Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: Star Wars VII

Beware! Some Spoilers!
I mean it!

  OK, to celebrate me not being dead the entire family went to see Episode VII last night. Here is a capsule review;

The Good
  1. Production values were excellent. It was a joy to look at and props seemed 'authentic'.
  2. Acting was solid, particularly from John Boyega.
  3. Cinematography and editing were great - I expect an editing Oscar to go to this one.
  4. Directing was solid, if workmanlike. Abrams sometimes struggles with direction, but he did well here.
The Bad
  1. While shout-outs were done well and 'fit' for the initial 2/3rds of the movie they overwhelmed the last 1/3rd.
  2. I get that they wanted to mirror the plot of Episode IV, but the ending seemed rushed and - like the early death of Darth Maul - like they wasted a great opportunity for recurring targets/foes.
  3. The background setting is a mess. Is the Second Republic big or small? Powerful or Weak? Is the First Order in charge of a lot or a little? Is there any Republican force/fleet or is it just the Resistance? Why is the Resistance base hidden/secret if they are approved by the actual government?

The Ugly
  1. Lazy writing of the worst sort. Why have Han and Leia break up? Why, to make it look like the beginning of Episode IV. Why is Luke missing? Why, to build a MacGuffin and make it look like Episode IV. Why did a family member turn to the Dark Side and start wearing a mask? Why, to make it look like.... You get the idea. The characters from Episodes IV-VI were effectively thrown under the bus to make this look a certain way and it was jarring to me and other old-school fans I spoke with
  2. Lazy writing of the most common sort. Ignoring established canon (it takes training to do anything serious with the Force except in times of high emotion) for the Rule of Cool is jarring and my willing suspension of disbelief rolled his eyes once or twice because of that.
Side Notes
   Showing a storm trooper whip out a melee weapon and fight Finn with it was a subtle way of pointing out Finn had received at least some formal training in the use of melee weapons, making his use of a light saber natural

   The implication that Kylo Ren is not fully trained was subtle. My fan theory is the Supreme Leader has trained him to be more than capable of dealing with 'normals' but woefully unprepared to deal with other Force users so he isn't a threat to the Supreme Leader
  This explains why a new, untrained user of the Force can face him - he's been setup to fail to keep him a mere weapon, not a threat.

  Poe Dameron. Ace Pilot and top agent appears, slips the MacGuffin to a stooge who gives it to an innocent, unsuspecting girl and then reveals his mission to a recruit who wants to escape and maybe do the right thing. He then vanishes, presumed dead, leaving the rookies to complete his mission.
  Sound familiar? It should - it is, essentially, the opening to the introductory adventure for WEG's Star Wars RPG (different NPC name, though)! Complete with Poe showing up at the end to congratulate the new players... uh, heroes, for a job well done.

My Conclusion
  Worth seeing, as it is a fun movie, but not on par with VI or V.