Friday, December 18, 2015

"Star Wars" for a New Generation


Re-Visiting a Galaxy Far, Far Away

By Skip Sheffield

There are many things in life I do not understand. The “Star Wars” phenomenon is one of them.
If ever there were a critic-proof movie, it’s “Star Wars.” The franchise is now owned by Disney, which acquired LucasFilms in 2012. They don’t make it easy for critics. They know they have sure-fire audience bait.
The good news about the reboot “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is that it is pretty good, even for a skeptic like me. It is the best installment since the first three, starting in 1977 with “Star Wars,” which was then retitled Episode IV. After Episode VI it was all downhill with a series of pretentious, silly “prequels.”
“The Force Awakens” brings in J.J. Abrams (“Mission Impossible III”) as director. Its principal writer, working with characters created by George Lucas, is Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote “Raiders of the Lost Ark;” “Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi.”
Fans of the original Star Wars will be pleased that original stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill all reprise their characters of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. Chewbacca is back too as are the droids CP-3 CO and R2 D2.
Luke Skywalker has disappeared in this reboot, and the two new characters spend most of the film looking for him while combatting a new villain, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
The new good girl and good guy are British actors Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn). They are both young and fresh and they bode well for this continuation of this reboot. It’s already a done deal, as two more episodes are in the works.
There is no point in retelling the plot. Simply put, Kylo Ren, who dresses in black and runs an evil organization called The First Order, is a reinvention of Darth Vader. First Order is clearly a fascist organization modelled after Hitler’s Nazi Party. Boo, hiss!

There are a number of references to the original Star Wars movies; most notably the bar scene with all sorts of weird alien characters mingling with humans. Even the intro is the same: “A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far away,” with the portentous John Williams score. There is one major plot twist, but we won’t spill the beans just yet. Star Wars fans should be pleased by the movie but saddened by the twist. For the rest of us “Force Awakens” is tolerable and pretty entertaining, and that should be enough to make this movie a big box office success.

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