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Film review: The New Star Wars movie

Written By: - Date published: 10:42 am, January 7th, 2016 - 103 comments
Categories: film, Media, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

Spoiler alerts. Though with this many dumptrucks of recycled repetition poured in your lap, who cares? The music’s the same, the font’s the same, so yawn from get-go. It’s got a trail of sickly boomer-focused nostalgia thicker than the plume of plastic bags rotating the Pacific Gyre. Plenty of reviews (see www.rottentomatoes.com) have listed them better.

What the original Star Ways did was meld moral force and erotic propulsion with high technology visualization. That’s the benchmark for a new Star Wars film. That’s why it remains the superior sci-fi benchmark, ever.

For you young-uns who didn’t feel the societal impact of the first film, this is what it did. It set alien worlds to be ordinary, in which families lived and struggled like any farming family. It put non-ironic females centre-stage. It deployed new technological fixes not as swaggering Star Trek wankery, but as the worn tools of everyday life for everyday people just trying to do their jobs, and with those tools salvage and fix machines to keep things going, like people still do from Ouagadougou to Otarahonga. And amongst all the ordinariness of life, to look at the stars and imagine whole realms that made life worth living, more exciting.

And the politics and idealism was simple and liberating. Underdog. Boy+Girl=Freedom. Shiny Uniform Fascism loses to rag-tag heroes. Post-Vietnam and post-colonial virtue wins over Empire. Light beats darkness after cosmic battle. David and Goliath. All of that good freighted stuff, wrapped tightly into one bouncy ball. Good people versus the Soviet meanies, you name it, project your ideals away and it worked.

The only good thing this new movie does is stick a light sabre through Han Solo’s gut and throw him off a bridge good and dead.

People know when they’ve been played, with an endless recycle of stories that get weaker and more preposterous the longer they drag out. But Disney has just turned Star Wars into Days of Our Lives. OK, new female central figure. OK, new pilot Just Might Be Gay. Whatevs. Star Wars should aspire to be the groundbreaking film that the original was. If that creaking, jiggling vaudeville of overtanned cleavage known as the Bond series can reinvent itself with Casino Royale and Skyfall, hell, these guys could make an effort.

So kill Star Wars now. Lightsabre it through its middle-age gut and throw it off a bridge. Even a second helping of moralistic, sexless, humourless, sermonizing Avatar would be preferable.

103 comments on “Film review: The New Star Wars movie”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Hey I liked Avatar. Save the trees!

    • Ad 1.1

      Avatar stuck very closely to Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest; very much the Vietnam War analogue.

      But would it them to crack a joke once in a while?

      • weka 1.1.1

        Except Le Guin understands racism and Cameron doesn’t (which is a pretty big difference).

        • Ad

          I guess. His general theme in Avatar was more about the virtue and redemption of natural forces over ‘bad things’ like mining.
          A more directly spiritualized and romanticized version of nature and the people within it than Princess Mononoke, for example.

          • weka

            I quite liked a lot of the film but in the end the main message was the superiority of whiteness, which is ironic and undercuts the focus on valuing nature (nature rights and racism are probably incompatible). It’s been a long time since I saw it but I seem to remember it was fairly sexist too. The solution to these things isn’t for Cameron to change, but for Hollywood to enable non-white/male producers/directors/writers etc. Not holding my breath.

            Did you you know that Le Guin had a fight with the publishers of Earthsea at one point because they put a picture on the front of the book of a white man as Sparrohawk? She’s scathing about the film adapatation.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    If that creaking, jiggling vaudeville of overtanned cleavage known as the Bond series can reinvent itself with Casino Royale and Skyfall, hell, these guys could make an effort.

    You forgot Spectre.

    Even a second helping of moralistic, sexless, humourless, sermonizing Avatar would be preferable.

    Oh, come on – it wasn’t that bad. Still, I came away with the impression that it was simply A New Hope re-imagined.

    Still, it does have an important lesson: After the revolution you need to fill the power vacuum or undesirables will.

    • Ad 2.1

      Didn’t forget Spectre, or that odd one with the Bolivian desert.
      They were good, just not as good.

      • weka 2.1.1

        I quite liked the Bolivian Desert one, proably for the female lead character. Skyfall would have been good except for the cringingly sentimental ending. M dying in Bond’s arms, really? Fleming would be turning in his grave. Haven’t seen Spectre yet (still waiting for a more accessible version to become available), so maybe that makes sense of the Skyfall ending.

