It was as if a million voices cried out. Finally!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has finally premiered in theaters this past weekend. It was the last movie that I was looking forward to seeing this year.
I was not disappointed.
First, I need to be transparent. I was going into this movie with much trepidation. I went to the midnight showings of the Episodes 1 through 3 and was mightily disappointed in those movies. The hype behind this iteration of Star Wars has been building for a year. It was hard for me to be open minded when we were getting ready to see this movie in the theater.
I and two of my best friends went to see it on a Saturday afternoon in a theater that had 21 and up seating which always makes movie-going a nice experience.
When the final credits rolled off the screen, I had fallen in love with Star Wars again.
the things that struck me at the end of the movie that I had missed in the prior movies was that this was Star Wars. It had the feelings backed in that I had experienced when watching Episode 4 through 6 when I was a much younger. The Force Awakens captures this essence and blends in a more modern sensibility that feels natural and right.
I love the two new heroes that are setting out to save the galaxy from the evil of The First Order. Finn, a storm trooper that has decided that he can no longer follow the orders of an organization that will slaughter innocents. Rey, A scavenger left behind on a desert world waiting for the return of family that she doesn’t clearly remember. Each of them is struggling to survive in place that seeks to subvert them. Finn flees the First Order that punishes any independent thought and Rey does what is right despite the thought she may miss the return of her missing family.
I like that we get to watch as both Rey and Finn struggle with these two contradictory drives. Finn wants to be his own person but that has the cost of being subject to the whims of the First Order. He flees them knowing that what they are doing is wrong and his means of escape is to do something right. Finn still has to understand that to do what’s right means standing your ground sometimes. the audience gets to see as he has to work through this as he and Rey struggle to get BB-8 back to the Resistance. Rey struggles with the idea that she can not leave the desert planet for fear of losing a family that might return. Rey still does the right thing despite the fear that she is going to miss them while she is gone. She has to come to terms that this idea that she has been nurturing is nothing but a fantasy. Rey has to step out of this illusion and become something other than a scavenger waiting for something that will never come.
On top of all this, Star Wars is still a space opera. It has thrilling chases, exciting space battles, and beautiful explosions. The movie is a visual delight that mixes practical effects, matte painted backgrounds, and CGI in a fashion that allows these movies to capture the feel of the first Star Wars and still look gorgeous.
If I had to quibble, I missed seeing more of the original cast in this movie. I had the feeling going in that this would be more of a torch passing movie that what it really is. We get to meet the villains and the new heroes and see what they both are made of in The Force Awakens. I love all the new characters but I expected more of the old.
Despite this minor quibble, I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I plan on seeing it at least one more time in the theater. I give it four bear paws out of four. A definite must see for any geek out there.