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


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The real problem with the claustrophobic setting started when they arrived at the Cantina.  They had this beautiful planet that they could have explored in some way shape or form, but we saw so little of it.  Then there was what looked like some sort of beautiful temple that looked like it would be an amazing new place with new ideas and culture, that appeared like it would be expansive inside, and we get inside to find that it's a cramped little Cantina.  Part of the problem isn't just that the world has the confined elements, its that we are set up for places and scenery that would be beautiful, expansive, and awe inspiring, but then it is taken away from us in order to service a commitment to rehashing the original trilogy.  After all, they then have to run into the woods, which is basically the Endor moon revisited, but without the variety of things that made that look like it was on a bigger scale.

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42 minutes ago, Attica said:

The real problem with the claustrophobic setting started when they arrived at the Cantina.  They had this beautiful planet that they could have explored in some way shape or form, but we saw so little of it.  Then there was what looked like some sort of beautiful temple that looked like it would be an amazing new place with new ideas and culture, that appeared like it would be expansive inside, and we get inside to find that it's a cramped little Cantina.  Part of the problem isn't just that the world has the confined elements, its that we are set up for places and scenery that would be beautiful, expansive, and awe inspiring, but then it is taken away from us in order to service a commitment to rehashing the original trilogy.  After all, they then have to run into the woods, which is basically the Endor moon revisited, but without the variety of things that made that look like it was on a bigger scale.

Yes. I just watched House of Flying Daggers (which is pretty but so boring) and was struck by how the forest scenes in that movie contrast to the ones in TFA. Same setting, generally speaking (admittedly a different kind of forest), but the corresponding scenes in Daggers are open and beautiful and don't feel cramped. And, as you say, the Endor stuff in RotJ is pretty much exactly the same and I don't think it's quite as cramped as the corresponding scenes in TFA.

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10 hours ago, Buckeye Jones said:

What I would give to see zhang direct ep ix.

Heh. Opus has already made a Zhang Yimou-Star Wars connection, but in a slightly different vein.

FWIW, I would like to see it as well.

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Oh, a Zhang Yimou Star Wars? I'm there.

The Art of book makes the film's visual textures seem all that more disappointing. Of course, concept art is all sweeping vistas and money shots, so concept art tends to outshine even very good films. But there was so much good stuff Abrams and company didn't pursue. I love the idea of Jakku being the Star Wars equivalent of a Leone-style Western outpost, or the idea of Takodana being the planet equivalent of a pirate-friendly seaport.

 

But anyway, I've been working through and thinking about the original trilogy and was struck by just how bold the Darth Vader arc is in that original trilogy. The way Jedi shapes it all into redemption narrative for the big, sinister villain, who has progressively revealed to be more complex and (ultimately) more pathetic as the series goes along, doesn't have much precedent in pulp storytelling. Even the most celebrated works of Christian fantasy--Narnia and Lord of the Rings--don't really dare to hope that Jadis or Sauron might have some kind of conversion experience and return to the light.

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8 minutes ago, Ryan H. said:

But anyway, I've been working through and thinking about the original trilogy and was struck by just how bold the Darth Vader arc is in that original trilogy. The way Jedi shapes it all into redemption narrative for the big, sinister villain, who has progressively revealed to be more complex and (ultimately) more pathetic as the series goes along, doesn't have much precedent in pulp storytelling. Even the most celebrated works of Christian fantasy--Narnia and Lord of the Rings--don't really dare to hope that Jadis or Sauron might have some kind of conversion experience and return to the light.

So Darth Vader is really Edmund/Boromir? That seems reductive rather than subversive to me.

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1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

So Darth Vader is really Edmund/Boromir? That seems reductive rather than subversive to me.

It is, to an extent. In order to stage Vader's redemption, Jedi gives us a blacker-than-black villain to stand alongside him in the guise of the Emperor, who is altogether beyond redemption, all the while dodging the difficult work of working through all the difficult consequences that would arise from the genuine redemption of a mass-murderer. (One of the more interesting questions raised by The Force Awakens, and left unaddressed, is what would it really mean for Kylo Ren to return to the guise of Ben Solo and answer for the brutal murder of his classmates, to say nothing of the countless other individuals he's killed over the years.)

