Note: This post DOES NOT contain spoilers. Sorry, you’ll have to go and ruin your chance of being surprised and entertained via a website with zero appreciation for the concept of suspense.
Given the runaway success of The Force Awakens it’s safe to say you don’t have to worry about being called Jar Jar from here on out. Congratulations on one hell of a victory, and thank you for giving me and a legion of first generation Star Wars fans the chance to relive our wide-eyed younger years while looking forward to the saga’s future.
Is it a perfect movie? No.
Did I enjoy it? No. I loved it
Would I see it again? In a heartbeat.
Of course, there are plenty of people who feel the Star Wars fans that are currently losing their minds (meaning the vast majority of us) should get a grip. The Force Awakens is just a movie, after all. Those people are absolutely right. It is only a movie, and the hype of the past year or more has gone beyond ridiculous.
I snorted in derision during the making of The Force Awakens when media pages started reporting on the über-nerds that had managed to snag a photo of a photo of a photo of the Millennium Falcon on your desk. I shook my head in disbelief at the fucking idiots who issued death threats against Fox News correspondent Katherine Timpf because she wasn’t on board with Star Wars geek love. I laughed out loud at the morons who debated and argued and spewed nerd drivel hither and yon about why Kylo Ren’s lightsaber sports a laser-fied crossguard (how about it just looks pretty damn cool, you nerf herders…).
And still, I’m a diehard fan that is singing your praises for creating what is, for me, a wonderfully entertaining and gratifying return to what made Star Wars (it will never actually be known as A New Hope in my world), The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi such beloved movies.
Admittedly, I went into seeing The Force Awakens on opening night with a sense of trepidation. I remember how excited I was when Episode I: The Phantom Menace hit the theaters in 1999, and the sinking feeling in my gut only a few minutes into the film when I realized it was NOT the Star Wars I was looking for. By the end of The Phantom Menace that sinking feeling had become a cold chunk of disappointment. I put myself through the agonizing task of sitting through Episodes II and III in the years that followed, and they only succeeded in proving what I knew within the first 15 miniutes into Episode I…
George and his “creative” team had made a mockery of everything I loved about the Star Wars saga. The thing I hated about Episode I – aside from the abominable casting for Anakin Skywalker, the over-the-top CGI’d everything , the idiotic slapstick “humour”, and anything to do with Jar Jar Binks – was the way the innocence of the original Trilogy had been obliterated.
The beauty of the original Star Wars films was the way we, the viewers, were invited and expected to accept without a fuss what was presented to us: the mystical mumbo jumbo of The Force, the fact that characters speaking different languages simply understood one another, or the flight capabilities of vehicles with the aerodynamics of a waffle iron (Millennium Falcon) or a toaster (TIE Fighters). We took it all in without question, without a fight, and we loved it. Those sci-fi fans that didn’t get on board in 1977 chose to hang out with Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise crew instead and presumably still do. More power to them.
So it went, the 8 year-old Star Wars fan that I was in 1977 buckled in and basked in the rush of goosebumps that raced up my arm as the opening theme blared through the theater, and we were both hit between the eyes as The Force Awakens played out with a sense of awe and relief. The magic dampened by the prequels had returned in the most awesome possible way.
All the folks that said the guy who remagined Star Trek shouldn’t be messing with Star Wars have been proven dead wrong. This is most certainly a fine mess you’ve made, J.J., in the best ways possible.
Sure, there are a few moments in the movie that are weak in my opinion, there is one particular item you’re going to be crucified for in the reviews, but when all is said and done, you’ve done one hell of a job in bringing Star Wars back to what it was while helping it move forward on a bloody amazing high note. The plot is refreshingly simple, the use of real sets and location shoots can’t be praised enough, the casting of John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac is oustanding, and the interplay between the classic characters and the new cast is brilliant to watch.
As well as all of the above, perhaps another reason The Force Awakens has hit such a strong chord with me is because Star Wars is the foundation of the longest lasting friendship in my life, now at 38 years and going strong. I can think of dozens upon dozens of times where something about the movies has infiltrated our conversations over the years. Now we’re back it, blathering on when we think nobody is paying attention to two 40-something nerds who are now able to drink single malt whiskey legally, reliving everything that made our younger haven’t-quite-discovered-girls-yet years great. My brother from another mother is dutifully corrupting his three kids with the Star Wars saga as you read this; parenthood at its best.
It dawned on me as I was leaving the theater that there will definitely be relationships forged over The Force Awakens amongst the new generation of fans. Given the volatile levels of present day geekdom – because living in Mom’s basement is just so fricking tough – there will probably be a few friendships crushed by the movie as well (most likely by debates over Kylo Ren’s lightsaber). In any case, Mr. Abrams, the bottom line is that in spite of whatever criticisms come your way, you and your creative team, cast and crew have created something special for the ages.
December 20th, 2015