Star Wars 7: a spoiler-free reflection on the series

1400 hours: this is a placeholder stub. At 1730 I will be stepping into the compound’s AAFES theater to experience the much-ballyhooed seventh chapter in the Star Wars saga. I’ll have more to say once I’ve left the show. But I will note that in an era of cultural balkanization within the United States, Star Wars remains one of the few common touchstones. Star Wars cuts across almost all tribal lines, across generational age divisions, and across the gender divide as well. Not everyone loves the franchise, but almost everyone has seen the original three (middle) films, and just about everyone agrees that the second bunch (first three chapters) missed the mark. Initial reactions to number seven seem overwhelmingly positive. I will report back with my reaction as well as a prolonged reflection on why Star Wars is an enduring success story even 40 years after its debut in theaters.

2000 hours: okay, back from the film. I can honestly say I think it ranks with the first (what became A New Hope) movie, and indeed, there is a lot of blood shared between the two. Many parallels. I was happy with the one potentially controversial choice the writers made, because at that specific stage in the plot, it became the only choice possible — at least if a particular character’s arc was to be completed. Likewise, another character’s arc depended on that choice, and this establishes that character for the remaining two films.

Also, did Porkins have a nephew? Because he’s flying with the X-Wing squadron. (wink)

Of course, seeing The Force Awakens as a jaded adult — whose brain has been painstakingly wired for proactive storytelling, over a period of twenty years — is not the same thing as seeing A New Hope when you’re single-digits old, and your imagination is a fresh field covered in newfallen snow. There were things my instincts told me were going to happen, long before they happened. And this (obviously) lessened the impact. I simply nodded to myself and said, “Yup, thought so.” Which is inevitably a let-down, because you want to be like the field covered in newfallen snow, but there’s never any going back. Now, there is context, with experience to boot. And this changes the storytelling experience (on the receiving end) tremendously.

There will be plenty of time in the future to dive into the specific details of what I liked, and what I didn’t like. I think The Force Awakens was a refreshing departure from the prequels, which were fatally flawed because Lucas had no intuitive sense for his audience anymore — if he ever did. The Force Awakens therefore felt far closer to the original three films, more than any of the prequels. Which probably points to the fact that The Force Awakens was perhaps the world’s greatest, most expensive piece of fan fiction. Everyone writing (and almost everyone acting in) the new movie, grew up loving the originals. That love is apparent in just about every shot. As well as in every bit of homage — and those were plentiful.

Does the new movie take liberties with science and physics? Oh, without question. To exactly the same degree as the originals did. Thus the new movie is bona fide pure Space Opera — something I am grateful to see, since I think pure Space Opera is a stupendously undervalued subgenre in an era where many critics, authors, and even fans, want to overthink and overintellectualize their entertainment. If the Battlestar Galactica reboot took a pure Space Opera concept, and lent it gritty realism (in some episodes, to a fault) then The Force Awakens stuck to the basics, with just enough grown-up subtext to account for 30+ years of interstellar bumps and bruises experienced by the original characters.

To probe a bit more deeply, I kept remembering the wisdom of Dave Wolverton, who has a marvelous grasp of what makes blockbusters tick. The Star Wars franchise has always relied on a heavy helping of family drama, and the new movie is more of the same. The nature of the drama is in some ways a mirror reflection of the original films, with some new twists thrown in to satisfy people who don’t want to experience a mere retread. There are also echoes of the events of the Expanded Universe stories — perhaps enough to satisfy fans who may be mourning the (inevitable, sorry) detaching of the Star Wars universe from that considerable body of literature. If Abrams was walking a tightrope with the new film, I think he got it about as right as anybody could.

The new film also walked a fine line between spectacle, and plot development. The prequels too often proceeded as if spectacle was an adequate replacement for plot development, which is not a mistake I think Abrams has made. In fact, I want to say Abrams learned some things from making the new Star Trek movies that may have refined his eye a bit. The Force Awakens gives us just enough visual marvel to make the new movie match the same level of visual marvel contained in the originals, but we get enough details — salted into the action — that the deeper story advances apace.

What fascinates me is the fact that the Star Wars saga is now a truly multi-generational phenomenon. People who are old enough to be my children, are themselves having children who will be just in the right zone to experience Star Wars episodes 7, 8, and 9, fresh. Likewise, people who are old enough to be my children are now having to grapple with the fact that seeing Star Wars through experienced eyes, is a different thing from seeing it through eyes that are truly young, and wide-open. (Insert sound of Grandpa Simpson shouting, “Welcome to my world!”)

