Okay, look. Everybody is going to have their own opinion on this thing. It’s Star Wars, so that’s bound to happen. And the overwhelming noise I hear coming from the “albeit minor” group of people saying they didn’t like it was that it is a rehash of Episode IV.
Well allow me to explain why I think that is EXACTLY what this film always needed to be.
Star Wars: Gift to a Generation
While, quite frankly, I’m positive that George Lucas had no idea what he had on his hands when he made the original Star Wars, he ultimately tapped into that untimely part of us that seeks and yearns for adventure. That wide eyed child that lives in all of our cores that simply wants to go live an incredible life and have amazing stories to tell, and he gave us that back in 1977. And this is where I think things get interesting. He turned out a beautiful trilogy of films that gave us an epic landscape, a fully developed world, and wonderfully colorful and charming characters. He was able to speak on politics through this trilogy. He was able to speak on current events, his thoughts on war and dictatorship, and he was able to give people a real group of heroes to root for and a real group of villains to despise “while secretly loving them and hoping they could find the light”. And here’s the kicker. He gave that to our grandparents and older parents.
But something entirely magical happened. Their kids loved it too! And 22 years later their kids were adults with their own children and younger siblings. And what happened? They got THEIR VERY OWN Star Wars trilogy expanding the glorious universe that came before it for an all new audience. An entirely new generation of dreamers and voyagers, ready to explore the corners of all the galaxy’s known or otherwise. And we did! We went pod racing. We found out that no matter what galaxy you’re in or planet you’re on, there will always be that annoying asshole that you can’t stand and often wonder who brought him to the party “looking at you JarJar…”, and we saw how blind love and puberty forced one irritating but still lovable child into becoming the most powerful Sith Lord ever known. And while history for some reason claims they were bad, they made a ton of money, and got good reviews, from both critics and fans. And rather you will admit to it or not, you own them, and you probably watched them at some point in the last few weeks in preparation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Just admit it. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be too cool for the party.
And here we are today. We are the 26 – 45 age bracket and our younger siblings and children now share a generational rite of passage with us, with their generations trilogy. And what a wonderful beauty in that circle. Because go ahead and think about it. There is a reason Star Wars remains as powerful as it does today…no other film trilogy series in history is generational. “That said, there are definitely film series’ that are generational, and are every bit as successful as well. You look at films series like Jurassic Park, Fast and Furious…there is a pattern to this type of thing”…and while those series are trying to do the Star Wars thing…they are young, and still have to prove they are necessary to time. Important enough to cross the vast planes of chronology.
Our younger siblings and our children that are babies now will talk about this 15 years from now when they are the young adults of the world and talk about how they remember us packing into the car with our light sabers and blasters and time will be marked due to current events. They will talk about how some of us couldn’t bring in blasters or sabers because back then, there were huge issues with mass shootings and gun laws. How despite what was happening in the world, The Force Awakens brought the world together to shatter records. This is what Star Wars is. This is what Star Wars does.
The Force Awakens: It felt Rushed
…And it should have. This film needed to have a sense of urgency. It needed to be alive. It was building on the backbone of an almost 40 year old history and it didn’t have a lot of time to get a lot of things done. And so instead of running the traditional direction of taking the time to slowly develop and milk the story over the new trilogy, they instead chose to go the entire opposite direction. And wow was that choice delicious. Such a bold choice gave us something that we have never been given in this series…the beginnings of chaos. But I’ll get back to that…
Another thing about rushing is it allowed the moments when we were actually able to slow down to really and truly mean something, and to be filled with opposing emotions, different wavelengths pinging off one another while in these semi-still moments. Han and Leia come to mind. Seeing them see one another for the first time in who knows how long…precious. Slowing down in the middle of a moment that has no time to spare…genius. And I found a lot of genius in this film, all over the place. Rushing like this allowed us the chance to say hello to old friends, and cry as we had to say goodbye to others. It allowed us to cover so much and yet still be keenly aware that we have really covered almost nothing at all. A genuine scratching of an incredibly large surface.
Many folks like to criticize the House of Mouse for buying up LucasFilm and saying they are milking the Star Wars cow…but this is no longer just Disney. This is the heads of a collective of the most influential storytellers of our time…Disney, Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, Apple…these are the companies at the table in the House of Mouse. You have to understand what happens when that collective gets their hands on a property as rich as Star Wars. It’s not milking the property for money if it comes from a place of genuine imagination, and under that roof, that happens to be their expertise. This generation will be the FIRST to experience the true expansiveness of the Star Wars universe. Not only will we get the trilogy, but we will also be getting some of the side stories, and I can’t wait. But I’ll get back to that as well…
The Force and Sabers: Nobody Knows what They’re Doing
One of the complaints I keep hearing is actually one of my favorite things about this new film. Some folks are upset that there were saber battles or force usage without any training and that you aren’t supposed to be able to use sabers or the force without training.
I think that was literally the point that JJ was after. And that’s what I meant earlier when I said by rushing a bit they force us into a path of chaos. A path that forces kids into action when they have no idea how to do that.
Everyone is clumsy, nobody’s trained, sabers are chopping down trees and shit, nobody knows how to fight, or even use the force properly. It’s all just really sloppy, and I loved every minute of it. These are kids. They are lost kids. They are bratty sons. They are lonely daughters. They are conflicted orphans. And they fight just like it. It’s logical to see sloppy saber fights and unfocused usage of the force. They were fighting out of passion and necessity. And we got to see their bravery, and also just how long of a path they really have to go before becoming the greatest heroes and villains that this new galaxy will ever know.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – So What’s Next?
This was my feeling on it…
The Star Wars trilogy resets for each new generation and the only question is how will they go about doing that, and how will the torch be passed.
This film did a fantastic job of saying goodbye to some old friends, saying hello to all of our old friends, and introducing us to this generations guides on our adventures in the galaxy far, far away.
We now know who we’re going to be attaching ourselves to, and we’ve got immature and bratty villains making horrible life decisions, an incredibly electric love interest between Finn and Rey, great comedy, brotherly comrades, fantastic action, and emotional rides.
Honestly if you didn’t like this film for being exactly what it was supposed to be, then perhaps this isn’t the series for you, which would be crazy, because this series is for all of us.
And as I said earlier, we are also going to see the first time a generation will not only get a trilogy, but spin-offs, glorious spin-offs, and boy I can’t wait. I need a Han Solo story. A Chewie Story. An Ewok story. A Boba Fett story. I want to know about baby Rey. How did Finn end up becoming a Storm Trooper? What the hell was up with Han and Leia’s kid? This universe is rich with content, and I’m so happy to be alive when the House of Mouse got their hands on it. Glorious days are coming. We live in a time when Super Heroes are not only common place, but share a cinematic universe. Where a galaxy far, far away can tell us more stories than we can throw a stick at. We live in a time when everybody can find somebody to look up to on the big screen. It’s not a bad time to be around, wouldn’t you agree?
I went in prepared to be upset if it didn’t follow the steps laid out before it by Episode IV…that was the point…a passing of the torch. Everyone goes through their version of these trial and tribulations.
And so all of that said, I will definitely be catching this one several more times in the theater, and I for one can’t wait for the next episode.