But there's nevertheless something bold--if only on a conceptual level--in building an adventure saga in which the climactic achievement of the hero is the redemption of its central villain (a redemption, I might add, that is achieved through an act of passive resistance on Luke's part). In Jedi, Luke transcends his mentors by daring to hope for redemption and reconciliation.

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Ryan H. wrote:
: In order to stage Vader's redemption, Jedi gives us a blacker-than-black villain to stand alongside him in the guise of the Emperor, who is altogether beyond redemption, all the while dodging the difficult work of working through all the difficult consequences that would arise from the genuine redemption of a mass-murderer.

Yes. And Darth Vader also doesn't actually *do* anything all that evil in Return of the Jedi; he just sits on the Death Star waiting for the Emperor to arrive, until finally he goes and gets Luke. When I caught the special editions in 1997, it struck me that Vader's change of heart almost seems to happen *between* Episodes V and VI. In any case, the fact that Vader doesn't do any mass-murdering (or even just plain murdering) in Episode VI makes it easier to accept his redemption within the arc of that particular movie.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
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Ryan H said:  

:doesn't have much precedent in pulp storytelling.

 

That's part of what made the original Trilogy so great.  It was a pulp story that totally surpassed this in several ways.

 

Peter T Chattaway said:

When I caught the special editions in 1997, it struck me that Vader's change of heart almost seems to happen *between* Episodes V and VI.

 

 

Yep.  If I recall right there's a shot in Jedi where Vader senses Luke and then pauses, showing an inner struggle.  Or something like that.

 

Maybe the film is implying that Vader's engagement with Luke at the end of Empire is part of what began to soften him.  Which would make some sense.

 

In the new film Ren uses a similar engagement to harden himself further towards the darkside.

 

 

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What if this whole trilogy is actually the final full redemption of Anakin by his child and two grandchildren taking on the mantle he refused in Clone Wars. 

If you haven't watched the show the story is basically that Anakin, Obi Wan, and Ahsoka are drawn to this distant planet outside of known space where three beings who represent the archetypes of the Light Side, the Dark Side and The Balance are locked in continual communion. This action somehow brings Balance to the Force, the Father, Balance, needs a replacement and Anakin is offered the choice to replace him or bring destruction on the galaxy with his selfishness. He refuses and as he walks away the Imperial March is played.

What if this new trilogy is about Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren taking up the mantles of Balance, Light Side, and Dark Side respectively and saving the galaxy in a way that Anakin refused and in the process redeeming him fully finally from his destructive choice.

 

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Looks about on par with the Prequels to me, number-of-effects-wise. The difference is entirely in the aesthetic evoked by those effects, not their extent. Note especially the moment at 4:50 where we see a digital Kylo Ren. In closeup. (Note, too, the digital Falcon after all the talk of how they "really built" it).

This is precisely why I've dogged so heavily on the publicity hyping "practical effects"--because, in the end, the movie looks to have done exactly what the Prequels did. There's no "return to the practical" here--just a foregrounding of the practical in contrast to Lucas's heavy focus on showing how advanced the digital work was.

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Justin Hanvey said:  

What if this new trilogy is about Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren taking up the mantles of Balance, Light Side, and Dark Side respectively and saving the galaxy in a way that Anakin refused and in the process redeeming him fully finally from his destructive choice.

 
It could very well be something like that, although I still think theirs a catch when it comes to Rey's backgroiund.
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One other random thing that came to mind today.  A lot of laughs were delivered by Han using Chewie's crossbow.  How did that thing get so much more powerful?  And without Han knowing it?  Just a tweak for humor but it breaks the magic spell just a little for the sake of a punchline.

 

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17 minutes ago, Buckeye Jones said:

One other random thing that came to mind today.  A lot of laughs were delivered by Han using Chewie's crossbow.  How did that thing get so much more powerful?  And without Han knowing it?  Just a tweak for humor but it breaks the magic spell just a little for the sake of a punchline.

 

Um, I believe that all of those scenes were setting it up to show how powerful it was, and how remarkable it is that Kylo Ren survives being shot with it at all, let alone continuing to battle. I don't think they were just a punchline.

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1 hour ago, Buckeye Jones said:

One other random thing that came to mind today.  A lot of laughs were delivered by Han using Chewie's crossbow.  How did that thing get so much more powerful?  And without Han knowing it?  Just a tweak for humor but it breaks the magic spell just a little for the sake of a punchline.

