A long time ago, in a theater far, far away, I watched Star Wars Episode III. That was the last time I saw a Star Wars movie in theaters. I have not seen the new film, subtitled The Force Awakens. Here is my review of it anyway.
If you’re worried about spoilers, don’t give in to fear. This review won’t have any. Because I don’t know anything. I haven’t seen the movie. I know exactly as much as you do (assuming you’ve watched the trailers, but not much else). You’re safe.
Anyway, here’s what I thought of the movie.
If you were looking for a movie that recaptures the spirit of the original trilogy, this one definitely delivers! In that it has characters, settings, and props from the originals. Some settings aren’t from the originals, but they kinda look like it! Like Jakku. That’s the name of the desert planet that isn’t Tattooine, even though most people probably think it is.
I will have left the theater feeling exhilarated and delighted. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is a movie with a really long title about spaceships and laser sword fights and archetypal good-and-evil characters, battling each other in a literal-sense-of-the-word epic conflict where the stakes start at destroying planets and go as high as a single old dude controlling the entire galaxy. Pretty exciting stuff!
The movie begins, as you might expect, in space. “Space” here meaning “somewhere other than Earth.” Several times, during the course of the film, spaceships land and depart planets as easily as you go to the grocery store. Frankly, I thought the movie kind of glossed over a lot of the space travel like it was normal, but I was really interested in how it works! Oh, well. Guess I’ll just watch The Martian again.
On one or more of the aforementioned planets, we meet our main characters: Finn, Rey, BB-8, and...Poe? I think that’s another one. Also, there’s a bad guy named Kylo Ren. He rolls with a crew of dudes in plastic white armor and has jam sessions with Darth Vader’s helmet, so it’s pretty safe to say he’s not very nice. As you might recall from the trailer, Kylo Ren says “I will finish what you started.” When you watch the movie, you will see that it does, in fact, finish the story that the trailer began. So, at least Kylo Ren can deliver on his promises.
The story follows a typical three-act structure. It has a beginning, middle, and end. This wasn’t exactly a surprising move, since Disney owns the copyright on storytelling. However, it was a nice change of pace to see it applied to a Star Wars movie for the first time in over 30 years.
If you thought the trailers were the whole story, then good news! Certain characters that weren’t featured much (or at all) in the trailers show up. And even have lines in the film! Or they don’t. I don’t really know. Like I said, I haven’t seen it. But it would be pretty weird if Leia just stood around looking sad, wouldn’t it? Captain Phasma might not need lines, if she’s like a Boba Fett type or whatever, but she probably has one or two. I’m 80% certain Luke Skywalker appears on screen at least once.
Of course, the time that Luke Skywalker was on screen only served as a reminder of how good and/or bad this movie was. All the marketing and speculation leading up to this movie hinged on a character we haven’t seen in decades, and his reveal either did or didn’t live up to that hype. I won’t know which until the movie is released, so for now he’s kind of like Skywalker’s Cat. He’s in a simultaneous state of nostalgic delight and disappointing letdown until the theaters open.
Despite all of this, there was plenty of fun to be had. There was that one scene where the spaceship blew up in a really new and innovative way that we haven’t seen before. And who could forget the light saber fight between the one guy holding a blue light saber and the other one holding a red one. Classic.
There were disappointments, however. Much will have had been said about the controversial scene—which I won’t explain here because I don’t want to spoil it, and because I don’t know it, but you’ll know the one—but personally, I don’t think it was that bad. Unless it was really bad. In which case, screw that scene.
When J.J Abrams came on to direct Star Wars, a lot of avid nerds and casual fans alike were worried about whether or not he could handle it. Would he invigorate the fans like he did with Lost? Or would he alienate them like he did with Star Trek? Would this be a return to the glory days, when we looked up to Star Wars as an inspirational fandom we could enjoy with eyes wide and hearts full? Or would this be just another in a long series of disappointments that seem to increasingly characterize our adult lives?
At last, we finally have our answer.
Whatever it is.