The Force Awakens played a Jedi mind trick on me. I was transfixed from the opening shot. No, I no longer needed a bathroom break (did I even really need one?). Every moment was full of revealing one-liners or light-hearted winks to the old films. That seemingly improbable coincidence in the story? Perfectly acceptable. For some reason, I didn’t feel like nitpicking. My disbelief was suspended in mid-air like a laser blast that refused to move. Mind trick or not, this movie had the magic of a certain saga from a long time ago, in a life that now seems so far away, called Star Wars.
Somewhere between a homage to, and a reboot of, A New Hope (Episode IV), watching it was like seeing a long lost friend. Reconnecting was effortless. It looked different, yet very familiar. Ok, maybe it wasn’t perfect (the mind trick is starting to wear off), but even its shortcomings brought back the charm of the originals.
The lightsaber duels are not as finely choreographed as the prequels (Episodes I-III), but neither are they so ridiculously acrobatic (remember Yoda’s duel with Count Dooku?). The special effects are not over-the-top (Episode II was dreadful in this regard – computer-generated graphics were everywhere “just because”). Instead, it nicely complemented, and took a back seat to, the story.
Now about that story.. I won’t spoil it for you. As already mentioned in the press releases, this takes place 30 years since Return of the Jedi (Episode VI), around the same length of time that actually elapsed in real life since that movie was shown. As we all went on with our lives, so did the characters. Some things ended up as expected, and some things didn’t. It’s an intriguing look at what happened 30 years after the defeat of the evil Galactic Empire.
All the stories from the officially sanctioned “expanded universe” books, with all the cool characters like Mara Jade, by virtue of this movie, are now non-canonical (they didn’t really happen, and they are no longer official!). If you are attached to those books, then the effect might be a bit complicated. The consensus among geeks in the interweb, generally, is that it’s fine. Having read only one of those books, and after watching The Force Awakens, I tend to agree.
Star Wars is back, and we are in for a treat. I just hope it doesn’t take 14 parsecs for Episode VIII to reach us (yes, I know, it’s a unit of distance). Let’s believe in that old smuggler that it was closer to 12.
[** WARNING: Spoilers follow **]
I will reiterate – if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading now.
With the mind trick completely worn off, I am now inclined to mention some of what I perceived as imperfections in this movie.
First is the confusing status of the Republic. How can there be a Republic, and at the same time, a Resistance? Who’s in charge of the Galaxy? This wasn’t explained very well. My brother theorizes that part of the galaxy is under the Republic, while other parts are under the First Order. The “Resistance” is a band of rebels operating under First Order territories, and are being supported by the Republic. Still, this begs the question, why is Princess Leia part of the Resistance, and not the Republic?
Kylo Ren’s Force powers are grossly inconsistent. Strong enough to freeze a laser blast at the beginning, then weak enough to get wounded by Finn (oh c’mon!) and eventually beaten by Rey at the end.
All other plot holes and nitpicks, I can gloss over 🙂