Mon 21 Dec 2015
Am I the only one believing that the peak of the career of J.J. Abrams as director and producer was (up to now at least) ‘Lost‘ – the captivating series which dominated the TV screens in the second half of the previous decade? A couple of things are obvious beyond any doubt. Abrams is a passionate of science-fiction, and he has Gargantuan ambitions as he tries to make his mark on many of the major brands of the genre (and some of its action spins) from the MI series, then in Star Trek ( with the 2013 Star Trek Into Darkness) and now with the film that starts the last series in the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He did not convince me yet on the big screen that he is the same original thrilling creator that made of ‘Lost’ the series that made people change their weekly schedules even in the era of Internet availability of everything, but he certainly succeeded commercially and this film is ‘in danger’ of becoming the best cash machine in the history of the movies industry, displacing another film which was not IMO a masterpiece either – James Cameron‘s ‘Avatar‘.
It’s fun to watch the reactions as well. The enthusiastic fans who rushed to see the movie in the first hours after its premiere or in the first weekend the latest granted it a 8.8 average grade on IMDB. It will go down and I doubt that it will stay in the Top 250 (it’s now in the 22nd place). Some other mourn the new series and its success and prompt it as an example of the decay of the 7th art into an industry of mass consumption. The reality is IMO someplace in the middle. ‘Star Wars’ belongs before all to the fairy tales cycle. Even the science-fiction and action labels apply only second, and you can enjoy them fully as a viewer only if you accept the fact that you are watching a film with emperors and princesses, with monsters and talking toys and animals who happily live, fight, love and die together. Seen from this perspective ‘The Force Awakens’ is a continuation of the series created by George Lucas , re-using and expanding its mythology, bringing back characters that we knew at younger ages, quoting from the precedent series. Its line of action is not very original and different from the one in the other series, but the demarcation between good and bad is the same, with the ambiguity of the two facets of the Force still being the principal philosophical line along which all the laser swords are fought and space-ships chase are run. As this is the first series in more than two decades that advances in time we are introduced to the new generation of Star Warriors which I guess will become dominant and will fight the final battles in the two series that are expected to premiere in 2017 and 2019.
J.J. Abrams has done a more than decent work, quite respectful towards the original series, especially the first films. There are no spectacular innovations in this film, the graphics and the visual feeling is very similar to the first movies. Some of the characters return and seeing again Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher is a true delight filled with melancholia. The new generation offers some interesting acting proposals, with Daisy Ridley on the side of Good as a Hunger Games-like young lead (who I suspect has some royal blood – to be discovered in the coming installments, the original ones had a similar secret), and Adam Driver playing the lead role on the dark side. There is a new robot in town as well, his name is BB-8, and an interesting future waits for him as for his human colleagues. Even R2-D2 makes a come back, and so does the Furry One. The ‘new blood’ and the action pace that can satisfy even fans of ‘Fast and Furious’ are good reasons to like this film. Again, however, the entry condition is to accept the convention. If you do not like the genre, it’s not ‘The Force Awakens’ that will convince you to become a fan.