I Saw Star Wars!

A few random observations from a fanboy who hates fanboys (spoilers abound):

  • JJ Abrams is transposing cinematic melodies – twisting and riffing on plots and themes of classic SF movies. “Reference” and “homage” aren’t strong enough words, but it’s not plagiarism, either; and “remake” is too strong of a word. He’s getting better at it; he did a better job manipulating A New Hope into The Force Awakens than he did The Wrath of Khan into In To Darkness. Why that works is surely because he’s gained experience but also because SW, which is about archetypes and draws on broader cultural history, responds to such treatment better than does ST, which is about characters and ideology.
  • Snoke, the new movie’s version of the Palpatine character, looks and speaks like Gary Oldman’s version of Mason Verger.
  • Kylo Ren is the anti-Luke. Rey, in many ways, is the anti-Anakin, or the ideal young Anakin.
  • Again the hero’s sacrifice, but its context and purpose is transposed. Obi-Wan’s (cf. Gandalf) sacrifice ensures Luke’s place on the right side of the conflict, not just that he would escape to fight another day, but that he would have the necessary resolve, status, and power to fight. Han Solo’s death ensures Kylo Ren’s place in the same way; Kylo’s murder of his father resolves his, Kylo’s, internal conflict; he’s certainly evil now.
  • Rey has to be Luke’s daughter. Duh.
  • Too much was cut from the movie. The flow was a bit choppy. I want to see a special expanded edition a la The Lord of the Rings.
  • R2-D2’s awakening was the only eye-rolling moment for me.
  • I liked Poe and Finn, but the movie belongs to Rey and Kylo. Daisy Ridley is a treasure. If for no other reason, Abrams deserves credit for casting her.
  • People are already giving Abrams shit for the Rathtars, which are Cthulhu-like monsters (cf. Cloverfield and the monster Spock fights in the first Star Trek reboot). I’m sure there will be plenty of Zhdanovian blasts from the usual suspects (Salon, surely) who’ll insist that this theme “proves” Abrams is a vagina-hating, vagina-fearing pervert. Because, you know, anything that has a vertical toothy mouth and tentacles (like the Sarlacc, come to think) is, for such New Freudians, a representation of a vagina in particular and indicative of the retrograde sexual politics of the creator in general.
  • The humor was welcome and very much in the vein of the original trilogy, organic humor, rather than the forced stuff in the prequels.
  • Thank the Maker that the EU stuff isn’t canon!
  • I was worried about Chewbacca’s fate for a bit. I almost can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m happier to see Han go than I would have been if Chewie had been killed. Overall, I’m very happy with how Chewbacca was used in this flick; I’m particularly happy that he hurt Han Solo’s murderer (who Chewie almost certainly had to have known, and also had history with). It’s a nerdy detail, but I’m also delighted that Chewie’s ungainly, unusual bowcaster weapon is shown to have unusual attributes — a technological rationale that should have been shown a long time ago.
  • Admiral Ackbar sounds a bit different but close enough to the original that you know it’s him and not some generic Mon Calamari.
  • The only ginger in the movie, General Hux, is evil. Someone from our species should pretend to complain as a joke on complaints.
  • I hope the Starkiller is the last Death Star-like weapon in the series. NB: I dropped the EU stuff back in the day after reading Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy. (Rybets, for fuck’s sake. Rybets.) Anderson, who before becoming a sci-fi hack writer worked in the defense industry, brought back Death Stars and vigorously defended doing so on ‘that’s how military-industrial complexes think’ grounds. Which is verisimilitudinous but lame.
  • Congratulations to the Comics And Graphics Novels Are So Deep type fanboys who infest Star Wars fandom – and indeed every fandom: you may have finally got the precious darkness you wished for. Maybe.
  • What happened to Maz? Which planets and which people exactly were blown up by the Starkiller?
  • One of the first scenes in the next movie has to be an expansion and explanation of Rey’s vision quest.
  • I love BB-8.
  • (Adding a few hours later) I liked that Abrams thought to have a neckbeard X-wing pilot character as a reference and update to Jek Porkins.