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Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars Review: The Force Awakens

da, da, dun,
dun dun dun,
da, da, dun,
dun, da, dun

The Force Awakens

more than
thirty-two years, a
new hope has awakened from
the ten year hiatus of attacks of prequels
of past wars and stories of sith and revenge. What
once thrilled millions enough to line up down the block 
and around the corners and has sold billions in toys 
and memorabilia has returned with new characters, aliens, unusual hair styles, vehicles, jedi and long lines to strike back against evil empires because the saga continues...

Finally, we have seen The Force Awakens. Maybe now my eleven year old can settle down to normal levels of pre-Christmas jitters. We loved it! The college boy had some reservations, but he's still suffering from finals week exhaustion and didn't have the benefit of a week and a half run up of prequels to prep him. [Between the unveiling of The Battle of Five Armies, Extended Edition, and its run-up movies and the Survivor, Season Finale, I'm so sick of watching screens I won't even re-watch The Battle of Five Armies, Extended Edition with the college boy who missed the unveiling. I was a little underwhelmed with that anyway. [Just a little.]]

We arrived an hour early with pre-bought tickets in hand. There was no line, so we were concerned, especially since there was a bake sale and a big screen TV set up out front. So there must have been a long line that we missed. So we walked right in, but the theater was packed. The five of us had to split up. I had to sit way down front to get two seats together so I could sit with my youngest. I flashed back to being in the front row for Empire Strikes Back when I was a kid. [Nice and nostalgic, but an approaching fifty year old neck is not as strong as it used to be. Next time I ask ahead of time when the theater will open their doors for seating.]

Opening night fans never disappoint, even if we were down in the peanut gallery of those who didn't stand in line. I saw two Chewbacca costumes and a rebel pilot costume that looked great. Reportedly there was an authentic storm trooper in the lobby after we found our seats, but since we were split up none of us had enough back up companions to save our seats, so we didn't go back out to see it. But we'd seen one along with a Boba Fett and a Darth Vader up close at a May the Fourth Be With You Day comic book store celebration, so we weren't too bummed.

Now onto the movie review. The Force Awakens was just what our family wanted from a new Star Wars movie. There was lots of funny moments, great new characters, plenty of sentimental moments and corny lines. We were all thrilled that the Star Wars franchise has finally found the guts to reflect gender and racial diversity among its new main characters. There was new adorable droids, fancy piloting and new planets. Yet there was plenty of old favorites and familiar faces.

My biggest critique, other than some plot holes typical of Star Wars, was that it took a while before we got the names of the new characters and most of the new names were so short it was hard to pick them out the first time I heard them. If you've got a one syllable name you've got to make that one syllable really clear! If you are not super worried about being spoiler free at the end I have some of the new names of main characters I wish I had going into the movie. [#1]

For those of you who like spoilers or who have seen the movie, here are my opinions about specific scenes. [#2]

There seemed to be a repeated theme of good characters running away from difficult situations, but finding out that the running away doesn't usually work out so well, except maybe for ...opps! For this spoiler go to the end.[#3]

This is a great family friendly movie with lots of laughs and thrills and a good message. It's refreshing after the downer that was Revenge of the Sith. I didn't even take my then nine year old to see that one in the theater. This one is much more like the original movies with lots of funny lines and feel good moments. I highly recommend it.

How was you first viewing experience?
Did you have any exciting special promo events?
I'd love to hear what you thought about the movie. Just be sure to include ***spoiler alerts*** before you give away any details.

*****Spoilers Alert*****

1. [Rey [I had an especially hard time with this one. It wasn't said very clearly at all], Finn, BB-8, Po, Kylo Renn, Ben]

2. [I loved the unveiling of the Millennium Falcon. The set up for it with “that ship's garbage” before you even saw the ship was brilliant. Opening night fans laughed and cheered. I was surprised when the  Millennium Falcon was boarded. The set up for it being the First Order was well done. I was so expecting storm troopers. It was great seeing Han and Chewy again.

Apparently Wookies age much better than humans. I wondered, 'How old is Harrison Ford now?' The good ole internet says 73. He aged the most since he was 35 when A New Hope premiered. It makes me feel my age seeing my childhood heroes so much older. But Han was still charming and fairly spry for such an old guy. I liked that Han and Leia went back to doing what they knew best yet they still loved each other, and that C-3PO still got in their way.

