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Monday, 4 January 2016

Star Wars: The Force old dude's thoughts.

I intended on waiting for the DVD, but in the end the hype,  and the instances of my eleven year old daughter, got to me and I trundled into my local multiplex to view the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. I'm hardly what you could call a Star Wars geek, but I was 12 years old when the first movie came out and like most kids back in 77, I loved it - bought the comics, carried the lunchbox to school - that sort of thing. Over the years I must have seen Star Wars umpteen times and like most people I hated the prequel movies. In fact I can't really call myself a fan of the original trilogy, - well not fully. Since I don't like Return of the Jedi, finding it incredibly childish after the brilliance of Empire Strikes Back. But you know sitting there in the cinema, with incredibly low expectations born out of cynicism, I found myself feeling like that twelve year old kid again. The new Star Wars movie really is, in the words of that long gone twelve year old, superb and fabby!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW - Don't read any further if you've not seen the movie and don't want to know several of the major plot points, but the film's been out a few weeks now and I can't really explain what I liked about this film without talking over some  of the finer points. Firstly bringing back the original cast is the best thing about the movie, and tossing Luke Skywalker into the background and concentrating on Han Solo is even better . If both of these characters were given equal prominence then the new characters would have struggled to make an impact, but this time Han drives the movie while Luke's part is merely a cameo played out right at the end, just as the credits roll - this creates incredible anticipation for the next Star Wars movie. And of course Luke Skywalker was kind of a boring character next to Han Solo, who truly is the coolest guy in the universe. Next time Han won't be about to overshadow Luke and everyone else, so  it should be all systems  that's Thunderbirds! I'm getting my ancient franchises all mixed up.

Harrison Ford is brilliant as the aged version of the character that originally made him a superstar - he's greyer. more wrinkled and a little slower but he's still the same old lovable rogue. He also steals every scene he's in - from the moment Han and Chewie take to the screen, this movie really comes alive. And - AND HERE'S THAT BIG SPOILER- when Han Solo cashes in his chips it truly is an emotional moment. I'm no longer that twelve year old kid that first fell in love with the intergalactic con man, , I'm a fifty year old guy with more than a few wrinkles myself, and yet the death of Han Solo brought a tear to me eye. My reaction, like Chewi's was astonishment and anger and I could have quite happily blasted the killer, Kylo Ren (actually the son of Han and  Leia) myself. I guess this is testament to the skill of the filmmakers but we have so much invested in Han Solo that his loss...well, it makes you feel bad inside, almost like you've lost someone real. And in a way we have - back in 77 we all went to see Star Wars, and for most of us the focus was on Han Solo. All the mystical mumbo-jumbo about the force was just filler...the real story was the adventures of Solo and his walking carpet Chewbacca. And so when Han Solo died it was as if a piece of that twelve year old I'd once been, had died with him. Here lies innocence and a belief that movie characters are immortal.

The new cast members, Finn and Rey who are intended to be the new blood  are superb and no doubt the younger viewers (the true audience for this movie) will latch onto them, but for all us ageing viewers the focus is on the old timers, - the originals you might say. And Luke turning up at the end, looking not unlike the way we first saw Obi Wan in the original Star Wars,and not even getting a single line,  gets us all revved up for the next movie. Yep Han Solo is dead but hey, life goes on and we want to see if this aged version of Luke Skywalker has any balls. This character who spent most of the original movie wanting to shag his sister. admittedly he didn't know at that point that she was his sister, is going to be the focus for the next Star Wars movie. His sister, Leia of course will also be a part of that next Star Wars movie, but she did so little in The Force Awakens, that she wasn't really important and might as well have not been there at all. Let's hope they give her more to do next time, but please don't get her back in that bikini from Return of the Jedi - a fully clothed Leia is a better option... and who, would have  thought I would have ever said that!

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