Netting over $2 billion in the box-office, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of, if not the, biggest movie of last year. For such a big release, it only seemed right to go see it on one of the biggest screens in Sydney – the Moonlight Cinema.
Revisiting Episode 7 – this time in a larger, outdoor venue – was an incredibly way to watch an already fantastic film, and it left us with a number of (spoiler-filled)insights to share.
The Sound Effects
The wide-open space at the Moonlight Cinema did a great job of showcasing the quality of the sound mixing in The Force Awakens. There was a crispness here that didn’t always come through when I first saw the film. There was a powerful fidelity to all the sound effects in the film – from the hum of the lightsabers to the crackling of snow being crushed underfoot during the approach to Starkiller base.
In a time where a lot of action films lean towards greyer tones, there’s an excitement to the colorfulness of Episode 7 – and this quality was substantially improved in a big outdoor venue. The colors really pop out at you in ways both obvious (like the way lighting is used during Han Solo’s death) and subtle (the way it’s used to make the denizens of Maz’s bar more distinctive).
“That ship is garbage!”
It occurred to me while watching this film for the third time that the escape from Jakku sequence really does work as a fantastic metaphor for Abrams’ adoption of the Star Wars franchise. Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) find an old relic of the past, kickstart it and find themselves shocked at how well the whole affair comes together. Meanwhile, the disgruntled former-owner shouts from below “that’s mine!”
Is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) the most well-realized villain in a Star Wars film to date? Probably. Sure, he doesn’t have quite the iconic presence of Vader – but that’s kind of the point. To quote io9’s James Whitbrook’s fantastic piece, “Vader’s legacy is also a huge part of what makes Kylo Ren so fascinating—because he’s everything that Anakin Skywalker should have been in the prequels.” He goes from terrifying anomaly, to wannabe-villain to a figure finally worthy of his mask.
Speaking of villains, General Hux (Dohmhall Gleeson) really is just a substantially more effective villain than Kylo Ren. When he sets out to commit mass genocide, he gets it done. No wonder he’s so passive-aggressive towards Ren in their little team-meetings with Snoke. Peter Cushing‘s Grand Moff Tarkin set the bar pretty high for Star Wars sub-villains but Gleeson is absolutely worthy of the mantle.
And knowing is half the battle!
Returning to the film after a lot of the easter-eggs and cameos made a lot more of a difference than I initially expected. It’s hard to explain why knowing that Daniel Craig is the Stormtrooper who Rey persuades to help her escape made that scene more fun – but it absolutely did.
The shape of things to come
From a watchability perspective, the scene most-improved by an outdoor venue is probably Rey’s vision. There’s so much to take in here and and the sheer size of the screen not only enhanced the disorientation of the sequence but also made the flurry of imagery much easier to interpret.