Thursday, December 24, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A few weeks ago, I circled the night of the 23rd as the day I was planning on seeing the new Star Wars movie. This goes back to years of tradition where I'd take my younger siblings to the movies on Christmas Eve so that my mom and dad could wrap gifts. I wanted to honor that old tradition, even if plans called for it to happen one day earlier. And there was no better film to do that with than one that takes place in a story that I spent so much of my childhood living. When I say that, it's not just the movies that I'm talking about. My room was frequently set up in the midst of ongoing epic battles that would play out for days between the Rebels and the Empire, and I often credit those battles as my first experiences with story construction.

Back to the present, in a galaxy far, far away, watching a story that took place a long time ago. I'd managed to avoid any and all spoilers, so I went into the movie knowing nothing except what the previews had hinted at. And though I must admit that it took about ten minutes or so before the movie completely pulled me in, I will say that it certainly did pull me in. I thought the new characters were excellent, and far better formed on screen than the new characters in Episodes I-III. The appearance of old characters, especially Han Solo, brought the film to another level, one that is sure to please every fan of the old films. Though there was some cheesy dialogue, every line was still better than anything uttered by Hayden Christensen. 

It is not surprising that fans of the original movie see this as the best film since. That's because this film draws a LOT of parallels with the first. In many ways, this is a retelling of the first film but with a new generation of characters, with new agendas and new histories. The trajectory of the story is essentially identical, as is the pacing and unfolding of events. I keep going back and forth on whether I think this is very clever, or very lazy. If it is simply a set up for the next two movies which will expand the mythology and story, taking it in completely different directions, than it could be clever. After all, there were lots of hints at things that might happen next, or history that is yet to be revealed. However, if it was simply used as a method to trick viewers into watching a reboot without using that dreaded word, than I'm a going to be pissed.

All in all, I loved this movie! I loved the way it got rid of the CGI virus that has infected every movie for the last dozen years and gave things weight and substance again. I love that it had characters with heart and ones that were well-acted. I loved the combination of humor and action, which felt very much in the tradition of the franchise. I loved the concepts and the sets, the surprises and mysteries. I loved pretty much everything about it, and now I can't wait for the next one. 

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