I saw my first Star Wars movie less than a month ago. That might not make me the best person to discuss The Force Awakens (2015), the seventh episode in the immensely popular science-fiction franchise. After all, I didn’t grow up with these films, didn’t even know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek for most of my life. (Fear not, I have since seen the error of my ways.) On the other hand, this might make me better equipped to talk about it, since I’m in no way biased about this film, and I wasn’t even really planning on watching these movies before I made plans to watch the latest release with a friend. Either way, since watching my first Star Wars movie less than a month ago, I have been unable to stop thinking about it, and therefore I am going to talk about it here – whether I am suited for the job or not.
I started my Star Wars experience with the original trilogy (A New Hope in 1977, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and The Return of the Jedi in 1983), which I liked from the start. The story is compelling, the humor easy and the universe fascinating. Though I didn’t have the childhood experience of growing up with these films, I found it easy to fall in love with the first three ones. Favorite moments include everything Leia Organa, the theme music being played as soon as Darth Vader passed by (just in case you’d forgotten who the bad guys were) and R2-D2, the tiny robot who is unable to speak in anything other than beeps, except for the moments when he gets blown into the air and is suddenly very capable of screaming like a human being.
The prequel trilogy, consisting of The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005), is completely different. Where the first three films were easy to like, I found the prequels a lot harder to watch. The humor and lightheartedness were gone, replaced by a serious and political tone that made the two trilogies seem very detached from each other. Though there were good aspects – I liked the first movie a lot, and it was great to learn more about the Star Wars universe – I had a hard time taking Anakin and Padmé seriously (they’re a bit too Romeo and Juliet gone bad for my taste). I also wouldn’t mind never seeing Jar Jar Binks ever again.
Despite the fact that I hadn’t been anticipating this new Star Wars release from the moment the final prequel was released, I was still extremely excited to watch it after my recent movie binge. And after the slight disappointment that were Episodes 1, 2 and 3, The Force Awakens was absolutely brilliant. In this film, Luke Skywalker is missing, the Empire has been replaced by a group called The First Order, and the Resistance is doing whatever they can to bring their only hope back home. Director J.J. Abrams focuses mainly on bringing the feeling of the original trilogy back, and shows the same compelling storylines and subtle humor as Episodes IV, V and VI. Naturally, a huge part of trying to recreate this feeling lies in bringing back characters that people know and love. “Chewie, we’re home,” says Han Solo when he enters the Millennium Falcon again after years. That’s exactly what the film feels like, even to someone who only came to know this “home” a few weeks before. The film is action-packed and exciting all the way through (I may have jumped up and down in my seat at one point), but it’s also very comfortable to watch because it’s so easy to like.
Besides bringing back the beloved characters from the previous films, The Force Awakens also introduces a few new faces, all of which seem to fit perfectly into the original cast. There is Rey, a scavenger living at the planet of Jakku; Poe, the best pilot in the Resistance; Finn, a Stormtrooper who wants to get out; and Kylo Ren, who wants to be nothing more than the new Darth Vader. Something I personally loved was that where the previous Star Wars films were, for the most part, based around white men, The Force Awakens has a much more diverse cast. Of these four new characters, only one is a white man, and he is the film’s main antagonist. I thought this was amazingly done. Furthermore, after C-3PO and R2-D2, The Force Awakens brings us BB-8, who is possibly my favorite character in the entire Star Wars universe.
So, how does one go into such a huge franchise and still attempt to write a semi-professional review? The answer to that question is that it’s impossible to sum up what hasn’t been said about Star Wars in the past, since I’m about forty years late to the party. So review isn’t really the right word for what I’ve done here. Think of it as a semi-coherent report of my Star Wars experience, meant for me to bring my excitement across. I think The Force Awakens is incredible. I love the action scenes, I love the characters and I love the story. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I just might go watch these movies again. All of them.
Photo credit: Daily Mail