Saturday, 2 January 2016

We saw Star Wars

*Here be spoilers*

Seeing films in the cinema is more complicated now. The baby is not the best moviegoing accessory, prone as she is to shrieking like her legs are being sawn off, and projectile vomiting (a good three foot range.) We deposited her on the grandparents, and she spent the duration of the movie happily asleep, lashed to her grandfather.

My thoughts having seen it:

Episode VII is like drinking a pint of Speckled Hen after lent -  it doesn't matter that it's a thoroughly average example of the form, it's exactly what was missing, so it feels brilliant. The best and worst I can say for the film is that "it does the job." It's a workmanlike retread of Star Wars tropes, the Hero's journey, magic samurai and World War 2 dogfighting. Turns out that's enough.

It's a kid's film. The morality is black and white (with the concept that a person can change from one side to the other, rather than exist in a grey area), it runs on narrative causality, and the geopolitics are at the level of complexity a Trump voter could understand. That's all great. The last time a Star Wars movie had believable geopolitics it was a right dog's arse. Space fairytales are rad.

JJ Abrams style is more readable than I thought. +Zak Smith had a good discussion thread that identified some of the signs - travel is so easy and communication so fast that space is functionally very small, and locating a person is only ever a matter of knowing where they are, not undertaking a journey to get to them. (I wonder - is that something an iPad and Satnav child would even notice?) I don't think Abrams is good at incidental texture either - while the plot clips along at a fantastic rate and much more happens than in any of the original trilogy movies, the incidental and often banal details of the OT (things like briefing scenes given by unnamed military personnel, the many different technicians failing to repair the Millenium Falcon in Empire, the multi-stage ritual of entering Jabba's palace) act as narrative greebling, suggesting a scale to events that extends outside the bounds of the movie. Abrams manages it for Rey, but fluffs it completely with the Resistance and the New Order.

Kylo Ren is really beautifully portrayed. Top scenes - removing his helmet, and trying to pray the lightside away. He reminded me of Malfoy trying to be the man who can kill Dumbledore in Half Blood Prince. Hotvader is definitely in. The concept that being bad is also a lot of mental effort, that people are naturally inclined against, is a very nice one to see added to the lexicon of villainy.

Starkiller Base is nowhere near as cool as Death Star. Dieter Rams would hate Starkiller Base.

I think that's the extent of my original or semi-original thoughts.

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