Sunday, December 20, 2015

Why The New Star Wars is Kind of Like Creed, But Not As Good (No Spoilers)

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It's Sunday, and by now, you've likely already watched the new Star Wars movie. And if you haven't, then you're probably in a cineplex watching it right now. If you're the latter, read this later. If you're the former, read this now. There are no spoilers either way, so you don't have to worry if you're in the third group that might be seeing it next week.

Now, while I know everybody LOVES this new movie, I feel kind of cold to it. It's not that it's bad. It's just that it's recycled meat. I wanted a Harold's sandwich, and I got Subway instead. It has several callbacks to the original trilogy, but most of it is just fan service. And that's okay. I don't have a problem with a film that rests on its own laurels. If any franchise deserves it, it's Star Wars, especially after the last abysmal trilogy. I'll compare it to Street Fighter III. Now, stay with me for a moment. After Street Fighter II, people wanted the next evolution of the series. But then, no, they realized they didn't, since SF III introduced brand new characters and was totally different from its predecessor. Where was Guile? Where was Blanka? M. Bison? Nowhere to be seen. In many ways, it was viewed as interesting but a failure at the same time that didn't grip the mainstream audience as much as it could have. Street Fighter IV, on the other hand, was seen as a return to form. All of your favorite World Warriors were brought back to the fight, and everything seemed back on track, even if it was really just SF 2 with a new coat of paint. Now, I'm not saying that Street Fighter III is comparable to the prequels. God no. I actually LOVE SF 3 and consider it my favorite Street Fighter. But it was something different when people really just wanted more of the same. And that's what Episode VII is. More of the same. That's not to say that's a bad thing. But it's been done before, and the film is more just simpering fan service than anything else. It's for all the scorned fans out there who wanted to love Star Wars again. This film was for them. All the rest, well, you're welcome as well. The Mouse House doesn't discriminate.

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But there was another movie this year that also recycled from its past, but this time, to great effect. Creed, in every way, plucked and pulled the best elements of Rocky and sprinkled them all throughout the recent Creed. But here's the difference between Creed and Episode VII, and why the former was fantastic and the latter was lacking. Creed recognizes the past and adds it into the story, but it doesn't circle the entire plot around it. It's there, and it's relevant, but it's more for thematic purposes (Rocky is still fighting. It's just cancer this time), rather than for the audience to clap and whistle everytime something nostalgic graces the screen.

In every way, it seems like Episode VII was a mea culpa to the fans and a suggestion that we're turning this ship around. It also felt like it was just building toward more films, while Creed stood tall on its own and felt fresh, even though it really wasn't fresh at all. Creed had heart, and The Force Awakens felt devoid of heart. Sure, there's hope, and a more apt subheader for this film would have been "Another New Hope." But it's really just a film for the fans, and nothing more. Creed was a genuinely good story that tugged at the heart strings, and for the next SW, I want more Creed and less The Force Awakens. Hopefully, they make that happen.

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