Sunday, January 3, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)



Welcome back after the holidays! I hope you all had a lovely time spent with friends and family. You'll be happy to know, I hope, that my holidays were happy in spite of the emotional turmoil I was experiencing at the start. Thanks for any and all prayers you may have sent my way during December, they were greatly appreciated and very much felt.

Now. STAR WARS.

Do you ever wake up to realize that you've had a void in your life for years only to find that it's been FINALLY filled? That's me and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I'm going to make a terrible confession to all of you. I don't like the prequels. I never have, never will. I tried to fool myself into tolerating them for a good many years, but, well, I might just as well admit my distaste for them. So my Star Wars life has been solely limited to the original trilogy for almost the entirety of my life. And it was chock FULL of unanswered questions. I mean, what happens after Vader dies and the new death star explodes and Luke is reunited with Leia and Han? I wanted, no, needed desperately to know more. True, I could have read some of the countless Star Wars novels that have been published over the years, but I never trusted them to be canon and it turns out that I was right. . . they're not canon. Big surprise there.

So I kept hoping and praying, impatiently I might add, that someday George Lucas would come to his senses and make movies about the story I wanted to know, what happened AFTER The Return of the Jedi. I'll admit, I didn't really hold out all that much hope he would do it justice if he ever decided to try sequels to his original trilogy, which is why when I heard he gave up the rights to the franchise and Disney took them, well, let's just say gleeful is a good word to describe my reaction. Because Disney doesn't just sit with a good idea, it runs with it. And I trusted that Disney would run with Star Wars before Mark Hamill got very much older. Because, let's be honest, Lucas was a fool to make prequels when his actors from the original trilogy were still young enough for him to make decent SEQUELS.

But, all Lucas bitterness aside, my dream was realized, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was born, and then came the mind-numbing panic that maybe I had built up my hopes for this movie too high. That NOTHING could be as good as the original trilogy and that I was setting myself up for stinging disappointment. NOT SO! 

The Force Awakens is hands-down my favorite movie of the last 5 years!


And in honor of that placement in my favorite films, here's my top 10 favorite moments in no specific order in tFA (what I'll call The Force Awakens from here on). Be aware that I'm sharing some minor spoilers while keeping clear of any major ones. I hate it when people tell me spoilers so I attempt to avoid doing the same to others.


The Millennium Falcon Reveal

I love the Millennium Falcon even more than the Starship Enterprise, which is really saying something. So when the big Falcon reveal hit the screen in tFA, you should have heard the cheers and shouts in the theater, of which I gladly participated. Like I said earlier, you don't realize how much you miss something until you haven't seen it in years. I LOVE that ship!


Han and Leia

Because I was always rooting for their relationship to work, no matter how illogical it might have seemed for a princess to love a space pirate. But she did and he loved her, and guess what? They made it work . . . for the most part. It was lovely to see Harrison and Carrie reunited in their classic roles, and to see how much the characters, both of them, have grown over the years. How Han matured and how Leia developed patience with him. Seeing them again was like coming home.


New Kids on the Block

I know I'm not the only one out there who is uber-impressed by Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn. These two young adults are amazing! The acting in the prequels always disappointed me, even Liam Neeson's acting which I never even though possible. So it was refreshing to have such two lively young actors, practically no-names, be so successful in their roles. I mean, wow, who doesn't love these Finn and Rey?!


BB8

I'm a sucker for droids. Maybe not as much as my sister, but still, I love them. And so it was good to have a droid be a lead character again. Yes, I kind of wish that R2 and 3P0 had more screen time, but BB8 is the most adorable little droid ever, with plenty of spunk and spirit. And I loved how Rey understands droid speech so she was able to effortlessly communicate with BB8. This droid is loyal to its owner, Poe Dameron, and to the cause of what was once called the Rebel Alliance but is now the Resistance.


And since I just mentioned him, POE DAMERON

Played by Oscar Isaac, this guy pretty much starts off tFA, which meant he had a lot riding on his shoulders. Thankfully, Poe was an instant success in my book. Whether he's fighting against force mind manipulation or bending down to welcome BB8 back because they're buddies, Poe is a great character and casting choice. He doesn't get all that much screen time so I'm hoping his character will develop more in the next film, and I'm thrilled the actor has signed up for another round. What would Star Wars be without Poe Dameron flying the skies?!


The Lightsaber Twist

This, my friends, is a monumental moment in the story. Because I know what happens to this lightsaber, just as any self-respecting Star Wars fan does. This is the lightsaber that Obi-Wan gave Luke. The lightsaber that was Anakin Skywalker's saber. And it also happens to be the lightsaber that Luke lost when it fell, with his hand, from Cloud city, presumably to Bespin far below. Unless, of course, it didn't fall with the hand since if you look closely at that shot, you only see Luke's hand plummet. How in the world does Maz get ahold of it? There's a story here and it has given me quite a few hours of delightful discussion with similar-minded fans trying to crack the mystery!

The Bridge

For those of you who've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. And for those of you who haven't, well, I know better than to say too much. Only know that it's the most gut-wrenching moment I've ever experienced in in the fandom. I both hate and love it for its emotional impact and its allegorical significance.


A Female Jedi

Okay, so yes, I'm sort of giving away a smidgen about tFA. Rey is force sensitive and can wield a lightsaber, which she does with magnificent poise, strength, and focus. Developing such a strong, likable heroine was a brilliant move on J.J. Abrams' part and I commend him for it. That battle between Rey and Kylo Ren is dynamite.