        • esoteric pineapples

          The best thing about Skyfall was Judi Dench being killed off. Gives her more time to star in yet more “art house” (read – older white middle class audience) films with Maggie Smith which I can avoid.

          PS not that I am trying to denigrate the character of older white middle class folk. There’s lots of pleasant people in this category around – just that their taste in films is rather tame and predictable.

          • weka

            I liked Dench’s M. The number of steel strong old women in positions of power in film is pretty small. Plus she can act. I haven’t seen her in much else for a long time.

    • Jones 2.2

      “I came away with the impression it was simply A New Hope re-imagined”

      That was exactly my thought on watching it. But it was enjoyable nevertheless. I never get tired of watching the Millennium Falcon and it was a star once again.

  3. TTD 3

    And I thought it was just me

  4. BM 4

    Went off stars wars after the planet of the teddy bears episode.
    Then, Jar Jar binks killed any enthusiasm for star wars completely.

  5. Paul 5

    Sequels should not be made.

    • mickysavage 5.1

      Most of the time yes but I thought the Planet of the Apes films were pretty damned good.

    • Jones 5.2

      I don’t know… there’s some pretty good sequels out there. Empire Strikes Back? Aliens? Godfather 2?

  6. indiana 6

    Its a movie, none of it is real, it entertains only those that want to entertained…if you didn’t like it…nobody cares or wants to hear your opinion…just move on.

  7. Tc 7

    As soon as disney bought lucasfilm this was on the cards. I thought the last 3 were awful so not too hard to improve the franchise.

    Abrams is a safe pair of hands delivering another committee based tick all the boxes ‘blockbuster’ that will help sell merchandising without asking much from the brain.

    Lucas had a vision whereas disney have stakeholders.

  8. lprent 8

    Nah we have had film reviews before. But usually documentaries.

    But I think it was generational thing. I got raised on science fiction, so disdained cowboy plots in space even with sound effects.

    So I have never watched Star Wars, original or otherwise. I have started the films, seen bits in the middle and my attention span usually lasted about 15 minutes before going off to find something interesting to do. Usually a book.

    On the other hand, many of the Alien movies I liked… “In space no one can hear you scream.” 😈

    • I have to admit I never saw anything interesting in the original Star Wars. It seemed tired, twee and predictable. I’ve never understood the accolades it received unless it was something about ‘the Force’ – the victory of action over the infinite regression of hesitation and conscious decision making which in our ‘risk society’ can feel quite oppressive.

      None of us like the cramping effects of indecision, hesitation and having to ‘weigh up’ the consequences of actions – quite liberating to be told you don’t have to worry about thinking things to death. (It’s actually the same appeal some people find in being un-PC and asserting ‘common sense’. The truth is ‘in there’ – in yourself and your own judgment.)

      But perhaps I was just a bit too old and too much into books to find anything particularly dramatic in the plot or the ‘themes’.

      It just seemed like yet another sermonising American film about ‘the little guy’ (the individual) and his odd-bod friends defeating the dark ogre of the machine-like ‘state’/organisation (I have the same problem with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films).

      Making aliens and robots look physically silly but with oh-so American middle class preoccupations and behaving out of cliched understandings of ‘people’ and their motives further drained it of any of the potential that sci-fi has to create deep insights about our own world and assumptions.

      It also lacked the Larson-esque ability to use animals/aliens to parody and skewer our pettiness and idiosyncrasies. Instead – perhaps unintentionally, but I suspect not – it elevated them to the gold standard for the universe. No salvation or wisdom ‘out there’, apparently.

      And despite being in my post-adolescent prime I failed to detect any ‘erotic propulsion’ of any kind. Luke Skywalker was an erotica-free zone who cast his asexual pall over the entire cast. And Princess Leia was too busy harrumphing at everyone for much to happen there. Meanwhile Han Solo bet all his erotic chips on the sexual potential that comes from smirking and over-egging the role of domesticated rascal.

      But I realise I’m in the minority in this reaction to the original film. 🙂

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        None of us like the cramping effects of indecision, hesitation and having to ‘weigh up’ the consequences of actions – quite liberating to be told you don’t have to worry about thinking things to death. (It’s actually the same appeal some people find in being un-PC and asserting ‘common sense’. The truth is ‘in there’ – in yourself and your own judgment.)

