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Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

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15 hours ago, John Drew said:

When it ended, I turned to my sister and said that the first thing they need to go back and change is the opening title card.  It shouldn't read, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...", rather, it should read, "A long time ago, in a solar system far, far away..."  I'm not sure how he managed it, but JJ Abrams has succeeded in turning what has felt (until now) to be a large universe, into a small neighborhood.

Yes! This.

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I felt that way when I learned that See-Threepio had been built by Anakin Skywalker, and that R2 already knew that Darth was Luke's father (indeed, that R2 already knew Yoda before Luke ever went to Dagobah). So I think Lucas bears a considerable amount of responsibility for making this galaxy into a small neighborhood.

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Justin Hanvey wrote:
: Nope no female pilots in Return of the Jedi.

I see your denial and raise you one Sila Kott. You can see her at the 2:33 mark in the video below (she's piloting an A-wing that is quickly blown up by a couple of TIE Interceptors):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPZigWFyK2o

I haven't watched the rest of the video to see if there are any others.

John Drew wrote:
: Count me among those who weren't very impressed. I'd only rank Attack of the Clones lower. 

Heh. I know a screenwriter who said on Facebook that The Phantom Menace is the only Star Wars film that might be -- *might* be! -- worse than The Force Awakens.

Overstreet wrote:
: So I think Lucas bears a considerable amount of responsibility for making this galaxy into a small neighborhood.

Lucas never had people stand on one planet and watch stuff happening on other planets with the naked eye. That is a distinctly JJ Abrams touch (see also: Spock watching the destruction of Vulcan from Delta Vega in the Star Trek reboot).

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1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:


John Drew wrote:
: Count me among those who weren't very impressed. I'd only rank Attack of the Clones lower. 

Heh. I know a screenwriter who said on Facebook that The Phantom Menace is the only Star Wars film that might be -- *might* be! -- worse than The Force Awakens.

Insanity.

Look, I get that this film is lazy and derivative and slapdash, but at least it has vital signs.

The prequels are narratively sloppy and lifeless. The only respects in which they are superior to TFA is in their ambitions and visual design.

Edited by Ryan H.

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46 minutes ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Overstreet wrote:
: So I think Lucas bears a considerable amount of responsibility for making this galaxy into a small neighborhood.

Lucas never had people stand on one planet and watch stuff happening on other planets with the naked eye. That is a distinctly JJ Abrams touch (see also: Spock watching the destruction of Vulcan from Delta Vega in the Star Trek reboot).

Ah. I thought we were talking about how relationships shrink the galaxy to a neighborhood. But yeah, you're right. It's really a mark against this film that it compares (badly) to the destruction of Vulcan scene. Abrams's solar systems are not disrupted by the elimination of planets... or suns, apparently.

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1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Justin Hanvey wrote:
: Nope no female pilots in Return of the Jedi.

I see your denial and raise you one Sila Kott. You can see her at the 2:33 mark in the video below (she's piloting an A-wing that is quickly blown up by a couple of TIE Interceptors):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPZigWFyK2o

I haven't watched the rest of the video to see if there are any others.

 

An extra scene you can only see on the Return of the Jedi blu-ray, not on the theatrical cuts or edited ones. Her scene was filmed, but overdubbed with a male voice for her one line, "got it!".

 

Quote

Though women fighter pilots were witnessed amongst the heroic crowd within the Rebel Cruiser briefing room earlier in RETURN OF THE JEDI, it was believed that none were seen in the actual final battle above Endor...until now, with the Blu-ray revealing that one of the brave A-wing pilots was indeed female (as seen in the above image, played by UK actress Poppy Hands) but, for reasons unknown (probably an accident made during the Post Production dialogue re-dubbing phase in the US) replaced with a male actors voice instead (with one line: "Got it"). Her character was seemingly killed mere seconds later by a TIE fighter.

http://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/girl-power-jedis-female-fighter-pilots.html

 

There were other female pilots filmed but were cut.



http://www.blastr.com/2012-12-12/see-3-female-fighter-pilots-who-got-cut-return-jedi

 

 



 




 

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Fair enough, but it's a staple that weakens the genre in that it strains credulity and lets the air out of my suspension of disbelief.

And by the way, welcome back, Justin! I'd been wondering if we'd lost you somehow.

Edited by Overstreet

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I can respect that.

Thanks for welcome back.

Space Opera has never been a very literal science fiction, it's more fantasy in space, and features a lot less hard science than one would expect of the genre. This is a hit or miss with people, and not everyone's cup of tea. I spent some time pondering writing in the genre (had a series called Zelbadar Prince of the Universe. how's that for incredulous lol), it's almost like a young child's version of science fiction, complete with magic and space ships that make no sense and galaxies that are far more insular than they should be.

