If at all there are few phrases that define Hollywood - May the force be with you - Star Wars, Live long and prosper - Star Trek, would be the two competing for the top slot. Both have their own legions of fanatics and are part of the American psyche and culture, which in turn have become the world's preferred one since the new millennium.
Of the two, the Star Wars franchise is probably one of the biggest in the world giving the James Bond series a run for its money. Considering that, it was a series built on the whims and fancies of George Lukas who in all his marketing wisdom did what Steve Jobs replicated with Apple way down the line - creating an audience market rather than catering to existing. If one watches "New Hope" the supposedly 4th part of the series which was released first in the 70's, they would be stumped to understand head or tail of it and even more how the heck the director convinced the production house to fund the project leave alone managing to cast a crew into accepting the script. Probably his good luck or a way to get out of the great depression's fallout, something made the series click. He went on to produce two more and suddenly decided to stop. My second favourite of the lot was the 5th of the series "Empire strikes back" which had a semblance of a story line. The final part "Return of Jedi" was an atrocious mockery of people's patience with what wouldn't have fitted into an episode of sitcom including ad breaks was prolonged into a full fledged movie. One fine morning, the franchise decided to kick start again and decided to do the story in reverse and hence came the First part "Phantom Menace" followed by the much criticised "Clone wars" and finally my personal favourite "Revenge of Sith" which incidentally was the first one I watched in the series.
Coming to the recent release "Force awakens" which is touted as the 7th instalment of the series. To put it in a single statement, its nothing but a rehash of a politically correct/current version of the "New Hope".
On a person to plot comparison between the two -
Luke Skywalker of New Hope as a matching lady lead in this version - probably attributed to the success of Hunger games and rise of Jenifer Lawrence. Will this lady who plays the lead be able to carry the franchise in subsequent parts remains to be seen but she does more than a neat job. Be it action, sentiment she is amazing. Her accent is something I have become smitten with.
Despite Harrison "the original Han Solo" Ford being present, to keep the franchise alive, the movie has a black "Han Solo" equivalent. It doesn't help the fact that Ford eventually gets killed in the end. Since its a spoiler please don't read the above sentence.
Darth Vader has an equivalent in the guy (apparently his grandson) who for some reason roams around in similar getup as Vader. At least Vader had a reason to be in that costume for he got badly disfigured. Why the heck this guys wears that Malayur Mambutiyaan Shawl and visor less helmet is LOK (Lucas only knows) or AOK (Abrams only knows) or whoever.
R2D2 the rolly polly robot has a Wall-E equivalent. Millennium Falcon makes the mandatory appearance. The death star war machine which is fell in "New Hope" by blasting through a tunnel thing, is exactly replicated in this version as well. Rest of the similarities being, instead of the Skywalker family, being at war with itself, with Son going after father, its the Han Solo clan in this episode with father going after son only to be killed by him in the end. Again spoiler alert. So don't read the previous sentence. Unlike the incestual hara-kiri of the previous episodes with Princess Leia lipping the guy who was revealed to be her twin (yuck) this time only nethi mutha between the lady Rey (skywalker??) and the black Solo. So guessing they may not get married in the next part!!
Despite being made 4 decades back, the sci-fi and graphics scenes of the initial package is unmatched in any of the subsequent series is my peeve. One couldn't quite imagine the effort behind those immensely huge physical sets and the imagination behind those space war scenes which are merely replicated in the latter portions. To me the essence of this enterprise is in its ability to make people forget for the fact that none of the story happens on earth but in a galaxy far far away. With movies like Gravity and Interstellar pushing the boundaries of make believe space fiction stories, probably I expected more out of this episode of what was truly the mother of all sci-fi movie series, ever. To give them the benefit of doubt, I hope the makers want to do a recap/brush up the current generation on the franchise to kick start from the next episode.
Gils verdict - Force awakens is already the biggest money churner of the franchise breaking all previously set opening day collection records. If the upcoming episodes are again going to be rehash of the same old stuff, the magic might not long last. May the force be with the script writers for a more original story line. Sambradhayapadi, a movie made for the big screen.
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