Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Force Awakens



CAUTION

THIS IS A SPOLIER LOADED REVIEW

(But really, you should have seen The Force Awakens already)

There is a cheesy part of me that want’s to say “This is the Star Wars you are looking for.” True as that statement may be, it is a bit eye rolling. Anyway… Star Wars: The Force Awakens is what we fans have been hoping for. Full disclosure, I am in the camp that wasn’t too thrilled with the prequels. Obviously they are popular enough to be successful. But I never felt the heart with them that I felt while watching the original trilogy. But this is about the new film. And I thought it was great. Not perfect, but it does bring back the feelings I had for the originals. So let’s break down the movie.

The general plot. Okay… It is a bit of a rehash of A New Hope. The First Order, which is kind of like a cult of the old Empire, converts a planet into a Super Death Star, able to destroy entire systems, not just a single planet at a time. An in the end a hand full of fighters are able to penetrate the defenses and blow it up. Oh, and the protagonist, one of them anyway, grew up on a desert planet and escaped on the Millennium Falcon. There is a bit more to the story, but that is basically it.

So the characters:

Rey

Basically Rey is the new Luke Skywalker. It’s no coincidence that she is on Jakku, a desert planet and has talent with the force. There is a mystery about Rey. Who are her parents and why was she left on the planet when she was so young. It seemed to me that Han knew something about her. But it’s plainly obvious that she is strong in the force, so strong that thing like the Jedi mind trick come to her without any training. I almost want to say she is Luke’s daughter. That would be more interesting and a good story. Mabey a bit obvious maybe.

Fin

FN-2187, aka Fin, was conscripted (kidnapped) by the First Order when he was very young. He doesn’t even remember his family. He was raised, trained, and indoctrinated by the First Order to become a Stormtrooper. But on his first mission, Fin could not be who the First Order wanted him to be and defected. Some made a big deal that Fin is portrayed by a black actor, but I don’t get the problem. All the Stormtroopers lose their faces and identities. Evil has no color. Or you could just say The First Order has an excellent EEO policy. Side note, if you were paying attention, one of the other Stormtropers was female. And I’m not speaking of Phasma.

BB-8

Poe Dameron’s BB series droid who went on the run and came across Rey and then Fin. As with R2-D2, the filmmakers were able to get a lot of emotion out of something that doesn’t technically emote much. In this case, a ball with a floating head. With electric beeps and minor movements, BB-8 comes to life, has a personality, and gives another layer of heart and humor to this film.

Poe Dameron

The Resistance X-Wing pilot who is the best fighter pilot in the Republic. He is a bit of a hot head, but we really don’t get much character development out of him. Poe is sort of being positioned as the new dashing rogue that was Han. They make it obvious that Poe is an ace pilot, but hopefully we get a little more development for his character in the next film.

Kylo Ren

Okay, the big reveal. Kylo is Ben Solo. Son of Han and Leia. He was one of Luke’s students who apparently went rogue and destroyed Luke’s school of new Jedi. Nothing is mentioned of what happened to Luke’s other students or even how many there were. Anyway… Kylo is a MAJOR fanboy of Darth Vader. He somehow missed the memo that Vader reverted to Anakin at the end. Kylo’s biggest issue is that he is more unstable than the young Anakin. Like lightsaber wrecking everything, super tantrum unstable.

General Hux

Hux is the commander of The First Order’s forces. He is also Kylo’s chief rival in the First Order pecking order. We don’t get much time and information about Hux. He and Kylo have a sort of grudging respect for one another. Mostly they don’t like each other.

Captain Phasma

Captain of the First Order Storm Troopers, we really don’t get much time to get to know about Phasma. She is the Boba Fett of The Force Awakens. She looks fantastic and her awesomeness is implied, but we don’t really get to see it.

Supreme Leader Snoak

The big mystery. Snoak’s existence is not a secret, but his identity is. He is the head of the First order and the one pulling the strings behind the whole operation. Many fan theories are out there about if he is actually a new character or not. But don’t expect any answers until maybe the next film at the earliest. I won’t join the speculation on Snoak’s identity, there is enough of that out there.

You know the rest. Leia is now General Organa. Han is still a rogue. Somewhere along the line they drifted after Kylo/Ben went all dark side. Chewbaca stick by Han’s side. There are still some questions that need answering. We know Luke disappeared after Kylo destroyed the Luke’s effort to rebuild the Jedi order. We don’t know if there was a formal Jedi school or how many students Like even had. More importantly, is Rey Luke’s daughter or was she a most talented student? And of course, does Kylo know who she is? Another interesting question is why isn’t Leia a Jedi? Presumably she was busy with the New Republic government and didn’t have much time for training. Speaking of The Force, is Fin force sensitive? There are subtle hints that he could also be somewhat strong in the force. Of all the Stormtroopers, how is he the only one that we know of that was able to resist The First Order’s indoctrination? Kylo also stared at him briefly after Fin didn’t fire on civilians when his unit was ordered to. I could be nothing. Like Rey, he seemed to have some luck with things.

All in all, it is a great return to Star Wars. It really goes back to basics as far as archetypal characters like the original and generally the story was pretty simple. The prequels felt a little over thought. The Force Awakens will be a solid foundation to build this new phase of the Star Wars mythology. We just have to see if Lucasfilm (under Disney) can deliver more quality films with more original stories. But the future does look promising.


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