies out (it was her idea to see it, by the way, I had no plans to until her mom called me and asked me to take her). I’m not going to push Episodes 4-6 on her because her interest might just remain with the adventures of Rey and Finn and BB8. Will the future installments and tie-ins become relentless overkill? Maybe (probably). But, for now, trust has been won, new Star Wars caretakers!

Also I don’t want to have to explain why Luke’s sister kisses him. Ewww gross out.

PS Everytime they say “The Resistance,” I can’t help but think of “The Resisty” from Invader Zim.

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