SPOILER ALERT. If you’re so checked out that you didn’t see the new Star Wars yet, but perhaps in theory intend at catch it on a tiny TV screen on the back of an airline seat a few months from now, and don’t want any spoilers because it would ruin your 30,000 foot experience in an aluminum death cone – do not continue reading this post. Or read it. I really don’t give a damn. I’ve got enough eggnog coursing through my veins to kill a Bantha. I love the holidays. Everybody gets drunk, which lets me blend in.
Anyway, here’s my proposition: the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is a straight up rip off of the original, Star Wars: A New Hope. Yes, I know it’s blasphemy to profess anything but undying love for J.J. Abrams and the new, awesome Star Wars – and I did actually see and LOVE this movie, but… it’s a straight remake/ripoff of the 1977 classic. Not a re-launch, or a re-imagining, like J.J.’s brilliant re-launch of Star Trek (as opposed to the sequel, Into the Darkness which was a remake of two Star Trek movies), but the same damn movie, with a few new characters, and obviously different dialogue. But the bones are the same. The plot moves, structure, the stakes. Yet nobody cares, because of the profits!
Don’t believe me. Let’s go through the movie…
Once again a lot of the opening action is on a desert planet, this time called Jakku, tracking a young, disaffected 20-something, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a younger version of Kira Knightly, only this chick can act. Rey, like someone else we met onscreen a few decades ago, wants to see the galaxy, be a starfighter pilot and has a hidden power inside of her – the Force. Hmm, sounds familiar. Kinda like Luke on Tatooine, only Rey’s a chick and a much better actor. Sorry Mark Hamill, you had one speed in the first movie – whiny bitch.
Meanwhile, back on Tatooine, I mean Jakku, far above Rey’s dusty, but still very attractive head, a First Order Star Destroyer is in orbit, loaded with Storm Troopers, imperious British officers, and a black masked Sith Lord – Adam Driver, the dude from GIRLS, only in clothes. I think he wears the helmet to keep his big ears from doing a Baby New Year. He must have lost the top hat. Boing.
On a slight tangent, what’s the deal with the Empire/First Order only hiring white British guys to be their officers? Is that like an HR policy? I get the white racism thing, as they are bad guys, but at least throw in a white French guy to mix it up. It would be hilarious, some guy named Pierre screaming retreat in French every time the Rebels/Resistance showed up. “Allez Allez. Retraite!” I have no F-ing idea if that’s French, but it sounds right.
Where was I? Oh yeah. The First Order/Empire are on a mission to track down a droid containing holographic plans essential to their battles with the Resistance. SPOILER: it’s a map showing where Luke Skywalker is sulking in Tahiti, since he didn’t get any acting gigs after Return of the Jedi. Anyway, the droid, BB-8, is incredibly cute, communicates in beeps and whistles and of course ends up with Rey as its new master, which starts Rey’s Hero’s Journey off the planet to save the universe from the Empire, I mean First Order. Of course, we saw this same Act One in A New Hope, when R2 ends up with Luke. Hey, as J.J. always says: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just give everyone new names.” We should make J.J. President. He’d pick out the best President we ever had, and then do all of the same things. President J.J., wearing a big Abe Lincoln top hat: “I hereby emancipate all of the slaves,” silence, “I mean lower-middle class! Now let’s attack Mississippi.”
Back to Star Wars 2.0. So young, slender, sultry Rey needs a guide/mentor to get her into the First Order/Resistance game, this time in the form of an aging Hans Solo, played by an even older Harrison Ford. 40 years ago, same thing, only Luke was stuck with academy award winning and also geriatric Alec Guinness, who as far as I know, smoked a lot less pot than Harrison Ford and never crashed his plane in Santa Monica, and then walked off to have brunch at the Ivy. But I digress…
Now I know that some of you are fuming right now, thinking I’m totally off, because there was lots of stuff in the new movie not in the original – namely a black guy! And yes, I am aware that former Storm Trooper FN-2187, or Finn, is a a completely new, unique, and great character, but it doesn’t change the fact that on a big picture level, these movies look a lot alike. Not Olsen twin alike, but more Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian alike. Not identical, but pretty close, only one of them has a black guy in them. Wait, wasn’t Khloe married to… I better get away from this.
