DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO SEE SPOILERS OR PLOT POINTS
- E. Hughes
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve been waiting for this movie your entire life. Star Wars the Force Awakens is a sweeping homage to the original trilogy, with a wink or two at the prequels for good measure. While not all of our beloved characters made an appearance , the core players are there with Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, Threepio, and lastly, Artoo and Luke are back for a last hurrah…and boy was it worth the wait. We also meet new characters, with Finn, Rey, Poe, BB-8 and the galaxy’s greatest threat, Kylo Ren… a protégé of the darkside, and sniveling brat with immense force powers. Where Luke Skywalker danced with the darkside, Kylo Ren is in a full-on waltz. He is an evil little bastard.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is everything a Star Wars movie is supposed to be, but where it fails is in the lack of space battles and John Williams’ masterful score. In the original trilogy Williams’ score acted as a narrator of sorts. When the audience heard the Imperial March, otherwise known as “Vader’s Theme”, we knew the Dark Lord would soon make an appearance, and a quivering sycophant was about to die for having failed him. When audiences heard “Duh da duh duh, da duh duh!” Darth Vader was exiting the Executor, showing up on Cloud City, plotting against the rebellion, or force choking an underling. Likewise, when audiences heard the “Main Theme”, our imaginations soared–the opening crawl and “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” filled us with excitement and wonder, our the heroes were about to triumph over evil or overcome an obstacle. May the Force be with us! Yet, in Episode VII, Williams’ score played silently in the background, reduced to an uncredited cameo kind of like Jar Jar Binks in Attack of the Clones.
There weren’t nearly enough space battles in The Force Awakens when compared to the original trilogy or the prequels. From the Battle of Yavin, Battle of Hoth, the Battle of Endor, to the Battle of Kashyyk, or the numerous space battles as Han Solo is pursued by the Empire in a New Hope (I can go on naming the battles–but won’t), the space battles compiled from all six movies could probably fill over an hour of screen time. The Force Awakens instead, chooses to focus on the principal characters and multiple engagements with the fiery Kylo Ren.
We first meet Poe, a pilot with the resistance who arms his little droid, BB-8 with a map to something very important and sends it to the planet Jakku where the cute little robot soon meets poor metal scavenger, Rey. Meanwhile, Poe is confronted on the battlefield by Kylo Ren, who we soon learn is a powerful force user who uses his powers to paralyze enemies, rendering them utterly helpless and unable to defend themselves or resist him. He is also an adept mind reader. Using this power he quickly learns the droid is well on its way to Jakku, and sets his minions on course to find it. On the battlefield, watching as this unfolds is our principal character, Finn, a Storm Trooper who wants nothing to do with the Order. By far, Finn is our most interesting, and conflicted character. Like Han Solo before him, Finn is in it for himself. Not the Order. Not the resistance. After a poor performance on the battlefield, he is reprimanded by a commanding officer, Phasma, who orders him to be reprogrammed–Finn has shown too much individuality for a Storm Trooper. Instead of reporting for reprogramming, Finn escapes, but he’s a Storm Trooper, he doesn’t know how fly or pilot a ship, so he helps Poe escape. The two make fast friends, but are separated when the ship crashes and Poe is swallowed by quick sand. Finn makes his way across Jakku where he eventually meets Rey. She is Finn’s opposite. Where Finn has been taught to follow orders, she’s as independent as it gets and knows how to survive. In a way, they are both survivors. Rey has been on her own and hopes to reunite with her family someday. Finn was raised by the Order and trained to be a lowly Storm Trooper. His job is to take a bullet–force knows, Storm Troopers can’t shoot for shit. Soon the pair run afoul of the Order and must escape. They leave Jakku and the adventure begins.
The movie makes an attempt to pull at our emotional strings when Han Solo and Leia see each other for the first time. The romantic tension that made them fun to watch in the original trilogy falls flat while Han Solo and Chewbacca’s bromance continues to endure. Leia is still–only a general and yet, maintains the allure of being powerful, smart, and focused. The Force Awakens boasts two powerful women in both Leia and Rey. The former gives Han Solo a mission–a deadly one, which is to bring their son back before he sinks even further into the dark side, while the latter, will soon be forced to face him.
What struck me the most about The Force Awakens were the many nods to the original trilogy, and that’s what I enjoyed most– the Easter egg hunt. BB-8, with all of its cuteness and individuality is an obvious homage to Artoo D-2, the ancient and knowing Maz Kanata is reminiscent of Yoda (but without the force powers). Phasma is a Storm Trooper in a cool outfit–but she is supposed to remind us of Bobba Fett who mesmerized audiences with barely a single line. He just stood there, in a badass outfit and a jet pack and remains one of the most iconic characters of the original trilogy. Kylo Ren, the brooding, petulant, sniveling force using brat that he is, reminds me of Anakin Skywalker, circa Revenge of the Sith (minus Kylo’s embarrassingly sucky light-sabering skills, he should have been beating Rey and Finn to pulp). Finn is a remake of Han Solo, down to the cliff hanger leaving the audience with his own version of Solo’s carbon freezing at the end of Empire Strikes Back. Rey is probably Luke’s daughter, she shares the same pouty lips, and an innate gift of using the force with little to no training at all. Supreme Leader Snoke, is another Palpatine/Sidious, but the scarring on his face, is very similar to the scarring on Anakin’s face when the mask is removed at the end of Return of the Jedi. So could Snoke be Vader’s force ghost? Luke Skywalker, and his grey robes suggests (brown and tan meaning good, red or black robes, denoting “evil”), teeters between the dark side of the force and good hence his self-imposed exile, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Of course, I could be wrong about all of this–and I probably am. The fun part is guessing, and figuring it all out. What I hope, in a cynical world where kids have seen every CGI trick in the book,that this generation’s “Star Wars” is as magical for today’s generation, as the original Star Wars was for us.
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