You would think the disappointment with the prequels — let’s just admit it, we can now pretend none of them exist — would have doomed the franchise. But somehow, Star Wars keeps coming back. It’s unkillable. And now that we’ve got confirmation of spinoff films, Star Wars is liable to be bigger, and better than it’s ever been before. Presuming Abrams and Co. do not pull a Lucas, and get so far away from the audience that they lose sight of just what makes that audience have a pulse in the first place.

In the end, the mark of a good film (to me) is if that film makes me want to come back for more. The Force Awakens did that very well. Not without complaints, mind you. At my age, there is almost no movie that gets past me without my Back Seat Writer muttering, “Shoulda, coulda, woulda,” at various points. But I was happy to see Star Wars doing what Star Wars tends to do best.

So, happy camper. Didn’t ever catch myself looking at my watch. Over two hours passed in a flash. I haven’t had that kind of movie-watching experience in a long time.

87 Comments

Filed under BRAD R. TORGERSEN, SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

87 responses to “Star Wars 7: a spoiler-free reflection on the series

  1. The original three films (HolyTrilogy, all one word) opened worlds of possibilities to me and my age-mates (born 1970-74). We LARPed Star Wars in backyards for a year or more (if you can call 5-7 year-olds acting out stories as LARPing 🙂 ). The good guys were good, the bad guys were bad, the starships kicked tail and took names, and we got a pretty much happily-ever-after. Yes at the time _Empire Strikes Back_ was a little too much for me to understand, but even so it worked.

    The “first three” felt hollow. Even leaving aside the “fooled you it’s all biological” and the whining, they didn’t resonate with me on the core level the way the HolyTrilogy did (and do). I’d venture that Lucas was trying too hard to be subtle and nuanced, and nuanced the love right out of the films. By the time I got to #3, I was hitting the fast-forward button so I could get to the effects eye-candy. In contrast, even re-watching _Jedi_, I got so wrapped up in the story that I really did forget to breathe.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      Sadly, there is a slight mental illness running among fans, leading them to share hallucinations of entertainment that Never Actually Happened. Among these strange delusions are Highlander 2 and 3, the prequel trilogy, and Season 6 of Buffy. (Even Joss Whedon has fallen prey to this, and insists that the last season of BtVS was actually #7. Sad…)

      We should totally start up a charity for the victims of Fan Sequel Syndrome. *folds hands piously*

      • I include Star Trek V, ’09, and Into Darkness. I don’t know why people think those things actually happened.

      • ironbear055

        *sage nod* I’ve noticed that delusion. There are even those, I’ve noticed, who’ve managed to hallucinate that there was a Season 4 and 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that it didn’t end at s3 with the destruction of Sunnydale High.

        Some, far stranger still, who insist that there was an Alien 3 and an Alien: Resurrection movie. Some of those dastards have even gone so far into their delusions as to try to insist that Newt and Hicks died in these nonexistent third and fourth movies…

        I’ve never been certain whether I should be sad for them, or just happy that that strange alternate universe that they’ve glimpsed has never (so far) managed to intrude upon our own.

  2. I admit to being fatigued with Remake Madness, but it seems to be an inevitable dividend of movie industry calculus. Studios want as close to a guarantee as they can get, thus they invest in “proven” commodities more often than not. The late 1970s and most of the 1980s gave us blockbuster after blockbuster. So many great movies. The studios will want to go back for seconds, or even thirds. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. And I really don’t know if that’s going to change, now that even modest films cost $100 million to make, and the studios are “disappointed” if the opening weekend doesn’t recoup that expense in one fell swoop.

    • Bob

      Speaking of remake madness, haven’t seen the new movie, but I’ve read the summary understand it bears a rather remarkable similarity to a certain other film.

      If JJ just wanted to remake it, I wish he’d have admitted to the fact.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I think he’s trying to wash the taste of the so-called prequels out of our mouths. [Wink]

        From what I’ve heard, it’s not a remake but he’s returning to what made us enjoy that certain other movie. [Smile]

    • Modest films don’t have to cost $100 million.

      That cost less than $100k. They’re in the process of making the follow-on full-length movie, and it’ll cost just over $1 million.

      IMHO, indie films are the future, just as indie writing/publishing is.

      • Bob

        I just started watching, this looks amazing!

        Ever checked out the Dark Resurrection series?

      • Draven

        Yes, but Axanar isn’t paying most of the VFX and other technical artists (editor, colorist, etc) anywhere near real money… and by ‘real money’ i mean ‘enough for it to be your sole source of income’. Thus, it gets done when it gets done, not exactly something to build a release schedule on.

        • On Prelude, they didn’t. My understanding is for the full feature they’re playing Guild rates so they can get pros, since they have more $ to work with. Could be wrong.

          • Draven

            Of course they are paying SAG rates. The initial film was done under the experimental film agreement, like most trailers are, and thus they could do it without paying the actors, without the actors breaking any SAG rules.
            If everyone else is union and they are paying union rates, then they are going to end up spending… more.
            There is no union for VFX people, technically.

  3. Bob

    POTENTIAL SPOILER will try to be vague

    From reading the summaries and reviews, the thing that really struck me is how the first SW movies reflected concerns of the times in a way that this new one doesn’t seem to.

    In the first trilogy, Nazi imagery and the fear of weapons like the atomic bomb held a lot of emotional impact, so the villains were space Nazis with a superweapon.

    This time around? If anything, the First Order should be space ISIS, not undertaking a certain high-investment project. Where are these guys getting their funding from?

    For that matter, “The Resistance?” okay, resisting what? Who’s in charge of this galaxy now anyway???

    And don’t refer me to any Star Wars book or other ancillary material (I just wrote ancillary, shudder, wrote it again, shudder) what matters is the movie!

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      From what I’ve heard, the Empire didn’t fall after the death of the first Emperor and there’s a new Emperor to fight.

      • Bob

        Ironic that Knights of the Old Republic II had a more compelling story: a Republic government exhausted by war and stretched too thin, with a million brushfires to put out and more every day, with a band of dark side adherents providing help to the most extreme of extremists to make things worse and create situations where Jedi would have to respond and be targeted for assassination…much more believable than a rehash of what went before, and just as entertaining.

        If they could adapt Tim Powers’ book for the newest Pirates of the Carribean movie, why not just adapt KOTOR II for TFA?

        How I’d love to see Darth Sion in action on the big screen. Now that would be a terrifying villain for the heroes to go up against…

        • ravenshrike

          Because Disney would never allow the idea that the Force forces people towards good or evil against their will. The entire storyline of KOTOR II

          Spoilers Ahoy

          was that Kreia was attempting to use the Exile to destroy the Force itself precisely because it was doing that. Of course, given the ultra-rushed ending from LucasArts cutting the dev time with virtually no warning you can’t really get that from the unmodded version of the game.

          • Bob

            I always took that as more Kreia’s interpretation, not the official truth.

            And I was thinking more along the lines of adapting the general political situation and the style of war in the post Return movies, not the whole game. I’d thought of Darth Sion because he had a distinctive look and attitude, but his character was vague enough that he could be given a different backstory and inserted in post movies as just someone scary to fight.

    • “For that matter, “The Resistance?” okay, resisting what? Who’s in charge of this galaxy now anyway???”

      Yeah that bothered me too. The Resistance ought to = the post-Empire government, not some ragtag bunch of half-ass rebels. That’s the biggest part of the new movie that rubbed me wrong.

      The Rebel Alliance won. Grand Admiral Thrawn aside, they kicked the Empire’s ass and established a new government. These First Order punks were the last remnants of the Empire trying to re-establish itself. So what the hell is the Resistance resisting? The government? They ARE The government!

      That, right there, is my biggest complaint with the film. Fortunately, JJ worked that out for us, so I guess it’s all good. 🙂

      But yeah, that’s a big, “Were you guys thinking when you wrote this??” moment, right there.

      • Bob

        It’s a bad idea to pick names that carry inappropriate emotional connotations. I heard that from Apache Butcherskids, the kindly accountant. Now, must avoid Flopsy Fuzzytoes, the maniacal serial killer.

      • Draven

        There is Republic territory, with the Republic government, and First Order territory, where the First Order is the government. The Republic supports the Resistance within First Order territory, probably hoping to stave off an actual war with the First Order. MY next thought on this is being removed because spoilers.

        • See, that would make more sense, but it wasn’t made clear in the film. At least, not to me. 🙂

        • I agree it wasn’t made clear enough in the movie. But I think Draven’s take seems logical, otherwise the “Resistance” is a resistance against . . . what, exactly? Of course, we’re assuming the First Order is the dominant military power. All those rusting hulks of Imperial ships and hardware (on Jakku) would seem to indicate that the Republic (New Republic?) was kicking ass and taking names at some point between Eps VI and VII.

        • Bob

          And Phantom Menace never made it clear why the Trade Federation wanted to blockade Naboo, or why that giant factory power generator place was in the palace and what it was for.

          So.

          Not a total improvement over the prequels then.

          And I’d still prefer Space ISIS to less powerful Space Nazis.

