Monday, December 21, 2015

The Important Bits of Star Wars:The Force Awakens - THE FIGHTS! (A Review)

I saw the new Star Wars movie over the weekend, and I want to talk about the important bits.

Which are, of course, the fight scenes.

Image found here.
Hold up.

There's gonna be a few spoilers here, people.  I'll avoid the big ones and the huge plot points - can you believe that... um... never mind... but I'll have to discuss a few details.  So if you haven't seen the movie and want to be 100% spoiler free, you should skip this post.

Okay, you're warned.

So lots of other people will review the plot (and the plot holes - there are some big ones), the characters, and all of the action.   I won't go into those details here.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  For me, it comes in a close second to "The Empire Strikes Back".

Yeah.  It's that good.

My primary need for films like this is to be entertained.  Did I have a good time, was I ever pulled out of the magic of the movie by weird plot holes, or bad acting/dialog, or nonsensical things happening?  Were the fight scenes wildly unrealistic or silly or would totally get someone killed?

Given that so many of our fanboys and girls think movie fighting is real fighting, it's always something that's on my mind - the realism of the fight scenes.

I only have one major quibble with this movie - the political world doesn't make any sense if you give it any thought at all.  But it fulfilled those primary considerations - I never had to work hard to suspend my disbelief, and the fast pace and really great acting and dialog was fantastic.

Overall, the movie was much more natural and "lived in" than we've come to expect in the Star Wars universe (even more so than most of the "original" movies, with the exception of the "Empire Strikes Back", which is very natural).  There's tons of humor but it isn't forced or heavy handed.  There's plenty of stuff kids will like - my 6 year old was very happy - but it doesn't pander to them.  It moves quickly, there's tons of tension... it's everything you want in a good Star Wars film.

I love the "new generation" protagonists - Rey and Finn.  I especially like Finn's arc, and can't wait to learn more about him.  Rey's origins are mysterious, and I have my own theory on who she is, but hubby disagrees.

But let's get to the fights.  Not the gun battles - the fights.

I really liked the fights.

Oh, it was so nice not to have tons of gymnastics and flipping about and spinning and junk!  These were still theatrical fights - if your eye is trained you'll spot the holes - but they were basic, practical, and realistic (well, as realistic as a film with a lightsaber can be, I guess).

Take Rey's fight against two thugs on Jakku.  She has what is essentially a jo, although she wields it more like a bo in sections (necessarily, I think, as the space she's in isn't that large).  No spinning, no jumping around, just hitting the bad guys with her big stick, and she struggled vs. two opponents, as a person would.

Finn's fight with a lightsaber against Kylo Ren - he does it twice - I found a little less... believable, if only because Finn is an untrained storm trooper - he at one points begs to find a blaster.  Perhaps it's supposed to underscore Finn's heroic nature (even if he did try to flee the First Order).  Kylo Ren is trained.  He should have killed Finn in seconds, unless he was just playing with him.  I enjoyed the fights - they were basic and brutal - but that is the one thing I struggled with just a bit.

Rey's fight against Kylo Ren with a lightsaber was far more believable, even if you account for her mysterious connection to the force.  We'd already seen her fight with the jo/bo thing, and she did a lot of poking/stabbing motions that reminded me of what I've learned with jo.  She's (practically) trained in a long hand weapon, so it made a lot more sense that she'd be able to go toe to toe with Ren, even if she was unfamiliar with the lightsaber itself.

I also liked Ren's fighting style.  It was far more European, which went with the type of lightsaber he has.

So if you've seen the movie - what did you think of the fight scenes?  Of course, I'll be happy to geek out over the whole film with you if you like.