Movies: Star Wars VII

star-wars-viiSo,… I finally saw the most recent Star Wars movie the other night (it has already made its way to cable; meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Interstellar and Ex Machina to show up). Those who know my value system with regard to science fiction, with regard to movies, and especially with regard to science fiction movies, warned me I that I probably wouldn’t like it very much.

But I already knew that was likely just because of who directed it (same guy who nailed the Star Trek coffin shut), so I approached watching it with very low expectations and without any oxen to gore (since I was never really a fan and never really got into the characters or story).

And even so I still really disliked it. A whole bunch.

I did watch the whole thing, so I guess it did better with me than the latest Mad Max movie did. I only lasted 30 minutes into that one before I turned it off in disgust at how dumb it was.

And that’s really my biggest complaint about the new Star Wars. It’s a dumb, dumb movie. Too dumb for me to enjoy, and maybe that’s on me, but it’s hard to get into a movie that constantly has me shaking my head over the dumb stuff.

Just for example: If Luke is so hot on being alone… why is there a secret pirate treasure map to his location? Why does it even exist? (And why is it such a lame map?)

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How is a huge section of the galaxy far, far away not instantly recognizable? The missing data didn’t supply anything further about that section!

Or: Why is Jedi training even necessary if all you really need is just to really need The Force at a given moment? Amazing how it lets you excel with a weapon new to you against a trained opponent.

Or: How is it that Storm Trooper training, despite apparently using brainwashing training techniques from an early age, can produce a trooper who suddenly, instantly, becomes a decent, coherent guy?

And: Why does an anonymous Storm Trooper know enough about how the Ultra Super Mega Death Star operates to know its one vulnerable point? (And why do Death Stars always have these ludicrously stupid Achilles Heels?)

Also: Why is Lord Voldemort in a Star Wars movie, and why is he going by the name Snape? And he has a younger Snape working for him. I found that part very confusing.

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So,… when Snape was young he did work for Voldemort! (Maybe at Dumbledore’s request?) But why was Voldemort using Snape’s name? Is it because everyone was so afraid to use his real one?

It was cute (and weird) watching the movie try to recapitulate SW IV. That first movie changed the movie and science fiction landscape. This one was just a silly remake. Another cotton candy, a sugary illusion of substance.

And very predictable. I ignore trailers and ‘the buzz’ as much as I can, so I didn’t know what happens to Han ‘Indiana’ Solo. And yet the way the scene was written and played telegraphed it way ahead of time.

Time and again, it was obvious what was coming. Simplistic first-level plotting. What comes next? Exactly what you’d expect given any experience at all with movies. It’s as interesting and compelling as slot cars.

My buddy mentioned that younger Snape’s light saber has a cracked crystal. That’s why the blade has the extra light show business going on, plus it makes the side thingies necessary.

I had a good belly laugh at the idea of a fantasy fairy tale for kids using hard SF elements to explain itself. Really; it’s cute and kinda hysterical. Like when a three-year-old acts like mommy or daddy at work. Ya just gotta smile.

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When you’re talking light sabers (especially in a guns ‘n’ blasters world) you’re just not talking hard SF. You’re just not.

Same buddy also mentioned a fan buzz, speculations that Rey (and-or Fin) goes bad, joins The Dark Side…

Bet you that never happens. Even in these days of “hide the villain” it seems like a major and ridiculous violation of the narrative they’ve established. These two are pretty clearly the heroes of the piece.

The supposed clue is that Rey has used fear or anger to access The Force so far. I suggest this really indicates a coming story line about her struggle with (and ultimate victory against) The Dark Side.

Fin, too, will no doubt be tested in some way, but I can’t see these as other than the plucky young heroes who save the galaxy far, far away (and long, long ago, so it’s a done deal by now).

On the other hand, Abrams has no respect for reality or narrative, and the name of the game these days is “shock the fans,” so who knows. I guess it’s exactly the sort of thing that’s trendy now.

But it’ll be a dumb trick if they do.

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Nazis! I agree with Han Jones and Indiana Solo: I hate those guys!

On my six-point scale, I give it a definite and decided Meh! (Better than the Nah! I gave the Max Max remake. Frankly it probably rated an Ugh!)