        You mean like this silly bugger?

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      But I think it was generational thing. I got raised on science fiction, so disdained cowboy plots in space even with sound effects.

      Could be or it could just be an age thing. I had a childhood of Apollo moon landings, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galatica. All the ‘Cowboys is Space’ type but have been getting bored with the type over the last couple of decades.

      Still, Dark Matter was quite good and looks to be developing an actual plot line.

      Humans was brilliant.

    • Ad 8.3

      All you have to do is think of The Force as the ghost of Michael Joseph Savage and the whole thing runs well as an analogy for the Labour Party over the last century. You don’t have to think of science fiction films as a form of escapism; think of them as a way to make the real more real.

    • In Vino 8.4

      I too far preferred films like Alien, Bladerunner… Star Wars is crappy soap opera, undeserving of a thread such as this to which I ought not to have contributed.

  9. Grant 9

    For my money I think Ben Wilson says it best in his comments @ 23 & 27 on Dimpost: https://dimpost.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/first-thoughts-on-the-force-awakens/#comments

    • Ad 9.1

      Hadn’t seen that one.
      I’m in good company.

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 9.2

      Nice comment in there:

      “There’s this really interesting documentary called ‘The Five Obstructions’ in which Lars von Trier challenges a fellow director to remake the same movie five times with different obstructions. Like, one time it has to be animated, another time it has to be ‘in the worst place in the world’, another time it has to be shot in Cuba with no shot lasting longer than half a second. And the director finds really ingenious solutions to all of these problems and makes great films. But one of the obstructions is that he has no obstructions and can do whatever he wants, and he makes something banal and pointless. ”

      I’ll have to check out the doco.

      I like all the Stars movies and the rest of the SW universe – books, comics, games – Knights Of Old Republic, Star Wars Battle Front, …..

      They’ll never supplant Bladerunner, or Planet Of The Apes, or Logans Run, or Soylent Green, or Alien, or……….

      but they are still cool.

      Some of those sets of three novels by different sci-fi authors were really good at stretching that SW universe.

  10. red-blooded 10

    I loved the original Star Wars as a teenager. As an adult, I notice that the only significant female is a princess, waiting to be saved.

    • Ad 10.1

      Not in the new one.
      Go see it and be surprised; the gender politics and indeed age politics is more complex.

      • weka 10.1.1

        Bet it doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test 😉

        • Ad

          I don’t even think Barbarella passed that test.

          Did the first Alien movie?

        • Magisterium

          That’s a bet you’d lose.

          • weka

            Do tell, and does it pass technically or in the full spirit of the test?

            • ropata

              Rey talked to Maz after her freaky light sabre vision. Pass.

              • weka

                A technical pass or an in the spirit of the test pass? That article doesn’t talk about the Bechdel Test other than saying the film passed. It does talk about four strong women characters, so I’m curious now with a film that’s done that in what ways they managed to pass the test. Because one could make a point about four strong women characters who spend the whole movie talking to or about men.

        • Grant

          I hadn’t heard of the Bechdel test until recently. I was mildly surprised to see that out of two films I thought of at random (both of which I like for different reasons) one passes the test and one fails. Paris, Texas fails. Kill Bill passes. Interesting and I would have thought, highly debatable in terms of the overall merits of each.

          • weka

            The Bechdel Test doesn’t measure the overall merits of films. A film can pass the test and still be a crap film. The point of the test is to highlight the massive gender bias in filmmaking (and other storytelling media) and to point to a conversation about why that might be.

            I haven’t seen Kill Bill, and Paris, Texas was such a long time ago, I can’t comment on the merits 😉

            • Grant

              I think my point was that a film could also fail the Bechdel test but be a great film. Maybe faIl and still, in the case of Paris, Texas have useful things to contribute to the conversation about toxic domestic relationships. Of course that observation doesn’t apply to Star Wars.☺

              • weka

                yes true, both ways. The test is really a political tool about film and gender rather than a film critique one. So a film could be political about say gender relationships and still either fail or pass the test, but the test would be saying something completely different politically. Meta politics.

  11. Kevin 11

    I was 12 when I saw the first. I am 50 now. Look at through the eyes of a 12 year old and it works beautifully. As do ALL the other episodes.

  12. Magisterium 12

    If you’re trying to work out how the new Star Wars fits into the chronology established by the other movies, you’re missing the point. If you’re annoyed that the new Star Wars is too derivative of the original Star Wars, you’re missing the point.

