Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams, 2015)

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MoonlitKnight
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Re: Star Wars

#276 Post by MoonlitKnight » Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:28 am

Yeah, I'm sure no one else here has ever held an opinion they knew wasn't the most popular stance but nonetheless strongly stood by it -- especially being film buffs. :^o

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Star Wars

#277 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Nov 24, 2016 6:45 am

MoonlitKnight wrote:No, I was making an argument based on maintaining the integrity of the series, and, more significantly, the vision of its creator; not for exploiting people's love of nostalgia (i.e. the 'sugar-high'), which is becoming an increasingly troubling trend in Hollywood.
You can't be serious. Star Wars, from its very conception, is an exploitation of childhood nostalgia for pulp novels, serials, and cliffhangers. Just like Indiana Jones. The series is not built on integrity or purity--it is a pastiche of warm, cozy memories. Why are you mythologizing a handful of pulpy adventure films? They may be very fun, even masterful at times, but they are pulpy mass-entertainment that mine the nostalgias. And so it is with Abram's film.

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MoonlitKnight
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Re: Star Wars

#278 Post by MoonlitKnight » Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:00 am

Mr Sausage wrote:Star Wars, from its very conception, is an exploitation of childhood nostalgia for pulp novels, serials, and cliffhangers. Just like Indiana Jones. The series is not built on integrity or purity--it is a pastiche of warm, cozy memories. Why are you mythologizing a handful of pulpy adventure films? They may be very fun, even masterful at times, but they are pulpy mass-entertainment that mine the nostalgias. And so it is with Abram's film.
They may have started off that way, but, in the years after the OT - and especially when the PT came to be - I would argue that the SW universe has evolved into something closer to Tolkien's universe (though still maintaining that old-time serial framework). Clearly that doesn't hold as much interest to most people as it does to me. Again, I'm aware I'm in the minority on this issue, but I'm sure as hell not going to back down from it just because that's the case. Ultimately, in my mind, the prequels and TFA have essentially the opposite problem -- and it boils down to conceptualization (where the prequels win) vs. execution (where TFA wins... though I feel this aspect is kind of irrelevant if the conceptualization is lousy, but that's just me :-" ).

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Re: Star Wars

#279 Post by swo17 » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:20 pm

I consider all Star Wars films after the first one to be non-canonical, and even that one's pushing it.

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Re: Star Wars

#280 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:34 pm

swo17 wrote:I consider all Star Wars films after the first one to be non-canonical, and even that one's pushing it.
And to clarify, by first swo means the Phantom Menace

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Star Wars

#281 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:36 pm

MoonlitKnight wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote:Star Wars, from its very conception, is an exploitation of childhood nostalgia for pulp novels, serials, and cliffhangers. Just like Indiana Jones. The series is not built on integrity or purity--it is a pastiche of warm, cozy memories. Why are you mythologizing a handful of pulpy adventure films? They may be very fun, even masterful at times, but they are pulpy mass-entertainment that mine the nostalgias. And so it is with Abram's film.
They may have started off that way, but, in the years after the OT - and especially when the PT came to be - I would argue that the SW universe has evolved into something closer to Tolkien's universe (though still maintaining that old-time serial framework). Clearly that doesn't hold as much interest to most people as it does to me. Again, I'm aware I'm in the minority on this issue, but I'm sure as hell not going to back down from it just because that's the case. Ultimately, in my mind, the prequels and TFA have essentially the opposite problem -- and it boils down to conceptualization (where the prequels win) vs. execution (where TFA wins... though I feel this aspect is kind of irrelevant if the conceptualization is lousy, but that's just me :-" ).
Well, no, the first three Star Wars movies will always be pastiches of pulp sci-fi and serials; that'll never stop being true. And Tolkien's universe is just a pastiche of Mediaeval Germanic Romance. Granted, its nostalgia was always going to be limited to a few Oxford dons; but nostalgia's still where it comes from: childhood nights in front of a fire reading stories of knights and dragons. And Tolkien reproduces his sources with total sincerity.

As for the prequels, well, their problem is they forgot where they came from. If they had mined nostalgia like their predecessors things might've been alright (Lucas' lack of talent notwithstanding). But they became far too earnest. Lucas made the mistake of buying his own hype and believing Star Wars to be more than pulp sci-fi. He came to believe it a serious mythology. So the films not only became puffed-up and leaden, they turned inward on themselves. R2D2 and C3PO were no longer a pair of droids tossed into an adventure, they were Vader and Obi-Wan's own droids all along! And Chewbacca wasn't some mere smuggler, but a crucial participant in the clone wars and known by Yoda! And so on. Suddenly, a big universe came to seem very small. The films upend under their own self-importance.