    • I was roughly 10 years old when SW ‘IV’ came out. I didn’t go see it, nor was I pestering my folks to take me to see it. I was rather bemused at the draw it had. Then, in school, it was seemingly all I heard about for a while and, well, I got sick of it right there. The serials it was supposed to evoke? Well, a local station had been broadcasting the old Flash Gordon serials in the afternoon, so there was no void that needed filling. (“This movie fills a much needed gap.” is about how I felt.) When I finally did see the movie (broadcast TV, 1983? Constantly interrupted with commercials and ‘making of’ stuff) I was surprised. “That’s it? Really? ‘Knight rescues Princess from ‘dragon’.. in spaaaaaaace?’ That’s what all the fuss was about? Yeah, there are no new stories, but… it was like everyone else was taken with a puppet show, and I was seeing the strings better than the puppets, as an analogy. It failed to get me to believe in its world. I doubt the full big screen show would’ve been much different for me.

      I didn’t see ‘V’ or ‘VI’ in theaters either. I did eventually see what are called ‘I’ and ‘II’ and ‘III’ in theaters. I saw ‘I’ with a confirmed SW fan – who apologized to me either in the lobby or just outside the theater afterward, stating, “That wasn’t Star Wars.” Why did I watch those at all? Self-defense to be aware of the cultural references.

      $HOUSEMATE has the originals on VHS and possibly even LaserDisc. I’ve not watched them. By now, just not really interested. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen them, at least in bits and pieces. But there’s no draw. Alright there was one part I found kind of neat. First movie. Cantina scene. Good music. As for the main score? Always felt overblown to me.

      Will I see this one? Probably, eventually, but I feel no urgency. I suspect it will be when $HOUSEMATE decides it must be seen.

      • While I can agree theoretically with the concept that no entertainment will reach everyone, and I can wrap my head around the idea that some people won’t connect with that one thing you like, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

        Having said that, if you haven’t seen Empire, I’d recommend it. I thought it was the best of the series. And you should see it uninterrupted if possible.

        • I might, one day, care to see the movies someday. Perhaps even in a theater. The problem is then I’d want the theater to be otherwise empty – and that wouldn’t happen.

          The worst thing said to me has often been “You gotta…” No I don’t. “but everyone…” Well, those crowds often remind me of something. Usually newsreels from 1930’s Germany. Recommending, fine. But if I chance upon something I am much more open to it than if it’s been rammed down my throat. And after nearly 40 years of that, well… it leaves a bad taste, it does.

  4. If we assume the Imperial Fleet (at the end of Jedi) was still largely spread across the galaxy — plenty of territory under the control of those regional governors — it stands to reason that merely killing off Vader and Palpatine, while destroying the Death Star, would not end the Empire utterly. It might be in a state of shock and disarray for a time, but sooner or later somebody ambitious would step up and take charge. I could comment further on how this is made explicit in Ep 7, but I don’t want to post too many spoilers. Suffice to say, what is the connection between Andy Serkis’s new character, and the Sith of old?

    • Bob

      Makes me almost sympathize with the spoiler brigade of EU fans (almost, I hate spoilers) who followed the X-Wings books, the fight to reclaim planets and systems from an Empire that was tearing itself and the galaxy apart in a war for Palpatine’s vacant throne, then Grand Admiral Thrawn’s rise, unification of the Empire and war with the New Republic – only to see all that struggle wiped away.

    • Bob

      For an amazing story post-Return of the Jedi, including a villain with a very definite connection with the Sith of old without being one, I’d recommend Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. As a bonus, it manages to capture the feel of the old sci-fi pulps in a way I’ve rarely seen.

      Of course, you’d first have to read the prequel-era Shatterpoint, by the same author, since so many things are set up in Shatterpoint only to be paid off in Mindor, but that novel also showcases how a non-Sith villain can grow to be formidable in the dark side.

      Both novels show very different forms that users of the dark side can take, and for an added novelty neither villain uses a lightsaber!

      Never thought I’d see a Star Wars villain worse than a Sith, but the Mindor baddie manages it.

    • My gut tells me that the connection between Andy Serkis and the Sith of old is stronger than one might think. That really should be wrong, but a lot of connectivity to Ep IV-VI is in there to good effect, much of it not yet explored.

  5. Having been in the double digits when I read the novelization and finally saw the original . . . well, Star Wars was nice, but it didn’t have an “Oh, wow” effect, maybe due to years. What it did have was a simple B movie plot in an era when movies were going through a naval gazing period like big name SF is now. You had good guys and bad guys and the characters weren’t conflicted about it. The ending was up-beat.

    Now contrast it to the SF movies leading up to that time: Voyage to the Far Side of the Sun, The Andromeda Strain, Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Silent Running in particular was message based SF from the get-go. The only message in Star Wars what “Let us entertain you.” And people loved it for the same reason people turn away from message-based SF now.

