The first time I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens it was opening night at a midnight screening on Thursday. The excitement was there, the anticipation was growing, and the release was met with a thunderous applause as the orchestra began. The second time was with my Mother who had made it a national holiday to take me out of school when the special editions of the OG trilogy and the prequels came out, so I had to see it with her and left the showing with a giant grin on my face. The third time I saw it with some friends, and we all came out with even larger grins on our faces than we did going in (them for the first time, and me for my third). On that third time, I saw the flaws which often haunt Abram’s films. Do those flaws take away from my enjoyment of the film? Hell no! But, they are there nonetheless. Star Wars Episode 7 does a terrific job of making a simply fun movie. Nothing more, nothing less.
What made Abrams bad for Star Trek is what makes him perfect for Star Wars. I fall in the line of hating Star Trek. I find it too philosophical and scientific. When it comes to sci-fi I’d like to be transported to a galaxy far, far away and have a good old time while doing it. Abrams does a great job with pacing in both story and action sequences. Episode 7 is essentially a retelling of Episode 4 for a new generation, only less of an adventure film and more of an action film. That’s fine. Abrams’ eye for photography comes in use here. The dogfighting scenes are filled with explosive awesomeness and restraint that many directors can learn from. Poe Dameron, a new character played by the talented Oscar Isaac, is allowed to show he has a bite to back up his bark in claiming to be the greatest Starfighter pilot in the galaxy. There are other action moments where I noticed the new actors playing Star Wars more than being in Star Wars (especially during some lightsaber moments), but the times in which that happens are so minute that I couldn’t help but just brush it off.
The new generation of actors taking over the Star Wars franchise couldn’t have been casted any more perfectly. Abrams has a terrific eye for untapped talent. John Boyega is a refreshing change of pace apart from your average fearless hero, Daisy Ridley proves herself to be a great new protagonist, and Oscar Isaac is perfect. Then there’s the best of the new generation: Adam Driver’s performance of Kylo Ren, who easily has become the most interesting character in the Star Wars saga. The new trio is joined by the old. Harrison Ford actually seems to give a flip in this performance””for the past few movies you really get the sense he’s just kind of phoning it in””but here he’s home. Carrie Fisher (arguably the weakest of the original performers) proves she can still be the badass princess, sorry, General we all know and love. Then there’s Mark Hamill whose small role in the film could have been bigger with a tad more lines of dialogue. But, this isn’t about the old. This is about the future, and the future is looking bright for the new cast of Star Wars.
My main gripe with the film, and probably the only problem I have with the entirety of the movie””that I can think of””is the lack of villain motivation. The Resistance has their motivation: stop the First Order (the new bad guys in this upcoming trilogy). Okay, good, that’s fine and it works. But, why are the First Order doing what they’re doing is a question that is never answered throughout the entire film. Even Kylo Ren’s motivation is made unclear. Why is this new Sith doing what he’s doing is not obvious, and when it comes to the point of no return for Ren it’s still made unclear. Does the First Order believe that they are the best chance for peace and order in the galaxy? Do they view the newly formed Republic as corrupt? Both of these answers are sufficient, but none are given. It’s not okay to make it known in another film. They had time to answer that here, and they didn’t. Frankly”¦it’s lazy.
With that aside, I still had a hell of a time watching this new movie. It’s easily one of the best in the series. The problems are there, but even the original trilogy had its share of problems. Is it as poetic as The Empire Stirkes Back? No. Nothing will ever top the moment Luke and Vader crossed lightsabers for the first time during the perfectly shot sequence. However, the setup is there for a potentially great sequel. Rian Johnson (Looper and Breaking Bad) is taking over the directing chair for Abrams in Episode 8. All the questions left unanswered in seven will probably be answered in eight. Johnson has proven, with Looper in particular, to be one of the brightest-up-and-coming stars in the directorial field, and I was more excited for Episode 8 when the news came out even before Episode 7 hit our screens this past Friday. Star Wars is back. My fellow Star Wars lovers, we’re home.
(A special Thank YOU to the Stack members who sent us their Star Wars photos!)