Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars: Starkiller Base and Death Star

Star Wars: Force Awakens Repeats Previous Star Wars Plots


Starkiller Base and the Death Star

Not again. Hollywood has a penchant for sticking to tried and true formulas. This is exactly why franchises are born, whether that be an expansion of the Harry Potter or Star Wars universes. Building on a loved and cherished movie is extremely profitable given the existence of a loyal fan base. Look at the box office numbers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and this point is proved immediately.

But the problem arises when a movie’s plot relies on formulas excessively. While the new Star Wars movie is one that I particularly enjoyed, it does tend to rely on an over-familiar narrative direction. I’m referring to Starkiller Base, or Death Star 2.0, or is it 3.0? 

The nefarious First Order in the Force Awakens has constructed a gargantuan solar system destroyer, which in itself is a planet. It ultimately serves as a modified, evolved version of the Empire’s Death Star. The first Death Star was finished after the Clone Wars and was able to destroy a planet with its primary weapon. Then in the movie The Empire Strikes Back, it was demolished by Luke Skywalker. Then there was the reconstruction of the Death Star as Death Star II, but before it was put into action, The Millennium Falcon saw to its end. 

And then this year, with The Force Awakens, we had the Starkiller Base, which was able to not only obliterate a single planet but an entire solar system.  It is simply a bigger and badder Death Star. Starkiller Base represents a significant flaw in the Hollywood blockbuster system, which mirrors the studios’ approach to extending franchise life cycles: sticking with the material that worked. 

My first impression upon seeing Starkiller Base was, “Really? Another Death Star?” I’m a fan of nostalgic movie moments, which The Force Awakens provides in ample doses with throwbacks. But here, with Starkiller Base, I got the impression that the writers hit some form of brick wall and decided to resuscitate the Death Star because they ran out of ideas. A shortcut to getting out of writer’s block. 

This poses some significant problems for the future Star Wars installments. In a trilogy, the natural progression of the story requires the stakes to rise with each passing movie. A prime example is with Lord of the Rings. In Two Towers, you had the battle at Helms Deep. In Return of the King, the battled moved up to Minas Tirith and for the overall fate of Middle Earth in front of the Gates of Mordor. 

With the news Star Wars trilogy, the writer’s opted to go big from the get-go with a superior Death Star from Episode VII itself. They also destroyed it in that very same episode. So what next? Is Episode VIII or IX likely to see an even bigger Death Star, 4.0? I mean, you already had a solar system destroying weapon, so how are the stakes going to be raised even further? 

I conjecture that the story will instead opt to raise the emotional stakes and complexity of the new trilogy. Already, The Force Awakens displayed more nuance when it came to the Light and Dark sides of the force than any of the previous movies. This was done effectively with Kylo Ren, though I felt at times he was another rendition of the pouty Anakin Skywalker. Personal conflict will probably take the spotlight in the upcoming movies as opposed to another mammoth weapon of mass destruction. The way Force Awakens ended, Ren was on his way to Supreme Leader Snoke (Darth Plagueis?) to complete his training, while Rey was also likely to be trained by Luke Skywalker. The two will then face off in the final installment while dealing with the emotional baggage surrounding either, Ren having killed his father and Rey trying to figure out who the hell she is. 

This is where I see the future heading, and I can’t contemplate another Death Star of any kind. If Snoke is indeed Plagueis, though, then there’s some interesting material to cover with his apparent power to be immortal, as the last time I checked, Darth Sidius poisoned Plagueis in his sleep.

Side Note: Another point of plot regurgitation was the eventual Sith Apprentice killing off an entire group of young Padawan. In Revenge of the Sith, that task was handled by Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker. This time round, the child-killer responsibilities fell to Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren.

star wars first order starkiller base
The First Order at Starkiller Base

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Insurgent Movie: Pros and Cons

Insurgent Shailene Woodley Theo James Miles Teller
Theo James, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley
Insurgent is hardly a great movie to watch, but I have recently begun a habit of trying to find even the smallest redeeming qualities a movie may have. Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent, based on a series of books where mankind has been reduced to a system of factions, which are now in a state of anarchy following a blooming power struggle. So here goes. What are Insurgent's pros and cons?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Watch Snowpiercer?

Tilda Swinton Snowpiercer
Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer is a post-apocalyptic movie where human life is confined to a single, moving train. Mankind attempted to curb global warming by releasing a manufactured chemical known as CW-7, but it only had the effect of creating the next ice age, and the only people left alive live aboard a train that is in perpetual motion. So why watch Snowpiercer?