After Much Anticipation… Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Fear not young Padawan, no spoilers shall I leak…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Released: December 18, 2015                                      Rating: four_star_half.fw

Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a defector named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey (Daisy Ridley), a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last of the Jedi Knights.

It’s perhaps the most anticipated movie in a long, long time, and after less than three weeks in theaters it is breaking ticket records and bound to break even more. If you’re not sure what movie I’m referring to, I think you have your head buried deep in the sands of Tatooine or, as would be more appropriate for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jakku.

I was really excited to see the new Star Wars movie. I would never consider myself a hardcore fan or anything (I liked the original trilogy, and like the prequel trilogy a little more, I know I should be burned alive for such sacrilege) but I like the series enough to want to see what’s next. I was also excited that the movie brought back characters from the original trilogy so viewers had a chance to see characters that they haven’t for thirty years, and finally know… what happened next.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. I’m not necessarily the biggest action film buff, with a few exceptions, but The Force Awakens had just enough action mixed in well with actual scenes about the story, the characters, and the galaxy as it has become. That’s more of what I’m into (maybe why I prefer the prequel?) but this movie balances both perfectly, appeasing to both types of viewers.

I think one of the film’s greatest balancing acts (and perhaps its greatest victory) was balancing the old with the new, and shining the spotlight on the next generation. It’s no secret that people want to know what happened to Luke, Leia and Han Solo. They’re who people care about – who they want to see. And by the movie’s end, I promise you see all three (not a spoiler, this is common knowledge) but this movie focused more on the people in the Star Wars universe that matter now, those who are continuing the story.

Rey is awesome, and perhaps one of my favorite sci-fi heroines in a long, long time (right up there with Katniss, me thinks). She’s completely self-sufficient and is tough but compassionate and not hardened. All too often a tough character is played to be someone who is distant or sarcastic, they have walls of some kind to make them seem something other than warm and vulnerable. Not Rey. She’s tough and vulnerable all at the same time, and makes it look like the most natural way to be. It probably is the most authentic. I liked Finn and the rest of the new characters, but again it was all about Rey for me (and I don’t think I’m alone on that front). Girl power – yo!

As far as the old characters – they’re all there and not in some gimmicky way (as a ghost or recording or hologram etc.) but actually there and present in the story. People find out by halfway through the film just what happened to Luke, Leia and Han and why their “happily ever after” was cut so painfully short…

The story is interesting and involved but not overly complicated or convoluted – it’s easy to follow along, even if you haven’t seen the first six films (or haven’t seen them in a really long time). The pacing was on point, it never lulled but never really felt rushed either, and it’s one of the shorter Star Wars films (135 minutes), so I found this to be impressive.

As far as the things I wasn’t so crazy about… here goes. All of my hang-ups have to do with the story/writing and continuity issues. We suddenly find ourselves thirty years in the future from the last film, but I felt much more lost between Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Episode VII: The Force Awakens, than I did between the end of the prequel trilogy and the beginning of the original trilogy. Who is this villain? Why does he matter? How did he come to power? After watching The Force Awakens, I still don’t have any of these answers, and that bothers me. I mean, I’d care more if I knew why I should hate or be fearful of a character, and with this villain I was just like “meh”. Also, I don’t understand how things ended up the way they did, but that is secondary to the whole villain issue.

The next thing I did not like was the idea that Luke willingly disappeared after his apprentice turned to the dark side (it’s in the episode description in the first thirty seconds of the movie, so I don’t consider this a spoiler). His character was always running to the fight and he didn’t give up on anyone. So his apprentice turns to the dark side and then Luke just runs away? This is nothing like his character in the original trilogy and yet this movie could be called, “Find Luke Skywalker” so it’s a MAJOR plot point. Luke ran away. But Luke wouldn’t run away. He wouldn’t turn his back on the Jedi, on his sister or Han. He wouldn’t stop training more Jedi. If anything, such an occurrence would make him step up the training of other Jedi so that they could be prepared. This really, REALLY bothered me.

A second, much smaller thing that bothered me was the idea of Luke being the “last Jedi”. Again, in Return of the Jedi, it is said that his twin sister, Princess Leia, was also strong in the Force, she was a Jedi, whether she trained as one or not. Or at least she had the potential to be. But this seems to have been forgotten in this movie. It’s all about Luke and how he is the last Jedi, there is no one else. And while Leia is present for much of the movie, she shows no signs of the Force. This also bothered me.

Finally, there is another Death Star-like weapon that the good guys must destroy if they don’t want to be blown up. (Okay, that might be the only spoiler, but I’m not saying what happens, just that it exists.) I mean this was the big deal in Episode IV: A New Hope and then in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi they do it again. So why would they do it a third time in Episode VII? I mean seriously, been there and done that. Move on. Bioweapons or some other weapon of mass destruction would be better than using the EXACT same thing by a different name. Because bigger is not necessarily better, but it also isn’t necessarily different. And in this case it’s not. I really hope for the next two films they go in another direction. One more “Death Star” and I may have to scream.

But beyond these smallish story gripes, I was still really happy with the film. It’s fun for all ages, and I think not only will it bring in many new Star Wars fans, but I think the old ones, even those that hated the prequel trilogy, are going to be very happy with this continuation.

So, if you haven’t seen it – what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on what everyone is talking about, because frankly, it’s worth all of that talk! 😉

-DMW

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One Response to After Much Anticipation… Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  1. Pingback: Anakin Skywalker: The Biggest Chump of the Galaxy | justalittlered reviews

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