While we're on the subject of retreads and social themes in movies, I finally saw the new Star Wars. It wasn't perfect ... but I liked it. I liked it a lot better than any of the prequels, including Revenge of the Sith (formerly known as 'the good one'). It was an actual goddam Star Wars movie. True, as someone said, it felt like a cross between a reboot and an homage by someone who wasn't clear on the difference between a reboot and an homage. But when I saw that stormtrooper refuse to fire on innocent villagers, and then come back to his ship and pull off his helmet an emotional wreck, I cared about what happened to that stormtrooper. And when we met Rey, and saw her hard scavenging life, and saw her stick up for a droid, I cared about what happened to Rey. And that right there is far more than can be said for the prequels, where the only caring-for was a carry-over from the original trilogy.
The only thing that really bugged me was Finn. One, he's black. Not 'black in a leading role', not 'black in Star Wars', but 'black in the
Two: Finn is conversant; funny; quick on his feet; lies to impress a girl; convinces a skeptical third party to go along (and how refreshing to see a movie where the guy admits to a lie because it's the right thing to do rather than being found out!); and is generally a fun, charismatic character. This is a bit odd for someone trained from birth in a program of combat drills and indoctrination so thoroughgoing that he didn't even have a name. But boom!--he defects, and then he's more or less a normal guy. Shouldn't he be a bit more ... damaged? Like, Kurt-Russell-in-Soldier-level damaged?
But ah well. It was good stuff--compelling characters, beautiful effects--and I'll definitely be seeing it again.