    Star Wars is now owned by Disney. In other words it is owned by the same company that owns the biggest movie-money machine in the world, Marvel. And Disney is “Marvelifying” Star Wars because that path leads to insane money.

    Think of Star Wars like a comic property that has been adapted for the big screen. We’ve now had a reboot, with an origin story that’s familiar enough for the old fans (seriously how often have we seen Superman arrive on earth as a baby, or Batman’s parents get shot. In comic books you can retell the start of the story as many times as you like with whatever changes you like) but that’s open-ended enough for any number of other movies to happen around it.

    Example: We’ve got Iron Man, whose movies introduced SHIELD (now a TV show) and Captain America, whose own origin movie introduced Asgard and Hydra, and Thor, whose own origin movie introduced Loki, and they all got together with other characters from each other’s movies to tie up some plot points left dangling from the other movies in a big ensemble bash called The Avengers, and then they all went off and did separate movies that existed solely to introduce new characters who would get their own movies, and some new characters got introduced with origin stories that tied them in to the plots and characters we already knew, and now we’ve got ten or twenty different superhero storylines all generating insane money and every now and then they all get together and have adventures in movies together to generate GODLIKE money before spinning off and doing everything over again.

    And that’s what Disney’s doing with Star Wars. The Force Awakens is Iron Man for the Star Wars universe. Everything that came before is erased – you think Marvel cares that Hulk had already had a background and a story established in a 2003 movie? You think Lucasfilm now cares anything about what happened in the shit prequels? – with just enough superficial familiarity (classic actors! familiar droids and spaceships!) to reassure you what universe you’re in.

    Right now The Force Awakens (aka Episode Seven) is in cinemas. Later this year we’ve got Rogue One, then Episode Eight, then a Han Solo flashback movie, then a rumoured Boba Fett movie (who will presumably be introduced in the Han Solo movie), then Episode Nine, then lord knows what else.

    There’s going to be at least one if not two Star Wars movies every year until the money dries up, and it never will. Each movie will introduce minor characters who will then get their own movies, and every now and then all the characters will come together in one all-star extravaganza to resolve plot threads that were introduced in the spinoff movies. Then we’ll start all over again. And every ten or fifteen years or so, when a new generation of fans is old enough to spend money, we’ll get an origin story about an orphan on a desert planet who finds a droid containing secret plans that will enable some underdog rebels to destroy an oppressive regime’s superweapon with the aid of the Force.

    Disney now owns Pixar, and Marvel, and Lucasfilm. The amount of money it’s going to make out of this will make you shit bricks.

    • Puddleglum 12.1

      A really interesting comment about the strategic ‘sustainable planning’ behind the narratives.


    • Ad 12.2

      It’s simple to lower one’s expectations and just write off every sequel as just another commercialized and cynical money-making exercise. Don’t be simple.

      If you can still separate out the commercialism from the actual film, you can still in good conscience to yourself pay your money for a ticket. If not, don’t enter.

      It may well be that the first three Star Wars films represent an historical imaginative peak for this kind of movie, and it’s only a matter of years before the idea of feature films per se goes out the window. Maybe.

      Maybe the point of sustaining one’s expectation of film at all is an exercise in nostalgia all by itself. Maybe Netflicks or HBO would be a better and more caring home for the idea.

      But I don’t think so. There’s plenty of counter-factuals one could run to making this kind of film without resorting so quickly to nostalgic repetition. A great example is the Nolan version of the Batman series.

      We don’t have to have our imaginations diminished.

      • Magisterium 12.2.1

        Just because a movie is produced as part of an overarching long-term strategy it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be bad. The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America 2 are three of the best movies I’ve seen in a loooong time and they are all connected as parts of Disney’s Marvel plan.

        • Ad

          Agreed – why I mentioned the Nolan Batman series – so the low quality of this Star Wars simply didn’t need to happen.

          • Magisterium

            I thought The Force Awakens was great. It felt like Star Wars to me.

            I thought The Dark Knight Rises was average. It was a real letdown for me after Nolan’s first two.

      • weka 12.2.2

        Stephen Soderberg is apparently shifting to making television because film making is now too stifling of creativity.


        • Ad

          There’s plenty of debate in Variety, Empire and Salon about whether the era of film is really fading and the era of television has fully reasserted itself. Certainly you can feel it drag creative minds and creative perceivers away from the cinema itself.

