If you watched episodes IV, V, and VI, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens may seem almost like a reboot featuring some of your favorite characters from the original franchise.
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
While the Empire has fallen, it seems the dark side, as always, cannot be finished off, nor learn from the past. For example, once again the dark side, now named “The First Order” has built a new Death Star, though gargantuan in comparisons, and have once again recruited a would-be Jedi. Said would-be Jedi? Well, it is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Someone whose parents seemingly didn’t love him enough, so he looked toward his grandfather for inspiration. In fact, he even dresses as his grandfather and, from what it seems, walks in his footsteps. Yet, there seems to be no knowledge in the boy of the final moments of his grandfather’s life. Leading to history repeating itself with young Kylo Ren once again under the influence of the dark side.
But while Kylo Ren plays our would-be villain, alongside Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), who unleashes the power that Darth Vader only dreamed of wielding with the Death Star, so comes Rey (Daisy Ridley). Now, Rey, as Kylo, again has the type of storyline which seems inspired by the original trilogy. She was abandoned, had to learn to become crafty and had it hard growing up. However, unlike her father, it doesn’t seem anyone was really looking out for her. She had to scavenge, and hit the ground running, in order to survive. Making it so when Finn (John Boyega), a storm trooper gone rogue, comes into her life, he basically gives it a jumpstart. But, while Finn doesn’t share blood with either Rey or Kylo, he does share the sad background they have. For, so it seems, all three were abandoned as a child. Kylo, and perhaps Rey, for their safety, but with Finn, he was kidnapped. Reason being? Well, it seems some within the First Order wanted to stray away from clones. So they kidnapped children and tried to condition them all into killers. Unfortunately for them, though, Finn’s first outing, and witnessing of death, leads to him freeing a resistance fighter, and setting into motion a new Star Wars trilogy which, mostly, seems like a reimagining of all that happened in episodes 4-6.
When it comes to Rey, I feel like she represents a modern female action hero. She isn’t dainty, but isn’t mannish; not focused on falling in love, yet desires close relationships and loyalty, but perhaps what I loved the most about this girl is she was a bad ass. I mean, between chasing people down, fighting with her rod, or being a co-pilot to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and/or Chewy (Peter Mayhew), I honestly feel the franchise is in safe hands as she learns the ways of the force.
While Kylo Ren, or Ben, is no Darth Vader, I do like how he sort of represents the ideal transition from the end of episode 3, when Anakin becomes Vader, to before Vader becomes the menace of the galaxy. For with him trying to prove himself, impress his father figure, and discard his old life, it is like getting a taste of Vader’s early years as an apprentice with potential.
For those who missed comedic moments in the franchise, between Han Solo and Rey, you are going to get what you asked for. That, alongside Storm Troopers reacting to the madness which is working around someone with anger issues like Kylo Ren.
As anyone familiar with Star Wars may know, the movies are all long as hell. However, between the nostalgia, the action, and to a point the dialogue, there isn’t any length of time in which you end up wanting to check your watch to see if it is over yet.
As noted with The Expanse, there is something about diversity when it comes to sci-fi that is so necessary and welcomed. For, between Rey, who is a bad ass heroine; Finn, who is a decent sidekick, and possible love interest for Rey by the end of the trilogy; and then how diverse the resistance is, as well as The First Order having a female captain in Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), it is hard to not smile at the fact that while Star Wars has kept a lot of what made it originally popular, it has adapted to the times a bit.
In most movies, murder isn’t something really noted. Yet in this film, it is by Finn and it is one of the main reasons he decides to leave The First Order. But, despite seeing a fellow Storm Trooper die, and then being a bit haunted by seeing villagers massacred, he participates in killing people and there is nothing said when people die around him after that moment. In fact, I find it weird how easily Rey does the same since it seemed like she may have been more than willing to defend herself, but wouldn’t take someone out in the process.
Being that Rey was abandoned at an early age, and there is no mention of how she made it to adulthood, I was left with a lot of questions. First being, how did she survive? Much less, being that she didn’t seem to be in an affluent area, did she simply learn alien languages to survive, or did she learn before she was abandoned?
I’m still trying to understand how someone can bleed after being shot with a laser. An issue I only bring up for the way Finn is originally identified as a unique storm trooper is by blood wiped onto his helmet.
I still remain a bit unsure as to why the Star Wars franchise is so stingy on subtitles for all these aliens and droids. Unless it is because there is a general belief it would take you out of the movie.
On The Fence
Fully recognizing this is a consistent issue with me, I must say that for a lot of characters I was so unsure what exactly their names were until I looked them up on IMDB. I got Finn and Rey, but many of the other new characters introduced I struggled to grasp their names. Also, when it comes to the lesser characters, like Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), as I felt I was re-watching Star Wars Episode IV, it became so easy to forget who they were since they seemed to no matter in the long run.
Which perhaps leads to the one thing sort of bugging me, why is this so much like episodes IV to VI? I mean, between Kylo Ren, Darth Vader’s grandson, idolizing him, and basically walking in his footsteps, to Rey pretty much having the type of start her father Luke had, everything seems like a rehash. Hell, even after failing, what? Three times? Once again a Death Star is made and one central location leads to the whole thing being destroyed.
Final Thought(s): Worth Seeing
It has been many years since I’ve watched episodes 1 – 3, and just this past weekend I watched episodes IV – VI in marathon form and, after all that, I can say I fully understand the hype, and this movie makes the best of it. And while, yes, at times the movie does seem predictable, as you realize it is just reinventing familiar stories, at the very least it finds a balance between what made the originals great, comedy, dialog, and action wise, and combines that with the technological advances which made episodes 1 – 3 pretty to look at. Thus creating a film which, to me, helps push the idea that Disney, who owns Star Wars, and Marvel, pretty much have a lock on the best sci-fi movies out there, and aren’t just looking to milk these properties, but maintain their status and reaffirm to fans that this isn’t exploitation, but a continuation.