December 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens [No Spoilers Here]

Thursday Evening 10:20pm
I'm sitting in the movie theater parking lot right now. The Force Awakens starts in 25 minutes. I bought this ticket (Auditorium 6, Row G, Seat 1, in glorious 2D) two months ago, but I only began to get really excited to see it this morning. It's been a weird two months: I was very happy to see the first trailer a few months ago, and I saw that moment with Han and Chewie on the Falcon, but since then, I have tried to shut out the ever-increasing din of marketing, and spoilers, and television commercials, but that almost smothered all of my excitement to see the movie? My mindset was almost "I am really excited to see this movie...but I don't want to think too much about it until I see it". The Disney-pop-culture-media juggernaut feels the opposite- they want me thinking about Star Wars all day every day for months. I feel like the only person who wants to see this movie with any amount of surprise. Frankly, that's why I was willing to go see this movie so late at night by myself on opening night: I just want to get the first screening over with so I can then soak up all of the fun promotion and magazine articles and so on.
This fever pitch got a bit ridiculous at the end. This evening I sat down on my sofa: on my left was a Boston Globe feature about Star Wars, on my right a C-3PO/R2-D2 Christmas stocking: I literally could not turn my head without seeing Star Wars stuff everywhere. Did I mention the Chewbacca Chicken Soup in the pantry?
I felt a bit silly covering my eyes and fast-forwarding my TV every time a commercial came on, and turning Entertainment Weekly face down so I would not read the headlines about the movie, but I guess I am only being silly if I end up not liking the movie after all this trouble I went through. Stay tuned: I'll post my initial reaction as soon as it's over. See you in 2 hours!
Friday Morning 1am
Good news gang, the movie is terrific. The plot (no spoilers) is very straightforward, so there's no Trade Federation and Republic and Senate and planetary embargoes like Episode 1. Are you sleepy yet?
It reminded me a lot of JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot in the following ways:
  • The Force Awakens honors all the conventions of the existing Star Wars movie universe, but with 21st-century style and production values (Don't worry: I did not notice any lens flares like in his Star Trek reboot).
  • It's as loose and funny as the best parts of the original films.
  • There's lots of touches that acknowledge the original three films without becoming a Fan Club Greatest Hits. You do not need to remember the original trilogy well to appreciate this film.
My Stub Hubby Grade: A. (I am seeing the movie again on Tuesday; I reserve the right to revise this review after I rewatch the movie)

Okay For Kids? Without giving anything away, I would describe content of The Force Awakens as very similar to the original trilogy. There's some scares, some monsters, lots of gunfire, a couple of deaths onscreen (not just Stormtroopers falling over, which hardly counts). If your kids have watched The Empire Strikes Back, they can handle this too.

Trailers: I was expecting a lot of trailers, but wow, we saw every trailer, including previews for the Independence Day sequel, Captain America: Civil War, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, all of which look grim, joyless, and workmanlike. These trailers all rolled off the backs of the Star Wars-hungry crowd. The only reaction was from a hilarious mini preview for an animated movie Zootopia featuring a DMV office run entirely by sloths. Go Google it, it's adorable and funny.

Audience: At least a third of the audience was wearing Star Wars tee shirts, and one cadre of friends did some nice cosplay:
  • Luke with Yoda backpack - the easiest and most comfortable costume
  • Darth Vader with the helmet off- wearing a baldcap all night is dedication!
  • Classic Han Solo
  • Slave Leia - gotta have some self-confidence for this.
  • Padme (Natalie Portman) in her white leggings and belly-baring crop top - I thnk that's from Attack of the Clones? This tight & white costume left little to the imagination.
Theater: AMC Burlington is very nice, It's come a long way from the first time I ever saw a movie here, the Star Wars Episode 4 Special Edition re-release 17 years ago. Last night I was sitting in a good row but all the way over to the right, yet my viewing angle was just fine. When I saw A New Hope here in 1997 - it might have been the same auditorium? I was also sitting all the way over to the side but the viewing angle was poorer and the audio sounded all lopsided. One weird drawback - they forget to turn off the house lights until after the movie started?

Star Wars On Stub Hubby: