(Image via Reddit. Warning: Mild spoilers below.)
In March of this year, I blogged about how I became a Star Wars fan. I concluded that post saying I was “pretty freaking excited” to see The Force Awakens in theaters. How excited was I? Excited enough to go without my husband, the much bigger Star Wars fan, because he’s an introvert and didn’t want to see it in a crowded theater opening weekend. By the time all my friends and their brothers had seen the movie Friday evening, I couldn’t wait any more. I bought a ticket (to a really cool movie theater in Carmel called FlixBrewhouse) and saw The Force Awakens on Monday the 21st.
It was amazing.
I’m not just saying that because zOMG Star Wars!!1! I like Star Wars a lot, but I’m not so devoted to it that I can’t see its flaws–or rail on said flaws over and over and over again. After my first viewing of The Force Awakens, though, I found very few flaws, and the plot, characters, acting, and immersion were stellar.
I can’t recite the original trilogy word-for-word like my husband can, so I rewatched Episodes IV, V, and VI before seeing The Force Awakens. I’m glad I did because Episode VII really felt like a continuation of that trilogy. Thirty years after Return of the Jedi, things aren’t as we thought they should be: there’s no new Jedi order, stormtroopers of the First Order are wreaking havoc on the Resistance–two groups it didn’t seem like we’d have or need at the end of Jedi. While some people who are devoted to the now non-existent extended universe may be salty that there aren’t a hundred Jedi running around, the militaristic stormtroopers of the Empire/First Order versus the scrappy pilots of the Rebellion/Resistance fit well in the universe. The classic good versus evil fight is still going from 30 years ago, but we still recognize that 30 years have indeed passed.
I think my favorite thing about The Force Awakens is that blend of old versus new. It’s in everything from the ships to the characters. Hello, Millennium Falcon! Hello, Han and Chewie! Hello, Easter eggs that call to the original trilogy! But these “old” settings and characters don’t just pander to Star Wars fans. They provide the perfect bridge to all the new–new worlds, new characters, new powers. For instance, I am a huge fan of Finn and Rey. Finn, the stormtrooper turned good, and Rey, the lost girl on Jakku who, well, I won’t get that spoilery on you. Their dynamic with each other, with Han Solo and Leia, and with the bad guys makes the movie fun and fresh. I like the uppity kids dynamic versus the old rogues, because what were Luke, Leia, and Han 30 years ago but uppity kids themselves?
And as I’m talking about the characters, I just have to take a minute to fangirl over the fact that they actually got Harrison Ford to come back for the part of Han Solo. He’s always said he never liked the character and he’s been famously tight-lipped about talking about Star Wars. As in, he never talks about it. Ever. So to see him on the screen–with some significant screen time–made my Harrison Ford-fan heart flutter. And just like the blend of old and new characters, the “old” and young actors make a great dynamic. John Boyega, Daisey Ridley, and Adam Driver pair well against Harrison Ford, et al.
(Well. Kylo Ren/Adam Driver doesn’t pair all that well against Han Solo/Harrison Ford… If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll leave that at that.)
The Force Awakens was an overall exciting movie experience. It’s absolutely something that should be seen on the big screen, and more than once. There’s humor, there’s sorrow. There are space battles, the Force, and some sweet lightsaber action. I laughed often, and I cried a little, too. If you like Star Wars, $20 says you’ve already seen the movie. If you don’t care one way or another about Star Wars, but want a good movie night, I’d go see it. It’s fun, and you don’t need to have Yoda’s every line from Empire memorized to enjoy it.