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Yeah, I've always thought of Star Wars as fantasy in science fiction costumes. Star Trek, though, should be more sci-fi than space opera.

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Absolutely agree with you there, and why I never liked Abrams for Star Trek.

Interestingly enough I've heard Rian Johnson is planning on making Star Wars more realistic. I'm quite excited to see what he does with the story...but also hope he doesn't take out the childlike fantasy of it.

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Speaking of childlike fantasy of the best kind, not sure if anyone posted this image created by a fan of the new film that draws a direct correlation between the character of Rey and the character of Nausicaa from Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind but it's my favorite and has me re-analyzing Rey for her Miyazakian heroine likeness

wxW3UtW.png?854

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Justin Hanvey said:  

Interestingly enough I've heard Rian Johnson is planning on making Star Wars more realistic. I'm quite excited to see what he does with the story...but also hope he doesn't take out the childlike fantasy of it.

 

I'm exited by what Rian's vision might be as well, but I strongly suspect that he IS going to take the childlike fantasy out of it.  I suspect that this film is, in part, to show us that they haven't forgotten the original Star Wars vibe (and they tried so hard with that), but the next film will show us that they are also going to at times go in completely different directions with this franchise even in directions that we never would have thought.  I predict that they are going to make a darker and more serious film.  Perhaps more violent.  They're going to test where they can get away with taking this universe.  But mind you this is also Disney, so I can't see them turning it into a hard R.

Edited by Attica

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Rian Johnson said that his cinematic inspiration for his film came film Letter Never Sent and Twelve O'Clock High.

I haven't seen either of them, so I don't know what to make of that.

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Yeah as much as I love Brick, Brothers Bloom and Looper they certainly aren't children's stories. Even Empire Strikes Back, arguably the most adult and dark of the original trilogy felt like it was a lighter universe

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27 minutes ago, Ryan H. said:

Rian Johnson said that his cinematic inspiration for his film came film Letter Never Sent and Twelve O'Clock High.

I haven't seen either of them, so I don't know what to make of that.

They might be worth looking into.

 

9 minutes ago, Justin Hanvey said:

Yeah as much as I love Brick, Brothers Bloom and Looper they certainly aren't children's stories. Even Empire Strikes Back, arguably the most adult and dark of the original trilogy felt like it was a lighter universe

 

Yep.

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Twelve o clock high is about world war 2 pilots and letter never sent is about diamond miners who get stuck in the wilderness and have to survive.

Seemingly very different stories butone could argue the former means more starfighter action while maybe the latter means some people get stranded on a planet?

Or it could be more about cinematography and less about story. Both are old films so that could be interesting 

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Ryan H wrote:
: Look, I get that this film is lazy and derivative and slapdash, but at least it has vital signs.
: The prequels are narratively sloppy and lifeless. The only respects in which they are superior to TFA is in their ambitions and visual design.

Ambitions and visual design can be vital signs, too. I've taken to saying that The Force Awakens is "superficially better" than the prequels, in the sense that it's better *on the surface* -- the dialogue and the performances are more polished, less cringeworthy -- but once you go down beneath that surface, The Force Awakens doesn't really have any vital signs at all. It's just another JJ Abrams exercise in franchise perpetuation drained of whatever made the franchise meaningful in the first place. It's corporate product without the spirit that animated the first six movies.

I also found myself thinking today about how George Lucas spoke quite openly about the political inspirations for Star Wars: the Nixon administration (the original inspiration for the Emperor, before he became a supernatural villain), the Vietnam War (which inspired the Ewoks), the rise of right-wing politicians (Nute Gunray in the prequels was named after Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan) and ultimately the invasion of Iraq (Anakin's Bush-like ultimatum to Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith). I have a very hard time believing that Disney would allow any of the directors it hires to start talking openly about that sort of subtext. (Although, who knows, maybe there's something in the making-of books that I haven't heard about yet.)

: Rian Johnson said that his cinematic inspiration for his film came film Letter Never Sent and Twelve O'Clock High.
: I haven't seen either of them, so I don't know what to make of that.

I remember seeing Twelve O'Clock High decades ago with my dad, but it's been so long now that I can't say I really have any memories of it.

Justin Hanvey wrote:
: An extra scene you can only see on the Return of the Jedi blu-ray, not on the theatrical cuts or edited ones.

Not true. I just watched that scene in the original 1983 version of Return of the Jedi. (The original 1983 version of the film was mastered for laserdisc in the early 1990s -- *before* there were any "special editions" -- and this laserdisc version of the film was included as a bonus feature in the 2006 DVD edition of the film.)

