“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Spoiler-Filled Review
Initially, I thought I’d try and write my spoiler-free thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that’s impossible (said while whining and clinging for dear life to some random outcropping). Not saying who did what when or what I did and didn’t like about a scene without giving the scene away is too difficult. This review includes spoilers. If you have not seen the movie, then run away and come back once you’ve had a chance to experience the film.
Star Wars is my absolute favorite of all the geek franchises. The moment I saw A New Hope in theaters was the moment I fell in love with all things sci-fi so the movies hold a special place in my heart. Yes, every single one of them, even those with he who shall not be named. The original trilogy is far superior to those other films, but they’re still a part of the story and I can appreciate them for showing what happened to get Anakin into that black helmet.
Most people agree that the second trilogy was not what we were looking for. It was Star Wars with something missing. It was like going to your favorite restaurant and realizing they had gone gluten, dairy, and sugar free. The menu was still the same, but everything tasted a little off.
J.J. Abrams had the task of fixing that problem. If he messed it up, then the franchise would be over. People would still go see the movies, but the hope that it could recapture the magic of the original trilogy would be gone forever. Somehow, the man actually pulled it off.
Did I like the movie? Heck, yes. I loved it and as of this moment have seen it twice. The second time I saw it in IMAX 3D despite hating 3D because I wanted the IMAX experience. It was so good that the 3D didn’t even bother me. It was the return of the original Star Wars for the next generation.
There wasn’t so much CGI that it felt fake and making BB-8 real instead of a CGI monstrosity worked. He is, as you’d expect, completely adorable and will give R2-D2 a run for his money in the cute department. There were moments with him that felt lifted right out of the originals. As Finn and Rey escape Jakku, BB-8 gets tossed around the ship like a soccer ball until he finally has enough and shoots little grappling hooks at the walls to suspend himself in the air. Perfect.
Later, in a moment that is so perfectly Star Wars that it hurts, Finn tries to convince BB-8 to tell Rey the location of the Resistance base. The droid decides to trust him and when Finn gives a thumbs up, BB-8 shoots out a little arm with a lighter that he flicks on in a matching gesture. He’s such a little Artoo.
The movie gets right the style that the second trilogy got wrong. It’s not about looking like Star Wars. It’s about feeling like Star Wars. It’s about capturing that sense of impending doom, but managing to crack jokes in the middle of it all. Finn’s got this down, especially when he gets all up in Phasma’s face and Han has to tell him to relax, but no one does wise-cracking like Han Solo.
His first line, the one that became a meme before the film even hit theaters, is just one of many that let you know that Han is back. Arguing with two groups of angry thugs on his freighter he vows to talk his way out of it like he always does, but Chewbacca takes issue through a doubting growl. Han’s comeback, “Yes, I do. Every time,” is so perfectly Han. He might be a bit older. He might be a bit slower. But he’s still Han Solo.
The story is very similar to A New Hope, which is where some people take issue. It’s a new weapon that’s not the Death Star, but is still a huge round structure that needs to be destroyed against all odds. The Resistance has to do this before the weapon fully charges and blows up their base, which happens to be where Princess Leia is hanging out. She’s a General now, but you and I both know we’re all going to call her princess anyway
The Resistance even has its Luke in Poe Dameron. He is part of a group that saves the day when Han, Chewie, Finn, and Rey are about to be captured by the First Order. Watching him fly through the sky shooting down TIE fighters like it’s no big deal is fantastic. That’s CGi that works. Finn watches from the ground, hooting and hollering, and I may have sat in the theater doing the same thing.
The evil villain, Kylo Ren, is wonderfully evil. He’s also got a little snark in there, something Vader didn’t really have, and it works for this villain. He has temper tantrums, he loses his cool, and he kills anyone that stands in his way. Heck, he even kills innocent villagers that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, of course, he proves his evil by killing his own father, Han Solo.
The first time I watched that scene it was awful because Han was officially dead. The second time, watching the look on Han’s face as he touches his son’s cheek, I nearly cried. It’s absolutey heartbreaking, but it’s the perfect way to send off Han. It wasn’t a betrayal by some cagey smugglers, but his love for his own son that betrayed him and finally saw his luck run out.
Then, there’s the big mystery. Who is Rey? She has some pretty impressive Force potential being able to fend off Kylo Ren’s attempts to invade her mind and she is a heck of a pilot. Is she Luke’s daughter? If she’s Luke’s daughter, then who is her mother?
It all ends with a new beginning as Rey stands on the top of a lush island with Luke. Will he take that lightsaber? Of course he will. Right? I mean, he has to help the Resistance now that they’ve found him and this is his daughter, or is it? You think you know what’s going on, but do you?
The story is the same, but different, bringing us all back into the fold. It’s the Star Wars we loved, but with new characters and a new struggle between good and evil. Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t break new ground, but that’s not what anyone wanted. We wanted our original with all the gluten, dairy, and sugar we’d come to love. That’s exactly what we got and I can’t wait for Episode VIII.