This post will be discussing the latest Star Wars movie: The Force Awakens. And I’ll not restrain myself from spoilery topics.
This will in part be a review I guess, but will in large part be my experience with the Star Wars universe, my take-away from the current one, things I liked, etc. It’ll be the first of several posts talking about The Force Awakens.
Star Wars Nostalgia
Let’s get the whole “return to childhood innocence” aspect out of the way. (Feel free to skip down to the next section, if you’re aren’t interested in my personal experience with the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy.)
Like Yoda, I’m super-old. I was not yet a teenager when the original Star Wars came out. (I’m going to avoid calling it A New Hope, until a later post when I talk about why I don’t like numbering the episodes… please bear with me.) I saw the movie a lot. I mean, a LOT.
I think I was at the perfect age, to see young (whiny) Luke Skywalker staring out at the double-sunset on the unnamed desert planet. (I had to read the novel to learn that it was named Tattooine.) Luke’s checking out the sunsets, bummed that he was stuck on the farm, and the music swells with the Skywalker theme, and it’s like he’s hearing it the same time I am.
It had a profound effect on me. (I guess. I’m no psychologist.)
Because the first movie has such an emotional stranglehold on me, I like it even better than The Empire Strikes Back. I’ll agree that Empire is the better movie, better made, more complicated plot, darker, bittersweet ending/to-be-continued. I just rate it second. (And now I might rate it third.)
Return of the Jedi was okay. Just okay. Maybe one day I’ll talk about my antipathy towards it, an irritation that will reference more than just Ewoks. Even if Ewoks are a major issue.
The Phantom Menace opened in 1999, the week before my wedding. I insisted to my bride-to-be that we see the movie a few days before the ceremony. (We still had a lot of stuff to do getting ready for the wedding.) I was so invested in the movie going in, that I was in denial over my disappointment afterwards. I’m not saying that my fiancee had second thoughts about marrying a crazy person, but she still won’t let me forget that I was pretending to like the movie for a day or so.
At least Ewan McGregor was cool in the movie.
Attack of the Clones had a similar event-timing, my wife and I were in Los Angeles getting ready to fly to China. Since we were in LA, and since the movie had premiered, we decided to see it in a cool theater.
You know that scene in the palace in Naboo, after Anakin has been endlessly hitting on Padme and she’s been all “no no no” – the one where they’re sitting in the dark, next to a fireplace, and she’s wearing something amazingly sexy?
Anakin delivers the line “Padme, I’m in agony.”
Some dude in the audience (not me, I swear) yells “SO ARE WE!”
The entire audience applauded.
At least Ewan McGregor was cool in the movie.
I was committed to seeing Revenge of the Sith, if only to see if Obi-Wan would really chop off Anakin’s arms and legs. He did! Successful movie! (I admit that was a pretty low bar to set.)
Okay, I shouldn’t bag on the prequels, because it’s too easy. I know that I might have had a different opinion had I seen them when I was the same age as when I saw the original Star Wars. I’ve heard from friends of mine that their children prefer the prequels to the original. I find that interesting.
But I couldn’t help feeling bummed that the prequels didn’t make me feel like I was really brought back into the Star Wars universe. They weren’t all completely unsuccessful. Each movie had elements here or there that worked for me in the moment. But I wasn’t getting the experience that I wanted.
And then I saw The Force Awakens.
Chewie, We’re Home
During the Thanksgiving visit with my parents, my dad made it clear that he was very excited about seeing the new Star Wars movie.
Dad: Have you seen the new Star Wars movie?
Me: No, it’s not ou-
Dad: Have you heard if it’s good?
Me: Uh, it’s not o-
Dad: We should see it this weekend!
Me: It’s not out yet!
Dad: What? When is it coming out?
Me: Next month, I think mid-December. Let’s all go see it when we come down for Christmas.
Dad: Next month? I don’t know if I can wait that long.
My dad did wait, but I couldn’t. My wife and I saw it early Sunday morning on the premiere weekend. The fear of having the movie plot points spoiled was too great.
Speaking of great… I loved The Force Awakens. I can’t say that it literally turned me back into my pre-teen self, big eyed and mouth agape, but it was so close. It felt like such a genuine return to Star Wars.
The second time I saw the movie (the Christmas trip with Dad and other family members) I loved it even more. Particularly because my daughter, who had previously rejected anything Star Wars, fell in love with the movie.
Okay, I doubt anyone is too invested in reading about all of my family’s reactions. I’ll move on.
This isn’t the feedback you’re looking for…
But, talking about The Force Awakens is going to take many posts. Which I’ll be cranking out over the course of a week. Hopefully.
As a preview to my articles, I’ll say that I loved the new characters. I thought Rey was great (and intriguing!) My daughter is all about Rey. Rey turned my daughter into a Star Wars fan. GO REY!
I thought Finn was outstanding as the character we are introduced to and follow through the movie. Making him a defecting Stormtrooper was amazing, and changes how I feel about Stormtroopers in general.
I’m crazy happy about Poe Dameron, who had the least amount of screen time and therefore had to really make an impression. AND NAILED IT.
Ben Solo is also a great character. Yes, yes, he’s Kylo Ren. But he’s Ben Solo to me!
I’ll talk more about of these characters in the following posts.
Seeing all three of the main characters from the original trilogy was a delight. One in particular of supreme importance to me. (I’ll talk more about that blah blah blah…)
The fact that the plot was so heavily structured on the original Star Wars, with elements of Empire and Jedi? I promise I’ll talk about that. That’s not what I had a problem with, which has more to do with a problem I had with JJ Abrams and his first Star Trek movie.
But overall, I was so happy.
People who know me will understand why I say that I’ve now seen three good Star Wars movies. With the seventh movie out, people are returning to their ratings of the originals and prequels. I’ll do that too during this series of posts. My ranking might be controversial. (Maybe. It’s quite possible no one will care what I think.)
So, are you going to talk about the movie or not?
I will. But like I said, I’m structuring this out over a series of posts, and I want to set up something that will be a framework for me to work with.
Hopefully, you’ll read my follow on posts and see what I’m doing.
Regardless if you read further or not, I hope you enjoyed The Force Awakens as much as I did, and feel free to leave me comments. I’m happy to engage in discussions about the movie.
I’m pretty sure anyone coming to these posts will be up-to-date, so I encourage everyone to feel safe to discuss the movie’s plot as much as they like. I won’t let anyone yell at you about spoilers, this is no-holds-barred zone.
Comments are welcome. Super welcome!
Images from Star Wars (fine… A New Hope), Attack of the Clones, and The Force Awakens. The image of Kylo Ren is from the trailers for the the movie, but not in the movie itself. Image of Han and Chewbacca is from Star Wars, but was not in the movie. I assume it was a promotional photo.
I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved