I remember watching “A New Hope” in my basement when I was 7 years old. My father had invited over some of my friends, and he introduced us to “Star Wars.” I remember the old, musky brown couches we were sitting on and the wooden box of a TV.
I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” while in the hospital. I was 8 and had glandular fever. My dad stayed the night with me and put on the second of the “Star Wars” movies for me. I remember the TV being on my right and it being the first time I had an IV drip. It was hooked up to the back of my left hand.
I don’t remember when I saw “Return of the Jedi,” but I watched all the prequels in theaters. It didn’t matter that the movies weren’t great — it was “Star Wars.” It was one hell of an experience, regardless of how bad the movies were.
So, of course, I was going to see “The Force Awakens” in theaters, too. And I knew I would have a fun time watching the film even if was as bad as “Attack of the Clones.” Because it is “Star Wars,” and I love “Star Wars.”
I love “Star Wars” enough that I’ve read comics and books, played video games and watched cartoons. Some good, but most of them bad. But it never mattered, because it was “Star Wars.”
I love “Star Wars.”
And “The Force Awakens” is “Star Wars.” It is good “Star Wars.” “The Force Awakens” is a “Star Wars” film in all the right ways. It is a derivative and delightful film with spectacular visuals, world-building, and a pulpy adventure plot. It is a film that harkens back to its original-trilogy roots and shows that it knows what made those films great.
Unfortunately, its callbacks may be some of the worst moments of the film. There are several parts of the film and its plot that are simply too referential and aimed too strongly at the fans to really work. The original parts of the film are strong and entertaining to watch; we do not need the constant reminder that we’re watching good “Star Wars” again.
Which brings me to the characters.
Each of the newly introduced characters had their own arcs in the movie. Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren are well-written characters that could inspire individual films. Rey, in particular, is going to provide a break-out success for Daisy Ridley. She’s one of the best-written and most badass female action heroes in a long time. I look forward to seeing more of both Daisy Ridley in other films and of Rey in the “Star Wars” universe.
The last stand-out from the film is the lightsaber duels. This movie had one of the best lightsaber duels in the franchise. It is up there with Luke vs. Vader at the end of “The Empire Strike Back” and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon vs. Darth Maul at the end of “The Phantom Menace.” It shows us the emotion and skill of the combatants the way the “Empire” duel did. I hope it will show all the Jedi nay-sayers who wanted a very “Force-lite” movie that lightsaber duels can still be tremendously exciting.
“The Force Awakens” shows us that “Star Wars” can still be exciting and entertaining. So go see it. You won’t regret it.
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