Yes, the character's one line of dialogue was apparently re-dubbed by a man. But there seems to have been a jumble of faces and voices when it comes to the fighter pilots in those sequences.

Overstreet wrote:
: Star Trek, though, should be more sci-fi than space opera.

That's a bingo!

Atticus wrote:
: I predict that they are going to make a darker and more serious film.  Perhaps more violent.

Well, yeah, *that's* a given. And the next film is being directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, the overrated Monsters). Rian Johnson is directing Episode VIII, but that will come out *after* the Edwards film, which is called Rogue One -- and yes, they're saying it will go all "dark and gritty" on its corner of the Star Wars universe.

By the way, how awesome is it that Disney is going to put out new prequels *between* the installments with the original characters. Go prequels go!

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Right I shoulda said her scene was in the film but dubbed over by a male voice so knowing she was a woman was impossible.

Either way all otherfemale pilots were completely cut or replaced

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8 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Ryan H wrote:
: Look, I get that this film is lazy and derivative and slapdash, but at least it has vital signs.
: The prequels are narratively sloppy and lifeless. The only respects in which they are superior to TFA is in their ambitions and visual design.

Ambitions and visual design can be vital signs, too. 

Visual design, perhaps (though, on the whole, I find the prequels kind of ugly and flat, even if the visual concepts are interesting).

But narratively, the prequels fail at every one of their ambitions. The narratives of the prequels are pretty dumb and flimsy, they just happen to be drawing from more interesting concepts. That makes them more interesting to talk about, but not more pleasurable to watch.

And describing Abrams' film as better on the "surface" does him a disservice, I think, because it implies that things like performances are just window dressing.

For me, Adam Driver's performance as Kylo Ren alone elevates the film far above the prequels. Kylo Ren does for this film what the throne room material does for Jedi.

Edited by Ryan H.

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9 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Ambitions and visual design can be vital signs, too. I've taken to saying that The Force Awakens is "superficially better" than the prequels, in the sense that it's better *on the surface* -- the dialogue and the performances are more polished, less cringeworthy -- but once you go down beneath that surface, The Force Awakens doesn't really have any vital signs at all. It's just another JJ Abrams exercise in franchise perpetuation drained of whatever made the franchise meaningful in the first place. It's corporate product without the spirit that animated the first six movies.

I'm not following your surface/sub-surface argument here.  The ambitions of the prequels, focused on the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker set against this great, fat, and corrupt Republic, fail in almost every respect.  If Lucas wanted Episodes 1 through 3 to be some kind of stirring, Gibbon-esque epic, an analogue to some kind of DeMille-ian Grand Historical Film Event, why should he get credit for failing to realize that vision?  This isn't a grade school soccer league where you get a participation medal.  

Both Abrams's film and Lucas's have significant flaws.  But Abrams film, with effective characterization, a nimble pacing, an emotional core, and some really stunning visuals, delivers substantially above as a whole than any one of the prequels.  Would better pacing (a la the Phantom Edit) and better acting (more Mace Windu?) and composition (anything from Ep IV) help the prequels?  Sure they would, but visual design and unrealized ambition don't make a bad story told poorly good. 

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I totally track with Peter's argument and (unsurprisingly) I agree with it. And I don't think the prequels' ambitions fail in "every respect," but even if they did, they're failing at something remarkable: I find it difficult to think of another big-budget, s.f. epic that is properly tragic in its ambitions. And I mean that in a Classical sense--it's no accident that Oedipus is all over the Prequel Trilogy. Lucas, in the PT, actively works to do something different from the "Hero's Journey," instead of hashing the whole thing out again. That's something, in a world where every single blockbuster is based around the same cookie-cutter call-rejection-descent-whatever pattern.

But, more than that, the prequels not only attempt but succeed at showing audiences something they (the audiences) have never seen before. Again, what other franchises--outside of LotR (which ages much more poorly than the PT, partly because the Jackson movies were received so rapturously and it took longer for their not-inconsiderable flaws to sink in)--really attempt the sort of extravagance the prequels achieve?

Now, the PT isn't exactly good--the dialogue is often terrible (though there was at least one teenage boy in 2003 who expressed himself in exactly the overheated, bad-poetry manner of Anakin in AotC) and the acting is often wooden. The over-arching plot makes complete sense, but loose ends are left dangling from movie to movie (Sifo-Dyas, Anakin's parentage, etc). TFA manifestly has better acting and dialogue. It has a marginally better plot than Attack of the Clones (and no headless 3-P0). But--outside of the three new protagonists, who genuinely are new and exciting--it doesn't really have anything. It's visually less impressive than two of the three prequels (AotC looks shockingly cheap, but even it has moments that eclipse TFA). Its design is less ambitious; rather than trying a new look for the trilogy, it's content to ape the design-work from the OT (the prequels gave us a whole raft of interesting stuff, from Coruscant itself to any of the Naboo starships to the termite-like dwellings on Geonosis. TFA gives us BB-8). It's a movie designed not to upset people. It's safe. And it succeeds in being a fun, non-upsetting, safe movie.

