Film One of my prized possessions is a t-shirt which was given away free in Tesco shops with purchases of the VHS release of the Star Wars: Special Edition boxed set. Although the widescreen version I bought had a silver cover, this has the box logo from the golden pan and scan version, that's golden in colour rather than content of course. Unfortunately due to my girth I wasn't able to wear it then. Or to any of the subsequent releases of the prequels. But due to my recent weight loss (six stone and counting) (ten whole inches around the waist) it finally fits and sure enough there was really only one garment of clothing I could wear today.
I hadn't planned to see Star Wars's The FA today, hating crowds in cinemas and knowing that I'd end up sitting with some of the worse examples of film's patronage. But due to the number of spoilers or veiled spoilers already floating around online there wasn't much of a choice. Even this morning someone tweeted something which in mentioning a character name effectively gave away a huge happening somewhere in its duration. Sure enough I ended up sitting next to two people who provided a running commentary for its duration even after I'd quietly asked them to sush, partially spoiling the experience because of the connected internal monologue leading up to said sushing.
Not all franchise films are in this area of spoiler avoidance through immediate viewing. I'd say that neither of the Star Trek films, for example, really required being seen on the opening day apart from one particular unfortunate incident which wasn't spoilt at all for me beforehand. The MARVEL films similarly have easily waited until some way into the first release week. Outside franchises, I managed to entirely avoid Gone Girl right through to the blu-ray release. As we've discussed before, quite often all I like to really know about a film is on the poster, though I have seen the trailers for all of next year's big franchise releases, what with them being thrown up before Star Wars.
After sitting with my hood up for the duration to also block out my neighbour's gesticulating and nervous foot movement, I got the gist of The FA, more than that, I utterly adored the film and everything it's trying to do within its own limits. The are moments of true wonder not simply in how JJ Abrams manages to distill all the elements which made the sacred trilogy sing but also in terms of the epic, gobsmacking bigness of the visuals. This is a film which will bare the multiple viewings it will be receiving in a way that few space films rarely do these days even when the art department is at their most proficient.
Some notes. No major spoilers but if you want to avoid knowing ANYTHING, STOP READING NOW.
(1) On a purely dispassionate level, it's possible to grasp towards suggesting I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy more as piece of entertainment and that a lot of The FA is about revisiting old characters and a world and sustaining itself through that. But given the choice and if I had GotG and The FA in front of me, I'd want to watch the latter again,
(2) Oh Carrie Fisher. For years Carrie Fisher has felt like the Tom or Eccleston of the Star Wars franchise and if there was ever to be a figure who might not turn up for a sequel (just as they didn't for anniversary Doctor Who) it would be her. Well there she is on the poster and embracing the everything of it and in the film she's really, really great, like Harrison Ford, logically picking up her character all these years later. Her presence alone applies a validity to the project which the other actors wouldn't necessarily because their attitude to those old film hasn't been as severe and sarcastic.
(3) The secondary and supporting cast is hilariously stacked. Part of the fun of the thing is simply in looking out for all the cameos and day players - in places it resembles All Star Record Breakers or one of Woody Allen's European films. There's one scene in which a particularly renowned senior actress is called upon to do a thing which might be in the top five funniest screen moments this year. You'll spend a lot of The FA saying (in your head) "Oh that's thingy off of whatnot..."
(4) There's not one duff new character. Some are in it less than you'd imagine from the trailer but clearly they've planned out the sequels so everyone gets a chance to shine.
(5) Abrams and Kasden and Pegg and whoever else worked on the script have deliberately kept some of the geopolitical details of the world vague, perhaps as a reaction to the prequels which spent half their dialogue on route talk and explanations on how the senate was structured. Lucas was clearly trying to do something different with the prequels in terms of high melodrama and making a space version of the Hollywood sandal epics crossed with modern wuxia (rather than westerns and classical wuxia (definition of wuxia) of the sacred trilogy) which made such discussions about the nature of things inherent in their DNA for better or worse, but it's refreshing to be watching a film in which the audience is left to try and piece together the space the characters inhabit.