A Month Later, My Thoughts on The Force Awakens


It’s been a month since Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out and I figure we’re past the point of possible spoilers. If you’re going to see it, you’ll have seen it by now. If you haven’t seen it by now, you’re probably not all that worried about spoilers.
In the past month, I’ve seen a lot of varying opinions on the film and the continuation of the franchise. There’s been a lot of hate, but there’s also been a lot of joy.

For those of you who don’t want to read the rest of this, there’s a TLDR at the bottom.

As I don’t like big crowds, we went to see it on Sunday morning of opening weekend. The theater was still three quarters full, and while I am a fan of the series (yes, I can even find merit in the prequel trilogy), I still don’t understand why people clap in theaters…. Which people did.  For the silliest of reasons. But whatever, you enjoy your thing your way.
At this point, I’ve seen it three times (I might be a fan, but I can tell you, I’ve seen it that many times because this is one of the few things my husband can out-geek me on) and throughout each viewing, I’ve been able to watch it a little more objectively.


Things I loved about this film:

Ladies, ladies everywhere!
When you watch the original film there are only two memorable female characters (I say that because having recently watched all seven films in order, I can’t remember anyone in the film besides Leia and Beru.) TFA has a female protagonist, sure, but more importantly than that, it has female characters ALL OVER THE PLACE. In the First Order in the command center, as storm troopers (let’s be honest, I’m crossing my fingers that Phasma’s division is all women storm troopers), the resistance has women all over the place in their base and even as fighter pilots. Seriously, the systemic sexism in our own society shouldn’t have to affect a society so far outside of our own.

The relationship between Ren, Huxx and Snoke.
I can’t be the only one who loved that it felt like two teenage boys vying for the affection and acceptance of a father figure. The adolescent rage and bickering was an amazing and fun thing to watch. Honestly, that particular relationship is my second favorite in the whole film.

It managed to meld the things I love about the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy.
Yes, I know the first three episodes are loathed by many, but I think there’s a lot to be happy about in them. One of the things I enjoyed was that the planets they visited didn’t feel as stagnant as those in the original trilogy. The digital effects made those worlds come alive in a way that I think was lacking before. The integration of practical effects with the gorgeous digital landscapes and flight sequences.

 

The reminder that everything can change and stay completely the same.
If we step back and look at what happened in the 20 years between episode III and IV and then compare it to what has happened in the 30 years between VI and VII, there’s a beautiful symmetry of corruption and power.
Unchecked Palpatine created an Empire that slowly choked the galaxy into submission. With only a paltry resistance to work against them, the First Order has managed to accomplish something incredibly similar. There’s something sadistically delightful about that.

BB8
I’m going to be honest. I really didn’t want to like the droid going in… and I’m not sure why. But when it comes down to it, the droid is so much like a puppy, I couldn’t help myself.
 

Things I didn’t love:

BB8
This is probably going to be weird, but I had a hard time with his size. I know it didn’t change, as it was a practical effect most of the time, but from scene to scene, it seemed larger and smaller. Maybe it was its shape, but that bugged me for whatever reason.

Leia’s reactions to both Luke and Han’s disappearance.
I know that with age comes a different set of priorities, and the loss of a child—weather to death or the dark side—tears a whole in parents. But in the first trilogy, Leia wouldn’t have been so passive about her brother and husband/partner deserting her. She’d be pissed. I missed the snarky banter she and Han had in those first movies. There was no anger in her, and I felt like that translated to a character who’d turned her grief into a form of passivity.

The rathtars.
They work as a plot device and I have no problem with them in general, but in the end, the way they came together digitally wasn’t something I enjoyed. Even with moving through the freighter crazy fast, they just didn’t work for me, visually.

The interaction between Rey and Leia.
There’s so little of it. You’d think, that they’d at least get as much on-screen conversation as Leia and Finn. These are two incredibly powerful characters who have little time together as-seen  in the film, and, based on how they part ways, they don’t seem to have spoken much at all while off screen.  There was a great potential for that relationship… and I feel like it was lost.

The ending.
I get that this is a Star Wars “thing.” End with a scene that has no dialogue. Every movie does it. And I’m okay with that aspect. I’m just not a fan of this particular ending. I’m sure they’ll find a way to make it work, but right now, it feels like they need to start episode eight on that island. If it had ended with Rey and Chewie riding off into the sunset to find Luke (ala Lando and Chewie in Empire) the beginning of VIII could have gone anywhere at all.


In conclusion…

The Force awakens was a great way to come back into the franchise and remind an audience that the story they knew and loved is not something that is going to die anytime soon (seriously people, read the books). I’ve heard a lot of people use this film to disparage others in the series. I’ve read a lot of posts on how this is just a rehash of the original. And I’ve seen a LOT of theories on who Ray is. The only theories I’m hoping for are that Finn is Lando’s son, and that he and Poe do something about all that sexual tension between them.
There are a lot of people still demanding that nothing can replace the original trilogy, and that’s fairly true. Empire is, to date, still my favorite of the films (Largely because I REALLY want a wampa, but I don’t think they can be house-broken). TFA gives us something to look forward too. More importantly, its box office numbers show the film industry that SF is still something that sells if you do it right.

TLDR: While TFA is an awesome start to a new trilogy, Empire is still my favorite.

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