I’ve written before that I am a giant Star Wars fan. I use Yoda’s wisdom in my life perspective, and I fanboyed so hard when the trailers came out for Episode VII. It came from it in December, while I was in Boston. I decided against watching it on opening night. I decided that I would go home and see it with my family. We quote all the movies regularly and have discussed the merits, faults, and details of the Star Wars saga to no end, and can launch into such discussions at any time. So I wanted to watch the movie with my parents and experience it with them. I went to see it back on December 23 with my family and we loved it. It was fun, well written, brilliantly acted, smartly shot, and a fantastic movie going experience. I had fun at the movies for the first time in a long time.
As the break went on, I reached out to a high school friend and asked if he wanted to catch up and hang out, offering to catch a movie of his choice. He hadn’t seen Force Awakens yet, so he chose that. I obliged and went to see it again. We caught up and saw the film. I loved it even more the second time. The story still gripped me and drew me into the world of Star Wars in a way that no film has before. It made me feel like these characters, spaceships, droids, lightsabers, and strange worlds were all real. After the film, we had to talk about it. And we did that over some ice cream, like real New Englanders would.
SPOILER ALERT!! If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then stop reading this post and go see the movie then come back and read the post. SPOILERS!!!
a comparatively subpar John Williams soundtrack. Seriously, the best new piece of music is Rey’s theme and the soundtrack as a whole doesn’t beat out the soundtrack of the originals or even the prequels. I’m going to attribute this to John Williams’ poor health for that and be happy with a good soundtrack but not a great one.
Yes, the “Death Star” is overdone. Three out of the seven movies so far have had a planet sized base with the capability to blow up a planet. It’s stretching the idea a bit far and only a little much. But I can forgive that problem just enough because the Starkiller base has enough differences, what with it being built into a planet and with the horror and destructive power of the base being on full display. In the original movie, Alderran got blown up and the empire committed planetary genocide, but the only reactions were from Leia and Obi Wan, with only Obi Wan’s reaction hitting the viewer with any real force. In the new movie, the residents of the planet that’s getting blown up watch their death come at them, and the people on other planets watch in horror. Their reactions are loaded with emotion and make you feel like these are real people getting killed. So on that, I can allow the retread. I just hope that there isn’t another “Death Star” in the next movie.
And there were a few too many references in lines and attitude to the original trilogy. Many lines were a little too cute and self-referential for their own good. Many of them worked, but when Han had the line “Is there a garbage chute? Trash compactor?”, I felt like that was hamming it up a little bit. There is a good way to be self-referential, and most of the film did that. By the end though, it was a little much.
Aside from that, I didn’t have any problems with the movie. I loved everything else. The characters were entertaining, perhaps more entertaining than any Star Wars film not named Empire Strikes Back. Finn was lovably foolish, but had a good heart throughout. Poe is a fun bad ass who brings swagger and attitude. Rey is an impressive leading lady that makes the transition from lonely scrapper to Jedi well. Actually, she is kind of an OP (overpowered) Luke, but she is at least not a whiney kid the way Luke and Anakin were. She is quite entertaining, and her arc is an excellent transition. Han is a wise man, and his veteran guile shines in the movie.
The filmmaking and effects were excellent. The use of light to show the internal fight inside of Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) is subtle but smart film making. The look and sounds of the lightsabers was infinitely better this time. It sounded like a more powerful weapon, it hit with more force, and the viewer felt the power of a hit from the blade much more than in prior movies. The CGI was still not outstanding, but still improved over the prequels, and the use of practical effects made a much needed return for the space battles, which brought the feel of the old Star Wars films back in a big way.
For the first time in my life, I felt like I was watching a Star Wars movie in theatres. That’s a big deal because the first films of the franchise I saw in person were Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. I maintain that Sith is a pretty good movie with some outstanding sequences that doesn’t quite hit its mark due to some flawed moments and some painful dialogue. I also maintain that Clones is a horrid movie with awful dialogue, terrible CGI, and the worst character interactions in the entire franchise, mainly caused by a bad script and equally bad acting by much of the cast, especially Hayden Christiensen. So I hadn’t seen a truly great Star Wars film in theatres to this point in my life. Now that I have, I understand in much more detail why this is the most popular science fiction franchise in all of cinema. It’s a complete world with fun characters and an exciting fight between good and evil in its most clear form. It makes the idea of space adventure fun and unendingly romantic, in the sense of the adventure being exciting and making the viewer want to join the adventure.
I loved The Force Awakens, and I am excited that the energy of the Star Wars franchise is back and we will get at least two new main series entries to the franchise and the Star Wars Anthology series too.
May the Force be with the makers of the new films.