woensdag 16 december 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens

SPOILERS!  DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO GO WATCH IT!

And so it was that this morning I found myself in Kinepolis Antwerp to watch the long anticipated episode 7 of the Star Wars saga.

Now, I`ve been watching it since I was a wee toddler, my first experience being the Kenner toys and the Return of the Jedi movie way back in 1984, at a mighty age of 6 back then.  I lived through the prologue trilogy better then most, even actually liking The Phantom Menace for more then just the epic Duel of the Faiths track, but mind you, I`m not a die-hard Star Wars fan.  I like the movies, read a lot of the EU books, watched most cartoon spinoffs and the Ewok movies and buy the occassional Lego set.  But I`m a Star Trek fan, so let`s put that straight, I can watch the movies from an objective and not a die-hard point of view.

And now you have had plenty of time to turn back if you don`t want spoilers, so anything you read onwards from now is your own choice.

Well, this movie would be marking the passage of the generation from the original trilogy to a brand new generation, and let`s start by taking away or confirming some rumours.

Grand Master Snoke does not seem to be Jar-Jar Binks.  It was a fun (spoof) theory on the internet, and I fully supported the spreading of it.  It was great fun, though we all knew it would be highly unlikely.  Snoke (or better, his hologram) seems to be a beat up alien with a large cut in his head.

Luke Skywalker is both in there, and he is NOT Kylo Ren.  That alias is actually... Ben Solo, the child of Leia and Han.  So he became obsessed with his deseased grandfather Anakin, aka Darth Vader, but he is no Sith (yet?), more of a tantruming teenager.  But his path to the Dark Side, which needed him to shed his past forever, comes true because...

... as I said the past weeks, Han Solo DOES die.  His son strikes him down to complete his journey into evil.  It was a hint when it was leaked Harrison Ford would be signing on a `film by film` basis, while Fisher and Hamill had signed on for all three.

Finn, or FN-2847, is not the new Jedi.  He was hinted at being the son of Lando by a jigsaw puzzle piece of merchandise, but we only know that Finn is not his real name but one given to him by Poe Dameron, but his past is still left open.

Rey on the other hand is the new Jedi, she is the one the `Awakening` refers though.  It is also strongly hinted, yet not confirmed, that she is Luke`s daughter.  But what then about Jedi not allowed to have relationships???

The Story

In a way, the movie felt like a remake with a twist of A New Hope.  It starts with a large First Order star destroyer blotting out the screen.  On the note of the First Order, they seem to be like the Empire, but a light version, not being just as good (bar missing by the Stormtroopers) nor just as well equipped as the ultimate bad guys from the first trilogy.  But you got a big bad guy communicating through holograms, and a black clad, masked dude as `outside the command structure` right hand man on a military base.
Can`t grasp the Phasma hype though, she has like 3 lines and nothing usefull in the whole film.

After escaping Jakku to try and retrieve BB-8, who holds the last piece to find Luke Skywalker again (who went into exile as he had failed to train new Jedi, as Ben Solo undid it all... sounds like the books of the now no longer canon Expanded Universe) and hopefully let him help to restore peace once more, Rey and Finn find themselves in the company of Han Solo and Chewbacca to try and contact the Resistance, led by General Leia.

This takes them along the watering hole of Maz, and brings Rey in a first vague contact with her powers and past, though this results in her being captured by Ren.  Her powers come to be as she resists his attempts to enter her mind.

It`s also of note that the pure `epic moment` of the film for me was the `Arrival of the X-Wings` in this part of the movie, the scene showed briefly in the trailers with the water spattering up.  It can stand next to the Liberation of Helm`s Deep in my eyes.

Han, Finn and Chewie set out to sabotage the Starkiller so that the X-wings can destroy the Starkiller Base, a planet with a huge solar powered cannon that previously had destroyed the planets of the Republic in one blast.  Bit of a Death Star on steroids, but as I said, the First Order does everything a bit worse then the Empire, so instead of a shaft to bomb, this is a whole village sized room to blow up.
It is in these bowels that Han confronts his son (remember the Vader / Kenobi, or even the Vader / Luke moment) but he is killed by Ben, who now made his transition for shedding his past.  We get the impression Finn is indeed the new Jedi until this point, as he is swiflty beaten by Kylo Ren... and then Rey picks up Luke`s old blue lightsabre (yeah, the one that got lost in Empire..., seems he was somehow recovered in Cloud City then after all) and defeats Kylo, mangling his face.

The Starkiller base is then destroyed, but Rey, together with Chewie and R2-D2 who finally thinks it`s time to return from sleepmode, leave on the Milennium Falcon to a watery planet... where they find Luke and Rey offers the lightsaber... and then the titles start rolling and we can anxiously wait again.

Opinion

I loved the movie.  The CGI was fantastic, the story, while feeling like the very first, is actually fitting in a way to send the old guard off and instal the new generation.  Is it worth all the hyping?  Dead sure it is.
And Kylo, he still has big shoes to fill, wearing black and wielding a (not so well made) red saber does not make you a Darth just yet... who knows how he will progress...

And yes, he is a worthy new generation for R2-D2 as well... his Spider-man impression was just hilarious.

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