This week's Best Shot topic looked back at the remake of Star Wars (1977) affectionally dubbed The Force Awakens (2016). Not that the Force ever got any rest. Pop culture could never let Star Wars be, even in the many years between films, so I'll keep this mercifully brief. But it seems strange how little attention we'd given it during its phenomenally successful release during the Christmas glut. For the record though I didn't find the movie all that much more than a fun recycling feat, a second visit reminded me just how well it performs its recycling feat of the unique Star Wars combo of family friend fun, rousing adventure, easily readable almost pantomimed humor, and broad good vs evil drama (aka the Force's light side and dark side)
a few random thoughts to begin...
• How jealous do you think Batman was when he saw Kylo Ren's ship?
• Stormtroopers can bleed? They've died such unmessy G rated deaths for 39 years. One colored blast topples them with no carnage. I love this disorienting image of a Stormtrooper, confused, and very much not in military formation. Send this one to reconditioning!
3 more random thoughts, 3 exciting moments, and 3 best shots after the jump...
• Captain Phasma is so shiny. That reflective chrome is a lot of VFX work - I had to ask the visual effects team about that for the Oscars. Also the image of Finn as a little boy is disconcerting as is the dialogue later on. Was not expecting child soldier seriousness so frequently at the movies these past nine months (Beasts of No Nation, The Force Awakens, The Huntsman: Winter's War)
Chewie, we're home
• There's a reason they used that shot above as the main selling point in the teasers. All the nostalgia. All at once. And notice that the diagonal details of the ship are pulling your eye across this most famous duo. It's a beauty.
• Marvel at this attention to detail. During the battle on Jakku before a ship has even finished crashing the edit holds just long enough that you see scavengers springing into chase behind the ship. They aren't playing around when it comes to their spare parts on Jakku.
THREE FAVORITE MOMENTS
1. The single moment that makes me laugh the hardest in the movie -- Chewie is always great for a punchline -- and this one plays so beautifully with the movie's self awareness that we're all essentially Rey, giddy about connecting with something legendary at last/again.
Finn: Han Solo, the rebellion general?
Rey: No, the smuggler
Finn: Wasn't he a war hero?
You will remove these restraints and leave with the door open.
I will remove these restraints and leave with the door open.
...And you'll drop your weapon.
And I'll drop my weapon.
2. Such a fun reveal of Rey as quick study and fast thinker, while playing with the series history and keeping things fun in a family adventure film. Bless them for doing this shot above without edits so that you see the storm trooper walk away, leave, follow instructions and see Rey thinking her way through it and tensing up that she's actually getting away with it. Wonderful.
He's with the resistance.
3. BB-8 is the cutest droid of all time. Well, except maybe WALL•E. In the best shot roundup two people chose his lighter thumbs up. This is the other most darling beat, when he sneaks a glance to decide if someone is trustworthy. You just want to squeeze him like a plush toy he's so cute but he's probably hard and cold to the touch.
Three Best Shots (according to these eyes at least)
An unintentional spotlight on a mythic drama. And ineffably weighted down with what you fear will come.
Light sabers are always good for saturated color and dynamic images. But mostly this is for showing us something we hadn't seen before, that dangerous hilt burning a hero's shoulder, a startling stinging new beat within an otherwise familiar fight
The entire reason I wanted the movie, despite those damn prequels: A gorgeous image, a reunion with telling distance, and smoking wreckage around them.