I recently wrote a spoiler-free article on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But I decided that since many Star Wars fans have already seen the movie and caused it to reach a billion dollars in ticket sales in record time, I would write another review discussing the different aspects of the movie itself in all its complexity and awesomeness. So without further ado, let’s talk Star Wars! SPOILERS AHEAD!
“This Will Begin to Make Things Right”
This quote, the opening line of the story spoken by Max von Sydow’s character Lor Tan Sekka, truly speaks to several of the main points of this new movie. We get to meet some awesome new characters, see old ones, and have the combination of the two tie The Force Awakens to the spirit of the original trilogy. The ways in which these characters interact within the story seems to begin the process of remedying the series from the blows of criticism it has received for many years since the prequels came out. This movie is nothing like the prequels, and I think a lot of fans appreciated that.
Now, we have a powerful new Force user and an awesome female character in Rey, who is sort of a combination between Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. We don’t know much about her heritage or background except that she was left on Jakku as a young girl, presumably by a family member. The common theory, however, due to all of the context clues about her tech-savviness, piloting skills, and Force powers (which she seems to use pretty easily), is that she’s somehow either Luke Skywalker’s daughter or a descendent of Obi-Wan Kenobi (his voice is in her Force flashback), or possibly both. In all honesty, Rey is my favorite character so far, and her character was only made better in the fact that she took in our adorable new droid BB-8, who followed her around like a puppy.
I’ve heard some sources say that they don’t think Rey is a good role model, that she’s somehow “too perfect” of a character, but I heartily disagree. I think she has a lot of confidence in herself–which is good–though she’s definitely still quite a human character. She has her flaws and her fears, but I think that the fact that she’s able to work past them effectively just shows how good female characters can be, and I think we’re just not used to that. She’s the new Princess Leia. In fact, I think her conversation with Leia may have caused this movie to pass the Bechdel test, a set of criteria that determines how much attention a movie gives to female characters (many popular movies fail this test).
Next, We Have Two Sides of a Coin: Finn and Kylo Ren
Finn is a bad guy gone good, sort of, while Kylo Ren is a good guy gone bad. Finn, a Stormtrooper who seems to have grown a conscience despite his Stormtrooper upbringing and a good aim despite Stormtrooper marksmanship “stereotypes,” is another mysterious character, and yet is one of the most human characters in the movie. He experiences the horrors of the First Order first-hand, then decides to push aside his fear and step out in courage. He takes his destiny into his own hands in order to do “what’s right,” which is a common theme with him, and it caused me to really like his character. His quick friendship with Rey, the first person to show him a shred of decency and stick with him, was great to see, and I’m glad that the filmmakers decided not to rush a romance between the two. It’s definitely set up, but there’s still time to develop it well should the story go in that direction. At least it isn’t as creepy or forced as the whole Anakin/Padme thing in the prequels (*shudder*).
Kylo Ren AKA Ben Solo, on the other hand, is a different story. Formerly a student of Luke Skywalker, he was seduced to the Dark Side by Supreme Leader Snoke and has become the ultimate Vader fanboy. Armed with a uniquely-designed lightsaber, an impressive command of the Force that can stop a blaster bolt in midair and extract information from people’s minds (not even Darth Vader could do that), and a temper only slightly less scary than Vader’s, Kylo Ren is a fascinating new bad guy. I’d love to see where his character goes and if he and Rey end up having another awesome lightsaber battle (let’s be honest, they probably will). Unfortunately, Kylo Ren is the one who brings about the death of his own father, Han Solo, in an effort to more fully embrace the Dark Side. Apparently, he needed to do this order to continue to resist the Light Side, which still calls to him. It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes with his inner conflict.
And Speaking of Han Solo and Chewbacca
The two of them were awesome, as usual. I’ve heard people say that Harrison Ford stole the show again, and I’m tempted to agree. Back on the set for one last movie, Han continued to rock his swashbuckling, scoundrel, space pirate ways, though he does appear to have mellowed and turned into a much better person over the years, in spite of his mourning that his son went astray. With his side remarks, his references to things that happened in the original trilogy, his reunion with Leia, and his ability to just keep on keeping on make him a valuable character for this movie. Furthermore, it made his death–a moment of shock for the entire audience but one that most people probably saw coming after a while–all the more tragic, meaningful, and appropriate. It was made even sadder by Chewie’s all-out, epic, “destroy everything and kill everyone” reaction, which was simply tear-jerking.
Then there’s Poe Dameron. While he was a good character, especially when he helped Finn escape the Star Destroyer, I wish I could’ve seen more of him. I wish the movie would’ve developed him a bit more, though there was only so much it could do in the time it had. I think he could have a lot going for him besides his Skywalker-like piloting skills. R2-D2 and C-3PO, also now parts of the Resistance, are reintroduced to us, too, though apparently R2-D2 is in mourning (low-power mode) because Luke has been away without him for such a long time.
The First Order vs. The Resistance
Some people have complained that The Force Awakens is too much like the original Star Wars. I don’t believe it is, though, because it takes all of those references to the original movie and makes them new in great, meaningful ways. And even if it is rather similar to the originals, is that a particularly bad thing? If it was completely different from the originals, people would complain that it doesn’t stay true to the rest of the series.
But still, what a great story! It’s thirty years later, and the New Republic has risen–only to be destroyed by the new, bigger, badder, Death Star-like, planet-weapon known as Starkiller base, home of the First Order. I don’t know about you, but when I saw that its new, sun-eating laser weapon was capable of destroying all those planets in one fell swoop, I shuddered and was actually rather shocked (I was in varying stages of shock and awe throughout the movie). That was a power not even the Empire had. It just goes to show that The First Order is something to take seriously, as the Resistance does in the final battle, which, of course, includes another sort-of X-Wing trench run and a fatal weakness that ends with the base getting blown to smithereens. The First Order is after the last of the Jedi, particularly the map that leads to Luke. There was even a great bit of reminiscence back to “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” when Poe Dameron gives the map piece to BB-8 and instructs him to keep it away from the First Order, which proceeds to chase him, Rey, and Finn across the galaxy.
However, the movie also left me with quite a lot of questions. Who are Rey’s parents? How did Maz Kanata happen to find Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber, lost in Cloud City over thirty years previously? Who are Finn’s parents? What has Luke been doing away in hiding for so long? Who/what/how big is Supreme Leader Snoke, seen only in a huge hologram? Who are the Knights of Ren? How and why did Kylo Ren defeat Luke’s new Jedi Order and send him packing? What happened over the course of the thirty years that have passed?
All in all, though, I think Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an excellent, well-made movie. It’s a great story and is truly the movie that fans wanted to see. Lots of great new characters have been introduced, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to all of them as the story progresses.
What do you think of the movie? What questions do you want answered and what do you think of the series’ new characters? Let us know!