|10:41 am - On Star Wars (7)|
I was 10 years old when Star Wars (just Star Wars, there wasn't a need to add more name or a number to it then) came out. I did not go see it. I did hear about it, ad nauseum since. By 1978, even not having seen it, I was well and truly sick of it. I did not watch the now infamous Holiday Special, though evidently perhaps it would have been something I'd have enjoyed in a bizarre way. TV shows that parodied it were benefit and relief. Eventually it was shown on commercial TV (with lots and lots of commercials and interminable "Making of" bits. I did watch that, and was disappointed. Maybe the theater experience of 1977 and lack of interruption would have helped, and the effects were great for the time. But the story? "Knight needs to rescue Princess from 'Dragon'..in spaaaaace!" Big deal. Yeah, "there are no new stories" but.. oy. I've heard it was supposed to evoke the sort of thrilling adventure of things like the old Flash Gordon serials - which I was watching around 1977 as a local station was playing them weekday afternoons. So, for me, any gap had already been filled. I found flaws in the serials, too, but they didn't annoy me as much. Or perhaps it was that I wasn't annoyed by a fanbase claiming it was near the best thing ever. Alright, it was elementary school and such, but pre-internet the world tended to be very local.
I've not truly sat down and watched the first three (4, 5, and 6 - how's that numeracy thing doing?) Star Wars films since. I've likely seen them all due to the amount times they were carried on campus cable it was on at UW-Platteville, but it was something I'd come into, or walk out of, it wasn't a thing I "got into" but more... background noise. I have seen the second (first?) three Star Wars movies (1, 2, and 3) in the theater - largely in self-defense so I'd know what folks on IRC were talking about. This wasn't entertainment, it was vaccination. And I've had more pleasant shots.
Sunday night jmaynard took me to see the newest Star Wars movie (#7, Egad the numbering for this one makes sense! What went wrong?) while it was still in the theater (in Mankato, as it was no longer playing in Fairmont). Well, it's better than the prequels (admittedly a mighty low bar), but even I had moments of "How re-make can you get?" as it followed the general outline of #4 (which was first) and if history didn't repeat itself, it was rhyming pretty hard in many places - so much so that even I was going "How remake can you get?". It did, eventually, drag me in some which is surprising to me. Some things threw me back out, like the scene that if you see it (or have seen it) will recognize as "How Leni Riefenstahl can they get?" Evocative? No. Blatant. There were other times I was quietly giggling for the wrong reason as things were done in a very Star Trek (yes, Trek) like way.
I'd say the actors and characters aged well (as in believably) and that worked. The complaints about the 'sudden' abilities of the new main characters don't hold for me. I will say I still think that Renaissance Sword Theater still has the effect that the laser-swordfights, er, lightsaber battles, are rather dull for me. And if you've seen footage of night fighting in North Africa in WWII, a lot of the other big flashy battles looks mighty familiar. Was it worth seeing in the theater rather than on a disc (or stream)? Surprisingly, to me, yes. Not for the 'group experience' which I generally detest (and the audience was pleasantly thin - only one irksome 'whoop' when it started), nor the big screen, but the sound system likely had a lot to do with emotional manipulation, er, buy-in.
One thing I haven't seen anyone comment on is the use of the term 'oscillator' for something that it didn't make sense for. ("Relax, it's just movie." you say.) I suspect it was "We need a tech-ish term that people might have heard so it doesn't sound too techno-babble." and used that. But it is just possible that it's slightly more. Remember that some of this thing (like the opening text scroll) was from the Flash Gordon serials? In one of the later installments of one of the serials they also (mis)used the term 'oscillator' for something - and even then it threw me. It could be a coincidence, but if they did their research, it might be an echo.
The best line? Out of context it might not make sense, but, "The garbage will do." is perhaps the most memorable line of the movie. The second is the exchange ,"Keep calm, keep calm." "I am keeping calm." "I'm talking to myself." And J.J. Abrahms deserves credit for not having any dialog in the final scene - which sets up #8, but doesn't truly reveal which direction it will take, or at least try to take before doing the obviously-going-to-happen thing.
Current Music: Cantina Band - John Williams