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January 31, 2016

Star Wars VII: The Audience Awakens

By EconMatters

While I do not see EconMatters as a movie critic like Roger Ebert, sometimes it feels almost like civil duty to let people know not to waste money on a bad movie.  I missed the Start War VII when it opened during Christmas last year and at the same time endured a horrible experience with Fandango.  In retrospect, I should have taken it as an omen not to see the movie at all.  But since everyone was telling me how "awesome" the movie was, I finally made it to the theater last night. 

One of the Worst Movies I've Ever Seen

Compared to the previous installments, this Episode 7 was a major disappointment and it was the most excruciating 2.5 hours I've ever experienced in a movie theater.  It was a bad movie compunded by an old and filthy movie theater (AMC Studio 30, located in the better part of Houston).  The movie and the movie theater were so bad that I actually had the thought to short both Disney (NYSE:DIS) and AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) stocks. 

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4 billion in 2012, it gave Disney ownership of the "Star Wars" franchise but also "Indiana Jones" franchise.  Now, I can't wait to see how bad Disney can mess up Indiana Jones. 

I like action, suspense, and thriller movies.  Although I think the Twilight movie series is nothing more than a teen romance story wrapped in vampire myths and action (I am a fan of "The Underworld", though), I do have certain appreciation and understanding of Twilight's popularity -- It has an interesting story line about the romance, marriage, family, etc. between a social misfit teenage girl and a vampire guy/boy (I think he is actually at least several hundred years old).  

Make a Movie That Tells a Story 

Anyway, I still believe movies are about story telling and Star War VII has no story line to keep me remotely interested.  The movie has a very simple plot: a bunch of people (heroes and villains) chase a secret map to find Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, to help fight the new evil power--the First Order.  While there's nothing wrong with a simple plot, it is a cinematic crime to have such a poor screenplay without any substance like Star Wars VII.

"Making Something for the [Kardashian] Fans"

Reportedly Lucas had some ideas for how Star Wars VII story could be told. According to Lucas, "All I want to do is tell a story...", but Disney was keen on "making something for the fans." I now totally understand why Disney told George Lucas and his story to take a hike -- Disney sees no use to spend time and effort to develop any story in an established franchise with built-in audience like Star Wars.     

Yes, I can see how all the galaxy air fighting and bombs away can put the simpleton Kardashian-following crowd in awe.  However, the repetitive explosion, shooting and space fighting gets old real quick.  The 135-minute movie is way too long with cliché after cliché, and predictable outcome.

"Jurassic World" and "Avatar" are two deservingly awesome movies with good story, production and beautiful high tech graphic scenes to boot.  Star Wars VII is not even in the same zip code as the similarly cliché Transformers franchise, in my opinion.

Only High Point: Original Han Solo & Chewie

Even the space air fighting scenes are not that impressive as I've seen better alien, space fighting scenes from any number of high tech movies adapted from the Marvel or DC Comics.

In fact, the only high point of the entire movie was when the original cast of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewie appear.  The interaction between Han Solo, Chewie, and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is interesting, nostalgic but too little too late to save the movie.     

Lipstick on a Pig Sold as a Beauty Queen

In all fairness, I have to applaud Disney Studio's Marketing Department for an outstanding job of promoting the movie a year in advance with a superb editing job on the promotional trailer.  The trailer gives an impression of much more grandeur to build up hype, expectation and, in my opinion, directly led to the box office success.

Yes, Lucas, You Sold Your Children

During a recent interview, George Lucas indicated he felt he sold the company he created, Lucasfilm, to "the white slavers," referring to Disney (Lucas later issued an apology to Disney).  Lucas also said he felt like he sold his children [for $4 Bn]. 

After watching the first Star Wars movie by Disney, I can understand how Lucas must have felt after Disney butchered his legendary creation -- Star Wars.  However, in this case, Lucas made his bed (and was well-compensated) on Star Wars and now he must lie in it.

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Item Reviewed: Star Wars VII: The Audience Awakens Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Econ Matters