I predicted I would love the movie yesterday and not be able to say anything but great things about it. While I did love and like it a lot, it took a while for me to get into it. Longer than I thought and I did find some parts that did not sit well with me.
The Force Awakens reminded me of a new pair of shoes. It was a little uncomfortable at first, something different that I needed to get used to. But once I had worn it for a significant amount of time, the shoes melded to my feet and I love them. It tooke a while for me to accept that this movie was the beginning of a new era in Star Wars: new characters, ships, and storylines to get used to.
I felt like the first 2/3 of the movies was story building – a lot of it. To the point that sometimes I felt that it was a little slow and it was uncomfortable. Though we were in the universe of Star Wars, it was different. The galaxy had aged 30 years, the Empire is resurrected in a new form as the First Order, and we aren’t sure what has happened to the Rebellion. The war that we thought was over is far from over and the Resistance, surprisingly I thought, is still a small faction (albeit more organized) trying to overthrow a large government.
General Notes – Spoiler Territory Ahead
The strengths of this movie pulled from the Original Trilogy with its humorous quips and little touches that devout Star Wars fans would notice (there were definitely some EU shout outs as well). The humor mostly came when Han was on screen, so I’d like to see how they are going to keep the humor going now that he’s dead. I’m guessing Poe since he had that bad boy funny streak. The format was like A New Hope in that we followed BB-8 on this journey, similar to how we followed R2-D2 and C-3PO previously. I loved BB-8 and I understand why everyone fell in love with Artoo when Star Wars first came out. I want my own BB-8 droid.
The Falcon appeared early in the movie and was the main mode of transportation, but man oh man, does it get beat up. I cringed every time it hit the sand, but it kind of brought a realness to the situation that I appreciated.
I did not notice the soundtrack as much as I thought I would. I feel like all the other Star Wars movies had distinct themes that you could go return to and love. Duel of the Fates, Imperial March, Luke and Leia, Battle of the Heroes, etc. I didn’t notice anything in The Force Awakens that had me rooting for a new tune.
Once everything was established, and we knew and understood the new characters Finn and Rey, the story began to take off. The last 1/3 of the movie was Star Wars fun, with a big space complex to destroy (round per usual, but this time in the form of a Death Star converted to a large planet), a lightsaber fight, and some loss of beloved heroes.
In typical Star Wars fashion, there were some plot points that were nicely glossed over that left me scratching my head. Such as:
- Where did they get Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber? Maz Kanata smoothed that over and basically said it was “a story for another time.”
- Why was the lightsaber “crying” and Rey heard it? Is this part of the Force? Why did it give her all those images?
- I would have liked to know more about the Republic that was destroyed by Starkiller Base. It sounds like it was established at the end of ROTJ, but was it an actual governing force in the galaxy? Is the First Order still the reigning government, or was it similar to a civil war or the Prequel Trilogy with the Separatists and the Republic? But this time the Republic is the smaller group and the First Order is the larger?
- R2-D2 basically shutting down didn’t make sense. It was a neatly thrown in plot point and then he conveniently “woke up” at the end to help the Resistance find Luke…huh?
I loved Rey. Rey was my favorite character, no question about it. They didn’t try to make her a forced “strong female protagonist” as most of Hollywood seems to be trying to do right now. They made her relatable, a real human being where you understood her actions and the consequences. She could be male or female, which is what I loved. There was no push on the romance and even now, I can’t figure out if her and Finn are going to become an “item” or if they are just friends who’ve been through a lot. I want to know more about her history. I’m guessing her parents were taken from her? But who was dragging her away? Is she somehow related to the Skywalkers?
Mr. Reticent noted that he thought her being captured by Kylo Ren was a “damsel in distress” situation, but I highly disagree. It made sense with her character. It allowed her to battle Kylo in the Force, come out victorious, and feel the Force awaken within her. If they captured Han, it would be a little pointless. If they captured Finn, there would be so much hullabaloo with him being a previous stormtrooper that there would be too much First Order protocol involved.