 

I had mentioned something like that above.  I think it was always that powerful, but then how was it that Han had never figured this out?  Or had never once fired Chewie's crossbow after the years that they had been buddies?  Also why wouldn't Han have just told Chewie to shoot the guy etc.  It's just one of those plot hole problems where things really don't line up after thinking it through a bit.

Another thing I had been thinking.  Some people had mentioned that this film was a little more in our faces with the death and destruction than its predecessors.  This part of the film had this, and turned it into a bit of a joke.  What Anders had said about it not being just a punchline is probably legitimate, but they certainly also used it for a coolness aspect (I thought that the crossbow having that much power was kind of cool, so I'm not really throwing stones, just pointing something out.)

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I think they'll have to retcon this into the story.  I don't recall stormtroopers flying through the air when Chewie shot them in the OT.  Heck, I don't even know if he fired that thing in the OT.  

I think the Kylo Ren wounding is more due to the fact that the story required him to be wounded for the fight, not that he was so strong he didn't fly through the air when shot.  

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5 hours ago, Buckeye Jones said:

 

I think they'll have to retcon this into the story.  I don't recall stormtroopers flying through the air when Chewie shot them in the OT.  Heck, I don't even know if he fired that thing in the OT.  

I think the Kylo Ren wounding is more due to the fact that the story required him to be wounded for the fight, not that he was so strong he didn't fly through the air when shot.  

 

 

I think I can recall Chewie using the crossbow, but I'm also pretty certain that there were no stormtroopers flying through the air.

Yes Kylo's wounding was due to the fact that the story required him to be wounded for the fight (I still think that even wounded a powerful Jedi in training would have easily outmatched a former stormtrooper - but anyhoo), but also Chewies blast had merely grazed him, so it might not have had the same force in order to throw him back.  Which also brings up the question of whether or not Chewie had intentionally only wounded Kylo.

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The only reason Chewie's crossbow flings people through the air is when its funny to fling people through the air.  It's a star wars equivalent to an 80's Arnold movie 1 liner--only used when killing a disposable baddie, never used when killing off the main boss.

The depth of analysis we go to here--amazing! ;)

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Well, I guess that's how we role.   :)

I think the main reasons Chewie's crossbow flings people through the air were in order to give us a "cool" Han Solo moment when he likes what it can do, but also to show the power of the weapon in a way that is "cool" but maybe also brings Chewie a little more center stage (which I think the film purposed to do in several ways.)  I'm not sure if it was really supposed to be a big joke (except for Han's one response.)

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30 seconds into this clip is the only time I ever recall Chewie firing his crossbow.  It gets the job done!

 

 

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Blu-Ray/DVD details:

 

Quote

 

Bonus features include*:

Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey – For the first time, discover the complete story behind the making of The Force Awakens, revealed through in-depth footage and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers in this feature documentary

The Story Awakens: The Table Read – Cast members familiar and new reflect on the memorable day they all first came together to read the movie’s script

Building BB-8 – See how the filmmakers brought the newest droid to the screen, creating an instant fan favorite in the Star Wars universe

Crafting Creatures – Watch movie magic as the filmmakers bring a cast of new creatures to life

Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight – Go deeper into the epic, climactic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren

John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – The legendary composer shares personal insights of his work on Star Wars and The Force Awakens

ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force – An insider’s look into the remarkable digital artistry of the movie’s visual effects.

Force For Change – Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. See how the Star Wars: Force for Change initiative has united Star Wars fans all over the globe to help others

Plus Deleted Scenes

 

There's retailer-exclusive stuff, too, but the only really interesting one is Target, which will feature 20 minutes' worth of additional interviews.

 

 

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" I’d say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer. If you think Luke is gay, of course he is."

 

I dunno.  He kind of implies that this was in consideration during the original films.  But a whole part of the plot with those films was the love triangle thing (which turned out to be a little creepy - but anyhoo.)   I really can't imagine that Luke possibly being gay was an idea on their radar back then, I think it's something that he's now placing on to that character which is out of context, yet who knows where they will take Luke in the future.  Obviously there will be some people upset if he's portrayed as being gay, but certainly not as many as there would have been 20 years ago, not by a long shot.  

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