Monday, January 11, 2016
Star Wars: A Discussion (Episode IV)
If you've read the previous posts in this series, it will come as no surprise to you that the lead up to The Force Awakens was a big deal in my household. We had our tickets not long after they started pre-selling them, so something like a month in advance. My oldest son, who is working on a suit of stormtrooper armor so that he can join the 501st, spent the last year pouring over every tiny little detail released about the movie and engaging in all kinds of theories about it.
I pretty much constantly had to tell him not to tell me the stuff he was finding out online, because I wanted to go into the movie with as little knowledge as possible about it. I already knew more than I wanted to know about the general premise of the story because of all of the Star Wars lore I accumulated back in the 90s before Lucas announced that he was going to make the prequels.
My younger son fell somewhere in between us. He wasn't searching out information, but he wasn't opposed to being told things, either.
It's an interesting thing watching an event draw closer for someone who has been highly anticipating it. See, although my oldest son saw all of the prequels in the theater, he didn't really remember doing that. He was only three for Phantom Menace and, although he was old enough to remember going to see Revenge at the theater, all he really remembered of that was all of the people in costume while we were waiting in line to get in. His memories were all about the movies themselves because he'd seen them so many times on DVD; he had no real memories of the experience of going to see them.
That's not like me, I remember the experience of going to see A New Hope the first time I went to see it. I remember everything about it, including how badly I needed to go to the bathroom and being unwilling to do that because I was so enraptured by the movie. But, then, it was a full year before I got to see it again, so I really had to hold onto that one memory very tightly. And I did, too.
Yes, those were the years before, even, VHS players.
But it hasn't been like that with my kids. Their lives have been full of Star Wars pretty much from the start, so all three of them were very much looking forward to going to see a new Star Wars movie while being old enough to be able to remember the experience of going to do that, my oldest son most of all. You could see the tension growing in him as we got closer, especially in that last week. He was both excited and scared, scared that it wouldn't be as good as he hoped.
He's the reason I saw it twice on "opening" night, Thursday, December 17. We already had our tickets for the 7:00 show, but, back at the end of the summer, he picked up a job at a movie theater. They were doing an actual midnight showing for the employees, and he could bring two people: that was me and his brother. Let me just say: Midnight is not a kind time when you got up at 5:00am. Even for Star Wars.
So... We all went to the 7:00 show, and we all really liked it, but... Okay, so, my wife and my daughter just straight up liked the movie. Enough for them to want to see it a second time (which we did, making my third) and for my daughter to want, now, to go see it again. Neither of them are much into re-watching movies. After coming out of the first showing, my sons and I all felt like we needed to see it again before being able to properly evaluate it. Which is not to say that there were any doubts about likability. But the movie is fast. It's really non-stop action, like a roller coaster, which I'm sure is what Disney was striving for, and there's no time during the movie to ever stop and think about what you're seeing.
That was actually what I said to my wife when we came out of the theater, my only mark against it on that initial viewing: It was too fast. That one thing distracted from the Star Wars-ness of the film, much like the new Doctor Who series is also too fast. Don't get me wrong, I really like the new Doctor Who series and David Tennant comes in at second on my favorite Doctor list (though Capaldi is really excellent, too, and has the potential to hit #2), but, sometimes (frequently), I miss the thoughtfulness of the older shows. I miss that problems were solved by thinking, not by running around (the running is a big deal in the new series). [Part of what I like about Capaldi is that he has brought back some of the thoughtfulness.]
There is a lot of running in The Force Awakens.
Okay, so, what I'm going to say right now is that I like the movie. A lot. But it still only comes in at 4 of 7 of the Star Wars movies, maybe 5 of 7. One of the top 3 is one of the prequels. Next post, we'll talk about why.