          Plus, binge-watching whole tv series I think is still easier than doing it with films, in part because they are built to fit together more tightly.

    • indiana 12.3

      You sound like you’re kicking yourself that you didn’t think this idea up yourself and have missed out on all that moola!

  13. McFlock 13

    Actually, I liked it.
    Yes, it stuck to episode 4 (with a smattering of 6). Yes, pretty much every action moment was tailored to be easily adaptable to the console game. Yes, the nazi thing was laid on with a steamroller. Yes,the term “soft reboot” fits like a glove. Yes, the basic hero story is followed once again (although that’s rare enough in mainstream movies these days).

    But a lot of that is what it needed to be, especially after the multi-layered shite that was the prequels. And they didn’t leave it at that (like most action movies). The storm troopers are not just human, but humanised. The different roles in the hero arc were played around with amongst the established and new characters. The energy source for the death star became an allegory for the redemption of the bad boss. The bad boss has motives other than “he’s bad”. The happy ending of jedi is erased, because there are not happy endings: targetted killings don’t stop opposing organisations, the loss of a child separates the couple who lived happily ever after, the redeemed rake returns to his disreputable damned-well-shot-first ways.

    JJA turned star trek into star wars, and I’m still pissed about that. But he made a pretty good star wars movie, and I want to see whether luke goes Mr Miyagi or full Prospero.

    • Ad 13.1

      Great response there.

      Just fill out a bit what you mean by “whether Luke goes Mr Miyagi or full Prospero”.

      • McFlock 13.1.1

        Is he relegated to training the karate kid (a bit like yoda in empire) or maybe “mystic sorcerer with guilt/revenge issues alone on island with daughter, guess who comes knocking”. It’d have to have some sort of space battle, because it’s “star wars” not “emo magician wars”, but it might be an intriguing plotline for a chunk of the movie.

        It would be a bit of a waste (and repetitive) just to have luke fitting perfectly into the ben kenobi “trains new generation, is killed by pupil from middle generation, new generation confronts middle generation who redeems and kills the big bad” template.

        • Ad

          I’m deeply sceptical about bringing Luke back for any reason.

          I’m looking for a more substantial underpinning that holds for a while. Otherwise it’s beginning to read like AJP Taylor’s Europe Since Napoleon; it’s all territorial shifts and Epic Battles. I also hate chapter shifts as lumpen and forecasted as a Pink Floyd Learning to Fly track. Warning: Portent Ahead.

          I’m mildly interested in a system of government Leia and successors will have to generate. The Resistance-to-Governance evolution would be useful.

          Also, with the new deathstar guys having been pantsed again, what new relationship can they form with the victors. That would be a Taleban-like discussion.

  14. weka 14

    “JJA turned star trek into star wars”

    In what ways?

    • Ad 14.1

      It’s common to both that they were both slightly accelerated pastiches of their former selves. JJAbrams is brought on precisely to successfully bridge different generations of audience in both. He doesn’t do new ideas.

    • Magisterium 14.2

      Well, he did put R2-D2 in it 🙂


    • McFlock 14.3

      Star trek was originally the adventures of a trained, organised crew who were highly educated, new their equipment backwards down to basic principles, dealt with complex and nuanced issues, and were above all a team, chosen because their individual skills and traits complemented the diversity that was required for the ship to function effectively.

      If you really want to get down to it, consultations with spock and mccoy were the way that the writers illustrated the commander’s conflict between logical duty and empathy, passion, etc. And the Enterprise was essentially an 18th century frigate on a global voyage, but with better communications. Damned fine.

      Star wars is a rollicking good story about a naive character who joins an odd collection of rogues and weirdos, all thrown together on a great adventure to defeat a big bad. In space, and with magic. Fucking awesome.

      • Halfcrown 14.3.1

        ” Fucking awesome.”

        Agree with that statement 200%

      • weka 14.3.2

        Yes, I see your point.

        a couple of years ago I did go back and try an rewatch some Next Generation because I seemed to remember some great story lines around reality and what being human means. Couldn’t get half way through the first series. Everything is so dated now I guess, although I don’t suppose there is any inherent reason to not make a Star Trek Star Trek that is also contemporary.

        • Draco T Bastard

          a couple of years ago I did go back and try an rewatch some Next Generation because I seemed to remember some great story lines around reality and what being human means.

