Star Wars: The Force Awakens
review by Marie Marshall
Consuela (my Tejana maid) persuaded me to accompany her to the cinema yesterday. Choking back a panic attack I agreed. I was hoping that she would treat me to a rom-com, or an espionage drama with an intriguing plot – can you tell I don’t pay much attention to what is being put out? – but in fact we ended up at an IMAX screening of the new Star Wars flick. So with your permission, I shall review it for you.
Well, I shall review it for you with or without your permission.
I’ll try not to include many spoilers. Here we go.
For anyone with any visual impairment it’s a waste of time. For anyone sitting close to the screen, it’s a crick in the neck and a headache. For me it took half an hour – basically the movie’s set-up time – to get used to wearing the goggles. With them, the screen looked too dark, without them I got the double-image.
My advice to movie-makers is this. Until the technology is perfected, until you can get the rapid re-focusing that human vision has to give depth-of-field, you might as well shelve ‘3-D’ and save production costs. Because it isn’t 3-D at all. It’s more like a series of 2-D images that seem to be stacked like theatre flats.
My advice to movie fans is to wait until the DVD comes out and see a 2-D version on a decent-size TV screen.
Anyway, eventually the effect ceased to be a distraction and I got more used to it. There was one stand-out moment when the technology did seem to work for me, and that was when a huge spaceship loomed out of the screen.
Meh – it was Star Wars, what do you expect? It wasn’t Ibsen, it wasn’t Chekhov, it was good-guys-and-bad-guys-in-space. Basically it was a re-run of the first Star Wars movie, only with a bigger Death Star. That was the only piece of on-screen, Star-Wars-era technology that had had an upgrade. Ah! – so that’s where Universal saved money! But let me just give a word of advice to the First Order (the Empire re-branded) – ditch the engineering design consultants! You have obviously got the same firm that the Empire used when they built the Death Star. I mean, who the hell wants a super-weapon with some kind of vent or oscillator or doo-hickey that a squadron of antiquated space-fighters can fly into and bomb? Get someone who actually knows HOW to build an impregnable fortress, for heaven’s sake!
Oh, and another thing: “Somebody has to get inside and disable the force field” is such a cliché in Sci-Fi that any writer who uses it should be pilloried publicly.
Apart from that, there was enough ‘new’ story for me not to nod off.
By which I mean your old favourites returning.
There’s a problem with this. In one way it’s great fun to have Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford reprising their roles. And the bloke in the Wookie suit too, I guess. But the thing is, Leia was sassy, now she isn’t. Solo was a youngish man, now he’s an old man in the same clothes. In that respect the movie tramples on two characters who are supposed to be eternal. That’s the thing about great movies. Bogart and Bergman never get old, their Casablanca is frozen in time. That’s how it’s supposed to be with the Leia and Solo from the original Star Wars. That’s how come we can go on watching it on TV every year at Christmas.
I will say this, though. Carrie Fisher still has the most beautiful eyes, and Harrison Ford would still have all his charisma if he appeared in a pink tutu on his 95th birthday. The scene where Leia and Solo meet again has a wonderful gooseberry moment.
Luke Skywalker as an elderly Jedi master – that I can believe. For some reason that worked.
There has been some media hoo-hah about having an African-American Stormtrooper. It seems to me to be a storm in a teacup. John Boyega’s Finn, a deserter from the Stormtroopers, is one of the heroes of the movie, and his acting is okay. Not Oscar-material, but okay*.
Stand-out is Daisy Ridley as Rey. Rey is everything an action-heroine should be. I love her. Enough said.
The bad guy with the light-sabre with two extra hilt-blades – the conflicted Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver – was just slightly too sub-Vader to cut it. In any case, can you really imagine Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son, sans mask, looking like a twenty-something Severus Snape? And when Leia tells Han to bring their son home, you just know it’s not going to happen…
The grand panjandrum of the First Order, who appeared as a looming, dark hologram, looked too much like the guy from LOTR who says “The age of men is over. The time of the orc has come.” Or maybe a cross between him and Gollum. Oh wait – it was Andy Serkis! He deserves better roles, but I guess it paid for a couple of lunches.
Han Solo is confronted by two separate gangs of hoodlums who want their money or his blood. One of them steps forward and addresses him in broad Scots. Well, I guess this shouldn’t be ridiculous, because throughout the franchise we have had American and English accents in a Galaxy far, far away, so why not a Scot?
It’s just that through my mind ran a piece of dialogue that went something like: “See you, by the way, Han Solo ya bawbag! Get that stitched!” Thankfully the character doesn’t actually say that. You just have an awful feeling he’s going to.
And would someone please tell me why Stormtroopers wear all that body armour if they can be shot so easily?
- When someone says, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this!”
- When they reprise the line about making the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. Look, you know a parsec is a measure of distance and not time, I know a parsec is a measure of distance and not time, but – hey! – a Star Wars running gag is a Star Wars running gag!
I’ll give it three stars. See it rather than miss it.
Consuela is a… a… what the heck do you call the Star Wars equivalent of a Trekkie? A Warsie? Anyway, she loved it and gives it five.
*Erratum: John Boyega is British.