I’ve seen The Force Awakens, and no, I did not like it (spoilers ahead)
December 26, 2015 4 Comments
After finding this article from io9 I figured it was safe for me to share with you my very personal feelings after having seen the new Star Wars movie.
Beware dear reader, for if you continue reading the paragraphs below, you will get my honest assessment of the new Star Wars film. This means I will talk about plot points. If you haven’t seen the film yet, please do not read any further. I do not want to be responsible for spoiling anything for anyone.
I really wanted to like Star Wars: the Force Awakens. I had hung my hopes and dreams on it being something that would speak to me, something that would move me. I have been counting down the months, and then the weeks, and then the days. I wore my Star Wars clothes every day the week of the premier.
Not only did I not like it, half way through it did something I was dreading, and from that point on, I didn’t care how it ended. I didn’t care about the characters. I didn’t care about anything other than it being over so I could go home.
Yes, I’m not taking it very well.
Let me set the stage, so that you’re not thinking I am some fair-weather fan. I saw Star Wars, then only called Star Wars, in the theaters at the age of 8 in 1977. You can do the math. It stirred me like no entertainment had up to then and ever would after. Only The Empire Strikes Back would come close to recreating those feelings for me. I have since watched the original trilogy easily over 100 times each. I know all of the dialog. I can see a frame grab and begin reciting lines from that scene on. I hear the music and I know exactly what’s happening. I’ve been a fangirl since before fangirls became the rage all over twitter.
I didn’t mind the prequels, although I hated Revenge of the Sith. I know I’m alone with this opinion, but as you’ll see, I don’t care for “Dark” films. I liked The Clone Wars TV show but not enough to share it with my children. Again it’s just too dark. I am loving Star Wars Rebels and hope that at least they continue the storylines where the good guys always win and no one dies.
It is with this reverence that I approached The Force Awakens. I was fully ready to hand over the mantle to the new trio. To follow them on their adventures, but to feel as though it was not quite my Star Wars. That would have been ok. I knew this one wasn’t made for me. Sure it had a strong female protagonist, but it is being made for the new generation. Not for the old generation, and I was fully ready to be ok with that.
I expected to leave the theater thinking, “that was fun, I hope kids today appreciate the gift they’ve been given”. I would have been removed from loving it first hand, but would appreciate it for those that would follow me.
And then they stuck the Millennium Falcon in a junk pile.
And then they had Han and Chewie back to being smugglers and pirates.
And then they had Leia and Han having had a kid, had that kid go bad, and had them separate rather than work it through together.
And then they had Luke, the optimist, who saw the good in everything, off hiding on an island on some far away planet, having failed in restarting the Jedi order.
It’s like they spit upon my beloved characters and who I knew them to be. They spit upon all that I knew they’d have become to put together some Game of Thrones-lite family drama. They took my wide-eyed happy space adventure and threw it away in the trash heap, where it has sat for so long that it’s only a legend for the people in that universe.
And then they killed Han.
Not in some blaze of glory befitting the space pirate. Not saving the day with a Yee-haw and an explosion.
No, they killed him at the end of his son’s lightsaber then dropped him into a bottomless pit and blew up the planet he’s on for good measure. This son spends the whole movie being irritating because he’s an angry crybaby of a man who grew up with Han and Leia as parents, Luke as his uncle and Jedi teacher, and yet he decided to turn out bad. I have no patience for those who have it all and who make bad choices. No patience for it at all. I’d have preferred he have died in this movie and we’re done with no need for another two episodes. I have no interest in his redemption. None. at. all.
The Luke, Han and Leia that I knew in the original trilogy would still be together now. They’d still be fighting the good fight if that’s what was needed. They wouldn’t be apart, or in hiding. This isn’t the story I wanted to see. After working so hard and saving so many, I wanted to see them sitting back and enjoying some peace, and perhaps being called to action because of some new bad guys. This isn’t the way I wanted my Star Wars universe to turn out. We have enough terrible things happening in our actual world. For so long, my Star Wars universe was happily free from that sort of disappointment.
I wanted Luke to be a Jedi Knight, teaching a new group of students. I didn’t want a retread of Anakin and the death of the Jedi from Revenge of the Sith. We’ve already done that. We’ve already had the descent. We’ve had the redemption. We have balance restored to the Force. Having the same events play out again, skipping a generation makes me tired. Do we never learn anything? Are we always doomed to repeat history? Maybe humanity is, but Star Wars was always above that.
I wanted to see Leia and Han in a healthy happy relationship. She being the strong woman. He being her equal. Instead, they have been living apart apparently for years, and Han and Chewie are back to their origins. Han apparently learned nothing, and rather than changing to the better man we all watched him became, he just gave up and ran away. No, this is not the Han Solo we got to know. He was better than that.
It’s too bad, because I actually liked the new characters. Rey is sweet, caring and powerful. I was connected to her after the long time we spent with her on Jakku. I liked Finn, although he felt far too contemporary with his snappy dialog and comebacks, and I liked Poe, although we saw far too little of him. Best of the new characters was hands down, BB-8. He displayed so much emotion, and was definitely adorable. There is someone for everyone who felt they weren’t represented by the white males in the original trilogy.
Still it ticked me off that we got to have R2 under a tarp for most of the movie, in low mode as he waits for the return of his master (i.e. the missing Luke).
The fact that the entire plot is a retread of A New Hope, with Empire thrown in for good measure was actually the thing that bothered me the least.
In the end, this was not the story I was hoping for. This was not the way I wanted the universe to turn out. Perhaps I gave Lawrence Kasdan too much credit when I learned he was writing the story. He gave us The Empire Strikes back, which has been my favorite film to date. But now I think that had he run unchecked by Lucas, ESB would not have been nearly as wonderful as it was. Perhaps all this “dark” nonsense was just one George Lucas heartbeat away, and now that George has given away Star Wars, dark is what we get.
I think the largest mistake is that the film (and all the people who like it) forgets what made Star Wars so appealing. It was a kids’ film with a happy ending. The good guys won. They were in peril but we the audience knew they were always going to make it. Even when Obi-Wan sacrifices himself, he disappears and we immediately hear his voice and know he’s not really gone. He’s still here to help Luke. Yes, that’s not realistic, but Star Wars was never about realism. The original trilogy was about hope and light and happy endings. TFA was none of that.
I leave it to the masses to follow Star Wars from now on. I know why you like it. It’s a good film. It’s got good characters. It just did too many things to break my heart. I can’t feel anything but sad. Instead, I will sit back with my original trilogy and ignore what has happened in TFA. For me, Han will be still alive, and he and Leia will be together forever, with Luke and his new Jedi Padawan bringing light to the universe.
May the Force Be With You.