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Star Wars: The Franchise Awakens

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This blog entry is likely to get desperately lost amid the scores of reviews and videos coming out this week as The Force Awakens rages across the planet, so to separate it a bit from the pack I have decided not to make this a review of the film but rather a reflection on having seen it and what I hope this will mean for the future of the most powerful franchise in the history of show business.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first; I really enjoyed the film despite seeing it in 3D IMAX, the novelty of which has evaporated for me some time ago. I like the technology in principle but the cumbersome glasses and the uneven way 3D effects pop up in films is distracting to me and often pull me out of the experience rather than enhancing it.

The Force Awakens, as a film, is riddled with problems and inconsistencies, ones that have already set fire to Reddit and other platforms with fanatics and journalists alike crossing proverbial swords over the various unanswered questions, but the consensus still seems to be that Star Wars is “back in business” and I think this is perhaps its most important feature; it has brought Star Wars out of the muck.

We have to consider a few things when talking about this film; most of us are walking into the theatre with a huge amount of anxiety and trauma. The Prequels were a nightmare for most fans (including this one), a torrid mess of gimmicks and George Lucas oddities that left us furious and facepalming. Like most fans I sat down in the theatre practically praying that The Force Awakens will not be another misfire. This nervousness accompanied me through every scene, every line of dialogue and I think it made me more aware/sensitive to anything out of the ordinary. Because of this, a second/third viewing will be necessary before I can really process the film. Overall my assessment is that the first and third acts were the strongest, with a bit of a shaky middle.

What really stuck with me was Daisy Ridley’s soulful performance and strong portrayal of Rey, and Adam Driver’s poignant delivery as Kylo Ren. I think their chemistry is amazing and will be the foundation upon which this new generation of SW films will be built. Naturally, seeing Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker did all sorts of things to my heart, and while I don’t mind too much if we don’t see any more of the old gang in the future, I hope Luke sticks around for a while longer.

As a filmmaker I cannot but admire JJ Abrams’ (a director I don’t particularly like) courage in putting his career and reputation on the line by tackling Star Wars. This was a bigger risk for him than people realize. Screwing the proverbial the pooch on Force Awakens could have cost him a lifetime of harassment and infamy. All things considered I think he can rest easy now. Abrams has minimum delivered the kind of Star Wars film that the fans can chew on and appreciate while also wisely extracting himself from the franchise now that it’s under way.

The future of Star Wars is looking bright again, and I for one am curious to see where Disney takes it. I feel like the best is yet to come; that with a little luck we may get another young director, crew and cast that may come in and really raise the bar. My only concern is that there might be too much Star Wars coming down the road now that tFA has cracked open the vault. I pray they mind their surroundings and never underestimate the power of the dark side of overexposure (Marvel, I’m looking at you!).

 

 

 

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Food for Thought


 
When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of Star Wars, he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

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