          Did the same. Got through almost the entire three series of the Original but couldn’t get through the first series of Next Gen.

          Everything is so dated now I guess, although I don’t suppose there is any inherent reason to not make a Star Trek Star Trek that is also contemporary.

          They seem to have started a new movie series. Re-imagined so it’s actually quite a bit different. So far there’s Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

          • weka

            I’ve seen both the reboots a few times. I liked them. I was wondering in light of what McFlock had said whether they could make Star Trek now in the way they used to*, but with the modern feel, or if those things are incompatible.

            * http://thestandard.org.nz/film-review-the-new-star-wars-movie/#comment-1115565

            • Draco T Bastard

              I was wondering in light of what McFlock had said whether they could make Star Trek now in the way they used to*, but with the modern feel, or if those things are incompatible.

              Probably not. Watching the Original left me cringing with the blatant sexism and other social mores of the 1960s that would leave a remake pretty much unwatchable today. They could take it out but then it wouldn’t be the same and so they may as well stick with the reboots.

              • McFlock

                And don’t get me started on tribbles.
                But it was as groundbreaking as they could manage at the time. For example, theblatant sexism only exists in our eyes because there were so many women in the show. Hell, Rodenberry actually wanted the first officer to be female (i.e. actively on the command track), but apparenty the network said it was either that or have an alien on the bridge, not both.

                But my main point is that if your characters are space adventurers rather than part of an organisation, you can’t really explore the costs of command responsibility or the deep societal questions that star trek asked. You get something like Firefly, which was also very cool, but it ain’t star trek.

  15. halfcrown 15

    BM @4 said

    “Went off stars wars after the planet of the teddy bears episode.”

    Ha I like it BM, the thought of exploding Teddy Bears makes the mind boggle.

    As a very old person (age will not be revealed) I loved Star Wars, and before as a kid in the east end Saturday morning pictures to see Flash Gordon. I love it for what it is, great fun, pure escapism. We must all relax at times and forget about the serious stuff. I understand that there could be film about Honor Harrington and her tree cat Nimitz in the making, If that is right and they go true to the novels that will be a great Si fi film.

    Is this review going to be a regular thing? If so, any chance of book reviews as I have been put on to some mighty authors and books by people who visit this site.

    Perhaps we could all list the books we have read recently and give a small review for others.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      I understand that there could be film about Honor Harrington and her tree cat Nimitz in the making, If that is right and they go true to the novels that will be a great Si fi film.

      If they want to put that to the screen and remain faithful to the books then they’re going to have to go for a TV series. Of course, they could start that with a good movie covering the first two or three books.

      • Halfcrown 15.1.1

        Agree 100% It is obvious you have also read the books, I thought I was the only idiot to read them. Got turned off when he started to get into the politics though, we have enough of that crap in the real world without having to read about it in a Si fi novel. Incidentally the second or third book can’t remember which one with the Court Marshall of the arsole who set her up was the best. I think like all of us the author David Weber has met quite a few shits in his life and these were portrayed in his novels. though with his politics in the novels he comes across as another right wing Neo Liberal.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Got turned off when he started to get into the politics though, we have enough of that crap in the real world without having to read about it in a Si fi novel.

          I’d pretty much lost interest in the series at about book 9 (Ashes of Victory) but then I discovered the sub-series book Crown of Slaves and the other sub-series book The Shadow of Saganami which filled in the time arc nicely and got me interested in the main series again. The political bent also helped get me back into it as I was bored with the concept of a frigate going out and swatting aside a squadron of dreadnoughts as if they were flies.

          Incidentally the second or third book can’t remember which one with the Court Marshall of the arsole who set her up was the best.

          Fourth book – Field of Dishonor and, yeah, it was a good one. Lots of stealthy manoeuvring and underhandedness in it.

          though with his politics in the novels he comes across as another right wing Neo Liberal.

          Yep, pretty typical RWNJ politics. Goes on about freedom and the free-market while putting in place a monarchy with lots of corruption which is held up as a shining light, the City upon the Hill. Interestingly enough, his Bad Guy state is almost an exact political parallel.

          • Halfcrown

            Thanks Draco I will download those novels from Bean as I have never read any of the sub series.

            “Yep, pretty typical RWNJ politics. Goes on about freedom and the free-market while putting in place a monarchy with lots of corruption which is held up as a shining light, the City upon the Hill.”

