There were a lot of haters in the comments on Friday – here’s my counter point: IT WAS AWESOME!
That line I stood in for tickets back in October was worth it. We saw it in a packed house of excited fans – there was audible laughing, clapping, gasps, and a couple of sobbing spells. Everything you hope for in an opening weekend. It was awesome to be around a bunch of awestruck and excited kids seeing their first Star Wars movie in a theater – and that’s what Episode 7 is all about: handing things to the next generation.
5 things I Liked about Episode 7
1. It wasn’t a another Lucas snoozefest filled with painful dialog. Kasdan and Abrams wrote a good, fun script with just the right amount of action sequences and humor that doesn’t meander all over the place. It’s a nice blend of the Original Trilogy, and new elements like those great CG air battles. This movie is a Star Wars movie the whole family can watch together with elements that’ll appeal to kids for age 2 to 102.
2. Muppets and practical effects – there were a lot of them and they were great! Abrams and company understand that if you can manage to get a shot in camera you should do it. Need a shot of a parked X-Wing getting shot at in a desert? Build a 1:1 scale X-Wing and just enough desert and shoot it. It’ll look brilliant…
3. Casting! Casting! Casting! A new great, diverse cast – and some old favorites including Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels – that were totally into and excited about what they were doing. The polar opposite of watching interactions between Natalie Portman and whats-his-face in the prequels. It was refreshing.
4. Harrison Ford got his (death) wish for Han Solo. He got a hero’s death. Ford lobbied to have Solo die at the end of Jedi, and it didn’t happen. Ford walked out of interviews promoting Jedi when it was brought up because it made him livid. This script offered that, and in a way befitting the character Ford put so much care into. There’s been a lot of harrumphing from fans – but this is what the actor behind the iconic role wanted.
5. The “hidden” cameos… did you catch any of them? The Stormtrooper Rey uses her burgeoning Force powers on while in shackles…
… that was Daniel Craig aka the prettiest Storm Trooper in the First Order. While he was at Pinewood Studios filming Spectre Craig snuck over to the Episode 7 shoot and put on a Trooper uniform to get his Star Wars credit. When you watch it again – and you know you’re gonna – listen to the voice. It’ll become instantly apparent.
Other Stormtrooper cameos include JJ Abrams’ long time collaborator and composer Michael Giacchino as FN-3181; and Radiohead producer Nigel Goodrich as FN-9330. Ben Schwartz of Parks and Rec fame lent an emotive hand to BB-8’s bleeps and boops via a computerized voice box. Simon Pegg managed to find the time off from filming Star Trek: Beyond to throw on a padded suit to play short tempered junk buyer Unkar Plutt – and did a great job at being the greedy grump.
Now, it’s not perfect. It’s a bit formulaic, but it’s the Star Wars formula so I’m ok with that. I thought it was a blast… and I plan on seeing it again.
Let’s Talk Money
At the time of writing (Sunday night) Episode 7 has broken opening weekend box office records with a worldwide take of $517,000,000 – that shifts the first Avenger’s movie into spot 3, and it’s now in position to take over Avatar’s top spot ($2.9 billion) for worldwide theatrical release take. I think James Cameron is going to be booted.
What is your take? Did you like it, or do you think it’s garbage?
Did you spot any Easter Eggs? There were a bunch of them.