Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Force is sound asleep (and snoring too!)

Every now and then I am asked to critique a movie and I am happy to oblige. Because good, bad or average, these films that I am asked to evaluate are nonetheless cinema.

However when I was asked to review a Disney merchandise advertisement masquerading as a cinematic endeavour, I was a little perplexed. My first instinct was to politely refuse, considering I wasn’t being paid by Disney to write hack reviews. I mean, how else could you justify all the rave reviews that this seventh episode of the Star Wars franchise is garnering?

Let’s get this clear right from the outset, if The Force Awakens is a $200 million advert that is aiming to sell bucket loads of toys to the kids, I’d say well done! But even then, earnings aside, I would question the artistic merits of this visual piece. Trust me, I have seen more imaginative Pakistani commercials and that is really saying something.

If I were to review a film as a cinematic effort, I would request you to go read previous reviews on A New Hope which was the first Star Wars episode in terms of release date and fourth in terms of the narrative chronology that came out way back in 1977.

A New Hope was lauded because it completely revolutionised how movies were made. It was original! Not in terms of narrative, mind you, because it borrowed heavily from comic hero Flash Gordon, Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Akira Kurosawa’s jidaigeki  - visual Japanese period dramas- The Hidden Fortress and Tolkiens’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. A New Hope was universally loved because of how the narrative was executed.

Now fast forward 38 years and imagine watching A New Hope all over again impersonating as The Force Awakens with a politically correct lead cast. If it’s any consolation, it didn’t completely borrow from A New Hope. Yes! Because there were also bits and pieces copied from Return of The Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back, the other two episodes of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for women playing leads but a casting decision that is simply playing to the gallery is not my cinematic cup of tea. If there was any chance that the unconventional gender of the protagonist would be overlooked by the intended politically correct target audience, the studio went the whole hog and roped in a black guy to play her sidekick.

The duo combines with a host of previous popular franchise characters who were simply there to manipulate nostalgia amongst the audience to battle a death star. However, in Disney’s defence it was a ‘bigger’ death star. So something original at last! That is, if you count ‘death star on steroids’ a fresh idea.

For those of you who have never experienced the Star Wars universe before, a death star is a moon sized ultimate weapon with the ability to destroy an entire planet.

And it’s probably these very people who could derive some pleasure out of the seventh episode. The rest, like me, have already seen enough death stars blown apart to be really amused by this particular offing.

So if you are planning to watch this soon. May the force be with you! (That’s ‘Good Luck to you in Star Wars lingo).

from The Express Tribune Blog

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