RESURRECTING THE FORCE: The New Star Wars Blows Away Expectations


DETROIT, MI – I used to be one of the biggest Star Wars geeks on Planet Earth. I was one of the original fans back in 1977 when the film first opened.  In fact, I was turned away no less than four times because the film had sold out and the theater was packed. I didn’t end up seeing the movie until October that year, (the movie originally opened in May).  Obviously this was long before the web so getting any kind of information about the film was next to impossible. You had to either see it or talk to someone who has seen it. You might get some insight at the newsstand or in comic book adaptations but nothing really did the experience justice.

That being said the new trailers for, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” really didn’t do the film any justice either and I was glad for that. The new film is far more explosive and interesting than I originally gave it credit for. This is Chapter 7 and takes place after, “The Return of the Jedi” and true to form it didn’t look like anything I really expected. But then again that is the case for all of the Star Wars films in the series. Just when you think you have that whole Universe figured out they throw you a curve ball and there are plenty of them here. The force is disrupted by the Dark Side with Dark Vader’s successor Kylo Ren. The evil galactic empire is back up to its old tricks.

Disney has taken over the franchise and has breathed new life into it. I had my doubts whether or not this would even work but it does fall into the original ideology of the series creator, George Lucas. He originally wanted this to be a new type of mythology for new generations to come. Even back in 1977 there was talk about this series being a total of nine films which at the time seemed overly ambitious. I was on board for that even back then but then the films never came until much later. So as kids we had to seek out our Star Wars thrills via, “The Star Wars Holiday Special” on CBS and various video games created for the Atari 2600. It almost seemed that this was a product of the 70’s and early 80’s. One reason for the long wait was Lucas himself. I had read in a PC magazine that he wanted technology to catch up to his vision which, if true, would explain for the decades long wait.

So is it worth it? The fans cry out in unison yes! In fact, the new film has generated 1 Billion in ticket sales in just twelve days which has to be an industry record of some kind. The film is clunky like the first Star Wars: A New Hope and is also gloriously violent. The movie doesn’t hold back on the laser beams and soldiers getting totally blasted away. I am reminded when Lucasfilm actually toned the violence down in particular the effects of fire explosions on the Imperial commanders in the Death Star scenes. Apparently, the 90’s audience was too sensitive for the films’ original brutality. I am glad to report that is not the case in this film. It is full on…. WOW.

This film has to speak to the new audience in such a way that will continue the franchises growth. The characters are of simple development upon the first viewing. But there are complexities within them that might not be relevant at first. The empire has reformed to look for remaining sole Jedi, Luke Skywalker in hopes of destroying him. But there is a new awakening in the mysterious soft spoken female lead character Rey. She has talents and a power that is strong in the force and that is recognized by the new villain in black Kylo Ren. But he is not totally confident and fully trained into his emersion in the dark arts. And there are times, although not appropriate to the new hardcore fans, I am reminded of Rick Moranis in, “Spaceballs”. Although the humor of course is purely unintentional.

The battle sequences are nothing but spectacular and one must see them on the IMAX in 3D to get the total geek effect.  It is interesting to see what one of these films looks like a literally unlimited budget. It is also interesting to see the complex reintroduction of the original trilogy characters including Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. The pace of the film is really well played out and is very endurable despite the fact that it runs close to three hours. The film actually feels like it runs for a lot longer due to the epic nature of the plot.

What is most enticing for the fans has to be the nature of the force. The evil guys are really super evil and the good guys are really fighting for something good, pure and noble. To put it bluntly they really hate each other and try their best to eliminate one another.

One of the most interesting scenes is where the entire empire is gathered outside in some sort of assembly. It screams Nazi Germany and the Leni Riefenstahl film, “Triumph of the Will”. The gathering includes Imperial Stormtroopers, guards, standing in multiple rows, and fleets of Tie Fighters. The large red flags behind the podium screams Third Reich and I couldn’t help but notice the weather was snowy outside. This reminded me of what Albert Speer referred to as, “The Cathedral of Light” which was meant to inspire, bring awe and terror to the world.

The film has many twists and turns in it and I won’t give away any spoiler alerts. But this wasn’t quite the experience I had expected. To be honest since 1983, I had no idea what to really expect but director JJ Abrams has managed to pull it off and bring excitement back to the series. The film is very open ended and the new characters are interesting enough to care about them.





Echo And The Bunnymen - Saint Andrews Hall, Detroit - Concert Review >>>

  Echo and the Bunnymen Meteorites - Live at Saint Andrews Hall - Detroit, Michigan 2014
Echo and the Bunnymen Meteorites - Live at Saint Andrews Hall - Detroit, Michigan 2014
  Echo and the Bunnymen Meteorites - Live at Saint Andrews Hall - Detroit, Michigan 2014
Echo and the Bunnymen Meteorites - Live at Saint Andrews Hall - Detroit, Michigan 2014
  Echo and the Bunnymen Meteorites - Live at Saint Andrews Hall - Detroit, Michigan 2014
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“A VISUAL ASSAULT: REM Dissected Scene By Scene

The bottom video was shot in 1989 and is the closest thing I could find to what the original show opener was like in 1987. This was a departure for REM as much as it was for the audience. Just when you thought you knew the band they changed on you in a new and exciting way. It would take some time to recognize them once again. In the case of, “Document” the album had to grow on me. I noticed this sort of thing happening with the Smiths too.

There was one sequence in the video, not shown in this edition, when the words – “Want” and “Need” come on screen. The words flipped interchangeably and morphed into a strobe that said, “Need Weed” and I remember the crowd going a bit wild over that. This was Ann Arbor after all. There is some talk about the set list being accurate. I do not believe, “Orange Crush” or “Pop Song 89” was performed in 1987. Those songs were released after REM went to Warner Brothers. “Document” was the last album created under the I.R.S. Records label.

There is another version of, “The One I Love” done on the live tour. Stipe starts out with a slow intro and for a minute I thought the whole song would be done slow. It then kicks into the tempo we all know. The stage was also bathed in an eerie red light. How this song got perceived as a love song I’ll never know. It was about a sick love obsession.

Over the years I hear the young kids go, “Oh who cares about that stuff, REM was long before my time.” Trust me, you wish you were there. This show was nothing but historic.

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Echo and the Bunnymen - Meteorites at the Metro in Chicago, Illinois and Detroit

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