12.20.2015

Reflections on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Spoilers)

Readers should be informed that leading up to viewing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and also following its release, I have deliberately avoided reading anything about the film.  Obviously, the purpose behind this prior to the film being released is that, like many Star Wars fans, I didn't want to see any spoilers.  The biggest spoiler of all would been to hear any news as to whether J. J. Abrams had managed to resurrect the feel of the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI.)  Having felt burned by George Lucas on several points in Episodes I, II, and III, even knowing Abrams and Disney were in charge, my trust could only be earned back by a viewing of the film.  The reason I have not yet read any reviews  of "The Force Awakens" is that after having finally seen it, it is sacred to me.  I neither care nor want to know what critics think, because when it comes to this franchise - a franchise that is pretty unique in that the fans believe it belongs to them - the most important critic is the fan.

Therefore, if what you read here has been said before or perhaps even disputed, know that I do not plan on finding it out.  I have seen "The Force Awakens," I feel protective of it now, and I will not read a single review.

That being said, I am so glad you do not feel the same way, since you are reading my review.  Or rather, my reflections on the film.  A review analyzes successes and flaws alike, and I'm not here to dissect, I'm here to bask in this film's glory.

For the record, I wanted to love Episodes I, II, and III.  I went right along with all the hype surrounding their late-nineties release.  I fully acknowledge that I clung tight to the bandwagon of all the new merchandise, the hullabaloo over Princess Amidala's hair and makeup, the soundtracks, the Podracer video games - I was party to ALL of it.  Because, ladies and gentleman, have compassion on me, here - it was STAR WARS.  I was not even born when the original trilogy was released and I knew it was momentous that the saga would be added to within my lifetime.  Especially as a fifteen-year-old, there was not a chance in you-know-where that I would turn down a toy Lightsaber, a new Star Wars DVD, a Darth Maul plastic cup, etc.  And you know what, even now, as a 31-year-old, I cannot say that I would be "too good" for any new installment in this franchise.  Love hurts, guys, and that's the truth.  Love hurts.

But I would be lying if I said I wasn't heartbroken when Qui-gon Jinn knelt down and to my horror explained to Anakin what midichlorians are.  Even at fifteen I thought to myself, "Oh, no!  You don't try to explain the Force!"  And then there was the awful dialogue and Jar Jar Binks and the rest is history.

To the Star Wars fan to whom those sentiments are familiar - prepare to be comforted.  It's strange, but that's the most apt word I can think of to describe how I felt exiting the theater after "The Force Awakens" - comforted.  Abrams coddles the wounded Star Wars fan right from the beginning, as even the famous opening crawl of backstory appears to be a practical effect.  The return of practical effects rather than gratuitous CGI to the franchise was not only a wise choice but a clear attempt to bring back the gritty, lifelike, exotic feel of the original trilogy.  Abrams also savors each opportunity to reveal a familiar image to the audience, such as with the comical and triumphant first reveal of the Millenium Falcon, the first glimpse of Han Solo and Chewie, the same clunky chess set on board the Falcon, and even a reference to a "garbage masher!"

The scenes listed above constitute some of my favorite moments from the film, but I have to say, after waiting the whole 2 hours and 15 minutes to find out whether or not he would appear, the sight of beautiful, beautiful Luke looking the most Jedi he has ever looked nearly brought tears to my eyes.  That was a major highlight for me.

"The Force Awakens" is also made great through perfect casting, namely the creepily handsome Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley as Rey, who is somehow simultaneously an "everygirl" and timelessly beautiful.  Prepare to see an icy side to Domhnall Gleeson you may not have seen before as he snaps at everyone from behind the visage of General Hux.  John Boyega is endearing and hilarious as a reluctant protagonist in the film, and of course, even non-Star Wars fans will revel in being able to see Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in the same film again.

Aside from the practical effects, joyously familiar sights, and inspired casting of "The Force Awakens," I do believe Abrams has given a major meta-fictional nod to the original trilogy in the fact that this film follows a strikingly similar plot to "A New Hope," complete with a Death Star-like mega-weapon, a "cantina" scene, and heroes from unlikely (and dusty) corners of the galaxy.  I do not make mention of this to point out lazy film-making.  To the contrary - why mess with what worked so magically all those years ago?

Have your own reflections on "The Force Awakens?"  Post them below in the comment section - just please do not comment with spoilers on the social media posts!

4 comments:

  1. Yes! I felt like it naturally was what 4, 5 & 6 would have conceived. You're right in that I needed to be babied, reassured that this could be done. And now I believe it can!!

    I was surprised by how multi-dimensional Kilo Ren is and cannot wait to see how the character evolves. I have some theories, that we can totally nerd out about sometime soon!

    In other thoughts - THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE FINALLY HAS WOMEN IN IT. Women storm troopers, women fighter pilots, etc. And although it is an improvement, they still have more work to do in this area, there was more ethnic diversity in the cast! woo!

    Also, I'm in love with a robot and it's name is BB-8. I don't know when technology is finally going to get there, but I am anxiously awaiting my first artificially intelligent pet.

    I've seen it twice already and plan on seeing it many many more!

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    1. I agree - I like that we are thrown right into the midst of Kylo Ren's internal struggle. He's a villian I an actually pulling for.

      I also wholeheartedly second your joyful sentiment about more women on the Star Wars silver screen who are not slaves! I do wish we could have had a tinge more Captain Phasma, but I suspect we will see more of her in Episode VIII.

      I know, is it possible for BB-8 to be even more lovable than R2-D2? He sure gives R2 a run for his money... I felt like there was a pretty blatant parallel being drawn there between Luke and R2 and Rey and BB-8.

      Gah! You've seen it twice already?! No fair... I've got to catch up... :)

      And, as always, thanks for the comment!

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  2. "the sight of beautiful, beautiful Luke ... brought tears to my eyes.

    SAME

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