This post contains spoilers. If you’re not fortunate enough to have seen this movie in the first month after its release, please stop reading now.
I’ve loved “Star Wars” for many, many years, as I’m sure my ones of readers have as well. On New Year’s Day, my wife and I finally got the chance to go see “The Force Awakens”. I had been hearing a lot of good things about it in the first few weeks after its release, but I was nervous.
When “The Phantom Menace” was released, I wasn’t old enough to drive. My mom was gracious enough to take my friend Erik and me to the Georgetown Drive-In on opening night. We had to get there very early in order to ensure we had a spot. In the hours between our arrival and sunset, we spent a lot of time running around: Erik with a blaster and I with a light saber. Finally it was dark enough for the movie to begin. The place was packed, so it had been a little loud, but once those opening words came on the screen, everyone was quiet. We all held our breath for just a moment, and then the music started. On the first note, there was such a cheer as I’ve never heard.
I was pretty stoked to watch the movie, but over the course of the next few days, I was less and less thrilled. What the hell is a “midichlorian”? Did we have to see so much of Jar-Jar? I saw “Attack of the Clones” in the theater not long after it came out, but I wasn’t thrilled. Mostly what I remember is rain and Hayden Christensen’s terrible acting. I never bothered to go see “Revenge of the Sith”. I still haven’t seen it all the way through.
So yeah, the prequels? I’d rather they just never existed.
Shifting gears, I’ve been a Star Trek fan even longer than I’ve been a Star Wars fan. I have a TNG hoodie with a comm badge and captain’s pips. When the Star Trek reboot came out, I went and watched it with friends. It was a very entertaining movie, but I didn’t quite feel like a Star Trek movie. There are so many stories to tell in that universe, so destroying decades of canon seemed like the wrong move.
So yeah, J.J. Abrams? Not big on his space movies.
I tell you all of this to explain why I was really apprehensive going into “The Force Awakens”. I had nothing to fear. When it ended, my first words were “holy shit that was a Star Wars movie!”
And yes, there are a lot of similar plot elements (though usually with a twist) to “A New Hope”. I’ve seen a fair amount of complaint about that. “Too much fan service,” they say. Well, yes. For one, history repeating itself is kind of A Thing™. Secondly, for the reasons above, Abrams et al had to regain the trust of the fan base. “Trust us,” the movie says. “See how we respect what you love? Let’s ease into this and the next two movies will show you what we can do together!”
Personally, I found the cast to be incredible and the story telling to be better than the originals. It has some self-awareness, which makes for some great jokes. Most of the criticism I’ve read seems to be of the “let’s hate on it because we’re cool” variety, which Matty Granger has addressed quite well.
I may try to get another viewing in before it leaves theaters, but I’m definitely excited for Episodes 8 and 9.