    FWIW, I seem to recall criticism of Star Wars among self-appointed gatekeepers who sneered it wasn’t real SF. Sound familiar?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      But of course, Star Wars wasn’t Science Fiction. It was Science Fantasy and was *Fun*. [Wink]

      Seriously, I never took Star Wars seriously as Science Fiction but it was fun to watch and that’s what was important about it.

      While I haven’t seen the new movie yet, it’s obvious to me that Adams wanted it to be as fun as the original movie. [Smile]

  6. “Also, did Porkins have a nephew? Because he’s flying with the X-Wing squadron. (wink)”

    LOL

    As soon as I saw him, I leaned over to my wife and whispered, “He’s going to die.” She nodded and grinned.

    Imagine our shock when he…didn’t. (that’s not a spoiler because…seriously he had all of 30 seconds of screen time)

    “I think The Force Awakens was a refreshing departure from the prequels”

    What are these things of which you speak? There were only 3 Star Wars movies. And now…there is a fourth.

    Yeah, I have some nits to pick. And…some not so nicks.

    But you know what? My wife and I spent the a couple hours after we saw the movie (while my Mom was watching the kids, so naturally we had to milk that time ) at a bar, debating over a couple beers who the hell Rey really was, what happened with Ren and Luke, who the hell Snoke really is…you get picture.

    It drew us in, totally, and left us wanting more.

    And it had a hell of a lot of kick-ass shots, fun action, and kick ass lightsaber duels. In other words, it was a hell of a lot of fun.

    So I call that a win.

  7. Chris Nelson

    Call me a Scrooge or a Contrarian, it’s just a movie.

    I’m not one of the masses that obsesses over Star Wars. Maybe it’s because I saw the original movie after I had read a few bookshelves of quality science fiction. Or it could be that 2001 and Star Trek: TOS set a early bar for entertainment beforehand , especially writing, that the special effects of Star Wars never came near. Or that I was doing chores on the farm and participating in sports and hobbies while those younger than me spent hours playing with figurines and tie-in toys. Or that I currently don’t spend a lot of time in front of television entertaining my
    self these days.

    I work in IT and my co-workers offer me a ticket to go see the latest feature. I said “No” and also said I was busy. I’m fairly occupied with projects, but there are reasons behind my rejection.

    I can’t support Disney, who screws over and outsources their IT. It would be like buying books from Tor after the revelation of their shenanigans. I’m not fond of the modern movie experience. It’s a lot of cost and hassle for few hours of entertainment. And I don’t support the cult status of Star Wars, which has reached the pop-culture status of the Super Bowl. The media saturation is reminds me of the circuses of Roman times. (Or the chariot races of Byzantine factions.) Or maybe it’s the revelation of the pastor I chatted with this week, who related the sad fact that some of their congregation was going to Star Wars instead of church.

    It’s just a film, it’s just entertainment, it’s your choice to enjoy it or idolize it. But please don’t put it on a pedestal and revere it like folks at Vile 770 love the grey goop that is “Ancillary Justice”.

    • So far, Disney seems to be letting Lucasfilm stay its own unit, sorta like Pixar was. So I do not think of it as Disney. The folks who work there did not ask to be acquired. But it is a fair point.

      There are always people who take entertainment too far. But heck, a lot of people never go to church anyway….

      I pretty much always made it to Mass on convention weekends, though, and there used to be church services, minyans, and even a few Masses at many conventions, as well as morning church runs that turned out to be just as chaotic as group food runs to restaurants! Pope Benedict once said that you ought to put at least as much effort into getting to church as you would to get to a rock festival. That seems fair.

      • Bob

        I can admit that the hype had gotten ridiculous, and the in-your-face nature of it has gotten irritating.

        But comparing SW to Ancillary Justice? That’s too far.

        Like it or not, SW was the right thing in the right place at the right time, and it’s built a lot of momentum behind it. Sure, like a snowball rolling downhill it’s picked up a lot of detritus, and likewise shaken off more than a few formerly loyal adherents like yours truly, and the brand had been used to sell a lot of otherwise inferior work, but the core of the thing carried a range of emotion and adventure that still resonates.

        Besides, the brand’s also provided a springboard for a lot of talented authors and artists, and the parody fodder is a joy.

        Ancillary Justice? For shame!

      • Chris Nelson

        It’s easier to vote in my city than get a ticket to SW on opening weekend. (We can take the day off and there’s plenty of early dates and absentee voting.) But only two of my co-workers voted in the election in November and over 30 were absent for the film on Thursday and Friday.

        • Yes.
          And?
          I’m fairly sure that, had Torgersen been in his place of residence and they had had an election, he would have vote in it, as would most of the folks here.
          You are reminding me of my attitude towards football before I realized the actual purpose of going to football games.

