Monday, October 3, 2016

A review of RedLetterMedia's Star Wars: The Force Awakens Plinkett Video Review.

I debated whether I should just post this as a comment in the YouTube video comments section beneath RedLetterMedia's latest Mr. Plinkett review for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but I decided that Mike Stoklasa, Jay Bauman, Rich Evans and the rest of the RLM crew have thousands of comments to sift through and I doubt they have the time or inclination to read mine. So rather than post my opinion on someone else's forum, I decided I should just use my own and if they read it then so be it and if not that is cool too because this is not really for them anyway.

It is easy to be an armchair Director and comment on someone else's creative work like an annoying backseat driver. We all do it too whether it is on screen or print or simply sharing an opinion with another person verbally, we are all armchair Directors. So appropriately many of the scenes showing Plinkett's point of view are from a reclining sofa chair. 

The next challenge is to be objective because over the years I feel that George Lucas bashing online has become a perverse business and frankly there is nothing Lucas can do about it because a great deal of the people who have found internet success doing this are now earning a living off of YouTube, but few if any have ever approached the genuine forethought that Stoklasa and his partner Jay Bauman put into the original three prequel reviews that garnered the lightning in a bottle media attention that enabled a few anonymous Midwestern film school grads and their friends a well earned degree of notoriety.  Yet even now I think the Lucas jokes increasingly have become cheap shots from guys I know are smarter than that and don't need to fall back on the same cliches they originated. 

Fortunately, there was not too much this time, but this new review starts off a little stilted where nearly the first hour feels like they could have cut it off and made two separate videos and I think people would have liked it more. Honestly, if it is a Plinkett review of The Force Awakens then they should just get to it. 

I think the points made are valid, but Star Wars is more fantasy or space opera than anything remotely science fiction. The comparisons to Star Trek at times seem misplaced because while Star Trek crosses the gambit from genuine thought provoking issues that are contemporary to giving science based explanations and then having episodes that were more or less villain of the week, Star Trek can do some things that  Star Wars cannot because they have little in common when one examines the intentions of the franchisees' respective creators and their target audience. Television and feature films are very different formats despite what one thinks about the quality of the programming. So complaining about The Force Awakens lacks some genuine scientific underpinning is like complaining The Lord of the Rings lacks any sociological underpinning To compare for example, Quest For Fire to Middle Earth with the quest to destroy the one ring would be like comparing apples to oranges. 

Still despite these elements I have noted, there are times when I genuinely laughed out loud and the comparison to The Wizard of Oz was brilliant. I think it should have closed right their, but instead the RLM filmmakers appear to forget that their audience is a lot smarter than they give them credit for. Sure people leave comments that may seem exausting at times, but the fact is in some ways they asked for it and in the months since Space Cop critically was considered a disappointment by many of their fans, the real thing that frustrates me is I know these guys can do better, but they are just retreading on the same old things instead of trying something new and not dirivative of something else. Thus some of their work, including their latest Plinkett review of The Force Awakens,  are not unlike the criticisms made by Lucas about how Hollywood films are based solely on retreading what has made money in the past instead of allowing and encouraging a young developing filmmaker to express his or her unique artistic voice through cinema. If you are going to make fun of something or someone, think for a moment that you are not just as bad as that which you are critiquing because then you might find the audience you have been blessed to attract will turn against you and I don't care how thick your skin is, there is always that person or persons that hit one dead on target and one cannot deny this. As a filmmaking professor used to tell his students in production class, "Blah, blah, blah. All that matters is what is on the screen."

So ultimately, compared to previous Plinkett reviews, I think RedLetterMedia's take on The Force Awakens aims to low and could have used some more restructuring to make the points flow better. I suggest one should compare this to their legendary Phantom Menace review and see exactly why that film works and still as a great, intelligent and funny piece of film criticism and why The Force Awakens video simply is not.

Of course it is easy for me to write what I am writing in my own forum in my tiny corner of the universe, but whether you agree with me or not, I do recommend seeing their latest effort by clicking on the link below. Then decide for yourself. Thank you.

(C) Copyright 2016 By Mark A. Rivera
All Rights Reserved.