Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Force Awakens, or How to Make $1.5 Billion by Exploiting Your Childhood

Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens, is a fantastic movie with the unique ability to recapture the wonder and innocence of your youth while introducing and inspiring an entirely new generation to the cultural phenomenon that is the Star Wars universe.  It completely ignores the prequels and focuses on an origin story with new heroes, new villains and a cute new droid.
The xenophobic and offensively racist Asian accents?  Gone.  The vague and annoying Christian woo-woo mysticism?  Nowhere to be seen, unless you count Kylo Ren’s lightsaber hilt, which I don’t.  The bad guys still have English accents, but that’s mostly because they film at Pinewood Studios in the UK.  I was also happy to see the Daniel Craig cameo, speaking of English accents.
The biggest criticisms I’ve read have complained that the film is basically a re-hash of A New Hope, but with a girl, and I really have no problem with that.  My favorite scene is when Rey’s eating her meager lunch and puts on the oversized pilot’s helmet.  It reminded me of when Luke played with a model X-wing while cleaning the droids at Uncle Owen’s farm.  It’s a quiet, throwaway scene that speaks volumes about dreams, desperation and feeling trapped by family and circumstance. 
No, my only complaint, and it’s a big one, really has more to do with the state of American Cinema and how it’s become almost impossible to produce something creative, unique and innovative.  The Force Awakens has become a cultural landmark, and it’s essentially a remake of a 40-year-old movie.  In 1977, the year Star Wars came out, Hollywood also released Close Encounters of the Third Kind, New York, New York, Saturday Night Fever, Eraserhead, Annie Hall, The Duelists and The Hills HaveEyes. 
Fast forward to 2015 and we get Jurassic World, Mad Max Fury Road, Furious 7, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, Pitch Perfect 2, Poltergeist and Fantastic 4.  Jupiter Ascending & The Heart of the Sea, two original movies?   Bombed.  Audiences didn't want to take a chance on something new, maybe because movies are so expensive now.
We live in a world of sequels and reboots, full of politically correct sounds and CGI fury, signifying nothing.
Hollywood doesn’t take chances anymore, it doesn’t innovate, it imitates.  All of our creative genius is being funneled into new ways to market old franchises.  The artist who could be making the next Eraserhead is instead tasked to craft easily explained, culturally diverse characters that will appeal to the widest range of audiences, or to write code to make more realistic CGI hair.
And it’s not only Hollywood, the audience is to blame as well.  Hollywood merely follows the money and we just plunked down one and a half billion bucks last Christmas to recapture our collective childhood.  It’s ironic because that was George Lucas’ original intent when he released A New Hope; he wanted to reference the serials and cliffhangers he had grown up with.  But he didn’t remake Buck Rogers or Tarzan; he came up with a new, innovative idea (one of the last ones) and managed to change the entire cinematic landscape.
But who wouldn’t want to live in a broken down AT-AT?  That’s just cool



my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.