I finally got to see the new Star Wars film this evening. The internet is flooded with spoliers so there weren’t too many secrets for me to learn (BTW, very mild spoliers here).
The opinions I had heard from friends were mixed, so I went in with a degree of trepidation. But I have to say that as things got going I started to enjoy myself. Yeah, the story is a total re-hash of the 1977 one. But you can forgive that if the scenes and spectacle are done well. And as the film went on, well I got more and more disappointed by it.
For every thing I saw that gave me a little smile, or an internal “nice” there were two that made me cringe, or go “that is just daft”. For the last half hour, during the climatic battle, I was just bored. I found myself checking my watch and being more worried about getting to the supermarket on the way home.
The highlight of the film had to be when the Skelligs appeared. I actually felt a lump appear in my throat. The Swede beside me in the cinema even went “Wow”. It’s funny that the most amazing spectacle in a CGI laden blockbuster was the two minute scene shot on an island with 1500 year old ruins that (AFAIK) were not tweaked.
Frankly the rest of it you can keep. The two new main characters were okay, but the rest were bad. A forgettable good guy (Poe), a villiain who quite literally was a petulant whiny teenager, another one who was like a reject from a b-list computer game (Snoke’s arm movements, and the gigantic size of the hologram just made him seem cartoonish, not intimidating). And there were the usual Star Wars WTF plot holes, things that make absolutely no sense, and the amazing coincidences that brings characters, props, and so on all together all the time.
And in a lot of the ways that was something that really felt wrong about the film. For all their faults Lucas’ Star Wars films felt BIG. There was a sense of scale to the sets, the planets and the universe that the characters lived in (if you overlook the fact that it’s set in a galaxy where only people with the family name Skywalker get to matter). After the opening scenes this film felt small. The Starkiller thing was an embarrasing example of this.
The overall impression I took away was that if the other Star Wars films never existed, and there hadn’t been the hype and expectation (not to mention the massive amount of marketing and product tie-ins), then this film would have been regarded as something like Guardians of the Galaxy – fun but forgettable.
I know there are 2 more to come in this series. They have a bit of a hill to climb if in the long run people don’t end up regarding these as another set of average sequels.