I saw The Force Awakens today. It was good. It was a Star Wars movie. In ways that episodes I-III weren’t, this was a Star Wars movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read this. I’m going to talk in detail about the many things I really liked, and the couple of things that bugged me a little bit.

Things I liked

1. Rey

In the role of desert-planet orphan with untapped ability in the force who comes across a droid with information vital to the resistance, Rey is pretty great.

There’s obviously a lot of A New Hope Luke in her to start. But then there’s the fact that she’s a girl, which draws Leia comparisons. And let’s not forget that Han thinks about offering her a job, before she seems to become the captain of the Falcon for good there at the end.

But the thing I liked about her the most is this, “I know how to run without you holding my hand.”

I’ve only seen it once, so I might have slightly botched the wording, but she actively stands on her own two feet and fights back against everything on her own. She doesn’t need rescuing, even when Han and Finn come to rescue her, she’s pretty much taken care of it on her own.

To say nothing of how great Daisy Ridley is in this role.

2. Everything About Han Solo

Harrison Ford has talked repeatedly how he’s tried to convince George Lucas to kill off Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. But Han’s death at the hands of his son, and everything about his life that we learned about in this movie makes me so glad he didn’t get his way 30+ years ago.

Upon losing their son to the dark side, Han and Leia drifted apart, pulled back to the things they do best; her running an armed militia, him getting in over his head in terrible business transactions that result in people trying to kill him.

But, when pulled back into the action again, he and Chewy return to their roles of heroes. And not reluctant heroes this time. Han has become the voice of belief, telling Finn and Rey that everything they’ve heard about the force is true, and reminding Leia that there’s always a way to blow up large planet-killing space stations before leading the team to destroy the thing that will prevent the weapon from firing and blow it all up.

Han’s role was not just to show up, wink at us, wait for the applause, and then exit stage left. He was central to the story and was very much the bridge between old and new that J.J. tried to make Spock in the Star Trek reboot. I liked the Spock stuff. I loved this.

3. Relationships

One of the biggest issues in the prequels is how many times we were told that Obi Wan and Anakin were such great friends. It just never felt true. And it was because we were told and not shown.

We saw Poe and Finn build a friendship under fire. We saw the saw thing with Finn and Rey. These people grew to like, trust, and love one another. In front of our faces. Not off camera somewhere else.

4. Simplicity

I’ve recently rewatched the previous movies (not Phantom Menace) and one of the things that made IV-VI work in ways that I-III don’t is that, you couldn’t explain the plot of I-III to people in under four paragraphs.

Here’s the plot of this one. Luke Skywalker has disappeared and everyone wants to find him.

Now, it diverts its attention and direction a few times, but that’s pretty much the thrust of the movie. But that doesn’t mean it’s all cut and dry. It’s simple, not simplistic.

5. Questions

I had questions during the movie. I have questions now. And this is good.

How’d Kylo Ren get Darth Vader’s helmet?

How’d Maz Kanata get Luke’s lightsaber?

What’s Rey’s backstory?

How’d there come to be a Star Destroyer crashed into her planet?

Those are interesting questions that I want answered. As opposed to why did the Trade Federation want to put a blockade around Naboo?

6. This took place somewhere real

The places in The Force Awakens felt real, not like pretty matt paintings or computer renderings of futuristic cities. That mattered more than just about anything.

7. Finn. Whatever He’s Selling, I’m Buying. I’ll take as much of it as he has.

I’m not going to pretend to understand exactly why he went AWOL at the beginning of the movie when no one else has ever thought to do that. I hope they answer that at some point, but he was reluctant, motivated by love (or at least lust), brave, but scared, and funny. His interactions with Han as they went to rescue Rey were great!

More Finn. More Rey.

Things I didn’t like so much

1. And More Poe

I have a feeling that there was a whole lot of Poe story that was written, shot, and cut to get the movie down to 2:20, because, “I just woke up that night and everyone was gone, so I just went right home.” is a pretty big yada yada.

I was all in on his character from his first comment to Kylo Ren, “Do you talk first, or do I talk first?”

There was a great escape sequence with Finn. They flew a TIE Fighter and became buddies, and then he was gone. Until he wasn’t.

It makes sense if they trimmed it for time, but that’s a character that felt underused and underserved. His story line seemed like it was edited by Walter Hobbs.

2. Luke

The question the world had been asking in the run of trailers for the movie was, “Where’s Luke?”

He’d been conspicuously absent from pretty much everything. And then, in the first sentence of the crawl, they explain it. And I was all in. That was a great way to start this off.

It’s kind of explained that he took off after Ben became Kylo Ren, and I’m sure we’ll get that back story in coming installments. So none of that was what bothered me about Luke.

What bothered me was this.

Luke got a whole lot of people killed by running off like that. That’s a really selfish thing for the last Jedi Knight to do.

3. The Politics

I don’t really understand what’s going on in the political world of The Republic. I’m not sure I really care all that much either. I’m actually glad this movie focuses on the action and the characters, and not on the inner-workings of the Senate, but I don’t really know who The First Order is, what The Resistance is resisting, how both sides get their massive funding, or what all of these wars are about.

But I’m not sure I really understood that The Empire was the government and the Stormtroopers were the army until like 1994, so there’s that.

I’m not really sure who the Ginger is who seems to be on equal footing with Kylo Ren, and I don’t really know what Capt. Phasma’s deal is either.

In the end, however, I’d like to say.


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