14 December 2015

Star Wars

The L. A. Times is republishing its reviews of all the Star Wars films to date, and the verdict is not surprising. Most enthusiastic was Charles Champlin back in 1977 for the original film, now rather sillily retitled "Episode IV -- A New Hope." (As Star Wars geeks all know, it was always Episode IV; that epithet appears on the very first screen). Champlin also liked "Strikes Back" (1980) (as did most reviewers in those days), and even, unlike almost everyone, liked the ewoks in "Return of the Jedi" (1983) (which I never noticed before was intentionally titled to bring to mind Tolkien (Return of the King)). 

Kenneth Turan, along with most of the rest of the known universe, was unimpressed by the three "prequel" films, "Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones," and "Revenge of the Sith". (1999-2005) (I only managed to see one of these, and it was awful. Oh wait, I might have seen the second one, too. I honestly can't remember). 

But most of the buzz about Episode VII, "The Force Awakens," the first film under the new Disney franchise, with the original cast as old folks and John Williams composing a new score, and J. J. Abrams, who did a great job reinventing the Star Trek franchise, as director... is positive. 

At its best, space opera is great fun. At its worst, well, frankly, the worst thing you can say about the prequel movies, which have some pretty great graphics, etc., is that they're boring. The invention is just not that special. I have a feeling this new one will overcome that.  

♦ David Studhalter

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