Official STAR WARS Saga (episodes I to VII) Discussion Thread: Part 5

Sam Favate

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Yesterday we watched The Force Awakens, which does a nice job of bringing the series back after a long absence. But a big problem is JJ Abrams’ style of storytelling, which is to explain as little as possible to the audience. That doesn’t work well in Star Wars. What happened in the 30 years after the second Death Star was destroyed? Did the Empire’s secular governors and military fill the void left by the Emperor? Who is Rey? Why is she in the Skywalker saga? Where’d that damn lightsaber come from? We still don’t know. I guess some people like that kind of storytelling but I find it infuriating. Equally frustrating to me is Abrams’ penchant for killing off characters. As I’ve said a million times, death is easy drama and it’s become so commonplace now (thanks in large part to shows like Abrams’ Lost) that it’s lost all of its shock appeal. It’s routine now. All that aside, this is a well made film, with good locations, characters and effects. (But, really, how many desert planets are we going to see in Star Wars? Doesn’t anyone in a city or a suburb use the Force? In a galaxy of billions or trillions of people, we’ve scarcely seen any thriving civilizations.)

The deleted scenes are nice, but at 4 minutes total, there’s not much there. The most character-driven moment is Kylo Ren inspecting the Millennium Falcon.

We’ll finish our 12 days of Star Wars tomorrow. It’s been an absolute joy to watch this with the kids.
 

Bryan^H

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But a big problem is JJ Abrams’ style of storytelling, which is to explain as little as possible to the audience. That doesn’t work well in Star Wars. What happened in the 30 years after the second Death Star was destroyed? Did the Empire’s secular governors and military fill the void left by the Emperor? Who is Rey? Why is she in the Skywalker saga? Where’d that damn lightsaber come from? We still don’t know. I guess some people like that kind of storytelling but I find it infuriating. Equally frustrating to me is Abrams’ penchant for killing off characters. As I’ve said a million times, death is easy drama and it’s become so commonplace now (thanks in large part to shows like Abrams’ Lost) that it’s lost all of its shock appeal.
You just summed up perfectly why I hated TFA. I don't understand the death for drama in mega budget action movies. It works in dramatic features but always felt out of place to me in these huge popcorn type films to me. Also is a huge buzzkill.
 
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Chris Will

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You know, I think as the years go by, TLJ will age better than TFA. I know, I know, people hate TLJ but, I think it's storytelling is much better than TFA. There's better drama, better character moments and even the dreaded casino sub-plot shows a side of the universe we've never seen. Then again, I may be completely wrong because I love TLJ (it's my 3rd favorite film in the series).

We’ll finish our 12 days of Star Wars tomorrow. It’s been an absolute joy to watch this with the kids.
My kids and I are planning to watch the whole saga leading up to the release of TROS. We do Friday movie nights and starting in October, each Friday is going to be a different SW film. We are excluding the 2 spin-off because I don't consider them part of the saga.
 
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Sam Favate

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Today we did The Last Jedi and concluded our “12 Days of Star Wars.” The Last Jedi, for me, isn’t a satisfactory experience. Visually, it’s different from the other films. The scenes in space are much darker than all the previous films, so much so that it’s hard to get a clear picture of the Dreadnaught in the beginning and other ships during the film. Even films like The Phantom Menace, which strike a different tone and feel wrong in that regard, are the same visually. For the record, I applaud the movie for many of the reasons the Internet idiots hated it: I love Rey as the central character, and that the other main characters are a black man, an Asian woman, and a Hispanic man.

My objection concerns the storytelling. Johnson did his best to subvert fan expectations, but in ways that make the story less interesting. Rey’s parentage is a big deal, and having her be “nobody” isn’t good storytelling. The central conflict of the film concerns the slowest chase in the galaxy, while Star Wars films were always about speed. Also, the fighting among the rebels is just dumb. If Laura Dern’s character had simply confided in her team, Rose and Finn wouldn’t have gone off on a mission that went nowhere and ultimately cost lives. I didn’t much care for the characterization of Luke. I thought the best relationship in the movie was between Rose and her sister. I also thought Rose was the most refreshing thing about the movie. She may be a “nobody” but she displays the kind of heart we look for in our heroes. The movie, like Episode VII, suffers from not relating to classic mythology the way the other films did. Those were Joseph Campbell archetypes, and that’s missing here.

It has some good set pieces and Rey is a delightful central character, even if she doesn’t have as much of a hero’s journey as, say, Luke in Empire. Also, the rebels have always been underdogs, but this movie had them so overpowered that even their meager survival was implausible. The entire rebellion fits in the Millennium Falcon? Come on. My main problem is the writing and the fact that there’s no overarching story planned on the level of Kathleen Kennedy. I hope the entire saga can be tied together for the finale this December. These movies deserve an epic ending that explains the inconsistencies that have come up throughout the films. It can be done, but I’m not sure Abrams is the man for the job. But if anyone can pay off the mysteries he laid in Episode VII, it’s him.

