Star Wars the Force Awakens - My Reaction
December 22, 2015
Is it socially acceptable to think J.J. is a lightweight or am I going to get dumped on by the entire universe?
Force Awakens was a fun ride with lots of shine and kinetics, but it lacked the deep structure and maturity which made the originals great.
I felt like the originals happened to real people in a real place, truly invested in their adventure. J.J.'s felt like the whole thing was make-believe.
Lucas studied spirituality, read and understood Joseph Campbell. He hired real air craft engineers and asked them to design ships as though sci-fi technologies actually existed. He understands politics and social dynamics.
Lucas was smart.
-He lost his way with his later efforts; he'd grown bored with the franchise, ignored the importance of networking with peers, isolated himself, got lazy. But, blow me down, even with its million flaws, Phantom Menace wasn't lightweight.
Does J.J. ever visit the library? He needs some interdisciplinary knowledge to flesh out the realities he projects.
I felt like the whole thing was written by a well-meaning 12 year-old, really trying to not screw anything up, but there's only so much you can accomplish when you're a 12 year-old. Every 20 seconds, I felt reminded of this.
Now.., check this out. Imagine! Force Awakens might have been a *great* film if the Pixar folks had gotten a chance to edit the script, (or toss it out and write another one entirely). -Well, to be fair, among all the terrible ideas there were a few good ones. They were just poorly realized, poorly stitched together. It lacked insight. It needed guidance. Imagine if the team which brought us "Inside Out" (so filled with subtle expressions of awareness) had the power to make changes and ask pertinent questions, -and then had the power to prevent J.J. from walking into doors, or embarrassing himself.
Here's one example. Just one...
Han has never fired Chewie's bow caster weapon before? He was comically taken aback by its capabilities. Gosh! Had he never handled it or thought to ask his best friend at any time over the last 40 years, "Why that weapon?" Never assembled through observation and the natural osmosis of constant companionship, the strengths and weaknesses of Chewie's choice in armament? Apparently not. In J.J.'s script, Han discovered it all in the exact same moment J.J. discovered it. Because in the mind of a lightweight, all experiences and discoveries exist only when YOU personally experience and discover them. There are no other souls out there living and learning. YOU are the center of your own little baby bubble, and everything is a projection of your own special, snowflake of a mind.
In a real film made by grownups, Han would have carried with him that deep knowledge. Of his friend, of his universe and how it worked. He would have moved through the scenes, not like a doll in the hands of an enthusiastic kid, but as an adult man who had really lived through war and love and life. It would have suffused every moment and every action, and we wouldn't have questioned it. We would have believed, because Harrison Ford is a very capable actor. Instead, we got... this.
And so this entire film was a consequence of that same process. The Star Wars universe for J.J. was a giant spherical screen with himself at the center, projecting his daydreams outward, so that it all looked and felt the way he wanted it to look and feel. He described the writing process as being one of, "What did Star Wars do that was Fun?"
Dude. You're missing the point. Star Wars *knew* things. It thought before it spoke. It didn't just try to copy what was fun.
But without deep knowledge, how could he be expected to fill in the blank spots with things which make sense to people who have endeavored to learn how reality actually works?
Lucas had the depth of understanding to recognize that the universe is in fact a 3 dimensional phenomenon, filled with other minds, not just his own.
But for all of that...
It was fun. I liked it. In the same way I like the enthusiasm in a passionately written piece of Mary Sue fan fic. I'll go see the next one.
But the time of greatness has passed.
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,
December 22nd, 2015