Star Wars: The money making machine awakens (2.5/5)

*Plot spoilers galore, be warned!*

Ten years since the massively disappointing prequel series, the Star Wars universe has yet again been resurrected- and why wouldn’t they; it’s already the most successful film franchise ever and this bulging cash-cow has plenty more milk left in its galactic sized udders. Currently there are plans to release one star-wars related film annually, for the next six years– with two more ‘proper’ star-wars films left and three spin-offs to come.

The first film in this epic profit-seeking adventure by the loveable media conglomerate, The Walt Disney Company, is Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It is essentially a remake of the first ever Star-Wars movie, A New Hope. The story-line is extraordinarily similar to episode 4; droid with secret-map crashes on grotty desert planet, young-adult who lives on said grotty desert planet discovers important droid and escapes from the empire (re-named ‘The First Order’, because this is like a totally new and original film!), there’s some mild peril, some more mild peril and then there’s an action-packed ending where the Rebels (sorry, ‘The Resistance’) destroy the Empire’s super-weapon, just minutes before it was due to destroy the planet the Rebel’s were on- phew!

But this isn’t just a remake, it’s a remake on steroids and key elements of the original film have been made bigger and flashier. The Death Star has been replaced with the ‘Starkiller Base’- which is a planet converted into a super-weapon & the Emperor has been replaced with some sort of weird hybrid between the Big Friendly Giant and one of the ring-wraiths from Lord of the Rings, when Frodo has his ring on. It’s a bit like Jurassic ‘Product-placement’ World, which was like Jurassic Park, only with a bigger killer dinosaur and a more ‘spectacular’ park (and a much worse film than the original). Apparently, modern cinema audiences have the collective intelligence of a pre-pubescent nerd- and so to entertain them suitably new movies must contain wildly exaggerated villains, monsters and space-ships found in films from a more nuanced era.

Overall, my main issue with the film is that it’s all a bit… dumb. Why did a storm-trooper suddenly switch to becoming normal after getting a little bit of blood on his helmet- aren’t these soldiers brought up to be totally emotionless? How did the posh English girl barely have enough money to eat when she was able to afford a gigantic sand-speeder? How come she had such perfect teeth if she had grown up in grinding poverty? Why was the Millennium Falcon left open and ready-to fly in an area presumably swarming with thieves and bandits? Why did only two Tie fighters chase the Millennium Falcon across the desert, why didn’t they just send like 500 after it? Why was Han-Solo hunting cartoonish giant space-octopi which roll around in balls? Why did they take a droid and two fugitives being hunted by the empire into a packed bar on a random planet? Why did they leave a Rebel fugitive (who has suspected Jedi-powers) in a prison cell guarded by just one Storm Trooper? Isn’t the Death-Star a better super-weapon considering it doesn’t need to drain a whole star to ‘charge-up’? How did Rey manage to fight off a Sith Warrior without ever having touched a light-saber, considering Luke and Annakin Skywalker both had to go extensive training before they were at all competent? The list could go on, but that might be over-stressing the whole ‘it’s pretty dumb’ point.

Instead of making ‘A New Hope re-imagined because we know that’s a formula that works and it will definitely make money’ they should have made an original film, complete with original story-line, original characters and original plot-twists. But unsurprisingly, and unfortunately, they didn’t. They opted to play it safe- in the same way that all Hollywood Blockbusters do these days – and release a very average & ‘fun’ Christmas cash-cow.

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