The Force Has Awoken

While I’m not planning on actually discussing major plot points here, there will be at least some allusions to what happened in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, please come back at another time. Yes, I know this blog isn’t about Star Wars, but it was an important event, and I felt compelled to write something. I’ll go back to the regularly scheduled programming later. 

Before proceeding, I think it’s important to put my fandom in context. Obviously, I have seen all the movies more than once. Yes, even The Phantom Menace. I had some Star Wars toys as a kid. I vaguely remember being an Ewok for Halloween one year. I recall reading one or two books, but they didn’t leave any impression on me. I’m not an expert in the Expanded Universe, but I was generally aware of the Thrawn Trilogy and Luke Skywalker turning to the Dark Side. Also, I got pretty good at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. That’s my perspective. 

Now, this is your last chance to check out before any spoilers arise. 

Personally, I loved the movie. Honestly, I think the movie went the direction it had to go even if the plot was a little too much the plot of A New Hope with some sprinkling in of Empire Strikes Back.  For some this is a criticism. Did others, it’s a point of praise. Either way, I will say it was much better written than A New Hope. 

In any event, the Rey-Luke parallels were obvious. Both from desert planets off the main grid. Both abandoned there (at least Luke had guardians). Both accidentally come across a droid with important information. Both didn’t know they were powerful with the Force. I thought the movie did a good job of not beating you over the head with it, but if you have seen the movies the parallels were obvious. 

Speaking of obvious, I love that they didn’t try to change who Han Solo and Princess Leia were. Did we really expect that 30 years later they would’ve settled down in a little cottage on Naboo?  Did we expect they would’ve had anything but a rocky relationship?  Of course not. In essence, this is what The Force Awakens gets right. They know the characters, and they didn’t change them to try to make them something they weren’t. 

Without giving anything away, Harrison Ford seemed as overjoyed playing Han Solo again as much as Han Solo seemed overjoyed to finally be in the mix of things again. Part of the reason might be because he got what he wanted. The good thing there was what happened was organic to the story, and it actually drove the plot of the movie and perhaps the new trilogy along. 

That’s the thing. The Force Awakens really respects the characters and what happened in the original trilogy. It didn’t try to make anything they weren’t, nor did it try to shock you for shock’s value. The one thing less talked about was how the characters were reflective of the fans. 

The older fans were Han Solo. We had our moment in the sun with the original trilogy. In reality, we were hoping for more while never really expecting to get it. We’re overjoyed being in a comfortable place like the Millenium Falcon. We’re excited to see our old friends and make new ones. Like Han, we’re answering a million questions about the Jedi and Luke Skywalker. We may seem perturbed, but deep down we love it. We want tons back in the mix while handing it off to the next generation. 

Rey is the new Star Wars fans. They’ve heard of the Jedi. They’ve heard of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. They have seen the movies, but they didn’t experience them the way their parents and grandparents did. When Rey is all wide-eyed in amazement that she’s actually talking to Han Solo about Luke Skywalker, I thought of my son getting his own trilogy to experience and to cherish. 

That’s the best part of the movie. It transitioned. Yes, Luke is bound to have a massive role in Episode VIII, but the focus of the movies have now shifted. The original trilogy and the prequels made it readily apparent Star Wars was about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Many of us were more interested in Han, Luke, and Leia. 

I can comfortably say Episode VII changed the focus from the aforementioned group to Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. I will be disappointed if Kylo Ren’s character arc mirrors Darth Vader’s. I’ll be disappointed if Rey’s is a carbon copy to Luke’s. Keep in mind, there’s some danger there with Rey apparently on a remote planet looking to train to become a Jedi, and the First Order’s Starkiller now destroyed. 

There’s room for separation here. Kylo Ren is still training whereas Vader was already an accomplished Sith Lord. For her part, Rey has a more full fledged back story that Luke didn’t have. Luke thought he was with his aunt and uncle because Darth Vader killed his father. All Rey knows is she was abandoned, and she doesn’t know why. I’m going to be really aggravated if we find out that Rey and Ben were twins.  I say this having already accepted we’ll see a “Rey, I am your father” scene. Yes, I know that’s not the quote

Overall, The Force Awakens was a success. It respected the characters and the history. It was a terrific movie. It transitioned from the new to the old. It made you excited not only to see it again and again, but it also made you excited to see the next one. The bar was set very high for this movie, and at a minimum, the movie cleared that bar. I think it went much further than that. I think it created a new story that could conceivably go anywhere it wants. It’s not, nor should it feel tied down to, the arc of the original trilogy. 

May the Force be with you.