Kylo Ren

What should I say about the villain? Not much, probably, except that he's brilliant and he will either die a terrible death and grieve many people or he will live and suffer guilt for a very lengthy period of time. He's complex and simplistic at the same time and I waver between hating and pitying him. Plus, he has a seriously scary lightsaber.


Luke

I kind of feel that's all I need to say about this one. And I'm including a classic photo of him because current photos of Luke are really hard to come by and regardless of appearance, he's still Luke. Luke was my hero for an entire decade, tying with Macgyver for first place on the heroic scale of measurement. I love him and I missed him and so to see him again was amazing. Of course, it also opened up an entire world of questions in my brain about his motivations, his character, and his reason for doing, well, all of the things he apparently did in between RotJ and tFA. And I would have killed for him to have ONE LINE OF DIALOGUE! COME ON, PEOPLE!!

Really, in order to capture the absolute awesomeness of tFA, go see it. Don't just take my word for it or anyone else's word for it, especially those who hate it, go see it. Make your own judgement call.

I'll say only one thing more, if you love the prequels more than the original films then this probably isn't the movie for you. This is a return to classic Star Wars, the way it always was until the prequels tried to reshape it into something different and inferior (sorry, yes, that's a bit of an insult to prequels fans, forgive me). The Force Awakens is Star Wars. GO! And may the Force be with you!

Btw, below is my sister's Christmas present to me! And yes, it's signed. BEST GIFT EVER! I am such a total Star Wars nerd and I make no apologies!


13 comments:

  1. Loved this film! I don't hate the prequels, but the screenwriting was awful -- weak pacing, weak plot, terrible dialogue. So glad tFA had none of that. Even the parts that broke my heart were so well written and acted that I couldn't get mad. Love, love, love the new characters, especially BB8 and, somewhat to my surprise, Kylo Ren. Wasn't expecting to find him such a fascinating villain.

    P.S. That's got to be one of the best presents ever! :D

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    1. Ditto on the screenplays for the prequels. Blech.

      Yep, all of the new characters are super awesome and superbly performed. I do wish that we'd had more time with Poe Dameron, but hey, there's always next time!? :)

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  2. You already know that I adored it. I think it's my favorite film in the franchise so far.

    And I want a redemption arc for Kylo Ren. And for Leia to slap him. LOL

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    1. I wouldn't go so far as to say favorite, but it is really awesome and at last as good as the original trilogy. Pretty much all the movies I accept as Star Wars all share equal footing as my favorite. ;)

      We totally agree on a redemption arc for Kylo Ren. I hope that happens because it would be even worse if it didn't.

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  3. You might be interested in this fan theory about Rey's origins- https://medium.com/@benostrower/rey-is-a-kenobi-362b5af09849#.b24v4igba

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    1. Yeah, I'd heard of that theory, but don't quite buy into it. Just like I'm not entirely sold on her being a Skywalker, although that could be a possibility too. I'm not sure about her origins, we'll just have to wait and see. :)

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  4. I don't think saying you dislike the prequels is a terrible confession... I'm pretty sure that's a good confession. In the movie world, all you have to do is bad-mouth the prequels a little and suddenly everyone will respect you opinions on all movies, no matter what! :P :P

    I love this review. And the movie. And Rey and Fin and POE DAMERON (because it feels very appropriate to type his name in all-caps) and BB-8 and Kylo Ren... I rather enjoyed the new additions more than the returning old things, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure that it was the old things that made this movie as good as it is. Han added such a great and unexpected layer of depth, and I bet Luke will do the same come ep 8!

    I've always love Star Wars -- I even honestly liked the prequels for a while until I started to understand what a good movie was, and that they were... not that -- but I never thought that they'd ever actually make sequels. I remember trying to imagine what would happen, but never expected to see it happen. But now I've caught the bug! I NEED to know ALL the things!! And it's such a long time until episode 8....

    It makes me so happy when people like Poe as much as I do. I knew at the casting announcement that he was gonna be my favorite character just because he's Oscar Isaac, and then I was kinda disappointed when he was absent for a lot of the movie. But now since everyone else loves him too, I feel confident in hoping for and expecting more screen time for him in ep 8. He, Rey, and Finn need to get a hero-trio going!

    Anyway, great review, Carissa! And that is a seriously epic Christmas present!

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  5. WOW! Your sister is supremely awesome.

    Cowboy said this, and I heartily agree: "The prequels are basically fanfic, but TFA is worthy of being canon."

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    1. Yes, I think my sister is awesome too. She's amazing!

      And Cowboy is spot on. It's nice having a new SW film that is actually canon worthy. The universe has righted itself!

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  6. Would you believe, for a Star Wars nerd, I have not seen this yet?! I cannot believe myself either! I agree - I saw all the prequels cause you just had to - but I was never super impressed with them. I always just wanted to watch the original three over and over. So I really, really need to see this one!
    And what a fantastic present! Isn't it great when family actually know what would send you over the moon in ecstasy for a gift?!

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    1. My sister is currently watching an edited version that puts the 3 prequels into just a single film, cutting it down to the bare essentials of information that you might possibly need and she says it makes sooooo much more sense that way! Fans do the funniest things!

      And yes, every time I leave my room, I smile at my beautiful Luke on the wall. He makes me so happy!

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    2. That sounds good. Where is the edited version? Online?
      Now admit it, you talk to him too, don't you?! I know I would!

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    3. I'll ask her to send me the link tomorrow so I can share it with you!

      And (whispers) yes, I talk to him all the time. When I'm not resisting the temptation to kiss him. After all, there's glass covering the photo! The lipstick would wipe off! ;)

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