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jueves, 21 de enero de 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

© Disney / Lucasfilm

Today I will talk you about the film The Force Awakens, the new installment of the Star Wars saga, premiered the last mid-December almost in the whole world, and about the feelings I had watching it, so any of you reading this post will find many spoilers.

By the way at the end of the post I will offer you a little surprise...

My thoughts about The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens (Wikipedia | IMDb) is a good film, made with the purpose of recover the magic of the space opera genre of the original trilogy and adapt it to present times to please viewers already fans of the saga and those new going to see it, forgetting a large part of the precuels. To achieve it elements contributing to the success of movies A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back are recovered: on one hand the essence of adventure films where heroes experiment all types of vicissitudes along a funny sense of humour sustained in the interaction between characters and on the other the personal growth of the protagonists of the film sustained by The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell (a mechanism which in fact is possible to find in all kind of novels, films and other fiction works).

To obtain all this J.J. Abrams, director and co-writer of the film (who also had participated in the reboot of Star Trek, another one of my favourite TV and cinema sagas, although with not so good results as those of these movie) and Lawrence Kasdan (writer of Raiders of the lost ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), puts us 30 years after the Empire defeat by the Rebel Alliance and the Republic restoration, however the emergence of a new danger for the galaxy in the form of the First Order gives rise to the Resistance and the search of the place where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is hiding and seek his help for fighting the Empire heirs, who also are searching him to completely eradicate Jedi.

It will be in this context when the stars of this new trilogy will appear: the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and his robot BB-8, the fugitive stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), consumed by the Dark Side and obsessed with the figure of Darth Vader.

Moments when they interact are sustained thanks well built characters and the chemistry between them, a fact demonstrated by scenes like the escape of Finn and Poe from the star destroyer aboard of a stolen TIE fighter or the encounter of Finn with Rey and BB-8 in the desert planet Jakku and their flight with the Millenium Falcon, chased by forces of the First Order, leading them to be discovered by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). It is precisely this encounter which will set in motion the Awakement of the Force refered by the title of the film, because the group arrival to planet Takodana, where lives the former pirate and smuggler Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o), will allow Rey to discover the old lightsaber of Luke Skywalker, lost in Bespin after the fight with Darth Vader, and experiment visions of the past and the future in a style which remembers me, in a very positive mood, the scene in the cave in planet Dagobah of The Empire Strikes Back (luckily the Force recovers here the mystical nature whihin the original trilogy had and in no time the midi-chlorians aren't mentioned).

© Disney / Lucasfilm

From this point, and following the character's evolution, we will see how the ability of Rey to use the Force, whether innate or hidden for some reason, begins to manifest in a increasingly evident way, like when Kylo Ren interrogates her in the Starkiller base to know more about Luke whereabouts and she can resist and even grasp Kylo's fear of not being able to be as strong as Darth Vader or when she force the stormtrooper JB-007 (cameo by Daniel Craig) to liberate her using a Jedi mind trick.

And speaking of Kylo Ren also tell you that his real name is Ben and he is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), this fact allow us to watch a great scene with an important dramatic tension wherein Han tries to convince him of returning with his family, that directly leads to his son killing him with his lightsaber before Finn, Rey and Chewbacca horrified gaze to reaffirm his fall in the Dark Side (something that not all people liked but that resulted in a powerful scene and a pretty decent way of retire the character, do not forget that Harrison Ford thought years ago that Han Solo should have died at the end of the original trilogy).

© Disney / Lucasfilm

From here the movie is directed towards its ending with the succesful Resistance attack against the Starkiller base and the lightsaber combat between Rey and Kylo Ren in which he will try to convince her to accept him as her teacher to instruct her in the ways of the Force, but Rey will defeat Kylo and leave him badly wounded after, a matter of speaking, having completed her rebirth.

© Disney / Lucasfilm

As a colophon of this first installment of the new trilogy the planet where Luke Skywalker is hiding is discovered thanks to the galaxy map kept by R2-D2 and the cartographic information gathered by Poe and BB-8 at the beginning of the movie, which will allow Rey to go there and give him his saber and ask him to return in an emotionallly intense scene where both actors don't need any dialogue to express their feelings, we only need to see their gazes and hear the music composed by John Williams to appreciate the intensity of the moment.

