I saw The Force Awakens for my birthday (December 24) and now that I’ve had a few days to digest and think about it, I’m ready to render a poorly organized list containing my thoughts in no particular order. I’m not planning on revealing any major details or plot twists, but the rest of the post will be hidden by a jump, just in case, as I will be talking about the characters and their personalities.
If you haven’t seen it yet, probably best to move along and come back when you have.
With that said . . .
I loved it.
I’ll need to watch it a few more times, because the first time through, I was constantly watching my own reaction as much as I was watching the film. “Is this good?” “Am I really enjoying it?” “Are we in another prequel situation here?”
It’s not a perfect movie, though it’s a very, very good Star Wars movie.
The parallels to A New Hope are really obvious, although it does a better job of feeling different compared to Abrams’ previous work with Star Trek: Into Darkness as compared to Wrath of Khan.
I absolutely love Rey and Finn as our new protagonists. Regardless of plot parellels, regardless of the fact that the bad guys keep making superweapons with tiny weaknesses, regardless of the fact that the political situation is underexplained, none of that really matters compared to the core fact that Rey and Finn are likable, interesting, and relatable characters. Their dialogue is great. Their interactions fill genuine. They’re portrayed with heart and soul in a way that the prequel trilogy characters never managed. Star Wars is about caring about the people. I care about these two. I’m invested in their character arcs. That’s a huge success.
I was initially skeptical of BB-8 from the previews, but damn if the little guy didn’t grow on me and ended up becoming one of my favorite parts of the movie. They did an amazing job establishing his own personality as something other than an R2-D2 clone. His design and mannerisms all communicated his personality as a “younger” droid compared to the fearless R2 and that was really fun to see.
Poe Dameron had what might be one of my favorite understates moments of the entire film. When he and Finn are escaping in the stolen TIE and Poe asks FN-2187 his name, Poe doesn’t like the fact that stormtroopers don’t have names, only designations. He says “I’m going to call you Finn” and then, in a very beautiful, thoughtful moment on the part of the script writers, he asks “is that alright?” Why is this so important? Because it’s showing a thoughtful and sensitive aspect that isn’t native to traditional masculinity in cinematic characters. In every other way, Poe is the badass hotshot pilot, but he’s also considerate and though it’s a quick moment that passes by without even remarking upon itself, it became one of my favorites.
The lightsaber battle was excellent.
Even though I didn’t really like Kylo Ren, I thought it was fascinating how well they patterned him after Anakin, even down to his hair style. Not only did it work in the context of the story, it felt like the crew was saying “we’ve learned a lot from the mistakes of the past. Heroes may be many things, but they’re not sullen and whiny.”
I think Chewie’s reaction to that moment was perfect. Although it seems like it was understated, I think it was the director trying to avoid melodrama. Certainly Darth Vader’s “NOOOOOOO!” scream in Episoder III spawned much eye-rolling and sarcasm. I think they did well to avoid that.
I’m really looking forward to seeing it again.