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FILM REVIEW:

DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR STAR WARS

 


By Philip Revzin

NEW YORK, 22 FEBRUARY 2016 — As the Oscars ceremony looms, the biggest-grossing and most-discussed film of the year will be largely absent, having garnered just a few technical nominations. Yet, as usual with previous entries in this series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens deserves consideration not just because it’s an ongoing ATM machine for the Walt Disney Co., but also because it’s one of the rare instances of a cultural meme being successfully transmitted across generations.

Consider that the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977. I was 25. Now my 25 and 26-year-old daughters love not only the latest film, but have seen and can quote verbatim most of the films in between. (And like everyone else they hate episodes I, II, and III.) One of the attractions of this one, of course, is the return of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as General Organa (née Princess Leia) and the droids R2D2 and CP30, as well as the hairy and adorable wookie Chewbacca. Throw in an interesting bunch of young heroes, a new young villain, and an adorable new droid that looks like two beach balls glued together, and bingo – multi-generations of fans paying top dollar at the local multiplex and buying assorted light sabers and action figures.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney

All of this makes Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 look like a steal. The Force Awakens has already brought in half of that world-wide and there are two more movies planned to round out George Lucas’s original nine movie plan. And bringing zillions of aging hipsters to a Disney movie? Priceless.

Even more encouraging for Disney, there’s barely a Facebook post or blog entry or tweet these days that doesn’t chew over such topics as who is Rey, the new heroine deftly played by newcomer Daisy Ridley (Is she a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi, or none of the above); what exactly happens at the end; how evil, really is Kylo Ren, and will Yoda somehow make a comeback? (I added the last one because I’m of an older generation; nobody thinks Yoda is coming back.)

How did Star Wars jump the generation gap when other franchises, (Indiana Jones, featuring the self-same Harrison Ford springs to mind) haven’t? The endless string of Marvel movies is a relatively new and youth-oriented phenomenon. Only time will tell if an aging Robert Downey Jr. can still pull off playing Iron Man in 2045.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney

But Star Wars is magical for everybody. And if Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are showing a little mileage, so what? Aren’t we all? Disney chose well in putting hot director J.J. Abrams in charge and basically repeating the same pacing – and much the same story – as the first three movies in the series (which as we all know are the middle three movies of the nine – keep up.) Lucas had stumbled with a whole bunch of irritating new computer-generated characters such as Jar Jar Binks in the middle three movies (actually the first three in the saga – you still there?).  Abrams takes fewer risks – the computer-generated character voiced by Lupita Nyong’o is irritating but no Jar Jar.

So if you’re the only person on earth not to have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, go. It’s a couple hours of pure fun. And if you watch the Oscars and wonder why no major awards, don’t feel sorry for Disney. They couldn’t care less.

Philip Revzin is an award winning journalist and former editor-at-large for Bloomberg News. Previously, he was a long-time reporter, editor and publisher for The Wall Street Journal Europe in London, Paris and Brussels. Later, Mr. Revzin was named publisher and editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and the publisher for The Wall Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong. He last wrote on the film Concussion and the book Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football for Culturekiosque.



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