One of the things they don’t really tell you about having kids is that, once you do, you probably won’t see any movies in the theater for like the next four years. You don’t have to worry about spoilers in this post. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening weekend.
I haven’t been this excited about a new movie for a long time (since the final installment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings). In the sci-fi community, it’s hard not to be excited. It was also hard not to be a little nervous. The intense marketing push by Disney and resulting excitement among Star Wars fans had set huge expectations. There was a new director. A more diverse cast. So many opportunities to fail.
Instead, they freaking nailed it.
Much of my reaction to The Force Awakens was already captured in Chuck Wendig’s post with his usual flair. Some thoughts:
- I am not a rabid Star Wars fan who can name the type of alien sitting to the left of the piano in the cantina scene of A New Hope. I’m just a guy who saw the original movies dozens of times as a kid, and grew up wanting to be a Jedi.
- Seeing this movie in 3D was so, so worth it. I suspected as much during the opening montage with the floating text. I knew it for certain when some tie fighters zoomed on screen and directly into my eyeballs.
- It was a thrill to see some of my favorite characters from the original trilogy. They (and the actors playing them) had aged, but the producers made no secret of it. This, rather than casual age-erasure, is refreshing to see in a big studio film. Frankly, it’s more realistic: people get old, but this doesn’t make them irrelevant.
- Disney has (in my opinion) a solid reputation for great storytelling, and it shows in this movie. The plots were complex, and the characters well developed. So much happened
- I wanted more screen time for the pilot, Poe Dameron. He’s awesome. On a related note, I love that X-wings are being used in more diverse roles here: not just space battles, but planetary raid scenarios.
- The pace of the movie was outstanding. There were few down moments, and the bits of humor were delivered perfectly.
- As Chuck and others have noted, Kylo Ren makes for a wonderful antagonist. There are times when he’s powerful, and times when he’s vulnerable. He was such a great villain that I was pulling for him to “live to fight another day.”
- It could be argued that the movie does a bit too much to please fans of the original trilogy. But I happen to be in that camp, so I don’t care.
- The BB-8 droid makes me happy.
- I’ve heard that the key to a repeat franchise success (in books, movies, etc) is doing something that’s the same, but different. There are plot, character, and relationship elements in this movie that are similar to the original trilogy, but different enough to seem fresh.
Endings are important to me. One thing I loved about the original Star Wars trilogy was how each film had a powerful denouement that evoked an emotional response, and also set the stage for the next chapter in the story. This movie lived up to that and more. Its denouement might be the best yet.
In summary, Star Wars is awesome, and you should go see it.
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