© Disney / Lucasfilm

There had been some reviews and comments about this film criticizing the similarity of the plot, situations and designs with those of A New Hope but George Lucas really hadn't invented anything new (in fact it can be argued that all is invented and basically only there are different ways of telling a same story or apply different hues to it): The Empire / First Order are no more than Nazis in Space, Jedi take inspiration from samurai and warrior monks orders from Middle Age, it's also possible to see the influence of Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond (in fact George Lucas tried to acquire the character rights to adapt him to the big screen, but when he didn't get them it was when he decided to create his own universe) and Dune by Frank Herbert (oddly enough the scene when Lor San Tekka, the character played by Max Von Sidow, is executed by Kylo Ren has a certain parallelism with the scene in which Liet-Kynes, also played by Sydow in the cinema adaptation, is left to his fate in the desert of Arrakis).

A sample of the many influences involves in the genesis of Star Wars can be seen in the video montage by Kitbashed (whose website I advise you to visit) and the French comicbooks of characters Valérian and Laureline, with scripts by Pierre Christin and art by Jean-Claude Mézières, and the recovering of part of designs created by Ralph McQuarrie for the original trilogy, like the X-Wing fighter and part of the initial decoration of Jabba the Hutt palace incorporated in the planet Jakku.

Via Core77

© Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

© Ralph McQuarrie / Lucasfilm

As I said at the beginning The Force Awakens is an adventure film worth viewing, but there are some aspects of it that I think aren't really very right, starting with using an artifact equivalent to a Death Star, the starkiller base, this time not the size of a moon but a planet, a planet where the First Order had set up a supergun capable of destroying entire solar systems that uses as energy source plasma taken up from the stars (so in this case the name Starkiller is very suitable), it seems that regarding this ideas had been exhausted.

Another objectionable detail is the new design of the stormtroopers' helmet, as it had been carried out it seems you look at Donald Duck's head (ducktroopers?) instead of a menacing head, the original design also recalled me os a stylized human skull tht is supposed to instill fear in enemies (although we all know that stormtroopers aiming it's not very good and their armor doesn't protect them much if an accurate shot hits them).

Regarding scenes I have the impression that not all the script was filmed, that some details were omitted or must exist some scenes that didn't made the final cut (something that can be checked in this article of Slashfilm and the unveiled script through Reddit), proof of it is the few footage and dialogue lines which have characters like captain Phasma, the stormtrooper chief played by Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones) and the sensation that sometimes the movie's rhythm gets preety accelerated (as if was in a hurry to reach some script moments) and the use of causalities (the Deus ex Machina) was a bit forced in some cases; hopefully in the next two installments of this new trilogy the involvement and roles of characters that, although had been given enough publicity during film's promotion, had been very important in the story.

It's also a pity that the final scene of the confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren, when she had already defeate him and is helpless at her feet, didn't clearly showed the chance Rey had to fall in the Dark Side of the Force if she decide to kill him consumed by hatred (something that can be guessed in the leaked script and according to Slashfilm is confirmed in the novelized adaptation), implying that in this moment Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) of the First Order is tempting Rey to execute his disciple and take his place.

Star Wars: The original role-playing game (and a little gift)

The first role-playing game of Star Wars, originally published by West End Games and with its translation published in Spain during the 1990 decad by Joc Internacional, was one of the first ones I boutght and which served me to get initiated as a referee, so I've always had fond memories of it, which also led me over the years to buy the Second Revised and Expanded Edition although it was not translated.

While I was watching the movie at the cinema I could not help thinking of the second edition and remembered the character used to introduce the chapter devoted to the Force, a young Jedi apprentice that somehow unconsciously I connected with the character of Rey, which led me to wonder if, even with the new trilogy that had just begun declared works of the Expanded Universe as not in the "official canon", part of them would not have been recovered somewhat...

© Disney / Lucasfilm


To my surprise reading this post of the blog Play It Again Sam explained that part of the content of the adventure Strike Force Shantipole had been included in one of the episodes of the cartoon series Star Wars: Rebels.

This very curious fact led me to reread both books and woke up again my creative cravings, so I decided to prepare a small compendium of rules in which, based on the D6 system and making some changes inspired by some of the games I have reviewed in the blog, allow to begin playing quickly and easily and offer it as a free download through the links that I have put below.

Spanish version:
Google Drive
Catalan version:
Google Drive
English version:
Google Drive

I could not test the changes in this release (although in theory should be fully compatible with the manuals that were published at the time or the contents of the groups dedicated to maintain the remembrance of the game, like Star Wars D6 Redux and the star Wars D6 community at Google+), so I would appreciate that if you use it in a game table tell me what you think with a comment in this post.

I hope you enjoy it.

This entry it's also available in the following languages:
Castellano Català

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