Hater Proof: Star Wars The Force Awakens Review

The wait is finally over, for the first time since 2005, we have a new Star Wars film, and FINALLY it’s a direct sequel to the beloved original trilogy. I’m not going to waste time C**k Stroking the greatness of the original Star Wars movies nor will I pile on the Prequel Trilogy like I didn’t pay money to see them multiple times. We all get the point, we weren’t ever looking for an expansion of the SW Galaxy, the video games and novels did that, fans wanted the feel of A New Hope & The Empire Strikes Back, but updated with today’s technology and pacing. So did JJ Abrams give you what you wanted? F**k Yes! I’m not going to break down the entire plot, but yes, there will be spoilers. If you haven’t seen it, don’t ruin it for yourself. It’s Star Wars! Go and see it, don’t read it!

Luke Skywalker is missing. The New Republic is still in control of the galaxy. However, in a page out of history, The First Order, a movement within the government ala The Third Reich that lead to Nazis taking control over the German government, are poised to move into complete control. To compete with this First Order is a resistance, not a rebellion as they are still apart of the centralized government. While this is never fully explained, it seems The Resistance are the only ones trying to hold on to the original political views of the New Republic. The only thing that can give this resistance the upper hand is one man—Luke Skywalker. But again he’s missing. That’s where the story picks up with Kylo Ren, not quite a Sith lord, but trained in the ways of the Dark Side, tracks the last clue to Skywalker’s location to the junk planet of Jakku.

Starting off the film delivers a more brutal vision of the Storm Troopers, these aren’t the bumbling clones of old, they’re vicious killers that actually hit their targets. Abrams does a great job in keeping the action based in reality. We see the blasters rip holes through people, we see blood, we see body parts fly off. This is real war. Finn, a Storm Trooper on his first mission, just doesn’t have the stomach for it. Back on the star destroyer, Finn frees Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron. Cocky and brash, Poe is the best pilot in the resistance and more like Han Solo than Biggs Darklighter. He has the information on Skywalker’s location locked in his droid BB-8, who’s stuck back on Jakku. Finn and Poe shoot their way out of a star destroyer using a TIE-fighter and it is a thing of beauty. Fans of the Rebels animated series may have seen this before, but on the big screen it’s fresh and new to see our heroes pilot a TIE. After crash landing on Jakku, Finn is left without Poe who it appears didn’t make it out of the TIE before it crashed. Now charged with a mission to find Poe’s BB-8 droid and return it to The Resistance, we’re off on another space opera adventure.
The star of the movie is clearly Rey, she’s a scavenger on Jakku, that works raiding old destroyed Empire ships that crashed landed decades before. Abrams quickly establishes Rey as a bad ass physically, able to carry piles of scrap metal, proficient with a staff bow, and able to mentally practice flight simulation without actually flying a ship. We get it, Rey is special.

There could be no light without darkness. Kylo Ren is quickly established as our new Darth Vader type, a high ranking member of the First Order army, but not the commander. Ren is a new type of villain, think of him as a Columbine Kid, frustrated and angry and looking to take it out on the world. He isn't Vader cool or ever really calm and collected, he is a cowardly brat! In reality, isn't that the kind of kid that would grow up in the New Republic with so much history attached to his name? The Hitler in this galactic Germany is Supreme Leader Snoke, who like Emperor Palpatine, is only seen via a video projection as a hulking 20-foot figure. It is through Snoke that we learn who Kylo Ren is—The son of Princess Leia & Han Solo. Kylo Ren struggles not with the Dark Side, but with a return to the light. He doesn’t want to give into his feelings of love for his Dad, but he will soon have to make a choice….

What is Great:

The Millennium Falcon: I teared up when the Falcon was first revealed, and I’m not even a big Han fan. The ship symbolizes Star Wars in the same way as the saber, you feel it. When Rey and Finn make their epic escape from Jakku in it, you can’t help but be taken back to the original films.

Han & Chewbacca: What happened to Han? Was he married and hanging out in a palace watching TV with Chewie? Nope! He’s still smuggling. Han left his domesticated life as well as that of his military one, and went back to swindling criminals. This movie works on many levels, but it may be the rebirth of Han Solo and showing all the slickness that you loved about him for one final time.
Rey & Finn: Love stories in action or fantasy films usually suck, it’s hard to really make people fall in love fast when you have so much other plot stuff going on. Rey and Finn’s relationship was layered and remained open even to the end. Here is this Storm Trooper who is clearly smitten by this young beauty to the point where he lies about who he is. Even when he has a chance to escape, he chooses to go back after Rey. It’s more than a Han Solo saving Luke moment, because it’s about a romantic love that anyone that's ever been smitten understands. Will they or won’t they get together will be left for future films, but they shine on screen like on old Hollywood style Billy Wilder duo.