Which is fine. I didn't hate it. But if I have to choose between failed ambition and achieved mediocrity, I'll go with the former. Fortunately, I don't have to choose.

[EDIT: One visual I did very much like in TFA was Rey sitting at the foot of the collapsed AT-AT. It's lovely.]

Edited by NBooth

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1 hour ago, NBooth said:

I totally track with Peter's argument and (unsurprisingly) I agree with it. And I don't think the prequels' ambitions fail in "every respect," but even if they did, they're failing at something remarkable: I find it difficult to think of another big-budget, s.f. epic that is properly tragic in its ambitions. And I mean that in a Classical sense--it's no accident that Oedipus is all over the Prequel Trilogy. Lucas, in the PT, actively works to do something different from the "Hero's Journey," instead of hashing the whole thing out again. That's something, in a world where every single blockbuster is based around the same cookie-cutter call-rejection-descent-whatever pattern.

But, more than that, the prequels not only attempt but succeed at showing audiences something they (the audiences) have never seen before. Again, what other franchises--outside of LotR (which ages much more poorly than the PT, partly because the Jackson movies were received so rapturously and it took longer for their not-inconsiderable flaws to sink in)--really attempt the sort of extravagance the prequels achieve?

Now, the PT isn't exactly good--the dialogue is often terrible (though there was at least one teenage boy in 2003 who expressed himself in exactly the overheated, bad-poetry manner of Anakin in AotC) and the acting is often wooden. The over-arching plot makes complete sense, but loose ends are left dangling from movie to movie (Sifo-Dyas, Anakin's parentage, etc). TFA manifestly has better acting and dialogue. It has a marginally better plot than Attack of the Clones (and no headless 3-P0). But--outside of the three new protagonists, who genuinely are new and exciting--it doesn't really have anything. It's visually less impressive than two of the three prequels (AotC looks shockingly cheap, but even it has moments that eclipse TFA). Its design is less ambitious; rather than trying a new look for the trilogy, it's content to ape the design-work from the OT (the prequels gave us a whole raft of interesting stuff, from Coruscant itself to any of the Naboo starships to the termite-like dwellings on Geonosis. TFA gives us BB-8). It's a movie designed not to upset people. It's safe. And it succeeds in being a fun, non-upsetting, safe movie.

Which is fine. I didn't hate it. But if I have to choose between failed ambition and achieved mediocrity, I'll go with the former. Fortunately, I don't have to choose.

[EDIT: One visual I did very much like in TFA was Rey sitting at the foot of the collapsed AT-AT. It's lovely.]

This article at the New Yorker immediately put me in mind of the ongoing discussion here at A&F:

Quote

Then the new movie came out, and a strange thing happened. Even as critics saluted “The Force Awakens” and fans turned it into a billion-dollar hit, both camps have come scurrying to the feet of Lucas, the master, rather than Abrams, the apprentice. To call what’s happening a full-blown critical reëvaluation is perhaps going too far. It’s more like a reawakening. For the first time in a more than a decade people are talking about Lucas with something other than withering contempt.

 

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Peter T Chattaway said:

By the way, how awesome is it that Disney is going to put out new prequels *between* the installments with the original characters. Go prequels go!

 

 

It's their way of expanding what they can do with the films while still having sequels that attract their core audience.  

 

It occurred to me last night that if this film is basically a reboot of Episode 4, then Rian's could possibly be closer to being a reboot of Empire.  He's given the spiritual, thoughtful, darker film.  They might be following the trajectory of the earlier films, because ya know, those films brought in the big bucks, and that's what Hollywood does.  But then, what's after that?  God forbid something akin to Jedi (not that I hated Jedi as much as some people, but making a film like it would be a big mistake.)

 

But really, if Rian's making a "weird" film, then I really hope it is exactly that and not the next Empire.

 

I found myself thinking about the scene in "the Force Awakens" where the tie-fighter is trying to break free.

Edited by Attica

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Speaking of Lucas.  I thought this was a pretty good interview.  It gets a little more interesting near the end when he starts talking about the Force Awakens, but also his views about God and how the force is related to the combined spiritualities in the world.

I'm curious about what some of his more experimental films to come might be like.

Edited by Attica

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