Saturday, July 23, 2016

it took FilmCritHulk until June 2016 but FCH got around to Star Wars Episode 7

Now I had fun watching Episode 7 and I was willing to watch it more than once.  Unlike the earlier Episodes 4-6, however, I didn't like it so much I felt like going out and buying it once it comes out on disc.  FilmCritHulk had some interesting things to write about Episode 7 in particular and about flaws Hulk finds in Abrams' entire approach to cinema in general.  As FilmCritHulk is never less than loquacious we'll only quote some of FCH's commentary:

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/06/28/star-wars-the-force-alluded-to
THiNK ABOUT HOW GOOD EMPIRE STRIKES BACK WAS AT FUCKING WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS. IT'S ALL BECAUSE HAN SOLO'S CONFIDENCE ACTUALLY HAD A DRAMATIC POINT: HIS BRAVADO WAS ALWAYS MISPLACED, SO IT ALWAYS PUT THEM IN WORSE TROUBLE, AND IN TURN IT'S WHAT MADE THEM GETTING OUT OF THINGS ALL THE MORE EXCITING. TO BOOT, ALL THE CONFLICTS WERE SO REGULARLY BUILT ON CLARITY: KNOWING WHERE YOU WERE GOING AND THROWING YOU INTO SOMETHING MUCH WORSE. IT'S THE OLD SPIELBERG MANTRA OF "OUT FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE AND THEN INTO THE FURNACE AND THE INTO HELL." MEANING IN ANY SEQUENCE, YOU WANT TO PILE UP COMPLICATIONS AND WONDER HOW THE HERO WILL EVER GET OUT OF IT.
...
BUT THE J.J. METHOD HAS A CRITICAL MISUNDERSTANDING OF APPROACH: NOT ONLY IS REY CONFIDENT AND THEN JUST DELIVERS ON THAT CONFIDENCE WITH NO REVERSAL/EXPECTATION, BUT ON A STRUCTURAL LEVEL THE STORYTELLING DOESN'T ESCALATE OR PILE ON: THEY THROW A COMPLICATION AT YOU, HAVE THE HEROES GET OUT OF IT (SEEMINGLY JUST BECAUSE), THEN THROW ANOTHER COMPLICATION BEFORE YOU HAVE TO TIME TO THINK OF WHETHER THE LAST OVERCOMING WAS EVEN SATISFYING. WHICH IS NOT ONLY BORING IN AND OF ITSELF, BUT TAPS INTO A BIGGER PROBLEM...
LITERALLY EVERY DAMN SCENE FEELS LIKE THIS

The observation that Han Solo's bravado was not just always misplaced but generally got him and his friends in even worse trouble is a good way of putting things, it also gets at what pervaded the original trilogy that we didn't really see in Episode 7 and also didn't exactly see in Episodes 1-3.  Episodes 1-3 were permeated by a lot of promising things would eventually and inevitably go badly for the Anakin Skywalker who would become Darth Vader and there ... wasn't exactly "joy in the journey" for me on that one.  The bar had been set so low by the prequels that the bar was simply at the place where what I wanted was to come out of seeing Episode 7 and not regret having just seen it, no, worse than that, to merely be at the place where I wasn't already regretting having bought the ticket to sit through the thing in the middle of the movie.

I do differ with FilmCritHulk on what Episode 7 is about.  I'd be willing to say that Charles Mudede was on the money when he wrote that Episode 7 brought back the idiosyncratic theology of the original trilogy; I'd piggyback on that observation and propose that Star Wars has brought back into marketable form the kind of theology that may best describe the "lived out" theology of Americans and it's not necessarily a WASP religion as a kind of panentheistic Pelagianism.  Anthony Lane had a hilarious comment in his review of Episode 7 where he said it was good the subtitle was The Force Awakens because that let everyone here in the audience know there was a concession being made that in the previous three installments the Force had been asleep at the wheel. 

So FilmCritHulk's reaction might be that the Force has woken up only in the sense of having just been stirred from sleep and having some dim sense of self-awareness that isn't the same as getting out of bed and doing something.

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