Not really, but I wanted to try this clickbait thing that’s all the rage with the kids nowadays.
I have taken to the keyboard today to address the tragic lack of online commentary about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Seriously, if anybody else has written about this film, send me a link, because it’s eerily quiet out there.
The sequel, which recently passed “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing film of all time, clearly passed muster with a lot of moviegoers. It passed both “Avatar” and muster. But some longtime fans hate it. Some fans say it’s the worst “Star Wars” movie ever.
I don’t happen to agree, but I have to give credit where credit is due.
Kudos to the fans who figured out, by way of exhaustive sleuthing and presentation of the evidence, that “Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams is a dirty plagiarist who stole many narrative elements from an obscure 1977 Yugoslavian propaganda film called “Star Wars: A New Hope” and hoped we wouldn’t notice.
For their next investigation, I would suggest they look into how J.R.R. Tolkien stole from “The Hobbit” to create “Fellowship of the Ring” and how Mark Twain stole from “Tom Sawyer” to create “Huckleberry Finn.”
To the male fans that criticize Carrie Fisher for aging badly but not Harrison Ford, and who can find little to praise about Daisy Ridley save her resemblance to some other actress they have always wanted to see naked, I say, “I see what you did there.”
One strategy, it seems to me, for banishing the totally unfair stereotype that most fanboys are preposterously sexist is to parody that stereotype.
So deft and subtle are these parodies at times that they hardly seem to be parodies at all.
Nice work, fellas.
One of the more interesting emotions stirred in some fans by “The Force Awakens” is nostalgia for George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequels.
In a publication called the Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood reporter Stephen Dalton claims that Lucas’ biggest mistake with the prequels was “overestimating his audience’s appetite for moral complexity and novelistic depth.”
The prequels, he asserts, “were rich in intellectual ambition and grand ideas about society, power, courtly love and the darkly seductive allure of fascism.”
“Abrams’s shortcomings as a rebooter also make it easier to appreciate Lucas,” wrote presumed New Yorker Bryan Curtis in a publication called the New Yorker. “‘The Force Awakens’ makes it once again possible to think about George Lucas as… a brilliant appropriator rather than an average one. It took a forgery to get him called an artist.”
I must confess that I have never been a big fan of the prequels and I realized reading the words of Dalton and Curtis that this failure is mine as a filmgoer — that it’s always been mine. I am too closed off, too provincial, to open my heart and mind to works of cinema that are utterly unwatchable.
I was stung when fans started criticizing Adam Driver for making his “Force Awakens” bad guy, Kylo Ren, too temperamental. But I knew they had a point when I recalled Hayden Christensen’s far superior strategy of investing Anakin Skywalker with all the emotional nuance of a JV football player sulking after the coach benches him for missing practice.
I remember being put off by how characters having conversations in the prequels often didn’t seem to be in the same room. But I now realize what a post-production visionary Lucas was. He really didn’t care that they weren’t in the same room.
All kidding aside, I recently tried to give “Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace” another go. I lasted about ten minutes. It is almost the antithesis of entertainment. It could be used as aversion therapy in a remake of “A Clockwork Orange.”
My sympathy for people who are nostalgic for the prequels is real and closely resembles my sympathy for former hostages who are nostalgic for their captors and former inmates who are nostalgic for prison.
The heart knows what the heart knows is what I am saying.
But here’s one basic thing “The Force Awakens” is that the prequels are not: “The Force Awakens” is a good film.
Lucas’ first “Star Wars” movie was inspired in part by the ideas of Joseph Campbell, who believed in archetypal heroes who transcend culture.
In the prequels, Lucas failed Campbell: He made his heroes dull, uninspiring and far from archetypal.
The prequels made me question my love of “Star Wars” and “The Force Awakens” renewed it. Abrams accomplished that. Lucas didn’t. Lucas can’t.
That doesn’t mean Lucas doesn’t deserve to have his laurels burnished, although it’s a tad gauche of him to trash the new Disney team as he did recently.
If he keeps this up, he runs the risk of being asked if he’d like to return the $4 billion that the studio paid him, which would force him to hastily respond, “Ahhhh … I must have left it in my other pants.”
Lucas has more than two pairs of pants.
There are other things Abrams accomplished that Lucas could not. He made his new characters as interesting as, if not more interesting than, the established ones.
He and his young actors invested a scene where Kylo Ren prepares to interrogate Rey with more genuine emotion and human chemistry than was evidenced in all the prequels put together.
Believe what you will about Lucas’ intentions in the prequels; he couldn’t make me care about any of it. Even if he’d had seven more hours to tell the story, I still don’t think he could have made me care about any of it. His characters started out as cyphers and ended as cyphers.
The best thing about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is another choice Lucas wouldn’t have made: he never would have put a female character front-and-center in a “Star Wars” film.
The fact that Rey was excluded from some of the official merchandise shows what a depressingly radical idea this is.
I personally find Rey to be a far more compelling character, and Ridley a better actress, than Luke Skywalker and Mark Hamill (respectively) were in the first film.
Call Abrams a hack if you want, but he wasn’t hired to compete with what Lucas accomplished in 1977. He was hired to fix what Lucas has been doing since 1999.