Star Wars: The Force Awakens and My Thoughts Which Might Be Spoilers If You Haven’t Seen It Yet

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.

Spoiler warning.

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.

 

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5 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens and My Thoughts Which Might Be Spoilers If You Haven’t Seen It Yet”

  1. One thing I like is how they’ve layered multiple stories on top of each other. There was no question that the original trilogy was Luke Skywalker’s hero’s journey, and the other characters were just support along for the ride. But I feel like the Force Awakens is Rey’s hero’s journey, Fin’s hero’s journey, and Kylo Ren’s story (not sure if it’s a redemption story or a tragedy yet) all fully developed.

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure what Kylo Ren’s arc is going to be, but I’m fascinated to find out. My hope is tied into my preferred speculation about Rey’s origin: that she’s not a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi, or a scion of anyone else that we know. I hope that she just has some regular parents, commoners or whatnot, and that we can move away from the dynastic, almost aristocratic nature of legacy that the Jedi have assumed. I’d like the universe to be bigger than the Skywalker bloodline.

      Thus, I think it would be great for a “commonborn” character to rise while the character with all that legacy ends up failing beneath it (or deciding to focus on the wrong part of that legacy, as we saw in the movie).

      1. While I think that would be interesting from a meta-narrative perspective, I think it’s more compelling for Rey to have those connections. She could act as a foil to Ren, both have a legacy but each follow different paths. It could be that Ren is devoted to the Dark and pulled towards the Light while Rey is devoted to the Light and drawn to the Dark. We could ultimately see these two sides unite, and a new interpretation of the force as something that requires both to survive.

        1. It creates a lot of problems, though. It makes Luke look like a jerk if she’s his daughter. It’s not like what happened to him; Obi-Wan took Baby Luke to a good, loving family to be raised, and then also stayed nearby to protect him from afar.

          If Rey is Luke’s daughter, it pretty much looks like Luke abandoned her on a hellish desert planet and left her to fend for herself entirely alone.

          I think the foil between Rey and Ren (man, those names are similar) works no matter how the lineages are developed. Creatively, however, it feels like the direction for this generation of Star Wars is to be more inclusive, rather than less . . . why not make the Force something that anyone can possess, rather than simply a single prominent bloodline?

          1. Narratively it begs the question, though. If Rey’s parentage is irrelevant, why shroud it in mystery in the first place?

            It’s possible that Luke had a reason to abandon her, or perhaps it wasn’t his decision. The mother might have separated them, or something like that. Or it could simply be a decision that Luke regrets, and it we can see some of the tension that decision creates.

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