With trepidation, I offer my take on the new Star Wars movie.
For many years I was out of the country, then raising small children, and was never caught up in the Star Wars phenomenon, I saw the first one long after it was released, and liked it a lot. The Force became part of my thinking. I loved the scene when one of the characters walked into a barroom filled with more kinds of creatures that we encounter in our daily lives. Could I be as comfortable as the Star Wars characters hanging out with people who were nothing like me? That’s a question I lived out as I traveled for eleven years, and I am writing about this subject in my next book.
I didn’t voice my disappointment with this film. Why spoil everyone’s fun? But this morning I read George Lucas’s opinion in The New York Times. He “criticized the producers and writers…for emphasizing familiar elements of his previous work over innovation and storytelling of their own.”
Lucas slammed Disney too, as do I. Disney has taken a transformative, bold artistic phenomenon and turned it into bits and bobs of purchasable junk, just as they took Cinderella and made it a feelgood romance instead of the dark horror story it is. Same with Snow White. How would you like to be a vulnerable young girl living as the servant of seven male dwarfs? The heat, edge, and meaning of these ancient fairytales has become a vapid children’s section in Walmart. Now Star Wars will join them.
In the movie there was human after human running up stairs, looking around and panting; running across moonscapes, looking around and panting; chasing someone, looking around and panting, and so on. The story was predictable, and the characters were not developed. Han Solo wasn’t involved in any bad boy projects, Princess Leia was not transformed into a general, except that she was standing there among soldiers. The female lead Rey has the distinction of being a former scavenger, bringing to mind homeless people, etc., but she is a vanilla action hero who specializes in panting. The fight scenes were not as good as many a James Bond fight scene, and the romantic afterglow between Han Solo and General Princess Leia, muddy and unclear. The writing, in other words, was pedestrian and the effects were too.
The best line in the movie was “You’ve changed your hair!” when Han Solo sees his General Leia after many years apart. As a comedy, Star Wars might pass muster.
The movie is hyped as the search for Luke Skywalker, but he is there for about thirty seconds of the movie. What do they want Luke to do? Who is he now, other than a Moses-like figure looking down from a mountain in a halo of light?
It was, in short, a letdown after the originality and depth of previous Star Wars movies, and now we’re stuck with Star Wars chatzkes for the rest of our lives since the whole $4 billion enterprise is in the hands of Disney.
Apparently, George Lucas doesn’t think it was worth it. As if he had sold the Bible to Charlton Heston.