The Death of Han Solo: We will never get to see Luke and Han on screen again, but we did get to see Han and Leia embrace for a final time. When the former princess turned General asks Han one last time, “bring our boy home,” it becomes clear that Han is on a suicide mission. Han just wants to make things right with his son, so when Kylo Ren lures him in, drops his mask, and reveals that he’s still Ben Solo, you want them to reconcile. But it’s not to be as Kylo Ren destroys the last light he has inside by shoving his saber through Han Solo’s chest. The son has finally killed the father.
Anakin’s lightsaber: This is the same weapon that Anakin Skywalker used throughout the Clone Wars to save Obi Wan, Padme, and countless others. It was a hero’s weapon... but it is also the saber that Anakin used to cut down Younglings and kill all the Jedi left in the temple when he turned into Vader. The blue lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker was taken by Obi Wan after the battle on Mustafar that left Vader crippled and deformed, and eventually given to Luke. We all thought it was lost after Vader sliced it from Luke’s hand in Empire… here it is calling out to Rey. So much light and darkness. How could she take it?

Kylo Ren Vs Rey: When Rey finally picks up the saber to fight Kylo Ren in the forest of the Starkiller base, it’s a monumental moment in cinema. A true passing of the torch that can only be compared to Michael Corleone having his hand kissed at the end of The Godfather. Someone screamed, “Kick his ass Rey!” from the back of the theater, and a roar erupted. Moments like that prove that a character has connected in a real way with an audience. Kylo Ren, injured by Chewbacca, wasn’t at his best, but he should have been able to take out a girl who has no formal training, right? Wrong! In this scene it proves that Kylo Ren isn’t as badass as he pretends to be, that he is full of fear and anger that he just isn’t as strong as Vader. Rey doesn’t beat Ren because she was better trained, she beats him because he was so badly trained. The force is about focus and precision, even the Dark Side depends on focus, as seen in Vader’s fights with both Luke and Obi Wan. Kylo Ren has little control over his emotions, and outside of flashy force grabs, his mastery of the force is on the level of a lesser villain like The Inquisitors from Rebels or Asajj Ventress from Clone Wars. He is no Vader, and Rey proves it by exposing him.

What’s missing:

Planet Porn: JJ Abrams doesn’t seem to share George Lucas’s flare for scenery. Lucas even went back to the original movie to add more shots of exotic planets, not as quick one pops, but to show it as a living thing with various species and plant life. Sure it slows down the story, and we don’t need sweeping shots of Naboo every time out, but it adds that little something extra that loses you in the world. Even in the new Cantina scene, it rushes through the characters and atmosphere in order to get back to the plot. It’s not bad, it’s just one man’s style compared to another.

The History: The Prequels get heat because it over explained a lot of political maneuvering. Trade Federation, Jedi Order, The Senate, Emergency Powers, it felt more like C-Span because the focal point was on Palpatine’s rise to power. I get it, no one cares. They want sword fights and explosions. The Force Awakens goes back to A New Hope, in that nothing is actually known about “Why” it’s just characters with a working knowledge of what’s going on another journey. I think the only thing this film lacked was an explanation of The First Order’s rise. Not to the point where we learn about Snoke and ruin the mystery of what happened between he and Luke or Luke and Ben. I only needed to see The First Order’s origin in a loose way. Without that it does come off as if it’s Rebel Alliance Vs Galactic Empire all over again.

What The Haters Will Hate:

Where's Luke: Luke doesn’t show up until you’re already done, but it’s still a great moment. If you want to go back to Joseph Campbell's mythology lessons, it's all there. The hero has to fight her way up to the master before she can even be worthy of teaching. Besides this wasn’t Luke’s story, it was Rey’s so get over it.

A Female Lead: A friend of mine didn’t like the film as much because to him it became “The Hunger Wars” his beloved Star Wars is now about one person—A Girl. I won’t dismiss this as just blind misogyny, because if Finn turned out to be the lead, I’m sure there would be racist who didn’t like their Jedi being black. People will always hate when an old standard is changed, because unlike Luke Skywalker or even Anakin in the prequels, they can’t see themselves in that character the moment it switches gender. For a woman to be the central figure in the story scares them. It makes it into Hunger Games, something feminine and unmanly, and that’s a shame because Rey is the strongest person in this film. Does she get her force powers too quickly? I can see an argument for that. But let’s be honest, we had Luke fresh off Tatooine blindly blocking blasters. Young Ani flying a fighter jet. A suspense in disbelief isn’t even needed because Skywalkers are literally Jedi the moment they become Force aware.
Rey is the breath of fresh air this series needed. She’s not overly sexualized. She retains that Princess Leia brand of independence and strength. But she is still just a teenage girl at heart, and her innocence comes out when gushing over Han Solo or wisecracking with Finn. Rey isn’t the Jedi you may have wanted, but she’s one that our world needed.

The Force Awakens will be praised, picked apart, and everything in between in the year and a half leading up to May 2017’s release of Episode 8: Clash of The Knights (my guess title) so while it’s fresh and pure in my mind I will say that while I won’t call it the best, it’s equally the best of the 7 next to The Empire Strikes Back.

Five out of Five Stars

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