Insert Topic – Star Wars: The Force Awakens


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I’m going to try something a little different here on One-Quest. It’s been a while since I wrote anything, and I decided it was time to get back into that. Right now I’m calling this Insert Topic (tweet me if you have a better name @Just_Cobb), each week I’m going to spend some time talking about different things. I’m going to try and branch out into stuff I’m not familiar with, or things I’d written off as not my thing in the past. Of course for the first week I’m staying very much in my wheelhouse as we talk about Star Wars.

Here we are now, the beginning days of 2016. We’re just a couple of weeks into the theatrical run of the true sequel to Star Wars. We spent our years with the prequels, but now we’re finally seeing what happened after the Emperor was defeated, we’re seeing where Han, Luke, and Leia ended up. We’re also being introduced to some fantastic and memorable new faces (and masks) in this galaxy far far away. Since it released on December 17, 2015, preview night, I’ve gone to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens three times. Once on opening night, once the following night, and again on New Years Day. For me, it was a great movie, exactly what I wanted it to be in most ways. I’m going to talk a lot about Star Wars today, I’m going to probably spoil the hell out of The Force Awakens, you have been warned. This isn’t going to be about me gushing over Star Wars. I want to talk about the problems people are having with not just this new film, but the whole franchise. Good or bad, Star Wars has become a force of nature in our culture, and when that happens there are always people who need to focus on flaws rather than what’s positive.

Personally, I love Star Wars, I have for as long as I can remember. My grandfather gave me VHS tapes of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi he’d recorded off HBO in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and I was hooked. I was born a few years after the original trilogy completed in 1983, but I’ve been lucky enough to see every film in the theaters, thanks to the special editions in the late ’90s. People tend to bash on those versions, but for an 11 year old kid seeing those movies on the big screen was priceless. My first real exposure to the original Star Wars (aka A New Hope), may have been with Han shooting first, but it certainly didn’t change the awe and wonder a person could have as this saga began.

I mentioned at the start of this that I’ve seen The Force Awakens three times so far. Like most big fans, the first time I was just kind of in awe of what I was seeing. I didn’t notice the flaws, from the moment the screen read “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away. . .” I was lost. There was a level of excitement I hadn’t felt from a movie in a long time. The whole ride was an emotional roller coaster, joy and sadness swirled together as the story unfolded. I was reunited with old friends, and fell in love with new ones. Not once in that first viewing was I bothered by anything about this movie. It’s what I’d waited nearly 2 decades to see. That doesn’t mean there weren’t flaws, the film has plenty of them. The second and third viewings helped me to focus in on them better, gave me more perspective if you will.

The biggest one for me was honestly the pacing, the beginning of the movie was very slow and methodical to an extent. We saw our new characters in there elements for the first time and got to know them a bit. As soon as Rey and Finn take off into space and meet up with Han and Chewie, things start to feel a bit off. Parts are glanced over quickly, whole scenes of the movie seem to fly by, parts you’d expect a little more content from. None of that broke the film though, sure I would have loved a little more context for some scenes. Or hey, how about Chewie embracing Leia at the end after *SPOILER* Han’s death. I’ve assumed it was just a framing mistake that you see him walk past the edge of the screen when they return at the end, right past Leia. I’ve seen a lot of different arguments for and against this, it’s not that big of a deal though, just one of those little things.

Aside from my issue, a common complaint is that this is just a rehash of A New Hope. And you know what, it’s kinda true, no reason to deny it. This movie hits a lot of the same story beats of the original Star Wars. It also hits some from Empire and Jedi. You know why? Because those were the movies everyone loved. Those were the ones that made people a fan of Star Wars. When you’re starting a new saga, with new characters, what better way to introduce them then with a winning formula? Yes, I know there are other ways they could have done it, but this worked great. It wasn’t a scene for scene duplicate, the new characters, their goals, and all of that stuff was unique to this film. Luke was a whiny farmboy that wasn’t to be a pilot. Rey is a tough scavenger with a soft side, she can already fight, she can already take care of herself, and those around her. Everything about this movie was very much a product of our world today. The way the characters interacted, the tone of the movie, all of that. This wasn’t a remake of a movie from 1977, it was a movie from 2015 that paid a great deal of homage to its predecessor.

One last thing people have been complaining about, that really does bother me, and that’s the entire Rey and Finn being able to beat Kylo Ren (aka Kylo Ren is such a bitch). There are plenty of better pieces online already dispelling why people are stupid to complain about this. Regardless it warrants repeating. Kylo Ren was just shot by Chewie’s Bowcaster. We were shown, multiple times, just how powerful that weapon is. It blows people several feet in the air completely obliterating them. Ren took it like a champ, walked it off, and still held his own against two people. On top of that, Rey and Finn were both shown to know how to fight. Sure they weren’t Jedi, but Finn was trained from childhood to be a soldier, and Rey was raised basically alone forced to fight to stay alive. No part of that makes Kylo Ren a bitch or a baby, if anything he’s one of the most powerful villains we’ve seen in Star Wars. He purposes kills his father in cold blood. He uses the Force to stop a blaster bolt in midair, then after getting shot with basically a cannon he kept himself alive and on his feet to fight and hold his own.

I do have one other minor complaint here, and honestly it’s a bit nitpicky. I just don’t like that Rey was able to so easily harness the Force in the movie. Still though, not enough to make me bash the film, not enough to make me not want to see the sequel. Honestly I’m banking on her being able to so easily tap into it being explained at some point. Even though it bugged me, it does what a good movie point should do, makes me want to find out more.

So The Force Awakens wasn’t perfect, but what is? I didn’t go looking for masterpiece of modern cinema, I wasn’t paying my $15 to ponder the deeper meanings of art or life. I was there to watch a piece of fiction set in a universe I’ve had a connection to most of my life. It’s a fun and memorable ride, and it gets better the second time you see it. You notice things, good and bad, that draw you into the film even more. There’s a reason this movie has broken almost every major box office record in less than a month. People are going to see it over and over, they’re getting caught up in a story over 30 years in the making. I could go on and on about the characters, and various moments from the movie, but who wants to read that? Instead go see it whether it’s your first time or fifth time. The best part is, Star Wars is far from over, the saga is going to continue and all those unanswered questions are just waiting to be answered.

That’ll do it for our first week, let me know your opinions or if you’ve got anything you think would be interesting for me to try or talk about in the comments, or one of the various other ways there are to contact me. Regardless I’ll be back next week with a new topic to discuss.

talks a bunch on PodQuest each week. He's also been known to write about stuff from time to time.

You can Email Chris or follow Chris on Twitter @Just_Cobb or Facebook

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