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Star Wars: Is the Magic Gone?

by Greg Krehbiel on 28 December 2017

I finally saw the new Star Wars movie. If you haven’t, don’t worry. There are no spoilers here.

When I saw the first Star Wars (meaning episode 4), it was magical. It starts off with an enormous space ship. We see battles in space. Talking droids. Desert planets. The force. Light sabers. Strange creatures.

It was a new world, and it was intoxicating. Everything was amazing.

Then in episode 5 we got ice planets and cloud cities. We started to realize the power of the empire, the drama of the force, the evil of Darth Vader, and the hopelessness of the resistance. Again, it was magical. Another world.

The recent episodes aren’t breaking new ground in any of those ways. They’re pushing the story along, which is good, and I enjoy a good story. But … I’m not amazed any more, and the story was never the real magic of Star Wars to begin with.

The magic of Star Wars was that it was epic. It was big. It was fantastic. It made you sit back and think, “Wow.”

Now it seems they’re content to live off old capital and tweak the edges of things. Here’s another desert planet. Here’s another ice planet. Here’s another lush, green, wet planet. Here’s another really big star ship with a scary weapon. Oh … and here’s another cute creature to sell merchandise.

None of that is bad. I enjoyed the movie, and I understand that when you have a formula that works, it’s smart to keep with it.

It’s just not magical any longer.

2017-12-28  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 16

  1. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    28 December 2017 @ 11:09 am

    Regarding magical, I wonder about the magic kingdom. Since Disney now owns the Star Wars franchise, I would bet that tomorrowland is going to get a major facelift.

    My prediction is that it will be awesome, and then Disneyland and Disney World will be attracting an older crowd who want to escape to a world from long long ago and far away.

  2. pentamom
    28 December 2017 @ 1:08 pm

    Good analysis. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but that’s pretty much been true since the first trilogy ended. They’re watchable, fun movies, but the WOW factor is gone and there is no way ever to get it back again.

    Even if Jackson hadn’t botched the Hobbit movies so badly, that would also have been a problem with them as well. He did WOW with Lord of the Rings, but the WOW was used up for the Hobbit.

  3. Scott Wicker
    28 December 2017 @ 2:34 pm

    I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since ‘Return of the Jedi’ came out in 1983, and I’m sure I haven’t missed anything.

  4. Robin R.
    28 December 2017 @ 4:33 pm

    I haven’t seen any Star Wars movie at all. I do, however, remember an undergraduate philosophy student presenting a paper that was inspired by the first one. Total goofiness!

  5. William
    28 December 2017 @ 4:48 pm

    I’ve had the opposite experience. I wasn’t a fan of the franchise, at all. Actually, I fell asleep the first time I seen Episode IV. For me, it was right up there with Star Trek…boring! 🙂 Therefore, I didn’t bother seeing the series and didn’t understand all the hoopla.

    Fast forward, as a youth, my son asked to see it. So begrudgingly, I invested in the full DVD set and we watched together. Somehow, years later, it all made sense and with each new episode, I was further intrigued and invested. I think we binged watched nearly 30 years of movie history over a couple of weekends. Much to my surprise, I found “The Force Awakens” (2015) was one of my favorites.

    For me, time has served to make each movie successively more fascinating (inclusive of improved graphics), despite merely being a different spin on a familiar narrative. To carry on our tradition, my son and I are going to see the new movie this weekend. So, unless it’s a total dud, I suspect I will still find some “wow” elements.

    Oh yeah, years later, I’m now a Trek fan too…another father/son favorite. Who knew? 😉

  6. William
    3 January 2018 @ 11:11 am

    Now having seen the movie, I’d say this critc’s comments summarizes my take…”when the salt settles, we are left with neither triumph nor tragedy; instead, it’s one more chapter in the continuing saga, punctuated by a few moments of genuine awe”.

  7. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    3 January 2018 @ 11:14 am

    In a lot of ways it’s a copy of Empire Strikes Back.

  8. William
    3 January 2018 @ 11:40 am

    The story was reminiscent of several others within the franchise. The casino scene reminded me of the visit to the Cantina in the first movie. Despite the familiarity, I found it quite intriguing, entertaining and worth the 2.5 hours. As well, I enjoyed the brief moments of sarcasm and humor. I’d watch it again.

  9. Robin R.
    3 January 2018 @ 11:43 am

    I enjoyed not watching it!

  10. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    3 January 2018 @ 11:49 am

    It was a fun movie, and I’m sure I’ll see it again (on DVD). My criticism is not about quality or entertainment value, but about the “magic” of the original movies.

  11. William
    3 January 2018 @ 12:59 pm

    I think it depends what constitutes “magic” for viewers. For some, the “thrill is gone” and has been for some time. For others, (like younger, newer or die-hard fans) the magic continues within each new episode.

    That said, attracting huge audiences and revenues, after telling basically the same story over 40 years, seems somewhat magical in its own right.

  12. smitemouth
    4 January 2018 @ 1:39 pm

    I saw this review on slashdot as an anonymous coward, and could image gk writing it:

    “Subtle undercurrent of man-shaming” my ass! It couldn’t possibly be more overt!

    Every male character in the movie was a failure, and needed a woman to guide him with her superior wisdom (apart from General Ackbar, I guess, but he didn’t last long enough to count).

    Luke is a failure who has decided to run and hide and let the universe die, and he needs Rei to guide him back to the path of caring.

    Poe is so toxically masculine that he just wants to blow everything up, and he needs a purple-haired woman to have a better plan (which she keeps a secret for no reason), to reprimand him, to forgive him and say she likes him as she nobly sacrifices herself to save the day where he failed. And, apparently, Poe is only interested in seeming like a hero whereas she is only interested in being a hero.

    Fin is a coward who wants to flee under pretenses of protecting Rei, only to be stopped by Rose who gives him a better plan and re-ignites his courage. Later on he is so eager to seem like a hero that he is ready to get himself killed, and needs Rose to save him and explain to him that saving what we love is better than fighting what we hate.

    Kylo is, of course, falling to the dark side and needs Rei to pull him back to the light. I guess we will see the rest of that in the next movie (or rather, some of you will, because I sure won’t).

    Snoke and general Hux have no women to guide them, so they are just pure evil until the end.

    The take-away is clear: men are violent and selfish and foolish, whereas women are wise and loving and competent.

  13. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    4 January 2018 @ 1:42 pm

    I didn’t write it, but … honestly … he makes a good point. Imagine the outrage if it was the other way around.

  14. smitemouth
    4 January 2018 @ 2:21 pm

    I saw the movie on Tuesday. It was better than the reviews I heard. I thought the whole side trip of Finn for the code breaker was a waste of plot/time. I feel like they just put out this stuff knowing people are going to see it. It certainly doesn’t have the magic of the first 3 even if it is technologically superior.

    If you felt like this was Empire redux, I thought that the Force Awakens was Star Wars redux… hero from a barren planet trying to discover the Force.

  15. William
    4 January 2018 @ 4:41 pm

    The anonymous critic made some good points. Seems we can’t have male and female protagonist heroes. If a woman saves a man, it’s empowerment and to be celebrated. If a man saves a woman, it’s good ole fashioned patriarchal chauvinism and needs to be protested.

  16. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    4 January 2018 @ 6:17 pm

    @William. Exactly.

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