Leipzig city center. Photo: Stefan Hopf
Leipzig city center. Photo: Stefan Hopf

Stage and Screen: The Stars Strike Back

in Arts/Culture / Entertainment/Leipzig/Movies/Opinion/Reviews

It’s the most hotly anticipated movie of the year 2015, and many a Star Wars fan has been peeing his pants (or her panties) awaiting the awakening force. And, to be fair, it almost completely lived up to the highest of expectations. This ‘almost’ will most likely never be forgiven by the most ardent of Lucas Films’ disciples, but the rest of us mortals have been given a rather perfect Star Wars instalment. Well, almost.

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by Stewart Tunnicliff & Kapuczino

Watching the 2D version at the usually quite independent and left of mainstream Passage Kinos came with the unpleasant surprise of having to endure an unusual 45 minutes of ads, plus no break was installed to interrupt a 3.5 hour sitathon. Add the German subtitles to the mix and you might not see much difference in what Cinestar is proffering in terms of an original version with all the 3D bells and whistles.

This leaves us with having to opt for the light or the dark side even before setting foot in the cinema. Let’s just say you want to go with the good guys, the ones resisting the dark force of the nationwide cinema franchise. In this case, you’ll be watching the film on a smaller screen like it’s 1979 in all of its 2D simplicity that lends The Force Awakens the charm of the first 3 released Star Wars movies. Or you join the dark side and see the best of its 3D glory rendered by an armada (indeed, a few hundred) of graphics artists at Cinestar, a very tempting offer indeed.

Let’s get down to the root of the fascination, and who are those ĂĽber-fond Star Wars enthusiasts who will be offered nothing less than the second instalment of their very own testament? It’s safe to say that fans of a certain age who vividly remember the original runs with Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill will get their money’s worth. From the word go it’s clear that director J.J. Adams has set out to let the old elements, meaning all the so badly missed ingredients that were lost in the convoluted and discombobulated three sequels preceding this one, come to life again. If you haven’t yet seen them, you can look forward to witnessing what made the originals more loved than the hatchet job Lucas did when trying to set the stars on a different course. It’s all back: from the Western movie feel to down-home humour, and from swashbuckling dogfights of light-sabre swordplay to the mad spaceship chase and straightforward shoot-ups. Darth Vader’s successor wields a broadsword-style  light sabre, which is pretty cool in itself. And what’s even better than the books is that added genre spice of a quite obvious Crusader undertone, seeing the Empire replaced by the First Order in a very dark guise reminiscent of Nazi Germany, evolving a more distinct notion of an evil force endangering the life of the good people.

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The new Star Wars comes with a couple of main character inventions in the shape of Rey (Daisy Ridley, rebelling against the awakening force personified by darklord Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and accompanied by Finn (John Boyega), the latter of which – we can’t blame him – falls in love with her in the movie. Oh yes, and then there’s Oscar Isaac (who was brilliant in A Most Violent Year) playing the daredevil pilot Poe Dameron. See more of the whole cast here, if you like.

Now, for a few downers which make this film only ‘almost’ perfect. The whole movie keeps building up a lot of new story lines, and despite putting a couple of old ones to bed, we’re left thinking that it merely serves as an interlude to the next two episodes to come. Then there’s Rey’s posh English accent that leaves everyone wondering how a scavenger girl growing up in a remote desert could possibly sound like the Queen’s illegitimate stepdaughter. And one can’t help but think that they’ve been trying a little too hard to string together movie lines that will be quoted by any love-stricken Star Wars fan during the impending holiday season, but leave the rest of us earthlings slightly befuddled on account of their homespun simplicity.

Alas, what have we done. There’s a war being fought in Syria and oceans polluted by plastic particles, so let’s not be overly critical. There’s a lot to enjoy, so just relish Harrison Ford and the invigorating acting of the new bloods. Laugh about the return of the loveable comedy robot duo of R2D2 and C3PO. And look forward to the cute kid-like appeal of the ball-shaped android BB8 and some fantastic scenery shot at raggedly luscious snow-capped volcanic scenery in Iceland and breathtaking moss-covered cliffs of the Kerry peninsula in Ireland.

Check out the iconic imagery of the downed star-destroyer in the official trailer and marvel at Stormtroopers looking every bit more real and impressive when speckled with dirt and blood. The breathtaking action sequences are bound to keep you in suspense throughout the movie, and anyone just watching it for the sake of getting immersed in top-notch graphics effects and action will leave the cinema just as happy as your fellow dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars fan and the gleefully reminiscing writers of this article.

 For showtimes in Leipzig in English, see https://leipglo.com/moviesomu/.

A cosmopolitan butterfly that feels at home where people are friendly and coffee is strong. As a person with a wide range of interests and a low attention span, he succumbs to the charm of novelty all too readily. Literature, film, photography and politics on Mondays, playing dead and g(r)ooming dogs on Tuesdays. Hand him a beer and he’ll talk about football, tell him a lie and he’ll tell you two.

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