‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘Creed’ show the right way to bring back franchises. (contains some spoilers).
2015 hasn’t been a great year for movies, but there have been a few stand outs. Oddly three of those stand outs have been films that brought back old franchises. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ ‘Creed,’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ were all films that has recognizable brand names but really stood on their own as unique, distinctive films. ‘Jurassic World,’ was basically a generic B-style (not budget) monster movie that really benefitted from its brand name. The number of re-makes, re-boots, and franchise continuations being produced by Hollywood while many original films get shelved for years is pretty frustrating. However, if studios want to revive old franchises, it’s always good to know that this can be done well. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ ‘Creed,’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ were all very organic continuations of their respective stories. They had multi faceted characters that were well fleshed out. ‘Jurassic World,’ on the other hand (like most sequels and re-boots) had a contrived plot with flat characters to carry it.
Given that my review for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was written months ago, this article will focus on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘Creed.’ Bother films are based on classics that were first released in the 1970s. Both film glide over similar plot points of the first films of their respective franchises. In ‘Creed,’ for example, Apollo Creed’s son Adonis has a similar journey that Rocky Balboa had in the original. Rocky has become the mentor or the new Mickey. Adonis even loses his climatic fight in the end after making a comeback from the struggle of his early rounds. His rival has even learned to respect him by the end of a match he (Creed’s rival)thought would be an easy. There is even a possibility that they could become friends in future films. In ‘Star Wars: the Force Awakens’ Han Solo has become the new Obi Wan. He becomes a bit of a father figure and mentor to Fin and Rey, and they even witness his death when the group is trying to make an escape at the hands of his own son, Kylo Ren. Like Obi Wan, Han feels responsible for Kylo Ren’s turn to the Dark Side and even went into a life of exile from the resistance when it happened. Neither film is ham fisted when hitting plot points from the original. It’s more in thinking about the films after seeing them that people realize the similarities. Both are entertaining and engaging stories.
There are characters that really fight the good fight, especially when it isn’t easy. Despite her desperate circumstances, Rey refuses to sell BB-8. Despite being raised and conditioned as a Storm Trooper, Fin decides to escape and put other people before himself. Despite learning that her late husband had an extra martial affair shortly before his death, Mary Anne Creed took in her husband’s son, loved him, and raised him as her own. She was probably the most underrated aspect of the film and a certain Lady Stark could take a lesson from her.
‘Creed’ has been playing in theaters since Thanksgiving Weekend and it is certainly a terrific option if ‘Star Wars’ is sold out when people get to the theater. Hollywood can take away a good lesson for 2015, that if they are going to produce brand name movies over original film, it is very possible to do it well.