My Take on Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I was about seven years old when my father took me and a couple of my sisters to see Star Wars: A New Hope. As each film was released, and while we hadn’t rebelled and did it ourselves, he made it a point to take us to see them, generally on opening night or pretty close. During Return of The Jedi, I shamelessly embarassed my sisters by exclaiming on the first close-up of Luke, “Look at that zit!” It’s still an anecdotal face-palm moment for the family. We look back at the original trilogy with nostalgia, and secretly do enjoy the prequels, faults, glorious moments, eye-rolls, furtive emotional starts, and all.
Star Wars, for me, has been a formative part of my escapist sci-fi tastes, albeit one nuance in a wealth of novels, movies, and tv series voraciously devoured. I had never really gotten into the Expanded Universe and resigned myself that after Revenge of The Sith we had all of the original cannon we were going to get and therefore moved on.
Then there was Episode VII.
When it was announced there was certainly a bit of a “holy shit” moment amongst my siblings and Star Wars loving friends. Even more so when the cast was announced and that J.J. Abrams would direct. I admit there was a lot of temptation for spoiler hunting on my part, with searches for Episode VII, makingstarwars.net, and links to other dubious sites added to my bookmarks. As the release date drew closer, I found myself looking less and less for spoilers and thinking more and more about what would make The Force Awakens a great, natural progression to the world-building George Lucas did and for the Skywalker saga: it should be generational.
The Force Awakens answers some questions about the journey of the characters and their universe and also poses new ones. We all age, we all progress, fail, learn, diminish, and grow in our myriad ways—there are stories and mysteries we aren’t privy to over time which every family and generation goes through, and in that context this movie delivers, as much as it can, and probably should.
Gods below it’s very tempting to write about the specifics!
Some have criticized the plot for being formulaic and derivative, that it regurgitates A New Hope in more than trivial ways. I ask, in what family doesn’t that happen on a regular basis? Let it go, people. Enjoy the story for what it is: great fun and a welcome next chapter in the story that carries on a tale that can be told from generation to generation, not only full-effect on screen, but by spoken word as well.
The film is cinematically and atmospherically beautiful. It has all the milieu that captures the original trilogy and builds upon it. The action was superb, the effects felt realistic, the banter was excellent, and the camaraderie between the characters really worked. To be sure, backstory, motivations, and politics seemed glossed over, but hey, 30 years have passed—things happen—you don’t need to know every detail, that will come over time, as things do in families and stories are handed down. Things will be lost, others revealed, some never known.
Lucas didn’t need to explain the first time around and there should be no expectation that Abrams should have done any different. I felt that in this movie there was a tacit understanding that shit happened and people had to deal with it. Everyone was where and exactly where they needed to be at the onset, backstory notwithstanding. In this film, deal with it they did, the best way they could — sometimes messy, sometimes with hope and success. It’s not a perfect thing, but — oh man — what a ride!