When The Force Awakens first came out I said I needed to wait a week and a half before I could write about it – there were just too many spoilers to be had. Well, my embargo is long since over and I’m sharing my thoughts.
So, fair warning, spoilers ahead. If you have not seen the movie yet, stop reading now.
You have been warned.
When I first went to see The Force Awakens as we entered the theatre 1 my son turned to me and said, “I’ve waited my whole life for this.” I just about broke down with tears of joy. I only hoped the movie would be worth his wait.
It was. In fact, it was so worth the wait I have now seen the film three times – in three different formats. On opening night we saw the film on a standard screen, the next Monday we saw it in IMAX 3D, and this past Sunday we viewed it in RPX 3D 2. Of the three formats I think I recommend IMAX 3D. This surprises me since I do not much care for 3D in general, but TFA implemented it well. It felt the most immersive of the three formats, though the rumble seats in RPX is really cool. In any format, however, the movie is worth seeing.
This is not, ground-breaking drama. It doesn’t need to be, it “just* needs to be authentically “Star Wars.” In this, TFA excels brilliantly – it is “Star Wars” in a way the prequels never quite managed. I care about these characters, and their relationships, in ways which make sense. A big part of this feel is the return to practical effects. There was a sense these places were real. For me, who grew up fascinated by this universe, it was like going home. The Easter eggs which populate the film are also well done, though I understand how some might have felt they were a bit heavy. For me, personally, the moment the targeting computer comes online in the Millennium Falcon I almost weeped tears of joy.
In many ways, TFA is simply a revisiting of the plot of Episode 4. A droid has secret information, the bad guys want it, and an out of place desert dweller falls into a larger world. There’s even a brief trench run at the end of the climatic battle, which concludes with the Falcon flying away from a massive explosion. Do I care there isn’t much that is original in the plot? Not really. In fact, as a reintroduction to the Star Wars universe it almost functions as a “reboot.” The familiar framework is what allows this new reality coalesce so brilliantly.
The characters are very well done. Harrison Ford’s reprisal of Han Solo is perfect, and I found myself extremely emotional the moment Kylo Ren thrusts his lightsaber through his father 3. It wasn’t until my third time seeing the film I could truly appreciate the moment for what it was. Ben Solo’s face the moment he murders his father is a defining moment in the film. You see how he expected the act to set him free from “the light,” and is suddenly stunned find himself feeling remorse. I also appreciate Kylo Ren’s childish tendencies. He is very much an angry adolescent who has a great deal of power and very little self-discipline. His unfocused brutality comes out more every time I see the film, and I find myself appreciating his character more deeply with each viewing.
Finn and Rey’s arc is equally well done. Finn feels deeply for Rey because she treats him like a person, and the more I see the film the more I get why Finn creates bonds so quickly. In the First Order his natural tendencies were discouraged, even punished, but once free from his upbringing they emerge with almost reckless rapidity. His fast connection with Poe Dameron is another example of this. This make’s Finn’s attempts to flee so fascinating. He is terrified of being found by the First Order, and so in his freedom he ends up fleeing from his innate sense of loyalty. A big part of his character arc is accepting that part of his character. To this end, it’s interesting his final decision to join with the Resistance is not out of political idealism, but out of loyalty to his friend.
Rey absolutely steals the film. Every time I’ve seen TFA I catch something different from Daisy Ridley’s portrayal. The first time though I caught Rey’s childlike tendencies, the moment she put on the old rebel pilot’s helmet was the key moment for me. The second time through I paid attention to her resolve, the way she determines to help BB-8 and return to Jakku in order to wait for her family. The third time I paid most attention to her courage – caught in a world beyond her imagination she not only copes, she triumphs. Rey is a character of incredible depth and I cannot wait to see her journey continue.
Star Wars is back, and I’m so glad. I am so looking forward to the Blu-ray release.