I'll take The Force Awakens and its cheerful understanding of its own limits over the pretense and insularity of the prequels. Abram's film, surprisingly enough, is the only one that didn't just go up its own ass.

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Re: Star Wars

#282 Post by Big Ben » Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:45 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:I'll take The Force Awakens and its cheerful understanding of its own limits over the pretense and insularity of the prequels. Abram's film, surprisingly enough, is the only one that didn't just go up its own ass.
Succinct. This is a perfect example of why I thought The Force Awakens worked. It knows exactly what it is and it goes with it. It has no pretense.

I'll come right out and say it. The best thing to happen to Star Wars was for George Lucas to leave it.

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Re: Star Wars

#283 Post by knives » Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:22 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: I'll take The Force Awakens and its cheerful understanding of its own limits over the pretense and insularity of the prequels. Abram's film, surprisingly enough, is the only one that didn't just go up its own ass.
It's repetitions were also just interesting in a reversal of those restrictions the prequels made that you reference. Making literal the Obi-wan/ Vader relationship with Han and Kylo Ren (even having Ren's name be Ben) was such a smart move that worked very well on the emotional and tension level while giving some good intellectual wonk for people invested in that sort of thing. The repetition of the bar scene from the first film is the perfect example of Abrams expanding the world where Lucas began to close it off. On a narrative level you can see where a lot of the same things are occurring like with Fin running off, but it also shows that the galaxy has all of these immense crevices we know nothing about. Basically it is just fun.

I do want to add that I think Abram's film is less about the nostalgia of pulp than the nostalgia of Star Wars itself since the quotations are no longer Buck Rogers or Riefenstahl, but about the original trilogy itself.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Star Wars

#284 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Nov 24, 2016 4:05 pm

knivces wrote:I do want to add that I think Abram's film is less about the nostalgia of pulp than the nostalgia of Star Wars itself since the quotations are no longer Buck Rogers or Riefenstahl, but about the original trilogy itself.
You're absolutely right. Star Wars has supplanted pulps and serials as the childhood remembrance. It's its own nostalgia. But I do like that it was affection and pleasure that sent The Force Awakens back to the original movies. Lucas seemed to be treating Star Wars as a brand. Whatever made him bring back so many of the original characters, it certainly wasn't affection.

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R0lf
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Re: Star Wars

#285 Post by R0lf » Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:06 am

The real reason Star Wars has never been the same after the original trilogy is that it was an extension of disco which is also the one element the new movies continually and absolutely refuse to embrace.

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colinr0380
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Re: Star Wars

#286 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:13 am

I have to follow R0lf's comment with the Star Wars theme from David Matthew's Dune album! Which along with some ear-popping takes on a pre-Jodorowsky or Lynch Dune and a Star Wars breakdown also includes a funky take on Space Oddity and Silent Running!

I suppose we just have to go to all the late 70s space opera riffs on Star Wars (Star Crash, Message From Space, etc) for true to that era disco-sci-fi! Or the TV shows like Battlestar: Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!

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Re: Star Wars

#287 Post by bearcuborg » Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:42 pm

MoonlitKnight wrote:To my dying day I'll maintain that if the prequels had a more skilled screenwriter adapting Lucas' general storyline - and perhaps a more actor-friendly director - they would've been held in almost as high a regard as the OT and ------I'm sorry, like most people, you succumbed to certain preconceptions about the prequels that turned out to not be true. ----Most of the 'lore' problems in the prequels are petty shit from people taking certain lines from the OT literally, such as Yoda being Obi-Wan's sole trainer and Leia having memories of her mother.---TFA has numerous problems involving not only Rey being able to do tons of Jedi shit almost immediately, but also the returning OT heroes making choicest that just don't ring true to their OT character arcs...
So the problem with the prequels was Lucas, lol. Okay...

As I said, I don't entirely dislike the prequels - but myself and most people haven't succumbed to any preconceptions about Ep l-lll. I don't take issue with Yoda being Obi-Wan's sole trainer, or Leia's memories of her mother. They can actually be explained pretty easily. But c'mon, they're held in low regard for a reason, in fact you've partially stated why. But I as I stated before, they have Star Wars problems - Midichlorins/a prophecy that almost makes Sam Jackson throw up/goofy politics/virgin birth (Shmi "I always knew he was special..." NO KIDDING LADY!)

