Tuesday, January 12, 2016

That Movie Everybody's Talking About

It starts off the same way it did years ago.

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Indeed, one could argue that almost forty years is a long time ago.   And it is.   So it's fitting that this latest Star Wars chapter is a continuation of what started in 1977.   And completely ignore the first three prequel chapters about 15 years ago...movies that were utter rubbish.   

Nope, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is indeed your grandfather's Star Wars and well, it should be.  Looking at the audience that crowded into my screening, I was heartened to see a wide range of age groups.   Older folks who might have been kids when the first one opened.  They're with their children or grandchildren now and having a true cinematic bonding moment.   Few film franchises can pull that off.   Director JJ Abrams and company have done so successfully.

Like the original first three installments from 35 to 40 years ago, this new Star Wars is nothing but sheer entertainment.   Given the advances in special effects, it's interesting to note that there is a seamlessness in what shows up on the screen.   The explosions look the same,   The sky battles look the same.  And the fun quotient is thankfully and miraculously the same.  

The big selling point with this Star Wars is that it continues the story that effectively ended with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker back in 1983 with "Return of the Jedi."  Characters that we are familiar with are back and that's total comfort food for fans who hated the likes of Jar Jar Binks in the prequel films.  

But, what Abrams and gang do which is so super smart is that they totally spend almost the first hour introducing you to the newest characters.   You get invested in their stories and struggles before the trip down Memory Lane with the arrival of Han Solo and Chewbacca.  But, once that happens, the tale hits high gear and you are off to the galactic races.

Much has been made of the big plot twists and surprises in this Star Wars. The production was cloaked in high level secrecy.   I waited to see the film so that the Sheldon Coopers and the Howard Wolowiczes of the world got their fill.   But, ultimately, I was propelled into the theater because I found people at holiday parties who had seen the film already were talking to me in code so as plot points wouldn't be ruined.

That said, the huge surprises for me weren't all that stunning.   The script of this movie very much follows the story arc of the very first Star Wars and you can easily see where the plot is going.   But, still, it's fun to go on the ride and this one grabs you by the first reel and doesn't let go till the final fadeout, which I also saw coming like a truck down Wilshire Boulevard.

I actually think that President Obama has devised an executive order that makes it a federal offense to reveal anything about the plot.   But I don't think I am giving away the store if I tell you that it's great to see older actors and friends like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher back in such familiar roles.  I'd be remiss in not mentioning how much an older Carrie now looks like her mother Debbie Reynolds and that I was half-expecting that she would try to battle the villains by doing a number from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."  Oh, and if you think I'm revealing something by leaving out an original actor's name in this paragraph...well...you just have to see the movie.

And you should.  "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is old time entertainment and that ain't bad.   In 1977 or 2016.

LEN'S RATING:  Three-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Leftover turkey meat loaf.

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