None of this takes away from the wonderful experience the kids and I had. Asked what they learned about the movies from these 12 (non consecutive) days, one said, “I learned that Star Wars is awesome.” The other said “it was amazing” (though he said it as “a-maaaay-zing!”).

We still have to do the deleted scenes from TLJ, so I’ll chime in when we do.
 
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SamT

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Disney+ version of A New Hope changes iconic Star Wars scene

The famous and much-debated “Han shot first” cantina scene in 1977’s A New Hope where Harrison Ford‘s smuggler faces down bounty hunter Greedo has apparently been re-edited for Disney+. Before Han fires, Greedo now not only shoots first but also shouts — and this is real — what sounds like … “Maclunkey!“
Seems they are still changing the original movies. Strange, Lucas left, who is still touching the movies?
 

Sam Favate

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Disney+ version of A New Hope changes iconic Star Wars scene
Seems they are still changing the original movies. Strange, Lucas left, who is still touching the movies?
They said this was done before Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012. And if I recall, didn’t the 2011 Blu-ray have this specific change? Pretty sure it did, which makes this old news. (Not blaming you, Sam, I’ve seen this reported everywhere today.)
 

SamT

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This is not old news. This is news.

We can assume it has been vetted if it is posted on Entertainment Weekly. To be sure I just rechecked my Bluray and that scene is not there.
 

WillG

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One not so good looking thing is that it seems with Disney+ is that we’re getting lousy player generated subtitles.
 

Edwin-S

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There are a lot of options for how a person wants the subtitles to look. A person is not stuck with the default subtitles if they want to take the time and see if they can make them look more to one's taste.
 

SamT

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The thing that is very annoying and sloppy work is the new shot is badly framed and Greedo doesn't sound like Greedo. And when you look you see that it is a repeat and zoomed in shot of just 2 seconds ago. Unbelievably bad. Can't imagine even a fan doing this in their bedroom.
 

Chris Will

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Just cut the scene at this point. That would be less offense than continually making it worse and worse wit changes. All the info in the same is provided in the added Jabba scene anyway.

I have been finally listening to TFA commentary track, thanks to someone pointing out it was available as an extra on Movies Anywhere. You know what, I'm not sure JJ Abrams meant for the Rey parent mystery to as big a deal as fans made it out to be. The way he talks about Rey in the commentary and the choices they made for the character were all about creating isolation. They wanted her to be alone, abandoned and in search of something more, even if she didn't really know it. Meeting BB-8, Finn, Han and and Chewie become her family. The "forceback", as Abrams called it, was meant just to be her first step into the world of the Force, not some mystery creating flashback. The shot of her as a child was to show her isolation again and that it was her own cries she heard in the stairwell.

This may be hogwash but, it makes the answer in TLJ work because her parents were never meant to be a big deal. IDK, just a thought.
 

MattBradley

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Just wanted to send a shout-out to the Han Solo vs Tobias Beckett scene in Solo where Han blows him away before Tobias can draw his weapon. Nice nod to the original Greedo scene.
 

SamT

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Special effects pioneer Dennis Muren reveals things you didn't know about the Death Star attack.

What’s perhaps “most impressive” about the sequence is how well it all holds up. There have been plenty of space dogfight scenes since then, including in Star Wars films, but most fans agree the Death Star run remains the best with its painstaking use of models rather than computer effects. The ships feel like they’re really there, and the perfect editing by Marcia Lucas ratchets the drama and suspense.

Muren gave some reasons why CG just often doesn’t look as convincing as the old school techniques. “I was shooting everything [myself], now elements are being animated by separate people — you might get one person doing the background and another doing the ship flying in it, and the person doing the ship doesn’t have much connection to the background so you’ve lost any authorship of the shot,” he says. “Also, the [CGI] models might not have the right sheen on them, there’s not enough scale, the shading might not be right or the edges might be too sharp — that’s a constant problem with computer graphics. Another thing is, I spent an incredible amount of attention on giving a sense of weight to the camera while it was flying around looking at the ships and how the ships were flying. They were always flying and banking like real airplanes — that’s not done as much in CG, because the guys doing it don’t really have the time or even know if that’s important. I was following the laws of physics and inertia and weight.”


 

Chuck Mayer

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Today marks the 15th Anniversary of Revenge of the Sith AND the 21st Anniversary of The Phantom Menace. TPM can finally drink in the U.S.! I’m not the biggest PT fan, although these are the two tolerable entries. I have a soft spot for both, each for different reasons (sadly, no such soft spot exists for AotC). The buildup to TPM was certainly something special, and I’m glad the Liam Neesons got to be a Jedi for at least one movie. There was a real sense of mystery about the film for a while. RotS was the end of Lucas’ story, and contained all of the elements that fans had wanted to see in the PT. And there remain some moments of consequence and meaning in the film. And it continued the trend of Ewan being eminently enjoyable and adventurous in the series. I’m not particularly interested in a reappraisal, but the Disney films made me appreciate the individuality of the PT, the shagginess, and the fresh design work, a little bit more. So, happy anniversaries.
 

SamT

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The Phantom Menace has the best score by far. It's magical. John Williams couldn't do the same for the next 2 movies.
 

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