Sadly, it’s been a while since any SF movie rose above a Meh! For me, The Martian and Tomorrowland only rated an Eh! I’d give Ender’s Game an Ah! I’d give Oblivion (and also Elysium) an Ah! but Edge of Tomorrow just got an Eh!

(I gave Man From U.N.C.L.E. a definite Ah! — and likewise Kingsmen — but they’re not SF. Also enjoyed Spy quite a bit; it got an Ah!)

Not sure whether I think comic book movies count as SF (or are their own category), but I did give Guardians of the Galaxy a Wow! And Antman got an Ah!

But seriously, we do need better SF movies! Most of what’s being turned out is pretty dumb.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

8 responses to “Movies: Star Wars VII

  • Steve Morris

    Yes, it was extraordinarily dumb. Yet as you said, who could be surprised? (Me in fact – it was even dumber than I had anticipated.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Right! And likewise.

      J.J.Abrams, after all, is the man who brought us Armageddon and Cloverfield. I was never attracted to any of his TV series, either: Lost, Alias, Fringe… what I saw of promos and trailers made it clear it wasn’t my sort of thing — too pop, too dumb.

      For me it came to a focal point when Abrams was the guest on Jon Stewart. Abrams said he’d never liked Star Trek because it wasn’t glitzy enough. He’d always wanted to tart it up. (Stewart did a “mind-blown” over that, which went over Abrams head.) What it illustrates is that Abrams is clueless about Star Trek, which means he’s clueless about science fiction.

      But that tends to be true of most who became a science fiction fans post-Lucas. (Or, as I say it, Anno Stella Bella.)

  • Steve Morris

    Mostly I watch TV series these days rather than movies.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Also likewise. I read an article the other day that was about how TV series are replacing movies in terms of quality and in terms of capturing audience.

      Between “home theaters” and digital media, movie theater have been really feeling the pinch, and that works its way back to those who make movies. There’s almost a desperation to snag audience. And a fear of doing anything niche, so they end up creating remakes and sequels, replowing the same ground.

      Maybe movies will become a thing of the past. It’s already possible to make an interesting “movie” using home gear; video makes it pretty easy. The same way self-publishing of music threatens to overturn the music industry, self-publishing of videos (already well under way at YouTube and other venues) may threaten the film industry!

      • Steve Morris

        I think so. Self-publishing in books is threatening traditional publishers in the same way. The response is always the same – conservatism and predictability, which almost guarantees long-term failure of those traditional publishers.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yes, exactly! Books, too.

        It’s, once again, the scope-change of modern life with the internet. For most people, for most of history, the world was “read-only” — writing onto the world (in any effective way) was very difficult. Now it’s easy, anyone can put their work up on the interweb wall for all to see. With a bit of effort, you can publicize it, very likely make a few bucks. If you’re lucky, you can score big.

        The flip side for wall readers is the glut of content — most of which isn’t worthwhile — and it becomes hard to find the wheat amid so much chaff.

        Up until about 2000, I knew pretty much who was publishing what in movies, music, science fiction, even books in general. These days? I haven’t a clue. There’s just no way to keep up without serious devotion. And it’s likely impossible to be really conversant across multiple fields anymore.

        Ah, well, welcome to our little global village. Population about three-billion and growing rapidly…

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Speaking of Mad Max, I noticed it was on cable last night tempting me to catch the last hour or so. Since I’d turned it off after 30 minutes the first time I tried to watch it, there is some shred of a thought that maybe it got better, maybe later in the movie the parts everyone seemed so gung-ho about would pop up.

    Since there was nothing better on, I switched over to it… And no. I lasted about five minutes. Another tiresome endless car chase scene, just as genuinely stupid as the first. (Seriously, if you like this shit, there is something wrong with your brain. It’s damaged or not working right.)

    Stupid, stupid, movie. A triumph of cliched hackneyed style over having any substance whatsoever. Far worse than SW VII. I’m now entirely comfortable giving this movie my lowest rating: Ugh! A rating which means the movie never should have been made.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And another thing: They actually doubled down on the whole “Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs” thing. Brought it up (gratuitously, as with most of the other SW4 references) and confirmed that, yep, that’s what Han and the Millennium Falcon did.

    But then the idea that there would be any sense or logic to a children’s fairy tale is pretty silly.

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