Having R2D2 powered down and Luke missing was a little disappointing, but I recognize that it was needed to allow viewers a chance to bond with Rey, Finn and BB8 with the help of Han and Chewy.

The nod to the chess game was nice. I really enjoyed Rey's and Finn's characters, believably fumbling, yet humorously daring. I would have liked to see more of Po. He seems like a good actor.  We all really enjoyed the light saber battle in the forest of falling snow. It was moving.

I disliked Kylo Renn, even before he skewered his poor dad, but I guess we're supposed to. My daughter predicted, after watching that plot point repeated, that Han Solo was going to die in this movie, since the Guide for new jedi [and main characters in general] usually does; ex. Old Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.But Han's last moments were nice. [I keep wanting to say touching, but the pun interferes with the moment's mood.]

My daughter had also predicted that Kylo Renn was Luke Skywalker. [You win some, you lose some.] But it was a nice having him be Han and Leia's son. My older children and I kept wanting to call him Jason instead of Ben since we had all read the Young Jedi Knights series books, by Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta.Those books also make us all feel like Rey is Ben's sister, Jaina. Though I've heard Lucas isn't using the events from the books that followed The Return Of the Jedi.

The movie has given us no reason to believe that Rey is Han and Leia's daughter, other than being super force sensitive, looking a lot like Leia and Padame, being abandoned on the same planet as the stolen Millennium Falcon and piloting the Millennium Falcon like an heiress. [Hey wait a minute. That sure seems like enough foreshadowing to make that prediction to me.] [I really don't like multiple story versions, even though that's par for the course among comic books. It makes me struggle to remember which version gave which clues and foreshadows. Come on, Lucas, have some mercy on your fans. Many of us are aging. Don't sanction versions of books and comics that aren't going to be part of the canon. When I'm Empress that won't be allowed.] If you want to see my Good Reads ratings, they are at te bottom of the page.

3. [Finn running away from doing evil as a storm trooper worked out for him, since he had Po's help and then Rey's, but it wasn't looking to good for him when he was drinking from the water trough with that beastie. Later he learns the intended
lesson when he stops running away so he can help Rey.]


BronzeOracle said...

Hi K.C. and happy 2016! Its great to see your blog continuing.

I took my ten year old son to see the movie on opening night and we both had a great time. It was really exciting in the atmosphere of a packed cinema which doesn't happen often in the town where we live. Reminds me of when I was a kid and a lot more people went to the cinema. :)

I actually enjoyed the movie a lot more the second time I saw it. The first time I had some big expectations whereas the second time I just came for the ride.

I loved the new characters and the actors who played them - I hope to see more of Po in the next movie as I'm a big fan of Oscar Isaac. I also liked the interactions between Kylo Ren and Rey - it was fantastic to see Rey as the lead character and the revealed in the end.

I felt that the movie had more of the cheesy humour of the originals rather than the prequels, like Kylo Ren's dummy spits with his lightsabre and Rey telling Fin which part to pick up "not that one, that one, the one I'm pointing to". BB8 giving Fin the thumbs up. Hilarious!

There were a heap of plot holes that made me cringe and I didn't like the fan service moments but overall I loved the film especially the second time round and I'm looking forward to seeing the next one. My son loved every bit of it, he gave it 10 out of 10.

KC Trae Becker said...

Hi BronzeOracle, happy 2016 to you too. The posting of this blog limps along. Fortunately people seem to enjoy the large selection of old posts enough to keep things active.

The Force Awakens was so fun. I'm glad your son enjoyed it. I'm thrilled my kids got to experience opening night for a new Star Wars flick. The camaraderie is pretty cool.

We've yet to bite the bullet to our wallets a second time for the movie, though my youngest keeps suggesting it. Nobody wants to miss a second showing and ticket costs add up fast. I'm sure the movie will get played to death when we eventually buy the DVD.

Rey and Finn were fun together. I'd like to see more of Po, too. He seemed like he had lots of potential. (No pun intended.) At our house, people liked the return of the cheesy humor too, and wondered why it was missing from the prequels. I explained that ultimately the prequels are a tragedy ending in the greatest Jedi turning to the dark side. Cheesy humor's less appropriate in that context. But it's nice to have it back. Poor Han, though.

We're all looking forward to seeing it again sometime and seeing what's in store for the continued story.