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The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 24 – They Made Another One?

The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 24 – They Made Another One?

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So. The time has come. It’s been out for a while, so spoilers can no longer be spoiled. I feel the freedom to discuss it at-length, and I’m going to do just that. You guessed it, this blog is going to be all about my feelings on the movie of the decade: Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

What? There was another movie that came out that day? Oh yeah, I saw The Force Awakens, too. I guess I can talk about that, if you’d prefer. OK, fine, I haven’t actually seen Sisters yet, but I hear it’s funny. So, Star Wars it is. SPOILERS AHEAD!

First off, let me say that I had set my expectations to what I thought was a reasonable level. I know people who were frothing at the mouth (Dan) and people who were convinced it was going to be awful (Name Withheld To Protect Reputation). I was somewhere in the middle. Guardedly optimistic. Fairly certain it would be fun. Conscious of the fact that it would probably NOT be the experience I had as a kid seeing them all for the first time. As it happens, I was half-right! Maybe three-quarters. We’ll get to that.

My experience was this: I saw the film at 7 pm on Thursday the 17th, with my girlfriend and her daughter. This made the experience very memorable. They were there for me more than the movie, but they both DID want to see it, and that meant a lot to me. We saw it at Alamo Draft House, which is a great venue. The entire audience sang the 20th Century Fox Fanfare before they started the film, it is a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Then, the lights went down, and the movie started. The opening sequence had me ready to cheer. Poe Dameron’s exchange with Kylo Ren was the perfect announcement that, yes, this IS Star Wars as we remember, but it’s Star Wars for a new generation, with a bit of snark mixed in to the wonder. And it worked!  From that point forward, I was along for the ride. Every moment swept me along, like the current of a river, which is how Star Wars works best. J.J. Abrams did the job he was hired to do. He gave me and my friends Star Wars, and he made it accessible to the 11-year-old next to me at the same time.

I’ll list my complaints now, so that I can end this review on a positive note, because my reaction was ultimately overwhelmingly positive. Firstly, I was whelmed by the score. Not UNDERwhelmed, but not OVERwhelmed. Just whelmed. Which is not what I wanted from a John Williams Star Wars score. “Rey’s Theme” is outstanding, but I found myself responding more to the cues I recognized than the new material. In any other film, it would have been acceptable, but Star Wars isn’t any other film. It didn’t ruin the experience at all, but I have yet to rush out to buy the soundtrack.

Secondly, Starkiller Base was TOO reminiscent of the first Death Star. And the second Death Star. Come on, guys, try something new if you want to strike fear into the galaxy, because these superweapons just ain’t doing the trick. Not only did it seem derivative and uninspired from a creative standpoint, it didn’t work for me on a logical level. Would the First Order have really come up with this as their best idea, having seen something VERY similar be tried and to be found wanting twice before?  Again, it didn’t affect my enjoyment, it just did not ring true for me.

Lastly, MORE POE! I love Oscar Isaac’s work in this film, and I just wanted more of him. Here’s hoping he has an expanded role in Episode IX, because I would watch him carry an entire film. That’s a small complaint, but I needed to express it.

Those were my only complaints, which should tell you that I loved, loved, LOVED this movie. It was so much fun!!!! The only other complaint I have is that this film felt like the prologue to a story rather than the first chapter. It isn’t satisfying as a stand-alone film, but that’s not what it was designed to be, so that isn’t really a valid complaint. I loved the costumes, the set design, and the effects. The real treasure here, though, is the cast. Yes, it was great seeing the original cast, but I’m more excited about seeing what happens with the new characters. Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyega are phenomenal actors who will take us on some amazing journeys in the next few years, and I cannot wait to spend more time with them.

Back to my day-of-experience: We all know what happens at the end. Han Solo gets gutted by his son. Anyone who knows me knows that Han Solo is my favorite character of all time, from any source of fiction. When it happened, I felt 2 sets of eyes turn and look at me. I was seated between the ladies who joined me, and they were both VERY concerned about my reaction. After 2 minutes of me staring silently forward, my girlfriend leaned over and whispered, “Are you ok?” I responded with “I will be, let’s just watch the movie.”  I’ll be honest, the death of my childhood hero tainted my original viewing. I couldn’t believe that’s all I would get of my old friend. I was borderline devastated. It was a gut-punch to be sure. I knew my final opinion would hinge on my 2nd viewing the next day. Would I enjoy the film more when I knew what was going to happen?

I did. I saw it in IMAX 3D on Friday the 18th, and it was so much fun. When the time came for “the scene” I just soaked it all up. It works. The film works. The moment works. The aftermath, with Chewie losing it and just blasting everything in sight just makes me feel exactly what he’s feeling, and it breaks my heart. As it should. “Why did Han have to die” I was thinking the night before. The next day, I realized why. Without that moment, this is “The Reboot of Star Wars” and it carries very little weight. With this moment, this becomes “The One Where Han Solo Dies” and it means something. It changes the universe. It lets us know that nobody is safe. And it lets us know that the next generation is the one that will decide the fate of the galaxy. Forgive my Star Trek reference, it was entirely accidental.

A lot of people are upset that The Force Awakens isn’t up for Best Picture. I’m ok with that. Star Wars was nominated, but didn’t win, and we are still watching it and feeling its effect to this day. Star Wars doesn’t need the Oscars. The only Oscar that Star Wars needs is Oscar Isaac. And it needs more of him.

So, those are my thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Please comment, and let’s discuss. And please, be respectful. There’s no reason for any discussion of Star Wars to ever be anything but fun.

Until next time, May the Force of Others be with us all.

Jeff can be heard weekly on Assembly of Geeks (www.assemblyofgeeks.com) and on his own podcast network, MarvinDog Media (www.MarvinDogMedia.com) where he hostsThe Pilot EpisodeTalking Toys with Taylor and Jeff, and Bantha Banter: A Star Wars Chat Show. He is also co-host of Comics With Kenobi with fellow CWK blogger Matt Moore, and part-time co-host for Coffee With Kenobi, which you have already found if you’re reading this blog. You can contact Jeff at jeffm@coffeewithkenobi.com.

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