Star Wars (2015)
There is a story that former Lucas collaborator and producer Gary Kurtz left the series after The Empire Strikes Back (1980) because the subsequent film Return of the Jedi (1983) featured another assault on a Deathstar. It was if George Lucas, who penned the story, got lazy (or had writer’s block), and just threw out the notion of improving upon the ESB, knowing well enough he was going to bank big bucks on Ewok merchandising, so he focused his creative talents on Temple of Doom (1984) and Howard the Duck (1986).
Now, 32 years later, we have yet another Deathstar (now called Starkiller Base), and somehow I missed it completely in Disney’s marketing blitzkrieg of 2015. There it is right above Finn’s (actor John Boyega) head. Here it is in closeup:
It’s a Hoth-like ice planet with a big-ass energy projector.
Starkiller base sucks up energy from a conveniently located nearby sun, taking some time to build up capacitance, and then “kaboom” —multiple planets are hit by streamers of directed energy and blow up real good. But wait, Starkiller base is flawed in having a spacecraft accessible trench, an Achilles heel in a targetable spot that X-wing pilots can aim at, and a protective shield which can be lowered by a team led by Han Solo.
Are you fucking kidding me?
What drives me crazy is the selected design of this thing with trenches and bulls-eyes did not have to be. The talented visualization team came up with stunning and varied concepts for Starkiller base showcased HERE in a testament to what might have been. At least a gigantic energy-focusing lens wedged deep inside a recessed volcanic caldera requires Rebel aviators to fly differently to make an attack run. Why be different J.J.?
Star Wars (2015) is so riddled with recycling of ideas that it insulted me —a droid carrying secret plans, a callow youth pulled into a Hero’s Journey, one terribly rendered and disappointing holographic projection of another emperor now called Supreme Leader Snoke, a cantina scene with some really cool aliens, and more. I could go on ad nauseum but I won’t. Here’s an adept synopsis 18 Major Similarities [Between the real Star Wars and Star Wars (2015)]. This is what I have waited for? This is one big commercial for BB-8’s and Captain Phasma dolls.
On a positive note, the film looks wonderful and is without a doubt the highest technical achievement in visuals for any of the Star Wars movies. It looks stunning and I am glad the film was shot on film and for the most part used sets, location shooting, traditional makeup appliances and prosthetics rather than CG rendering. It looks like a film.
Kudos to the young actors Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega, who were fine. I also liked Lupita Nyong’o as the well-rendered space pirate Maz Kanata, who nearly stole the show. Adam Driver was terribly miscast and his character was pitiful and the worst Sith villain in any of the films. Han and Leia were not capable of making such an uninteresting character.
Domhnall Gleeson (who is a talented actor better showing his skills in Frank (2014) and Ex Machina (2015) was miscast as the new Tarkinesque General Hux. 6’3 Gwendoline Christie sounded terrific as Captain Phasma, but her part was so crappily (that’s a term now) written that she doesn’t do anything, but get thrown into a trash compactor. I guess she survived as she is slated to be in next film.
Max Von Sydow (Lor van Tekka) was wasted. Why bring in respected veteran actor of over 150 appearances and kill him after a few lines within the opening moments of the film?
Some fans and critics have bitched about John Williams score. It’s ok. I like Rey’s Theme which evokes the western scores of Morricone.
The ending was fine, I guess, and I get it. Hitchcock was far and away better at the MacGuffin than J.J., but hell, I fell for it. Luke Skywalker has vanished.
- No classic and nowhere near the 8.8 IMDb rating.
- Better acted than the crappy prequels. Looked and sounded fantastic.
- -2 stars for lack of originality.