Episode: "Brain Invaders"
Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Season 2, Episode 8
Original Air Date: December 4, 2009
Ah yes, the new movie!
1. V: The Empire Strikes Back
2. IV: A New Hope
3. VI: Return of the Jedi
4. III: Revenge of the Sith
5. I: The Phantom Menace
6. II: Attack of the Clones
Obviously, I am biased toward the originals, particularly the first two films. Return of the Jedi is good, especially for completing the Empire story, but Lucas bobbled the ball a bit with the Ewoks. As much as I would love to have loved the prequels, I sure didn't. They do help in fleshing out the Star Wars universe and certainly provide substantial backstory but they lack the personal intimacy of the originals. So naturally, I went into The Force Awakens as I imagine most devotees did, with hope that it would pick up where Jedi left off, almost as if (sorry) the prequels had never happened. No less than the vitality of the mythology I have treasured since age 4 was riding on the outcome. No pressure.
As of this writing, I have seen The Force Awakens once but I'm already eager for further viewings. The visual presentation is outstanding. Director J.J. Abrams deliberately avoided the CGI so prominent in the prequels in favor of the earthier feel of the originals - an excellent choice. Music and sound, always the greatest strength of the franchise, are rock solid. The acting, particularly for the new characters, is, if anything, an upgrade. From a purely technical standpoint, this would have to be the finest Star Wars movie to date.
The real question, though, is story. The originals succeed because they focus on the exploits of a small band of adventurers. The prequels stumble because they try to do too much, taking in the grand sweep of political and economic forces rather than allowing us to fall in love with new characters. Clearly, Abrams got the memo. The new tale brings back old friends - it's largely a Han Solo story, thank goodness - and also introduces a new generation about whom I'm eager to learn more.
I am reluctant to say more. Too easy to spoil things for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. There is so much to discuss but I'll wait for now. Except for this...
5 stars out of 5. Part of me wanted to wait until a second viewing to give it a 5 but who am I kidding? The movie does not disappoint. I would rank it third on the all-time list. The bar for new Star Wars stories has been raised significantly, a fact not lost on me as I continue to explore The Clone Wars. More on that next week.
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