I thought Han was still Han, though I did feel like the movie was staged for his death a little too much (who called that?). I liked his quips, his camaraderie with Chewie was still the same, and I thought it made sense that he was separated from Leia due to their son going to the dark side. We couldn’t have Han and Leia madly in love because his death would be that much harder. Abrams and the writers wanted to separate the audience from Han, to not make it *that* hard on us when he died. Though I didn’t cry when he died, totally expecting it, I did get teary eyed when Rey came off the Falcon and had that moment with Leia.
Though the driving force of the movie was Luke Skywalker, it was frustrating how little they spent on where he had been in the past 30 years. I know he disappeared due to the failure of his training and starting a New Jedi Order, but it was rushed. It seems a little out of character for the Luke we know…wouldn’t he have at least stayed in touch with his sister and Han? I hope we find out much, much more of his backstory in the upcoming films. When I saw the last shot, I honestly thought, “Oh darn, the movie was just starting to get good.”
Finally, Kylo Ren. Or, Ben Solo (interesting EU nod). I went back and forth throughout the movie on whether or not I liked him. On the one hand, he was not nearly as imposing or intimidating as I’d expect someone on the dark side of the Force to be. On the other hand, I loved the character struggles he seemed to go through. It added more layers to a dark side character that we’ve only really seen in Return of the Jedi. Knowing Kylo was once good and even admits that he’s struggling when it came to his father was an interesting twist for Star Wars. Vader never admitted he struggled with the light side. I’m confused as to why he wore the mask, other than to emulate Darth Vader and his obsession with him. Funnily, and I’m not sure if Abrams meant this, but the tantrums Kylo Ren threw were so much like Anakin that I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him he’s more like Anakin than he knows. I loved Adam Driver’s acting when it came to that moment when he killed his father. I felt there was a real struggle within him, but when he made his decision, you could see this slight change in his face and oh, it was so perfect. By the end of the movie, I wish we had more of Kylo and I’m interested to see where he will go in his training with Snoke.
Supreme Leader Snoke. Where do I begin? This was my one major gripe with the movie. I thought he was a horrible addition. It looks like he jumped straight out of a Tolkien novel/movie, with some zombie thrown in. I can’t figure out if it was because he was so large or because of his species (whatever he is), but I thought he wasn’t believable. Every time he came on the screen, the movie felt disjointed and took a step back, instead of forward. I am curious as to whether it’s because he was so large, which made me think he just looked stupid. When we see him in future movies, I hope that he is a normal height and not a hologram. I wanted to see more of Kylo Ren and less of Snoke throughout the movie.
General Hux was like he came straight out of an EU novel: a typical Imperial General. What I liked most about him was that he seemed to be an equal to Kylo and had no problems calling him out, another difference from the Empire in the Original Trilogy, where everyone was terrified of Vader (shhh…don’t tell Kylo that). Captain Phasma didn’t have as large of a role as I was hoping, but I appreciate the shout out to female stormtroopers and the fact, again, that Phasma could have been male or female. Maz Kanata was a nice replacement for Yoda/wise mage, but I’d like to see more of her. I hope she continues to pop up throughout the new sequels, but is a true guiding force. General Leia was not given as much screen time as I would have hoped. She was the same, yet different, but they didn’t explore it much. She had more of a cameo role than an actual part. Poe Dameron was interesting and I hope we see more of him in the future. I think he will be a really strong character, but more please. More of Poe in the next movie.
I believe it took a while for the movie to establish itself, but once the foundation was built, it took my breath away. Abrams did a great job clearly defining that the baton was being passed onto a new generation, which was one of my highest hopes. I did not want a movie that only focused on Han, Leia, and Luke again – and this did not disappoint.
The only parts where it fell short for me was the lack of the mystical in the Force and Snoke. I felt that the Force has always been such an important factor for Star Wars and guides all the movies, so to say, but it wasn’t strong within this movie. I think we’ll see more of it coming up in the sequels and I certainly hope so.
Overall, I give The Force Awakens a solid B+/A-. I’m seeing it again tonight so will hopefully have a better understanding and opinion of it once done.
Okay, phew, done. LET’S DISCUSS.