Sunday, December 27, 2015
So, I finally saw the new Star Wars movie today. The good news is that it didn’t suck. My thoughts will continue, with increasingly annoying spoilers as I go.
On the science point of view, they had some interesting X-wing fly-byes of a ringed planet’s rings. I’m hoping that sometime in 2017, the Cassini mission’s actual ring flybys actually work without destroying the spacecraft, and produce images which we can compare to the Star Wars artist’s impression. I suspect that once again, reality will show how limited the human imagination really is.
My other beef is that planets seemed to be less climactically diverse than Earth. We had all-green planets, all desert planets, all ice planets, but nothing like Earth, will al of those regions easily visible from space.
As for the cinematic experience, the great thing about the new Star Wars movies is that all the little stuff is done really well. The dialogue is lively, the effects are awesome, the tension in the scenes is well tuned. The new young leads both hold up their parts of the story, and Han Solo is old, but still has it. The story is very fast-paced, and there is always something happening. Despite the speed of the plot, there are relatively few glaring plot holes.
However, at the same time, there wasn’t a lot of momentum, and much of the movie was emotionally flat. The movie was running full speed from the very beginning of the film. But unlike the previous movies, there was not a lot of emotional B-story to make us care. The chemistry between Han and Leia from the earlier movies was sadly lacking. Furthermore, all of the main plot points were telegraphed, or otherwise made absurdly obvious, way in advance. There were no jaw dropping surprises here. And the reveals didn’t have much impact. Any many plot points in the latter third of the movie were transparently about setting up later films.
Similarly, the villains were weak. One of the few things the prequels did well was to show just what a complete badass the Emperor was; in contrast, the bad guy in the new movie is a cartoon villain. And the Kylo Ren is so shallow that his personality is perfectly captured by a spoof twitter account. Mrs. Lemming described him like a Harry Potter villain- a half blood with a disappointing muggle father. And at several points, I felt the Jedi battles degenerated into yet another live action comic.
Still, the movie kept my attention all the way through, and the special effects were fantastic, both in their spectacle and their integration into the plot. Definitely worth a viewing, but I doubt I will go back unless it is to take the kids.