Monday, January 4, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I don't remember the first time I watched Star Wars. I don't remember a time when I hadn't seen the original trilogy of movies. And I have always been a big fan of the Star Wars universe. From the movies, books, comics, video games, toys, and so on, I have always loved it. My family went to see the rereleased special editions in the theater, and I am one of those who even likes the prequel trilogy despite each movie's massive flaws.

So it's weird that although I was looking forward to seeing the JJ Abrams directed continuation, The Force Awakens, I wasn't one of the fanboys waiting with bated breath. And that's because I was so against it being a continuation of the characters we already know on the big screen. Luke, Leia and the gang had their moment in the sun, and their stories were wrapped up in Return of the Jedi. The Star Wars universe is so rich that there are innumerable great movies that could be made from this world. So I didn't want to see a 73-year-old Harrison Ford out there trying to Han Solo it up. Thankfully, I was proven wrong and The Force Awakens is a terrific movie that found a credible way of continuing those original trilogy characters stories while also adding in much needed (and wonderful) new blood to the mix.

The story concerns an orphan on a desert planet, except this time the planet is called Jakku instead of Tatooine, and the orphan is named Rey (Daisy Ridley) instead of Luke Skywalker. She's soon joined by a good hearted Storm Trooper deserter named Finn (John Boyega) and they cross paths with an older and possibly wiser Han Solo and Chewbacca. They all join with now General Leia to fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a Darth Vader worshipping dark Jedi, seemingly the last one around. But Star Wars-ian things take place and we're off on our usual adventure and excitement.

The Star Wars movies weren't made with the model of reinventing storytelling, they were just redressed versions of the old 1940's serials George Lucas grew up on. So I've been disappointed by those who point out that this is basically a remake of the original Star Wars (no, I'll never refer to it as "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" it's just Star Wars) as though that were a bad thing. Yes, I wanted something new and something different than a rehash but I also firmly believe in Roger Ebert's saying "a movie is not about what it's about, it's how it's about it". So it doesn't matter about being new, what this movie does it does terrifically well and I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.

Most of all what this movie has is the best acting ensemble in the series. Daisy Ridley has the perfect amount of spunk and charisma to be our lead, John Boyega is great fun as Finn, and Adam Driver almost steals the whole thing with his take on the Vader-esque Kylo Ren. I was against the inclusion of the old crowd but Harrison Ford is fine, Carrie Fisher isn't asked to do much and delivers, and Mark Hamill is charged with even less. So most of it falls on the shoulders of the new group and they're the reason to see it. And it made sense how everything fit together, so I was fine with it. Overall, I was engaged, happy, and now waiting excitedly for the next installment.

1 comment:

kathy said...

I felt basically the same as you about this film. I thought Harrison Ford did a great job with the material given. Lord knows he got a broken leg in real life for his efforts, so kudo's to him! Carrie Fisher looked better than expected, though not much acting was appreciated here. I too look forward to the next movie, and feel that Mark Hamill will have his day then! Go Luke Skywalker, may the force be with you!