I refuse to ruin this movie for the eight people that won’t see it this weekend. Having said that I took a small group to the film, including my daughter (who I had taken the original and prequel movies) and my grandson. Yes, Star Wars has become generational.
I am a geek, by nature and birth. I was interviewed by the Battle Creek Enquirer and News when I was one of the first dozen people standing in line to see The Empire Strikes Back. I kept the clipping because back in those days, standing in line for movies was not only novel, it was a requirement. While I am a geek, I still didn’t rush out for the late night showing of The Force Awakens on Thursday – but waited until Friday.
The short version of my review: It’s a good solid film…worthy of the name Star Wars.
To be blunt, nothing was going to replicate the release of the original Star Wars. The reason for that is simple, it revolutionized special effects for science fiction films. There had not been anything like it. The experience, at the time, was one of awe. It’s impossible to duplicate that immersion with a new film like we had in 1977. It was revolutionary and we all knew that The Force Awakens wasn’t going to be that.
That leaves us with characters and story.
My expectation was that the new Star Wars film had to:
- Be better than Phantom Menace (which really wasn’t going to take that much.)
- Give us a story that was engaging.
- Give us a glimpse of the classic characters again, as they should be. Han had to be a bit of scoundrel. Luke needed to no longer be the farm boy in search of who he was. I wanted to see these characters in the right context.
- Not give us characters like Jar Jar Binks, aimed at marketing crap to kids (I feared the dark side of the Disney Empire’s influence.)
- Provide this in the Star Wars universe we all knew. I didn’t want to see a recast like Star Trek where things looked different. Star Wars has a feel to it and I think we needed to see that in the new film.
- Lay out new characters that we could have some identification with.
The new film did this. My expectations were met – which alone would have warranted a three-star rating. I found some wonderful Easter eggs in there for the geeks in the crowd, which were not only expected but appreciated. The writing was solid – great dialogue.
My only disappointments, albeit minor, was that the plot felt too familiar. I won’t ruin it for you, but we’ve been there before. The other thing I wish we had gotten was more of the background of the character Po. We got to know the other characters fairly well. I’m pleased to say none of them attended the Hayden Christensen School of Dramatic Improvisation.
There are some scenes that make you cringe as a fan. There are some that can make your eyes water. The special effects were fantastic but didn’t dominate the film. More importantly, we now have a path forward for more Star Wars films.
I give it five out of five stars because, for two-plus hours, I was a kid again. I was with old and familiar friends and thrilled once more at their adventures. Moreover, my grandson sat in awe, his mouth hanging open as we met new characters are shared in the cultural adventure together. There were times he was scared, there were times he tugged on my sleeve to make sure I saw what was on the screen. We enjoyed this together, as it was meant to be. I give it five stars alone for the hint of magical glow that he had and how my daughter said she cried at the right scene. Star Wars remains the great equalizer, turning us all into wide-eyed children in search of adventure and that thought that we too might be the heroes of our imagination.
Now, I must await the next films…