            At lest you and I and others take it for what it is, fantasy. Not like some of the RWNJ’s that come on here and take it as fact and try and convince us all that it is fact and is the only way the world can be run.

            • Draco T Bastard

              1st sub-series
              Crown of Slaves
              Torch of Freedom
              Cauldron of Ghosts

              2nd sub-series
              Shadow of Saganami
              Storm from the Shadows
              Shadow of Freedom

              And they do intertwine with the main series very closely.

              Also, probably worth reading From the Highlands and The Service of the Sword before starting on them – not essential but good background.

    • weka 15.2

      Is this review going to be a regular thing? If so, any chance of book reviews as I have been put on to some mighty authors and books by people who visit this site.

      Perhaps we could all list the books we have read recently and give a small review for others.

      Ad’s done a few film reviews now, and it works because he’s a good writer, funny and sharp, and makes some wider point beyond the actual film.

      I’m enjoying this conversation too and would probably enjoy one about books, although I don’t read as much as I used to and there are just so many books out there. Rosie put up some good book reviews recently in Open Mike.

      This thread also works because it’s about scifi and the standard is full of geeks.

  16. weka 16

    Just to change the subject, has anyone seen the latest Sherlock and do you have any idea what it was about?

    • Grant 16.1

      Yes. It was brilliant. Plot twists and turns unexpectedly and an attempt to explain would ruin it. It picks up from where the last film ends and although it stands as a very good film in its own right, it also sets things up for the next film which is supposed to be shot in 2017 I believe.

      • weka 16.1.1

        Yeah, I should have rewatched the earlier ones first, but it’s such a long time since I saw them that I can’t remember much about the last one (which I’ve only seen once). As it was I had no fucking idea what was going on other so I disagree that it works as a stand alone. The problem wasn’t the jumping back and forth through time, it was that it seemed like the whole point was to do with Moriarty, and I couldn’t remember how Sherlock ended up on the plane in the first place.

        I agree about the set up for the next series. I’ll wait a few months and rewatch them all from the start, hopefully this one will make sense before the new ones come out.

        Very Interesting that they released this in cinemas at the same time as broadcasting it. Fingers crossed that for those of us in the Antipodes the whole ridiculous model of broadcasting here later will end.

        • Grant

          I didn’t say ‘stand alone’.. I said good movie in its own right; ie. not just a vehicle for a setup of the next movie, which some movies in a series more or less are.

          edit: The jumps are not temporal but through different realities / states of conciousness.

  17. millsy 17

    I saw the movie before Christmas. It was OK, but I felt rather underwhelmed.

    Han Solo’s death seemed to be a rip from Game of Thrones (kill off popular characters when you least expect them), and probably should have been held off till the next film (perhaps the first 5 mins..?)

    The plotline of who Kylo Ren really was should and could have been handled a lot better. They could have done better than Han and Leia’s whiny goth/emo teenager, and if that was supposed to have an impact, I never felt it. Vader telling Luke that he is his father packed a way bigger punch, and there seemed to be no real point in the mask, other than to sell toys. Kylo Ren, should have been revealed as…..Luke Skywalker…in the second movie. That would have packed a punch.

  18. ropata 18

    Here’s a fun twist on the original

    The Radicalization of Luke Skywalker: A Jedi’s Path to Jihad https://t.co/4UHeMTY4Da via decider— Grant Williams (@ttmygh) December 21, 2015

  19. greywarshark 20

    Wot about Babylon 5 then?

    • Ad 20.1

      I loved it, in its time. ‘A shining beacon in space …’ something like a little UN.

      “There is a hole in your mind”, said some florid alien demi-god.

      It had Bruce Boxleitner and a bunch of people we will otherwise never hear from again, but the story had a great and continuous arc over I think 7 series.

  20. greywarshark 21

    It caught my interest, always watched Babylon5 – religiously. The different notions of culture and form that applied to the various races was interesting.

    Th plots iintroduced government machinations as a problem, such as budget cutting meaning that they had to pay rent for their rooms on the space station. Secret agreements with unreliable aliens at Earth level had repercussions on the diplomatic level in space, with uninvolved earth people being damned for insincerity. They had petty crooks and big crooks, introducing drugs, and spy sleepers gathering information for plotting devious or hostile other races. They had people from Psych forced on them to read their minds and pass information to Earth about their loyalty to whoever had got control there (GCSB and 5 Eyes). And it was made to seem plausible.

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