          • Alright, what is the actual purpose? I have come realize that what is called ice fishing is not about catching fish, but escape from family/spouse. Is it similar? I find most sports to be “Watch grass grow, now make it boring and annoying.”

            • The actual purpose of going to football games is not to watch football; instead, it is a moment of shared community. Sort of like why you go to a live concert–half the reason you’re there is to be with other fans of the bad.

  8. Chris, there’s an awful lot of Scroogery in your response. Good for you that you’re “above” the rest of us. I place my hand to my face, fingers extended, thumb on the end of my nose, and say, “Neener! Neener!” Two out of three episodes of TOS sucked rocks. And I will go to the mat with any Trekkie alive, in a battle of More-Trekkie-Than-Thou. TOS had some real stinkers. And I am not talking Season 3. If you don’t like Star Wars it’s all good, man. But I have to wonder why you felt like dropping a turd in my punch bowl tonight. Again, I say, “Neener!” to you sir.

    • Chris Nelson

      I’m not “above” you, it’s just that I don’t love the pop culture you love. I don’t know if I’m more critical of my entertainment as I matured or got busier. Or if I care more about where my dollars go. Ethically, I can’t directly support a company that screws over my fellow citizens in my profession for a few bucks while making insane profits, if I have a choice.

      Many times I don’t have a choice. But I do have a choice in my entertainment. Some of the folks here don’t support certain authors and publishers due to their behaviour. I try to extend that to all my entertainment within reason. A good percentage of people that profit off the movies, television and books are working directly to cripple the livelihood and rights of the citizens in the county.

      I’m not holier than thou. I just have some principles. If you want your dollars to go to Disney, you shouldn’t bitch about folks that support Tor and their ilk. Otherwise “Star Wars” is just your “Ancillary Justice”.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Chris, my question is “why are you here gripping about the SW movie?”

        I’m a firm believer in the YMMV idea concerning entertainment. IE “Your Mileage May Vary”.

        If a group are discussing a movie or story that they like and I dislike, I see no reason that I should “tell them how much I dislike it”.

        To do so, IMO is to imply that they are wrong to enjoy it and it is my business to tell them that they are wrong.

        So why are you making a Big Deal about your dislike of Star Wars?

        To prove that you’re “smarter than us”?

        Sorry, but if you keep this up, you’ll prove something else about yourself.

      • Well, i can and have made considerable fun of where the Star Wars franchise went, but different strokes for different folks. I won’t be in line to see The Force Awakens, but don’t begrudge those who are.

        If you prefer not to spend your money on Mickey Mouse outfits, that’s fine. Your money; your business. Just as I don’t worry about those who get their knickers in a bunch over Orson Scott Card or Larry Correia. Nor do I care if someone wants to spend their money on TIE fighters weebling and wobbling over the wooftops, or if they buy a book from Tor. I won’t buy a book from Tor, but that’s my money and my business, and I don’t demand that others do likewise.

      • Ethically, I can’t directly support a company that screws over my fellow citizens in my profession for a few bucks while making insane profits, if I have a choice.

        Which is perfectly fine. If you feel like supporting Disney — note, this applies to all Disney products now — violates your principles, then by all means, don’t support Disney.

        Just don’t act like you’re better than the rest of us, because we choose to go see a Disney film.

        Likewise, don’t act like your taste is somehow superior to ours, because we happen to like something (popular!) you believe to be inferior.

        Honest to goodness, you sound like an insufferable hipster when you do that.

        • Andrew

          The Smedium shirt with the popped collar he wearing must be restricting bloodflow…

          🙂

        • Chris Nelson

          Hipster? LOL!

          Don’t have the tattoos, mustache or Apple products of the current hipster. Can’t help you there. (I still have the same haircut from my military days.)

          Maybe one day you have to train the folks that take over your job and profession and will leave you on the streets, but I don’t have to pay the folks that made that decision.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/us/last-task-after-layoff-at-disney-train-foreign-replacements.html

          Entertainment is a choice. Let’s face it, if GRRM, Sam Delany and John Scalzi helped produce the current Star Wars, would you still go see it? So where do you draw the ethical line for purchasing entertainment?

          The problem I’m have is that the Pups kick up a fuss about the quality/clique/ethical situation in print science fiction, but give the visual media a pass on the same issues. Folks bitch about Worldcon, Tor and the publishing houses but will gladly ignore the ethical issues that exist in the television and movie media. I don’t understand the cognitive dissonance.

