I was initially pretty excited to finally get back online after my self-imposed moratorium and talk about The Force Awakens. I wanted to share favorite moments, and see what people thought of the tantalizing hints J.J. Abrams and company dropped throughout the film. But most of all, I just wanted to bask with my fellow fans in the warm glow of knowing that we no longer had to say, “Well, that last Star Wars film sucked.”
You know how they say no one who loves sausage or the law should watch either being made? Well, nobody who loves a movie should go online during its opening weekend.
I saw wannabe screenwriters convinced they could fix the movie by completely rewriting it into something not even remotely resembling what we got. I saw tunnel-visioned nitpickers who wanted nothing more than to know why every single detail and plot point wasn’t expounded upon to their satisfaction. I saw bloviating pedants insist that what the film needed was this one particular scene, despite the fact that the very scene they were pontificating about actually happened. And I saw virtual cinematic terrorists with long lists of demands of what has to be included in the next film if the existence of this one is to be at all justified.
I saw cynicism. I saw pettiness. And I saw enough to convince me I just didn’t want to read anymore.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to turn my brain off and just watch the pretty pictures on the wall. I’m not against some intelligent, well thought-out criticism; sometimes you can learn as much reading about why a bad film doesn’t work as you can from reading about why a good film does. And far be it from me to deny that, when it comes to Star Wars, I do have the blinders on sometimes. But so much of the criticism I’ve seen has been of the obsessively nerdy nature, wanting things explained to death, wanting to know why this cool character didn’t do this cool thing, wanting this story beat didn’t happen the way they’d always imagined it.
And it hasn’t just happened with The Force Awakens. I saw it with Age of Ultron. I saw it with Jurassic World (which, admittedly, had its share of problems, but not enough to make me hate it). In fact, it seems to happen with great regularity to whatever film is making the most money at the time. As if its very success is reason to hold it to a near impossible standard of perfection, that in order to deserve that much money, it had better not do a single thing wrong anywhere, or else.
I feel sometimes we go into movies too ready to think and not ready enough to feel. We’re already planning out our initial comments, or thinking of the clever headline for our review. We’re looking to analyze the craft without really letting ourselves experience it. Now a great film should pull us in to that experience, but it’s somewhat incumbent on us to meet a film at the level at which it’s trying to engage us. And that can’t happen if you’re set on trying to pry open every crack you find.
So, for the time being, I’m bowing out of looking at message board comments about the film. It’s not sticking my head in the sand or plugging my fingers in my ears. It’s not wanting to come down from the high of this film just yet. Especially not to argue minutiae and what ifs with people who can’t see the galaxy for the stars.