My Thoughts On Star Wars The Force Awakens [Spoilers]
Ok, I saw the movie yesterday. We took the team to a 9am showing. Teambuilding! We saw it in IMAX 3D (or what I would call mini-IMAX). I’m not really a fan of 3D so I will be taking my kids to see it in good old fashioned 2D. If I could find a 70mm projector theater, that would be my preference too, but I digress.
Now that I’ve seen the movie, people want to know what I thought. Before I answer here, some background. You see, I’m of the generation that saw Star Wars (none of this Episode IV New Hope nonsense) in the theater when I was 4. It was my first theater experience. I have probably seen Star Wars at least 100 times since, in various formats from Laser Disc to VHS to TV Movie of the week. I could watch it a hundred more times and never get tired of it. It’s that good.
The Force Awakens, “It’s OK”. Certainly no where near as horrible as the Episode I-III disasters but not quite in the same league as the originals (at least Star Wars and Empire). What I’ve (sadly) come to realize is that somewhere along the way, Star Wars stopped being movies for adults and started to be movies for kids (the transition is subtle in Return of The Jedi, but it’s there). And there in lies the problem for me.
In Star Wars, Han shoots first. problematic for kids, perfectly grey for adults. Empire is dark and depressing. Great for adults, a bit scary for kids. Jedi has Ewoks. As an adult, I so wish it had Wookies instead. But kids love Ewoks and kids buy toys (or get their parents to). Episodes I-III, Jar Jar for the kids.
[SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT]
Force Awakens is a more kid friendly mashup of Star Wars and Empire story lines. It has elements from both that fans will defiantly recognize. Rey is Luke, BB-8 is R2D2, Han is Obi-Wan, Po is Han, Finn is C3PO (think about it!), Kylo Ren is Vader, Snoke is the Emperor, and Luke is Yoda. There are lots of opportunities for Toys with secondary characters that didn’t add much to the movie and a less “official” tone to the battle planning scenes. In the Resistance command scenes, the good guys basically say, “been there, done that. We know how to fly x-wings at a big space station and blow it up. Let’s do this!”
And what’s up with that name “The Resistance”? Didn’t the Rebels win? Did the Senate reform and decide to call their new Army, The Resistance? And “The First Order” too. They are the Empire! Who cares if the emperor is dead, the Empire lives on! Sorry, I was a huge fan of the Admiral Thrawn trilogy and would have loved to see that story line come to life on the big screen. Perhaps better that it lives on unadulterated in the books though, too many bad book to screen adaptations exist out there already.
On a side note, what happened to Y-Wings? I mean, come on, budget cuts? Did the CGI guys lose the model? If you are going to bomb something, Y-Wings!
Personally, I would have preferred it if they had ended Episode VII with R2D2 waking up from his deep thinking and saved the big reveal for Episode VIII. But fans would have probably revolted at that (and there would have been one less action figure to sell this christmas).
Overall, The Force Awakens for me falls somewhere between the original trilogy and the trilogy which shall not be named. As a bridge to a new Star Wars generation and Universe, I am hopeful for the next two movies. As a father of two girls, I look forward to seeing Rey come into her own as a powerful Jedi (great role model for them) and wonder if Kylo Ren will ever become anything more than a tantrum spewing little Vader wanna be. I guess I will have to wait until 2017 to find out. For now, it’s back to the theater with the kids to see the movie as movies should be seen, in 2D!