Note: There are spoilers after the picture, so do not read if you have not seen the film.
Another note: why have you not seen the film yet?
There are two sides to the coin regarding how I feel about this film. The first side: I loved it. I love this film so much that I have had at least one thought about it each day since I saw it. I saw the film on December 22nd, 2015. I am writing this on January 12th, 2016. The second side to the coin is this: as much as I love this film, it makes me almost as equally nervous about what is to come based on certain aspects showcased in this film.
However, I will get to that.
I will be the first one to admit that I do not remember watching the original trilogy or the prequel trilogy growing up. I have mentioned this to many people, and probably did on here as well. Despite not having a memory of watching these films, I still knew everything about the story. At least, I remembered the major points.
In the days leading up to watching The Force Awakens, I watched the original Star Wars trilogy. Now I can say that I have distinct memories of watching these ones. What you can glean from all of this is that I was not one of the major Star Wars nerds growing up.
I do not know that it matters. In some respects maybe, but on the whole…no.
I still enjoyed the story from the previous films. The characters were great, and like anyone, I obviously have my favourites. Overall, I think they are great films. The Force Awakens is no different.
My favourite thing about this film is Rey. I am exhilarated to see a main female character in a movie like this. Yes, we did have Princess Leia in the original trilogy, but she was not the same as Rey is in this film. Watching her scavenge and struggle to survive…refusing to give up BB-8 for food, even after that major temptation. Rey is inspiring. She has faced criticisms, which I will address at some point in another post, but I think it comes down to this: Rey has the potential to be a hero for girls around the globe. I pray that the next two films exhibit a lot of character growth for her. I have so much to say about her that I am planning to write Rey her own feature post.
One of my other favourite things about this film was Han Solo. Specifically, I loved seeing him and Chewbacca step onto the Millennium Falcon for their first appearance. I loved their interactions throughout and the witty banter that came along with those interactions.
Now, of course, I have to address one of the two most heart-wrenching things about this movie. Weirdly enough, someone on the Internet spoiled it for me the night before I saw The Force Awakens. There is a story behind it, but it someone spoiled it for me on something that had absolutely nothing to do with Star Wars. It is this:
Kylo Ren, born Ben Solo, kills Han Solo with a lightsaber strike through the chest.
Despite only gaining a strong memory about the original trilogy shortly before watching this one, I was always familiar with Han Solo, and watching those films just gave me more of that. I loved this scruffy-looking nerf herder…and I have to mention Harrison Ford as the actor behind him, no? He brings so much to all his characters, and his performance in this film, though not as large as some, was great. I think that there was sense of nostalgia with his presence, particularly with his entrance onto the Millennium Falcon and reunion with Leia. I have since heard he had suggested Han’s death in the original trilogy, so it makes sense that it comes now. Additionally, J.J. Abrams said he felt they needed to do something shocking like this.
Despite the fact that I would have liked to see more of Han Solo, I think that this was an almost essential moment in the film. It kind of echoed Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, but it also provides a base for the next two films. From what I gather, Kylo Ren weakened himself by killing Han, even if he does not realize it (maybe he does and just refuses to admit it). Seeing Han willing to give Kylo Ren anything he wants shows his love for his son. I got feeling that Han knew on some level what was going to happen, but maybe he also knew that it would weaken Kylo in that it would expose whatever humanity he had left in him. I have to believe that.
The reactions from the other characters to Han’s death also tugged on my heart. We saw the immediate reactions from Rey, Finn, and Chewie (once again, Chewie’s grief is loud and overwhelming), but we also saw Leia realize what happened. You can immediately tell that, despite not being there, she just knew. I think I may have seen her heart break on that screen.
In tandem with the characters’ grief, however, we also saw strength. Chewie set off the charges and made sure the shields lowered so the pilots, particularly Poe Dameron, could blow up the Starkiller Base. Rey…Rey picked up the lightsaber she refused to touch earlier in the film and triumphed over Kylo Ren, escaping with Finn and Chewie. I think it was a good balance, and above all, it provides a great set-up for the next films, especially the ending with Rey and Luke Skywalker.
However, this film did not come without flaws. I did not think about it at first, but there are quite a few similiarites between The Force Awakens and A New Hope. I will list some of what I found before talking in a little more detail. You can find a longer list in this article.
- Character abandoned on a desert planet
- Unknown parentage
- Villain with a voice-changing mask
- Droid on a desert planet with sensitive information
- Desert settlement attacked by Stormtroopers
- Cantina scene
- Starkiller Base and Death Star destruction (and existence, frankly)
- Aerial attack via X-Wings resulting in the destruction of a spherical weapon
- Heroes watch as father figure is killed by masked villain
Sometimes when I think about these similarities, I am unsure about how to feel. I worry about Episodes 8 and 9 being quite similar to The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. I want an original story. I want to see new struggles, new triumphs, and new character arcs. So I do worry, because if they are continuing down this same route…I don’t know.
However, I do understand why they chose to go down this route. Returning to this world, to one that fans love so much…it is definitely daunting. Thus, taking inspiration from the beloved original trilogy is smart. I just hope there is more new material to come. I think there will be. I hope that Luke Skywalker returns with Rey rather than staying on that island to train her in echo of himself and Yoda.
My reassurance comes from J.J. Abrams, who has responded to criticism regarding these similarities: “What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards.”