This is a completely off-topic, unrelated to TSTO, post about the latest Star Wars film. Skip if you’re not interested, and skip if you haven’t seen it.
Notes: This post may be laid out in a random fashion. I don’t have a synopsis for you (or me). I haven’t seen it in about a month. I will probably get all the names wrong. Feel free to correct me. I will make corrections to egregious errors.
Before the Beginning
The beginning begins before the movie even began. What little that I did know about the movie entailed watching the first couple of trailers and gleaming who would be the star (Rey), knowing that the New Hope stars would make cameos (or more), and that the director was J. J. Abrams.
I liked what Abrams had done with the Star Trek reboot. Intellectually you can find issues with it, a disparity from the original series and movies. But for a purely fun experience that gets you involved in the movie and hopeful for a better sequel, having him as director made sense.
I go into the viewing with this on my mind, that I may see more action and explosions (and lense flairs (and there were plenty to “ignore”)). I also go in expecting to see the black Storm Trooper, Rey, and that cute little droid. These are the only real distractions, prejudices, that I bring with me.
Oh, yeah, where’s my 20th Century Fox fanfare? (I know, it was not going to happen, but it’s still in my head.) The crowd cheered when we heard the fanfare during the prequel showings. (After that, I don’t recall…) Instead, this seemed to go quietly into the movie. I almost felt like I missed part of the movie when I saw the text show on screen (even though I was watching the entire time).
Easing Into It
Before too far into the movie I started to question why I should be excited at all. Was this really a “Star Wars” movie without some involvement from George Lucas? (You can tell here that I have little familiarity with the “Expanded Universe”. I was never interested in watching the Clone Wars cartoon, for instance.) Would this movie have any meaning in the SW universe? (Continue reading to find out…)
The crawl appears. I read it. I learn that this entire movie revolves around Luke. Luke? So, not a reboot and not a story that distances itself from the last ones. (Spoiler alert: He does not “physically” show up until the end.)
The ships flying look good. The first scene I remember is that of the Storm Troopers landing on a planet and taking out a village. This is where Finn comes in. You see him reacting to the violence against his own kind, followed by the order to commit violence against innocent people. This is good, storywise.
The Story Takes Off
Side rant: The 3D that seeks to plant itself in all of our movies is pretty annoying. If you choose to watch in 2D then you will still be seeing these things, usually flying out in an awkward fashion. I don’t recall them being any less weird if you do happen to view 3d movies in 3D. FYI: I have not seen this movie in 3D.
At some point Kylo Ren stops a blaster shot using the Force. This is where the 3D first seemed odd and where I was confronted with the fact that it was intended to be a 3D movie. Cool effect nonetheless, just kind of in my face. This detracted from the movie, for me. I was still questioning what kind of movie this would be in the end.
We follow Finn, see his face, see him have issue with his superiors, and see him attempt to escape by joining up with “the pilot” [insert name here]. (As I’ve read others say, this guys was supposedly supposed to be an important character, but he’s gone for most of the movie and that resulted in me not knowing his name….) They escape and land on the planet of Jakku.
Poe Dameron mysteriously disappears while Finn wakes up and escapes the crashed air vehicle (*sigh*) before it is swallowed up by the creature of the ground (love that kind of thing in SW).
Rey and BB-8
We switch over to Rey. We see nothing particularly special about her. (Might be obvious, the parallels to A New Hope. We’ll keep seeing them. They’re not a bad thing exactly, but sometimes too on the nose.) We see her rescue BB-8, possibly her first use of the Force (because she was pretty damn convincing). At some point I like her a lot. She’s a good star for the movie, irrespective of the actual details of the script.
We see the importance of BB-8 when the junk dealer tries to buy it. (The junk dealer is the first CGI character and it shows. I’m so glad no CGI character was a main character. Imagine if wookiees were created after CGI came into being. Those wookiees would have “immaculate” CGI fur…) It’s a cute little droid. (It makes R2-D2 seem huge by comparison.)
The scenes with Kylo Ren were not as great for me when he had the mask off. His voice was soft and his nose and hair stood out. He didn’t seem very menacing (and that’s okay if that’s not what he was supposed to be). I did appreciate that he wasn’t afraid to demask. (But if there was no reason, then, I’m not sure what to think of the getup.)
Kylo simply being “Ben” to his parents felt a little too familiar, too soon. If they waited for the sequel then it would be just like Empire Strikes Back, so maybe they were trying to avoid that, but the problem was that I didn’t want to know all about him just yet. (Maybe that was the problem with the prequels…getting to know Vader too intimately…)
Seeing Ford, Fischer, and Hamil reprise their roles was enjoyable, up to a point. I was glad that the involvement of Leia was minimal. Luke will be important, of course, but that’s for the next movie. Han’s involvement felt a bit pushed on, probably due to his death scene and therefore needing his role to not go to waste. I don’t say “for an emotional connection” because it wasn’t a great connection, only based on the previous movies. I didn’t feel any connection between Han and Ben. (That makes sense since Ben then kills him…)
It was good to see Chewbacca again. He seemed to act a little different from what I remember. (I remember him complaining a lot and getting mad.) Was he always so egotistical?
The Dark Side empowers the Light Side
The First Order seemed to be an obvious parallel to the Nazi Regime. Maybe that’s always been true, but it made it really hard to ever want to join the Dark Side…
Then they blew up a galaxy? I wasn’t sure why. To show their power, I’m sure. So, important theory here: I believe this is where Rey increased her power with the Force. When that entire galaxy of people, of which I’m certain there was some Jedi, ceased to exist, their power transferred over. This is where the “Force awakened”.
Seeing Rey easily control the Force, with no Jedi training, seemed a bit unbelievable at first. I rolled with it, but with my theory to explain it I believe that makes it make sense. It’s up to the sequel to prove it right or wrong, to explain it in some way.
That Finn seemed to have excellent control of his light saber is where I was remained in a state of disbelief. Storm Troopers are known for just not being very good. (Maybe there’s promotion within the ranks for the ones that excel in battle and those become important leaders or emperors or whatever. It’s not canon, as far as I know, though.) Why was he so good, being that he kept calling himself a janitor?
Reviewing at Light Speed
Okay, I’m spacing a lot here. Time for some overall impressions.
I thought that the level of action in the movie was very good. The pacing between action and “drama” (i.e. quieter scenes) was very good. Enough room to relax before the stress of an action scene but not too much that you sat there bored.
The level of comedy was high enough (maybe even a little too high). I was in a good mood while watching the film.
There’s a few more parts I might go over later, or in the comments (if I get any…).
The movie was very good. It fits in well with the spirit of the Original Trilogy. The new characters were very enjoyable.
I was not ready for the movie to be over. I would have sat there for an additional 2 hours.
The director did his job and got me excited and ready for the entire trilogy. I can only hope that it does actually go somewhere good, not relying on fluffy action and cute characters. I hope I enjoy Luke’s role. I look forward to more of Rey and Finn, and maybe even Poe Dameron.