There was probably a story worth telling, unfortunately Lucas didn't know how to tell it - and we should have known by the time he fucked up Han/Greedo.

As for the TFA, the core three are very true to their characters. Your replies are as poorly explained as is your attempt to dis Rogue One.

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Re: Star Wars

#288 Post by MoonlitKnight » Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:45 pm

bearcuborg wrote:As for the TFA, the core three are very true to their characters. Your replies are as poorly explained as is your attempt to dis Rogue One.
A more detailed airing of my TFA grievances:

1. Totally bankrupt in the originality department. The prequels did have superficial parallels to the original movies, but, in addition to that, TFA also lifts numerous VERY SPECIFIC plot points from the OT (mostly ANH). So far I've counted a whopping 37 of these parallels/ripped-off plot points (and will post if anyone so desires). And the weaponry/vehicles are all just slightly modified versions of what we saw in the OT. All the environments are exactly the same as well (desert/forest/snow; wash/rinse/repeat :P ). Lucas worked hard to make each of the first 6 movies distinctly different from one another; clearly Disney and Abrams didn't give a shit; they were just answering the "We want the same thing! Only different!!" mob cries that now accompany any blockbuster movie franchise. :roll:

2. Massive disconnect to the end of ROTJ. We learn virtually NOTHING about what happened in the interim years between this movie and the Rebel Alliance's crushing blow to the Empire at the Battle of Endor. What are dynamics between the New Republic, Resistance, and First Order? Why is the Republic no longer based on Coruscant? How the HELL was the First Order able to amass so much manpower and weaponry if we assume what remained of the Empire was forced to sign a disarmament treaty once the Galactic Civil War was over? And why did the New Republic totally ignore this faction for 30 years? Were there REALLY that many fierce Imperial loyalists? If so, why did the Republic not track them down and prosecute them after the war the same way the remaining Nazi bigwigs were after WWII? We're just expected to accept the current situation at face value. While some of this is explained in books related to the movie, you shouldn't HAVE to look to those supplemental elements to get the whole context of the story.

3. Returning OT heroes making choices that don't ring true to their OT character arcs. In relation to the previous point, we learn virtually nothing about how the lives of our central OT heroes have changed over these 30 years. It's all either swept under the rug and not dealt with at all or else half-heartedly explained in a few vague throwaway lines. How DID Han and Leia's relationship go south? There HAS to be more to it than just their son turning to the Dark Side. Why would Han and Chewie - now decorated war heroes - ever go back to the dangerous life of smuggling after actually helping achieve something greater than themselves? Why did Leia choose not to further learn the ways of the Force/become a Jedi? Why would Luke abandon his friends in a time of need and go off and curl up into a metaphorical fetal position -- but then also coyly leave a trail of breadcrumbs to his location to which anyone - good or bad - could gain access? Again, there HAS to be more to it than just his nephew turning to the Dark Side and slaughtering all the other Jedi apprentices. How could all of these characters end up having so little pull within the New Republic given their heroics in order to restore it in the first place? Why would the ever-plucky R2 suddenly devolve into a catatonic state -- only to spring to life again at a VERY convenient moment?

4. Contradictions to the SW lore/mythos as established by Lucas. Lucas also worked very hard at creating a mythology for this universe that he created (again, watch the documentary "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" if you doubt this at all). But suddenly we have a character who can grasp the Force in no time flat, and another one who is (presumably) NOT Force-sensitive but can still hold his own wielding a lightsaber against a properly trained foe. There are others that are tied into the previous 2 points, so I won't go into them in detail.

5. Major plot holes/contrivances for certain things. Again, we get a lot of vague throwaway lines or no explanation at all for certain things, most glaringly Poe's disappearance after the TIE fighter crash. Since when did Chewie's bowcaster literally blow its opponents away -- and how is it, in all their years together, Han had NEVER actually used his companion's weapon before? Also: R2's aforementioned state for most of the movie; Han losing possession of the Millennium Falcon, Han and Chewie's VERY conveniently being near Jakku to recapture the Falcon after Rey, Finn, and BB-8 left its orbit; the rathtars IMMEDIATELY killing all the bounty hunters but sparing Finn long enough for Rey to rescue him; 3PO now having a different left arm; Han - one of the most beloved characters in the whole saga - being given a totally undignified death, etc.

6. Dialogue. While a general improvement over the prequels, some of the dialogue in this movie also sounded too 'contemporary' to my ears, thus contradicting the stylized '30s/'40s movie speak used in the first 6 movies. Examples off the top of my head: Poe's "How do we do this - do I talk first or do you?" line to Kylo, Poe and Finn's banter during their TIE fighter escape (where they frankly come off more like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day"), actually, a good portion of Finn's lines.

7. New aliens/creatures. Honestly, I thought a lot of the new aliens/creatures we saw in this movie just didn't look very 'Star Wars-y' to me. Again, off the top of my head: Unkar Plutt, the rathtars, that alien on whose a lap that First Order spy was sitting in Maz's castle, that huge pig snout creature on Jakku, etc. These looked more like something from DUNE or STARGATE (or some other SW knock-off), but not SW itself. Also, we don't get a SINGLE 'classic' SW alien in this movie (the 3 returning OT heroes that fit this bill notwithstanding, i.e. Chewie the Wookiee, Admiral Ackbar the Mon Calamari, and Nien Nunb the Sullustan)? No Rodians? Or Twi'leks? Or Aqualishes? Or Grans?

8. Lack of tension/sense of danger in second half. In each of the first 6 movies, there was always a sense that things could have gone south for the heroes at any given moment. But there was never any doubt that the good guys would prevail in this one.

9. Perfect-in-every-way Rey. This one is fairly obvious. She pretty much remains the same person throughout the movie. They even have the male characters - Finn in particular - look foolish in order to make her look more brilliant. And since she's already (nearly) defeated the main villain, why would we doubt she won't do it again?

10. Excessive amount of fan service/painfully self-aware winks to OT. The Millennium Falcon is a piece of junk! And it did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs! Hey, look -- the holographic chess game! Let's throw Phasma INTO THE TRASH COMPACTOR! Honestly, they might as well have just stopped, looked at the camera, and said to us "See what we did there?" after each one of these. #-o The only real fan service Lucas gave us in the prequels was Boba Fett's origin story; anything else that references the OT comes off as foreshadowing.

Again, all in all, this struck me more as merely a mega-budget fan film than a genuine article. In my mind, Abrams here has exposed himself as just as much a one-trick pony filmmaker as M. Night Shyamalan. :?

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domino harvey
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Re: Star Wars

#289 Post by domino harvey » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:58 am

K

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zedz
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Re: Star Wars

#290 Post by zedz » Sun Nov 27, 2016 2:11 am

Jesus, if you'd invested as much mental energy into a medical degree as you have in a bunch of kids' films, you could have cured cancer by now!

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The Narrator Returns
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Re: Star Wars

#291 Post by The Narrator Returns » Sun Nov 27, 2016 3:29 am

The random M. Night Shyamalan diss at the end is the cherry on top.

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HJackson
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Re: Star Wars

#292 Post by HJackson » Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:24 am

He's not wrong though.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Star Wars

#293 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:25 am

HJackson wrote:He's not wrong though.
Still way better than Return of the Jedi.

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lubitsch
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Re: Star Wars

#294 Post by lubitsch » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:27 am

HJackson wrote:He's not wrong though.
True. After all it IS rather depressing to see a hack like Abrams who in the same way recycled Star Trek (though there was the additional effect of dumbing it down which can't happen with Star Wars) being successful and even more puzzling, being praised by critics.

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Re: Star Wars

#295 Post by bearcuborg » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:30 am

MoonlitKnight wrote: A more detailed airing of my TFA grievances
Totally bankrupt in the originality department
1. Meh. Phantom Menance copies A New Hope in a lot of ways. A mentor is killed off, Ani blows up the guts of a big space ship, there's an awkward award ceremony at the end... Still, I'm halfway with you.
Massive disconnect to the end of ROTJ
2. I'll give you the disconnect from ROTJ. I assume this is explained in books I'll never read. Perhaps another stand alone film...
Returning OT heroes making choices that don't ring true to their OT character arcs
3. Why did Han choose to go back to smuggling? C'mon...that very much rings true to his character. I'll give you Leia not following up with the force, but I think we'll learn more about Luke leaving.
Contradictions to the SW lore/mythos as established by Lucas
4. I think you can pretty much make a case for Anakin suddenly using the force to blow up the droid ship. Plus, it's not fair to say Rey suddenly learned of her force powers. We don't know her past yet. Again, Lucas contradicted the force in TPM and the special edition did the same to Han.
Major plot holes/contrivances for certain things
5. Chewie's bowcaster does serious damage in Empire/ROTJ. Who cares if Han never used it before either? It made for a great moment. And don't bring up R2 - what about all the shit he suddenly did in the prequels? You're also reaching for 3PO's left arm... :roll:
Dialogue
6. Another reach. Kasdan and Boyega were in top form. Better than anything in the prequels.
New aliens/creatures
7. Fair point. But BB-8 is a homerun.
Lack of tension/sense of danger in second half
8. Starkiller posed no serious threat/provided very little tension - agreed. The Rey/Kylo fight was wonderful though.
Perfect-in-every-way Rey
9. This remains to be seen.
Excessive amount of fan service/painfully self-aware winks to OT
10. To each his own. I didn't mind the fan service - apart from the meeting about Starkiller - that was truly awful. I dug Fett's orgin.

