Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
RedLetterMedia has finally posted their epic feature-length takedown of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You might remember that independent filmmaker Mike Stoklasa’s 70-minute video review of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace went viral in 2009. The review was posted in seven parts on YouTube, and presented from the point of view of his character “Harry S. Plinkett.” Mr. Plinkett followed up those reviews with take-downs of the other George Lucas Star Wars films and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
And now he has returned with a one hour and forty-five-minute video essay on the current and future of the Star Wars franchise, and oh yeah, a review of JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Hit the jump to watch RedLetterMedia’s Force Awakens review.
RedLetterMedia’s Force Awakens Review
Plinkett, using his own trademark humor, takes a look not at just Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but Hollywood’s new obsession with cinematic multiverses. No one is unscathed. Disney is a big mega corporation beating a dead horse in a cinematic assembly line that will never end; Kathleen Kennedy sells George Lucas down the river, the movie blogs and video essayists lack any real insight and we are all lemmings buying into it all.
Plinkett always errs on the side of jokes and entertaining sidetracks, but at an hour and forty-five minutes in length (still 30 minutes shorter than the movie itself), this video review does feel a bit too long.
His tangents could have easily been better as their own video essays. For example, he spends over twenty minutes alone lampooning the Star Wars ring theory. He does so of course while including clips of galactic space aliens farting from Phantom Menace, because why not? I’m not sure the Star Wars ring theory needed this much dissection, and I’m not sure what it has to do with The Force Awakens.
In the end, we learn that presenting imagery from two films side by side can be very compelling, even if it doesn’t mean anything, which may be why Plinkett devoted a whole section on the hypothesis. Also, it gives Plinkett a chance to tear apart George Lucas’ lack of planning when writing the original and prequel trilogies.
Another tangent spends fifteen minutes going off on the recent boom of Star Wars prequel defenders, placing blame on websites trying to fill dead space with stupid listicles filled with dumb observations. The section comparing the then-current events from the first Bush administration to the politics in the prequels is engaging. But again, it’s material that may have been better off as its own separate video essay.
It’s not until almost an hour into the video (nearly the mid-point) that Plinkett begins to dig into the Force Awakens itself. So if you just want to see him dissect the JJ Abrams Star Wars sequel, I suggest you just skip to the 53-minute mark.
As for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Plinkett calls it “a soft reboot scam that tricked billions of people.” As much as Plinkett hates the prequels, he agrees with George Lucas that at least they were trying to do something different. It’s ironic that Plinkett seems so obsessed with Lucas’ unused ideas for the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the filmmaker’s criticism of Disney and the film. He uses a clip from George Lucas talking about the problem with modern moviemaking and presents it side by side with video of the making of The Force Awakens.
The biggest problem with this review is that it’s being published ten months too late. Submitting a side-by-side comparison of A New Hope and The Force Awakens has already been done by a dozen other video essayists, and I don’t think Plinkett adds anything new. Again, as Plinkett explained earlier, the juxtaposition of footage from two separate films can be very compelling, but does it really mean anything? Plinkett’s observations in this video were a lot more obvious, and lacking the depth that I loved from the reviewer’s takedowns of the Star Wars prequels. More absorbing is the section in which Plinkett writes his own fanfiction version of how he would have told this particular story and a tangent on how the movie features too much fan service, a criticism I am more than happy to co-sign.
I don’t know what Stoklasa is trying to say in the section dealing with the diversity of The Force Awakens. His character Mr. Plinkett is obviously racist, and I understand that is part of the joke. While Plinkett calls the racist boycotts against the film’s casting “stupid,” the character believes that the movie’s diversity was the result of Disney’s meddling. I have sound knowledge that the film’s diverse cast was something director JJ Abrams really pushed for, and was not the product of a megacorporation’s interference. This section as a whole seems not to have a definitive conclusion, it just feels weird.
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