Even features come with trade-offs, and the Marvelization of Star Wars is no exception. This might not be as clear in The Force Awakens — about as pure a work of nostalgia and homage as can possibly be contrived short of a shot-for-shot remake — as it is in Rogue One, where the Marvel-style engineering is more obvious.
If you had to cast two Hollywood actors to watch being all by themselves in a luxury starliner on a doomed 90-year voyage to a planet they will never live to see, you might just pick Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. In a way, that’s the problem with Passengers, or where the problems begin.
When 17th-century Japanese authorities in the time of the Tokugawa shogunate found it necessary to send the colonial powers of Europe packing and their European Jesus with them, they didn’t just shatter the missionaries’ bodies. They shattered their narrative.
All this raises a question: When is a Star Wars movie not a Star Wars movie?
No film in Miyazaki’s oeuvre haunts me like Spirited Away. One reason is the evocation of a seemingly impenetrable, incalculable world with rhythms and rituals that seem all the more opaque and unnerving because they are routine and transparent to those that are of that world.
I don’t expect animated heroes to have uniformly ideal, harmonious family lives. It’s not realistic — and it doesn’t make for good drama, which needs conflict. The ubiquity of the pattern, though, is striking.
It would be going too far to say that Moana combines everything I enjoy about contemporary Disney with everything I dislike, but it’s got quite a bit of both.
In some ways it warrants comparison with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, if only because Arrival achieves much of what I was hoping for from Interstellar.
The fact is, moving from the Harry Potter films to Fantastic Beasts feels a bit like moving from the original Star Wars trilogy to the Star Wars prequels.
In each of their latest films, the battle against a threatening power raises questions about which principles the protagonist should or shouldn’t compromise in order to protect his world — questions that aren’t necessarily clearly answered by the end of the film.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.