Thursday, December 17, 2015

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Does Not Disappoint (spoiler alert!)

   This is where you need to stop reading if you haven't seen the movie yet. Parts of this movie were so good it gave me chills. Other parts seemed geared towards the children in the audience. (Is Star Wars meant for adults or children??) Most of us who are old enough to remember the first movie (Episode IV: A New Hope) are old enough to have children of our own, and, as always, parents and their children are major components of all Star Wars episodes. 
   Although I tried VERY hard not to watch any of the trailers before I saw the movie, I saw one of them because I work at a video store. (Yes, in some small towns, video stores still exist!) One of the big questions everyone wanted to know was HOW did we get a black stormtrooper?  They are all supposed be clones of Jango Fett (who looks sort of Latino), so what gives? Well, that question does not get answered in this movie. (My sister and my friend Ben disagree with me. They say he was taken from his family and forced to join the First Order. Well, I need a little more information than that!)
Finn, played by John Boyega. 
   I also knew there was a young woman wearing desert rags in the film, because my store sells posters and sticker books with her image all over them. Her character name is Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), and she is the most running-nest character I think I've ever seen. In nearly every scene, she takes off at high speed. She is rail-thin and very athletic, and somehow, even though she has apparently lived most of her life in poverty on the dry and dusty planet of Jakku, she has managed to become a highly skilled spacecraft pilot and technician. In fact, she can fly the Millennium Falcon with skills that challenge the great Han Solo's abilities, even though she says she has never had any actual space-time flight experience. (This is my first complaint. Rey's character seems to emasculate the uber-macho Han Solo in his VERY OWN, LEGENDARY, PRINCESS LEIA-WOOING space ship.) There is no space craft in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE as well known as the Millennium Falcon, and to have a young female scavenger show up Han Solo-the-Sexy-Space-Smuggler was unforgivable. SHAME ON YOU, J.J. ABRAMS!!! No wonder Harrison Ford let you kill him in this movie!! (YES, Han Solo DIES in this movie!!! And now you know WHY.) That, of course, is just my hypothesis. But the younger, wilder Han Solo I grew up with would have put that little girl in her place!
   Something I was surprised to see was a large, chrome-colored stormtrooper with a red cape. I saw a poster of a shiny, kind of sexy-looking stormtrooper in our store, and it just confused me. When he started talking in the movie, I realized he was a SHE. We've never had a female stormtrooper before!!  And after I searched the Internet to find a picture of her, I realized that this character, Captain Phasma, is the FIRST FEMALE VILLAIN in ANY Star Wars movie. And the best part is that she is played by Gwendoline Christie, better known as Brienne of Tarth in the hit Game of Thrones series. Love it!!
There's something different about this stormtrooper...
   Captain Phasma is not our chief villain, however. That honor belongs to a mask-wearing man who apparently worships the half-melted and crumpled helmet from his old grandpappy, Darth Vader. Yes, Han Solo and Princess Leia have had at least one child, and unfortunately, he is evil. Kylo Ren does not appear to have a maimed face like his grandpa, but when he takes his mask off, he looks NOTHING like his mother Leia nor his father Han. This seemed weird to me. There were a LOT of people in the world who wanted to be in this movie, and we couldn't find someone with a suitable creepy voice who at least looks caucasian? Kylo's temper-tantrums with his light saber were enjoyable to watch since he was only destroying property and not herds of sand people like our young Anakin did in Episode II. 
   My very first "favorite thing" I noticed about this movie was written in the big letter scroll that happens right after the Star Wars logo and main theme music come on. Princess Leia is no longer a princess. Now she is GENERAL Leia Organa. HECK YES!!! And I must say Carrie Fisher has aged every bit as well as Harrison Ford. She is still stunning with her big dark mocha eyes and fancy up-dos. Leia has lost her sass, though, and appears to be a tired, heart-broken Resistance war hero. (The Resistance is the new Rebels, and the First Order is the new Empire.)
General Leia (Carrie Fisher) is comforted by Han Solo
 (Harrison Ford).
   There are some interesting encounters between Kylo and Rey that made me think they were brother-and-sister, but we never saw Leia or Han react to Rey as if she was theirs. So why is Rey such a big part of the story? 
Sibling rivalry? Or maybe they are just cousins? 

   Everyone is trying to find a map to Luke Skywalker, who has apparently gone into hiding for a number of years. (Kenobi, anyone? That must be the usual path for a disgraced Jedi.) Near the end, Rey flies to a remote island and climbs up a stone stairway to find a hooded Skywalker staring out into the distance. He turns to look at her (Mark Hamill has not aged as well as Fisher or Harrison!) and she holds up his light saber as an offering to him. This was a very powerful and well-shot scene, and I will admit, it gave me chills. 
   I also really enjoyed seeing the x-wing fighters fly in formation over the water (in a much earlier scene.) The x-wing fighters have always been a favorite of mine. 
   I made sure I attended the very first showing of this movie at my local theater. I do NOT tolerate spoilers when it comes to Star Wars! I remember when Episode I came out in 1999, I went opening night in Huntsville, Alabama, and I was thrilled to see someone dressed as Darth Vader. I shot a roll of film with my old-school Nikon, only to discover that I hadn't loaded it properly and I didn't take a single picture. I really wanted those pictures. I distinctly remember when the Star Wars logo came on screen, and the main theme began, the audience erupted into loud applause. It had been too long since we had been able to see a Star Wars movie in a real theater. (There were sixteen awful years between Episode VI and Episode I). This time, for Episode VII, my fellow opening-night moviegoers offered weak applause for the opening theme, during the first appearance of the Millenium Falcon, and during Han Solo's first entrance. There is more movie magic on opening night than other other time, so I strive to experience this with movies I care about.
   In the end, I was left wondering who Rey belongs to. Is she Skywalker's daughter? If so, who in the world is her mother?? We have lots of questions for the next movie. 


  1. Thanks for posting such an interesting review. I've seen the film and I have mixed feelings. The movie itself is good but a lot of spoilers before the premiere were annoying, so I've used this thing to avoid them.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Thomas! Star Wars has always been near and dear to my heart. :)