Christmas is a time of nostalgia and tradition so what better time to reintroduce a new chapter in the Star Wars series.
“The Force Awakens” could be your best Christmas gift in a very long time. It may even eventually make you consider moving most, if not all of the previous films aside to put this one front and center.
And just as new technology brings bright and exciting new Christmas light displays and holiday games, music, movies, and other activities, generating currency to decades-old celebrations, so does 3D and giant screen IMAX bring a welcome sense of cutting-edge and visual excitement to “The Force Awakens.”
Director JJ Abrams used IMAX cameras on only one scene in the movie but the subtle, seamless, and mostly subliminal effect is powerful about 30-minutes into the film during the first attack of TIE fighters on two of the principal new characters and the introduction of the iconic Millenium Falcon as it is pulled from mothballs to take flight in a critical battle. (see photo comparison of IMAX versus standard format in photos at right as presented by Cinemablend.com) The rest of the movie just looks better being bigger on any IMAX screen.
And even though Abrams’ use of 3D was an afterthought and is therefore of the converted variety and mostly too subtle, there are a few key scenes where it has a notable impact, oftentimes also involving the Millenium Falcon in flight.
Abrams said he discovered during the post-production converting that he was actually more impressed than he expected with the power of 3D. Perhaps next time he’ll make even better use of it, especially in pushing images slightly in front of the screen into the audience more often, as happens in one shot of the point of the triangular spaceship of the evil First Order flying towards the audience.
But even without protruding from the screen, the added depth brings much more weight and draws you in to so many scenes, including a pivotal scene on a catwalk late in the film. Not only does the 3D accentuate the cavernous space below the catwalk, but even creates more visual drama in close-ups of the two characters during a critical exchange just inches from each other.
The 3D also makes you feel far more embedded into all the revised iconic scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy, including something of a re-creation of the X-wing fighters attacking the latest version of the evil Death Star by flying down into a “trench” to hit a small target. One feels much more a part of the action in these moments embellished in 3D.
As for the movie overall, nothing will ever compare to the excitement and thrill of the original “Star Wars” in 1977 that revived the campy B-serials of the 1940s in such a fresh way and added the appeal of some then-groundbreaking visual effects to present one of the first full-blown action films set in space. But watching that movie through the lens of today’s standards, the one-dimensional characters, simple plot, and corny dialogue feels very dated.
“The Force Awakens” takes all that was great about the originals and re-creates them in the most exciting way possible, giving you clever and sincere tributes to all the best moments and characters of the forerunners, while adding a very strong cast of new characters, far more laughs and clever lines and banter than all the others combined, and certainly more engaging and better-staged and superior choreographed aerial battles and light saber duels.
— By Scott Hettrick