Back to the parallels.
Both movies have a Death Star/Star Killer Base, which in Act Two destroys a planet/system. In the new movie, a star system of nameless planets we don’t care about that appear to be from the Phantom Menace movies. Of course, in the original, the blue planet of peace, Alderon. The planet that Leia also didn’t seem to care about, given her pretty chill reaction to the destruction of billions of her former subjects. The fact that Carrie Fischer was heavily medicated during all of this could have something to do with her attitude, but you get my point.
Both movies involve the Death Star/Star Killer Base, headed towards the Resistance/Rebellion base, which in both movies looks a lot like Costa Rica. Once again there is a convenient clock to ratchet up the tension, and give the Rebels/Resistance time to win. In the original, the Death Star has to get into proper position, as a bunch of moons are blocking it. I hate the damn moon. In the new movie, it has to drain a sun. Which, if you’ve ever drained a sun, you know takes a bit of time. And sunglasses.
By the way, what’s the deal with calling the new Death Star, Star Killer Base? What, did they not include “cool names” in the writers’ million dollar contracts? Studio Exec: “Star Wars legendary writer, Lawrence Kasdan, what are you going to call the new Death Star?” Lawrence: “How ’bout we call it give me more money. I’m Lawrence Kasdan. Raiders of the Lost Ark ring a bell?” Studio Exec: “Good point. Another million has been wired into your offshore account.” Lawrence: “Great. And we will call the new planet killing weapon…The Death Star!” Silence. Kasdan, checking his phone to make sure the money is in his account. It is, then: “Or… Star Killer… Base?” Silence, then… Studio Exec: “You are a genius, Lawrence Kasdan!” I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down. Or not. There were other writers…
And what else is the same? Both movies have our leads inside the belly of the beast, i.e., the Death Star/Star Killer Base, on a mission to shut down the defense shield, so that the same X-Wings can blow it up with their tiny cannons. In both flicks, Darth Vader/Kylo Ren, will fight and kill the mentor/guide, Obi/Han – witnessed by Rey/Luke. Rey’s expression of grief was way sexier.
Both dark masked Sith Lords have family in the Resistance/Rebellion, which obviously makes the holidays awkward. Here is my guess as to what Purim was like following this movie: Kylo Ren to Leia: “Can you pass me more white fish, Mom?” Leia: “Why don’t you ask your Dad – oh wait, you killed him with your meshuganah laser sword.” Kylo: “Did I ever thank you for blowing up Star Killer Base with me on it?” Leia: “My only regret is you survived. What’d you fly away with your Dumbo ears?” Kylo: “You’re the worst mother ever!” Leia (laughing): “Please. I was raised in a pain cube by Debbie Reynolds. Now make Mamma another Klono-tini and put on some damn clothes, this isn’t the Lena Dunham special.”
Moving on. All of Act Three is basically lifted from the original, ending with the dated X-Wings attacking the base, and blowing it up. Boom. The end. Though the new movie didn’t have the throne room medal ceremony scene. Which is odd, given millennials get medals for everything. “Failure should be celebrated!” We are so doomed.
Now, what is the point of me telling you the obvious that the movies are similar? Do I dislike J.J. Abrams? No, I love him! I love his movies, I even loved Felicity! I kid you not. Saw every episode, though I couldn’t understand a single word Scott Speedman said. Boy mumbles. Anyway, what I want you to leave with is that even though J.J. deserves a hell of a lot of credit for polishing up an old gem, breathing life back into the Star Wars multiverse… show George Lucas some love this holiday season. Sure, the Phantom Menace and its CGI Jar Jar Binks progeny were dog turds, but the man made a lot of really good movies before selling out – and in my opinion, he made an amazing movie this year. And trust me, he knows it. Egotistical bastard.
Now go see the Force Awakens again. It’s a great movie and Disney needs the cash to make more superhero movies.