Disney Studios originally wanted Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be released in May 2017, the traditional month when Star Wars movies have been released in the past. But director J.J. Abrams was adamant that the movie be released before Christmas – just before Christmas, mind you – in 2016.
The movie had its world premiere Monday night. No actor, actress or other film industry insider was about to denounce Abrams’ film – not if they want to work in some Abrams’ film in the future. In any case, as more than one film critic has noted, they don’t dare give away any of the movie’s secrets because Disney Studios has light-saber bearing attorneys watching every word they say.
Fortunately, the UK Guardian, as I figured, has no scruples about announcing spoilers. Actually, they don’t want to ruin a movie for audiences. But they don’t want to see them sucker-punched, either. That’s what was happening with the trailers and advertisements leading up to the film’s release.
Have you seen any, lately? No. There’s a good reason for that, as well as a good reason why Disney wanted the film released in May of next year, not December of this year, just before Christmas. Despite the glowing reviews from newspaper all over America, there are hints that something is amiss. Critics report “crying like a baby” and feeling “gut-punched” after seeing the movie.
That doesn’t sound like a very happy ending and it’s not. I knew what was in store for the ending held, and so did Disney Studios. Harrison Ford himself stated in an early interview, or George Lucas related the conversation, what had to happen to his character in order for him to return to the franchise.
All right. Okay, so Ford is getting old. Who wants to see Han Solo rolling around the galaxy in a wheelchair? If my calculations are correct, Ford won’t live to see the release of third film. However, why just before Christmas? What was director J.J. Abrams thinking?
Abrams is the new, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist Hollywood. His reboot of Star Trek was okay, even good, thanks to Chris Pine’s performance as a young Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s uncanny resemblance to Leonard Nimoy (the pitch of his voice is too high but otherwise, Quinto’s a spot-on Spock). The follow-up to the new reboot, Into Darkness, stank of retribution for perceived social injustices and microagressions against “minorities.”
In The Force Awakens, Abrams get a two-fer, killing off a major, beloved Star Wars character (and white guy into the bargain) just before Christmas. Merry Christmas, you white, racist, Christian Star Wars fans. Note that no one minds the introduction of black actor John Boyega as an AWOL Stormtrooper or that he may have a romance with the white female lead. It could be worse: Daisy Rey could fall in love with Chewie.
From a production standpoint, killing off Harrison Ford makes sense. The actor is a reckless adventurer and at 73, that makes him a liability to any franchise movie-maker. What if he doesn’t survive the next plane crash? What would Disney and Abrams do then? They’re already into production for the eighth movie. If Ford was still involved, the writers would have to twist themselves into pretzels trying to write him out again. Better to grant Ford his wish and get him out of the way, as quickly as possible.
Still, it’s a cruel thing to do to the audience. Worse still, Abrams drew audiences in and created buzz for the film with teasers about Han Solo’s happy reunion with Chewie and the Millennium Falcon. Ford’s an incredibly popular actor and Solo is a favorite character in Star Wars galaxy. He’s not Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gong or even Obi-Wan Kenobi, who (in the guise of Alec Guinness), at the start of the original Star Wars, we barely knew.
The audience has a history and a quasi-relationship with Solo.
So there it is, spoiler or not. Audiences (in my lowly opinion) have a right to know. The critics shouldn’t have been charged with silence (and lawsuits) in this regard. Audiences had a right to decide whether they wanted the movie experience spoiled, or their Christmas.
Back in 1982, rumors were wild that Spock was going to meet an untimely death in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. While no one would confirm the rumors, at least the rumors were allowed to be spread about. A joke is made early in the movie that escapes modern audiences now, when Admiral Kirk asks Spock, “Aren’t you dead?”
Back then audiences tittered. Young Star Trek fans today are probably puzzled by the line.
I deliberately sought out of every scrap of information I could about The Force Awakens as soon as I read the George Lucas interview. I watched every single trailer, even those aired in other countries, and pretty well figured things out ahead of time. Needless to say, I wrote on Star Wars websites that Abrams was out of his mind.
Now I don’t think he’s out of his mind, but that he’s a sadistic jerk. Disney Studios was right: Christmas is not the time to kill off a popular character.
For my part, and my companion’s, we’re going to wait until after the holidays to see the movie. Death comes all too suddenly around the holidays in real life. Our next door neighbor’s son just died, her daughter is said to be moribund and will be lucky to survive through Christmas, and the woman herself is now all alone in a nursing home thousands of miles away with no family left (her husband died 20 or so years ago of a brain tumor).
My own mother is 91 and while she’s not suffering, she’s in failing health. Even my cat is 17 years old. I don’t need to make the holiday even gloomier by seeing a movie that has been falsely advertised by critics as upbeat and fun. Bah humbug.
Maybe I’ll buy the original Star Wars and watch that for Christmas, instead.