Friday, April 8, 2016

The Force Awakens

Okay, I finally saw JJ Abrams vision of the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens. It was a sort of familiar yet strange new world for me.

I missed the characters who were missing.  Such integral characters as R2D2 - I like the little guy. Of course there was a new droid, a little roly-poly guy who beeped his way through most of the action.  But I longed for the old gang.

The story takes place thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire.  Did the evil empire filled with the dark side of the Force vanish leaving the universe a better place? Absolutely not, they just regrouped, recruited lots of young talent and quietly built their numbers.  They've gained so much ground they are now ready to raid rebel strongholds, taking only valuable prisoners and blasting everyone else into oblivion.

On the planet of Jakku, which looks a lot like Tatooine, we meet a young female pilot, named Rey, who somehow is in command of the Millennium Falcon, aka Han Solo's ship.  Where is he? Where is Chewbacca? You don't know in the beginning. We also meet a reluctant stormtrooper who has no name.  He was "recruited" at an early age, his birth identity forgotten, he was numbered. When faced in battle with the reality of invading a planet and killing the populace, he refuses to shoot. With the help of a rebel leader, he manages to escape. He gains a new name, Finn. Thus the adventurers are coming together.  He meets Rey and the sparks fly.  She's been given charge of the little round droid who carries a message for the resistance. It turns out to be information to find the legend himself, Luke Skywalker.

Of course there's a dark side villain in the picture reminiscent of Darth Vader at a young age. He is Kylo Ren. Eventually after Rey is given Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, the one that belonged to his father. (Rey is told "it belongs to you.") Hmmmm, wonder what THAT means?

Though Kylo Ren seems pretty invincible in most of his screentime, Rey is no pushover.  After he commits a heinous (and I do mean heinous) act, she takes him down, leaves him with no weapon, slashed and bleeding in the snow. That girl knows her way around a lightsaber. Unfortunately he's rescued by his cohorts and carried off to be healed presumably.  He'll live to fight another day. I predict he'll head straight for her when he's healed.

Also in the cast of characters are Princess Leia, Han Solo, C3P0, Chewbacca, and at last, R2D2. They all are reminiscent of the first films, although the human looking ones definitely aged.

I can't help wondering if there's a family connection between Kylo Ren and Rey.  I mean Ren and Rey? Maybe it's just an intergalactic coincidence...

The film ends on a literal cliffhanger on a planet whose islands could pass for parts of Ireland. There is a sequel and a prequel coming.  In fact, the prequel trailer just came out over the weekend.

Don't worry, Star Wars is safe in JJ Abrams' capable hands.  A whole new generation can now grow up playing with lightsabers and models of the Millennium Falcon - learning the power of the Force.

For me it's a bit melancholy to see how much everyone I knew has aged (mirrors my own life.)

If you're a fan of Star Wars, it is definitely worth seeing,will give you a sense of nostalgia and the knowledge it will carry on...

On another note, I had never seen Ant Man, from the Marvel Comics crew, just didn't appeal to me.  I watched it this morning. I loved it.  Talk about a quirky (much cleaner language than Deadpool but just as funny) film.  It was a hoot, played for straight, of course. It has a good cast with Paul Rudd as a reluctant Ant Man, Michael Douglas as the scientist who invented the process by which he becomes Ant Man, and Michael Pena in the hysterical role of a bumbling crook buddy of Ant Man. I laughed all morning over this one.  It's refreshing.  At one point Ant Man has to enter SHIELD Hdqtrs and encounters the Falcon on patrol (played by Anthony Mackie), one of the new crop of Avengers.  When Ant Man eludes him, poor Falcon shakes his head.  "Don't tell Captain (America) what happened."

And one more update - FX series The People vs. OJ Simpson concluded this week.  It was a taut drama, even though most of the viewers knew the outcome of the story.  At the end they showed footage of the real person, OJ Simpson, at his subsequent trial for breaking into the Las Vegas' hotel suite of a collectibles and sports memorabilia dealer.  In the footage the defendant is trying unsuccessfully to explain to the judge why he thought he would be justified to storm into the man's suite with a gun and take back his things.

The judge responds to him something like that is illegal in the state of Nevada.  You've just admitted you committed the crime. OJ looks at him with this strange puzzled expression - very reminiscent of my father toward the end of his life when his dementia took hold of him. I got to thinking perhaps OJ suffers from brain damage from injuries gotten during his college and NFL careers.  After all, it's mostly quarterbacks and ball carriers who are coming forward with the symptoms of the terrible condition.

When I googled it, I found there are already articles written about the possibility OJ Simpson is suffering from the dementia based on head injuries.  Not that the condition excuses his behavior, but it goes a long way toward explaining it. If you're interested look it up.

The mini-series left me with the same feeling as the conclusion of the actual murder trail did years ago - Nobody won in this case. Everybody lost...

Well, on that cheery note, I'll say until next time - Watch a movie!!

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