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Re: Star Wars

#296 Post by captveg » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:04 pm

The way I see it, TFA had one major job: re-establish the tone of the OT with new character types we can invest in going forward. That's why they hired Abrams, because he could deliver on that. The details matter little at this point because general audiences needed to have the fun factor delivered again for SW.

Most of the rest was intentionally left for Johnson to explore in VIII.

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Re: Star Wars

#297 Post by terabin » Mon Nov 28, 2016 2:07 am

I appreciate your passion MoonlitKnight and your dedication in sharing with us your grievances. You are certainly a greater Star Wars fan than I. However, for me, The Force Awakens was an exciting reintroduction to the Star Wars universe that gave us some compelling new characters, particularly Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. The action was compelling, the throwbacks to the original trilogy were emotional for me, and I watched the new movie with my family at Christmastime last year in Ketchum, ID, our first Christmas together as a family away from my childhood MN home. We loved it and couldn't ask for a more entertaining family film. This doesn't address your grievances in any way, but I merely want to share my experience of the new movie. I look forward to the next!

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#298 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat May 26, 2018 11:06 pm

What's innovative about Lucas' style? His action adventure set-pieces for example use classical film grammar. It's all pretty traditional. His images are indelible, that I will admit; but their construction and style isn't original. I'll admit his influence, but I think you're over-estimating his originality.

The assembly and construction of the modern blockbuster owes more to Michael Bay at this point than Lucas. Bay's careening, movement-oriented, montage action style is the de facto action style of the blockbuster. You can see it especially in the Marvel movies, all of which have the same action style. Bay has had more influence on the actual filmmaking style of modern-day blockbuster directors than about anyone.
hanshotfirst1138 wrote:Abrams doesn’t do it anywhere near as well as his idols did.
Lucas has never directed an action scene as exciting as any of the major set pieces in The Force Awakens, especially that one long take sequence half-way in. I'd be tempted to attribute that to different times, styles, available techniques, ect., but then there's Raiders, whose action scenes remain ten times as astonishing and thrilling as any blockbuster action scene created in the last ten years. Unlike Spielberg, Lucas just isn't much of an action director. He did fine, but the best action scene he ever directed was the anti-car chase in THX 1138, and that's precisely because it isn't traditionally exciting. And of course he proceeded to ruin it in the special edition.

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Re: Star Wars Franchise (1977-∞)

#299 Post by solaris72 » Sun May 27, 2018 9:19 am

Mr Sausage wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 11:06 pm
What's innovative about Lucas' style? His action adventure set-pieces for example use classical film grammar. It's all pretty traditional. His images are indelible, that I will admit; but their construction and style isn't original. I'll admit his influence, but I think you're over-estimating his originality.

The assembly and construction of the modern blockbuster owes more to Michael Bay at this point than Lucas. Bay's careening, movement-oriented, montage action style is the de facto action style of the blockbuster. You can see it especially in the Marvel movies, all of which have the same action style. Bay has had more influence on the actual filmmaking style of modern-day blockbuster directors than about anyone.
hanshotfirst1138 wrote:Abrams doesn’t do it anywhere near as well as his idols did.
Lucas has never directed an action scene as exciting as any of the major set pieces in The Force Awakens, especially that one long take sequence half-way in. I'd be tempted to attribute that to different times, styles, available techniques, ect., but then there's Raiders, whose action scenes remain ten times as astonishing and thrilling as any blockbuster action scene created in the last ten years. Unlike Spielberg, Lucas just isn't much of an action director. He did fine, but the best action scene he ever directed was the anti-car chase in THX 1138, and that's precisely because it isn't traditionally exciting. And of course he proceeded to ruin it in the special edition.
Agreeing with your general point, but rewatching the original Star Wars I found the climactic assault on the first Death Star to be as astonishing and exciting as anything in Raiders or Force Awakens. (Not really innovative, though.)

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