So I know this review is considered “late” by movie standards, but the rule seems to exempt Star Wars movies, as I know there are people still writing their personal reviews of A New Hope… so I feel that my thoughts are still worth recording and presenting.
I’m split like Two-Face about this movie.
On the one hand, this movie does a lot of things right to the Star Wars franchise. The prequels’ hugest mistake was that it moved Star Wars away from being an adventure movie series. Nobody was experiencing new things, everyone was an expert and engaging in political negotiations and such.
Episode IV: A princess fleeing Darth Vader with plans to destroy the Death Star? Adventure! Excitement!
Episode I: Jedi sent to mediate the taxation of trade routes, which are in dispute. They are called on to settle things between a Trade Federation and a planet you just introduced with a monarchy ruled by a 14-year-old girl who has so much makeup that she is instantly alienated from the audience until halfway through the movie? Did you even make it past the words “taxation of trade routes” in that sentence before your eyes went half-lidded?
The Force Awakens follows a girl with an unknown past who has only really stayed on one planet, and a stormtrooper who has only known an upbringing with the Empire – both people who have experienced very little of the rest of the galaxy. These characters go through new things with the audience and can react like the audience, instead of like smug little experts (old Han Solo…).
So now we’re back on an adventure! There are plenty of similarities between A New Hope and this one.
- Dark villain introduced in first few minutes and kills someone.
- Big bad guy ship opens movie.
- Droid given secret information and then abandoned on a desert planet.
- Stormtrooper rescues prisoner from the bowels of enemy territory.
- Lightsaber duel at climax.
- Superweapon threatening Rebel Base in seconds before exploding.
We got to see some new things.
- We got to see a pedestrian (non-Jedi) use a lightsaber.
- We got to see a “inferior saber.”
- We got to see troopers actually shoot people.
- Blah blah blah minority blah blah woman main characters.
We also got to see a villain at a crucial point in his character development.
I really enjoyed Finn’s character, and how he has all the experience the Resistance needs, but other than that nothing else that would make him “street-smart.” Finn freaks out during all the times that I would freak out.
Poe Dameron was interesting. He was a cocky, arrogant, male character thrust into the role of a damsel in distress.
Then there’s Kylo Ren. On one hand, horrible horrible name. I get that you’re tired of Darth Villain being the dude behind stuff but between “Kylo Ren” and “Supreme Leader Snoke” I’m having a hard time taking anything seriously.
However, I like the character arc that he immediately represents. Instead of showing us a cold, transformed villain (seen it) we have a villain at the very start of his transformation.
So yes, fun movie. I predicted most of the story, but that’s okay! True to form, they know we really wanted to see Old Luke’s power, so they slapped in a flashback so we could see Mark Hamill’s name and get excited and then just made him part of the cliffhanger. Now they’re challenged with doing the ESB of the new trilogy…
Then there’s the part that infuriates me: in one deft move Disney has destroyed the EU and relegated those stories to “Star Wars Legends.”
Wow, way to relegate decades of acquired knowledge and emotional investment. Knowing their futures and their place in a larger extended universe is part of what gave the movies replayability. Now every character is gone? No Jacen Solo becoming Darth Caedus? No death of Chewbacca wracking young Anakin Solo with guilt? No Thrawn? No Mara Jade Skywalker? No Lowbacca, Jedi Wookiee? No Jaina? No Zekk, no Kyp Duron? No Tenel Ka, losing her arm in a lightsaber accident?
… Oh well. It was only my childhood.