          • Draven

            ‘last task after layoff train foreign replacements’

            If you are basing your purchases of anything Disney based on them doing that kind of thing, then you’re going to end up only buying food at the farmer’s market and you’re going to have to 3d print all of your car parts and computer parts. They aren’t the only company to have ever done that, weren’t the first, won’t be the last, by any means. *especially* corporations whose IT portions were based in California (note the past tense, there)

            • Chris Nelson

              Entertainment is a choice. You have multitudes of options for entertaining yourself. You don’t have to go to the movies. You may/will have to drive, compute, and eat to survive.

              When you do have a choice for entertainment, where do you draw the line? Is it ok to support Disney? Is it ok to support any artist, no matter what? Is it ok to critique the behavior of print authors and publishers, but not other media creators?

              You can rebel against words SFWA but you can’t give up the sweet images and sound of Hollywood…

              • Draven

                and for the umpteenth time, you totally miss someone’s point.

                • Chris Nelson

                  I just want to know what separates you ethically from the folks at File 770. They like Star Wars too. Are you truly different from them?

                  Where do you draw the line when it comes to optional entertainment? Is a product tainted by the actions of it’s maker(s)? Do you weigh genre films and television on the same scales you do literature?

                  • Draven

                    I want to know where you draw the line in not dealing with a company that has outsourced their IT and required the old crew to retrain their incoming replacements. Was it just because the replacements were foreign? If so, i guess that’s where your line is, and its perfectly okay with you if the outsourced IT folks are domestic.

      • Bob

        -I’m not holier than thou. I just have some principles.-

        Reread those sentences.

  9. Star War uses the Hero’s Journey, all six(or eight or fifty nine) of the basic plots as either major or minor threads. It had the farmboy growing into a hero, the charming rogue who turned good, the brave and beautiful princess, a big hairy Wookie and comedic and sly robots. What’s not to love?

    I use it as an example, whenever I try to explain plotting. Right here, last friday, actually.

    But I think the main reason the original three have stayed favorites is the interactions of the Good Guys. This is the group you want to be a part of. Reliable friends, who despite a few inner group conflicts, are completely behind each other. The prequels? No. That was missing. Really, which of those characters would you want to hang with?

    Star Trek, ditto. Kirk, Spoke, McCoy . . . If The Force Awakens has that, it’ll stay a favorite even after the New! Shiny! is gone.

  10. Bob

    My ultimate thought on the subject: if Abrams et el wanted to repeat that other movie’s situation, there are a LOT more economical ways the First Order could have accomplished their aim.

    I didn’t like the story in Kevin J. Anderson’s Darksaber, but one thing that made perfect sense was the villains could get the same result with a fraction of the cost, and the object in question would be far more maneuverable and easier to protect!

  11. Draven

    The thing is, the expanded universe stories that people tell us are so great, got retconned all the time already, and aren’t even internally consistent in some places. Joruus C’boath, anyone?

    • Bob

      No, they’re not all great. In point of fact a lot of them aren’t. So the franchise should just keep the good bits.

      Which are the bits I personally like.

      And anyone who thinks different is wrong and shut up.

    • Bob

      But in all seriousness, I have a certain liking for the pre-Del Rey, pre-NJO books. Sure they had their bad moments and the issue that no one in the main cast could ever die was irritating, but I always though there was a certain inventiveness and exuberance on the authors’ part, a sense of exploration where they felt free to just fill in bits and pieces of the Galaxy Far Far Away with their own inventions while conforming to the main storyline and rules of the world.

  12. I’m not holier than thou. I just have some principles. If you want your dollars to go to Disney, you shouldn’t bitch about folks that support Tor and their ilk. Otherwise “Star Wars” is just your “Ancillary Justice”.

    GOOGLE TRANSLATION: “I’m not holier-than-thou, I’m just holier-than-thou.

    Chris. Whether you intend it or not, you read (in this thread) like a snob. Statements (like those above) don’t help that impression.

    Also, for the record, I’ve never “bitched” about people supporting TOR. In point of fact, I’m on record as being neutral about supporting/boycotting TOR, mostly because I fully understand why people refuse to buy, while at the same time I want to continue supporting my friends and mentors who publish through TOR — it’s not their fault Patrick Nielsen-Hayden and Irene Gallo are dicks. But I get it if people have better places to spend their entertainment dollars, and I support consumers exercising that option.

    Finally, the difference between Star Wars and Ancillary Pronouns is that Star Wars has an audience larger than ten thousand people. Oh, and Star Wars is fun. Not to every taste, mind you. But then, nothing is designed to every taste. And that’s not bad.

  13. Nathan

    Loved the film. They got the feel right, but, yes, I agree that it’s so referential to the first film that it comes off as fanfiction. But it does a great job of dressing up the referential bits to feel fresh.

