Apparently there is this new movie out that will have the biggest opening in movie history by bringing in an estimated $240 million just in the U.S. alone. That movie of course is Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I just got back from seeing the latest episode for this epic series… I saw the 11:20pm show, Sunday night via the IMAX 3d version here in Central Florida. In a nutshell it was very good… not going to call it great but it was solid.
A RARE JOURNEY
I rarely go to an opening weekend of a movie, especially one that is going to bring in huge crowds as I hate waiting in long lines and hearing all the chatter and distractions when I’m watching a movie… especially when you will be lucky to get out of the parking lot without spending at least $35 all in… per soul. The days of being good to go with just a crisp ten dollar bill in your pocket are long gone. I think those glory days ended sometime after Return of the Jedi came out. Anyways… the hype got to me… or perhaps it was the force… maybe I just couldn’t go to sleep… either way… I got off my couch after watching football all day and meandered to the movie theater.
In this Twitter and Facebook world that we now live in where people like everything short and neat… I will try to do that but that’s all relative… for those of you who actually like to read words, you may find this “report” to your liking. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil any major plot points although truth be told, there wasn’t anything that really needs to be hidden from someone who hasn’t seen it yet… and anything that would be a fun reveal, probably has been told to you via social media, you saw in a trailer or read a blog post somewhere.
CUT TO THE CHASE…
Long story short, this movie was pretty good. The effects and sound, especially in IMAX 3d were excellent. They created enough scenes with cool 3d effects that made it worthwhile to pay the IMAX 3d premium but not enough where it was a distraction or made you nauseous. The story was decent but it had a ton of similarities to the first Star Wars movie… ie. the first one that came out… not the one they made later and now calling the first one (I know… it can be confusing if you’re new to the franchise).
I thought the story line was a bit muddled in the first act (ie. first 30 minutes or so of the movie… for the people not inclined to the lingo of a high society movie expert like me LOL). They also introduced some new characters which further confused those of us who have followed the series from day 1. However the movie picked up speed and started to show some clarity as it went on. It went fairly smoothly through the second act to have a pretty satisfying ending… although it had a really familiar feeling about it all. The action was fantastic and the acting was pretty good as well. I would recommend seeing this… at the theater to get the full effect if you can.
HAVE WE SEEN THIS BEFORE?
The movie seemed to have almost a reboot feel to me… with a major goal to bring in new fans for the inevitable additional episodes to follow so they too can make it a part of their life’s history and not feel left behind or looked over. In many ways it took major elements and plot points from the 1977 release… twisted them a bit, folded in the new characters and boom… a new branch for the Star Wars brand that did evolve enough to hook in new viewers whose parents were kids when George Lucas first put this saga on screen and can make their own.
I’m still a little torn at this point if that was simply a good idea, a brilliant one or a lazy (or safe) attempt at filmmaking. I talked to one friend in his 40’s who thought it was lame how they “lifted” large elements from the original but the box office performance this past weekend may have told another story… but then again, the word of mouth so far was mostly hype (and a huge marketing campaign) at this point rather than from people saying it was great as the movie just came out. Time will tell if it has legs and what people will say about it. I’m sure, like with all these types of movies… you will have critics from all over… those that are hopelessly loyal and then those who will be stubbornly against it because perhaps they are a Star Trek fan or just like to say things that are popular suck… who knows.
DID YOU LIKE IT OR WHAT???
I for one thought it was pretty good and worthy of the admission price but I wouldn’t call it an immediate “classic” like the original one was. Bringing in some of the major stars from the original 3 movies had a nice touch and it was good to see that they had fairly important roles in this movie and weren’t just tokens or an homage to yesteryear… although one won’t be coming back unless they try to do some Obi Kenobi type stuff.
In terms of how the audience was for this viewing… the behavior was good and I had great seats… no one to the left, right or in front of me (although the theater had almost a full house) as I picked out my seats masterfully when I purchased my tickets online. I did hear clapping from the audience a few times during the third act… not huge applause but it was more than noticeable and I must admit that I too got all warm and fuzzy when Rey rocked the light saber for the first time to do some real battle with who I assume will be her nemesis in the coming episodes… I’m betting he’s her brother… or possibly cousin. I could go on and on about a lot of the other scenes but I don’t want to give away too much.
I actually sat through the credits hoping for that quick “hidden” clip at the very end like some movies do… no dice (so I just saved you about 10 minutes of your life) but while I sat through it (which was brutal as I had to really go to the bathroom after drinking a keg size coke) and read the credits, I saw that more than a few actors and contributors from the original 3 movies worked on this film which for some reason I find kind of cool.
At the end of the day… it’s hard to predict how people will take this new film. I would think that most people will like it. The series has covered so much time… enough time to cover a couple of generations of folks… if I did my math right… 38 years has elapsed from the first movie to this one… and there was a fairly large gap of time between the third film and the fourth installment so it seems that everyone kind of views it differently… and those differences mostly seem to be focused on how old you are.
For me, a person in their 40’s… I covet this series… not in a way that I will be a regular at Star Wars conventions but to me, it was and is a big deal as it was the first movie of its kind when it came out. It took movies to a whole different level from how it told its story, the effects and its scope to how it basically created its own genre… if not heavenly influenced one that already existed. Yeah, they had Sci Fi movies before 1977 but not like this. Also the movie is like a signpost in my life… I remember when I saw the first one and value those days when I was a child. And yes, I will admit that I did buy the action figures and the models and all of that back then. Actually my family bought me that stuff as I didn’t have a job yet… I was just 7 when the merch started coming out.
A lot of the technology needed to make the first Star Wars episode actually had to be invented for that movie, which the filmmakers built a special effects company around it all that has had a ton of movie credits to its name for over the past 4 decades and changed the movie industry forever. The special effects still hold up in those first 3 movies… even for today.
For most people over 40… the franchise has a lot different meaning than for those under 25 years of age. The younger generation has been bombarded with big movies and high end special effects for most of their lives so they don’t really hold the same type of appreciation for this series as those older do… not to say they can’t like it or even love it… but the appreciation is different… the experience is different. For many of those younger jedi’s new to this game… it’s probably just another big budget and highly marketed movie. For us “geezers”, it’s a whole lot more… if nothing else, perhaps a smile inspiring reminder of our youth.
I would give it 4 out of 5 stars but then again I’m biased… I use to stick fight with my buddies back in the day and act like I was Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber. The year was 1977… and oh what a glorious year it was!