WARNING – SPOILERS FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS (AND EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, TOO, I GUESS)
It’s difficult to talk about Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (TFA) without spoilers, so I’m just going to go ahead and speak freely. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now.
Okay, did they leave? Good.
I really liked it. Even though, as I was watching it, I was thinking the whole time, I shouldn’t be liking this. TFA is a combination of a rehash of A New Hope, with pure fan-service scenes thrown in.
Look at the parallels: a droid with information vital to the Resistance/Rebellion is stuck on a desert, rescued by an orphan and helped off planet. They have to look for a ride in a crazy multi-species cantina.
Later, they need to conduct a daring raid on a planet-sized death machine – explicitly compared to the Death Stars! – and there’s a daring trench run by X-Wings to finally blow up the giant death machine. Meanwhile, the orphan has gotten in touch with the Force, and uses it to defeat the bad guy. Scene wipe to end!
And, by the Force, the perpetual fan service! The shock reveal of the “hunk of junk” Millennium Falcon, the dejarik table, the seeker drone Finn finds as he rifles through storage, the knowing reference to “twelve parsecs” – I smiled and laughed at all of it, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering why am I liking this?
I think what people like – what I like – about TFA is the sense of wide-open possibility that exists. With the prequels (putting their quality aside), we knew where it would all end up – Republic converted to Empire, Anakin in black armor and a respirator, the Jedi Order destroyed. Now, we have no idea what’s happening. Is Rey Luke Skywalker’s daughter? How can Finn use a lightsaber (which is traditionally limited to Force-sensitives)? Why did Kylo Ren leave the Order? Why are the “Knights of Ren” not Sith? A sense that anything could happen in Episode 8 and 9 has a liberating feel, and people are buying into it way more than the movie itself might justify.
Again, not that I didn’t like it. I saw it twice! I had a smile on my face the whole time it was on, from the text-crawl in the beginning to Luke Skywalker’s pregnant stare at the end. I’m just not sure my enjoyment was of the movie itself, or of what it represents.
Star Wars is back.