First of all let me just say that this review does contain detail about the plot. So if you haven’t seen it yet, my advice is to go and see it, because it is well worth watching. Then come back and read this. If you have seen it, then read on.
This article is really a review about the reviews. It is in response to those people who have stated that The Force Awakens is too much like the original Star Wars film originally released in 1977.
The film is brilliant basically, really good. Yes, there are more than just elements like the original film, I concede that, but I think you have to look at the motives for it, what was at stake, and how far do you take that argument?
I think we all should see this from another point of view. The films called 1, 2, and 3. The ones made many years after the renamed 4, 5, and 6 (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi), were pretty awful, were more or less universally panned and almost killed off the whole franchise. They had some good bits in them, good ideas etc and they seemed to set out to use all the technology that wasn’t available when the first films were made, and use it extensively and to their disposal. This in part helped to practically ruin the films but I guess much more contributed. The plots had sort of run away with themselves. Become too complex or convoluted, it wasn’t simple.
Now trying to reignite the franchise again if you were paying billions of dollars to gain the rights to make a movie, to bring back a failing franchise, what would you do? Would you go back to what made that franchise so successful in the first place or would you take a risk, go wild and do something completely new? Bear in mind, and it is a worthy note, the billions of dollars weren’t inclusive of the cost of the film, it is just to have the rights to do it. And, furthermore, it is not a franchise at the top of its game, the king of the heap. It was one that was failing, and falling, like it had been in a fight with a lightsaber.
And yes I know the billions were paid by Disney and they can afford it, and regrettably we do have to use the phrase franchise because that is now what Star Wars has become.
There were three writers for The Force Awakens and in my view they did a great job. They had to return to the original because that is what worked. Yes, they could have mixed it up a bit more but they did a lot, well certainly enough in my view.
Look at any other franchise, anything else that has been successful. It is just a rehash of what has gone before. And once you have a formula that works you stick to it. It is a brave soul that doesn’t or in some cases foolish. A novelist, a band, practically anyone who does something that works does it again. Repeated is the same formula with nuances. That’s how it works.
I’m not saying it is how it should be; I am saying that’s the way it is. And if we look at The Force Awakens, there were some new elements. I’m not going to pitch you with BB 8 being round instead of a canister like R2-D2 because there was more. Look at the storyline with the Stormtrooper turning rogue. That was a whole new element that was risqué, cleverly developed and exposed and offered key strains to the story.
Up until this point we had all know very little about the Stormtroopers and what makes them turn to the dark side, and what makes them who they are.
Also, very briefly, taking the copying element to the extreme, if you look back further in this film, and in fact the whole Star Wars idea, with the dark side, you can draw other worrying parallels with something else quite sinister. A Stormtrooper was an elite segment of Hitler’s Nazi army, that’s what they were called. Take a look at the salute the Stormtroopers give their Commander. Ring any bells? The Stormtrooper turned rogue, was a child taken from a family at a young age, brainwashed and was indoctrinated to follow orders. Again, does this sound like deluded, evil, dictators ideal? Does it remind you of the Hitler youth movement perhaps?
Instead of looking at how this film was similar to those that have gone before, we should look at how it was itself, on its own.
For me it was a great piece of film making, great cinematography, using good unknown actors, as well as bringing back an established cast. Yes, it relied on the very first film’s elements to cement its prowess but it did this with new elements, wit, and panache. It shows us there is truth and lies. There will always be truth and lies. It reiterates about right and wrong, darkness and light. There will always be right and wrong, darkness and light. It shows us that no matter where you are from you can turn evil and conversely you can be evil and turn good. It shows us that no matter what your colour or creed, or even if you look like a fish, we can all work together and succeed. And we must never ever forget our history and never try and destroy our future. Or maybe, it was just a good, entertaining film that allows us to escape reality for a while?
Mark Scotchford © 05/01/2016