    However, after Star Trek and Star Wars, J. J. Abrams needs the following quote tattooed on the inside of his eyelids:

    “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space. ” – Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

    Seriously, he’s now made two different and vast galaxies seem no larger than the inner portion of a solar system.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “Seriously, he’s now made two different and vast galaxies seem no larger than the inner portion of a solar system.”

      Unfortunately Nathan, I think that problem existed in those story-universes long before he got his hands on them.

      • Nathan

        Things like the transporter able to beam from earth to the Klingon home planet in Trek and everyone in the Star Wars galaxy being able to see the [spoilers] when [more spoilers] destroyed [even more spoilers] are Abrams touches, though.

      • The original Star Wars films completely goofed — on the vastness of the galaxy, and the speed of ships — many times. I never noticed as a kid. As an adult? I wince every time Han Solo says, “She’ll make point-five past light speed,” and then in the next film Admiral Piet says, “If they’ve gone to light speed, they’ll be on the other side of the galaxy by now,” only hours/days after the Falcon enters the asteroid field. Also, the fact that the first Death Star never seems to enter hyperspace, but still manages to ponderously (but quickly!) navigate from the vicinity of Tatooine, to the vicinity of Alderaan, and finally to Yavin.

        Star Trek tried harder — weeks for ships and messages to travel from the frontier, back to starbases in the rear, even at Warp and/or subspace — but by the time the movies were underway, the galaxy had still been made very cozy. Especially considering all the massive alien craft which seemed to have a particular interest in Earth every few years.

        • That’s sort of the purpose behind the use of FTL in media. This way the action is tighter, and the hero, at the end, can go back home without finding his friends from last year have died of old age, and he can’t hardly understand the version of “English” they speak these days.

          It needs to be handled better, because yeah, the universe isn’t cozy.

    • Bob

      In all fairness, in the original trilogy they were a bit vague on how much time exactly was spent in transport via ship. Luke could’ve spent a month on Dagobah, but if travel time was lengthy he would have to have a catheter or something in that X-Wing.

      Yeah, maybe I’m just reaching here.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        In the Extended Universe books, Luke put himself in a “Force Sleep” for long distance travel in his X-Wing. [Wink]

  14. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I may have made a mistake. I’ve just purchased the Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of The Force Awakes from the Kindle Store. See you later. [Smile]

  15. Bob

    And as a side note about Kylo Ren, his supposed journey and parallels to Anakin Skywalker:

    Anakin was trying to be a good person, but turned bad.

    Ren’s motivation is apparently: I want to be bad. Okay, what kind of motivation is that? It’s like something the emo nerd kid says before dressing in back because he wants a sense of power.

    A villain like the X-Men’s Magneto who tries to be good but ends up doing bad or feeling like he has to do bad is more compelling that a guy who apparently just wants to be bad and is just doesn’t have what it takes to be the new Darth Vader.

    • John R. Ellis

      Kylo Ren’s motivation isn’t so much “I want to be bad” as “I feel the Light Side is wrong.”

      The Clone Wars cartoon (formerly EU, now confirmed canon in the New Continuity) clarifies this…the Dark Side’s nature is to always be selfish and to hold one’s own person and goals as ALWAYS being more important than everything else.

      The Light Side is to always be selfless and sacrifice everything for others…this is why the Jedi were such sticklers for “Balance” as going too much into that direction leads to total Self Abnegation.

      For whatever reason, Kylo Ren had an experience with Snoke (to be revealed in Episode 8, one supposes) that lead him to believe Luke’s view of the Light Side and Balance were wrong and dangerous. The film makes it clear he’s mentally and emotionally troubled….basically an obsessed lunatic. So his whether his view of Light and Balance as being evil temptations comes from past trauma or him being a warped twisty, he has a deep fear of losing himself.

      In a way, this mirrors Rey and Finn, both of whom spend the film looking for an identity and something to believe in.

      • Bob

        Interesting. I may have to read the novelization to see if that’s explored in any more depth.

        Thing it, Ren might be able to convince me he’s onto something if his new philosophy didn’t require him to dress like he’s in villain casting 101 and murder people…

        Ironically enough, this debate’s already been had in the novel Shatterpoint, with the villain (or antagonist in his case, since he could legitimately see himself as the hero of the story) making just such a case for the necessity of the ‘dark’ side, and doing an excellent job of it.

      • Bob

        P.S. so are the EU prequel novels cannon then? Because then Shatterpoint would be cannon…and possibly it’s spiritual sequel Shadows of Mindor!

  16. I have to admit the scene where Han admits he’sLuke’s REAL father and Chewie has been using the Force to stay young all these years was a real eye-opener,.