Last Friday, a little movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened in theaters everywhere. To say “it was a hit” is an understatement. Love it or hate it, it is the topic of many conversations lately.
Now that the dust has settled and after two viewings, the initial excitement is out of the way and I have had some time to think about the movie. I have a lot of thoughts about the movie and some ideas for where the franchise can go from her ebut before I get into the review (with plenty of spoilers)…
A MESSAGE TO ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN STAR WARS AND THE HATERS
Even though the first Star Wars came out in 1977 and started the sensation, there are some people who have never seen any of the 7 films. And that’s Ok. There are plenty of movies that are considered “classics” that I haven’t seen either (For example, I haven’t seen any of the Rambo movies. Feel free to chastise me in the comments sections below). With our busy lives we can’t be expected to watch EVERY single movie that comes out, even the ones that are such a big part of pop culture.
There are also some people who have seen Star Wars and have decided that it’s not for them. And that’s also OK. You are entitled to your opinion. If you don’t like the movie, you don’t like the movie.
One thing you SHOULDN’T do is broadcast these things on social media. Let me explain:
Leading up to the premiere of The Force Awakens I noticed that a number of people on my Facebook and Twitter feeds having been posting things like “Am I the only one who doesn’t give a shit about Star Wars?” and “Who fucking cares about Star Wars!?”. To answer that question: A LOT of people. Quite possibly the majority of people you know. The numbers don’t lie. As of writing this post, it has already grossed $610 million worldwide. In case you haven’t been keeping track it has only been in theaters for 4 fucking days.
So when you broadcast something like you “hate Star Wars” or you “don’t care about Star Wars” and it’s not in a conversation about the movie, you sound silly. Imagine if someone posted “Am I the only one who hates pizza?” out of nowhere. How would you look at them? Probably like a crazy person, because pizza is amazing.
And that’s how a majority of the people you are broadcasting this to feel. So maybe you will get a few haters to like your status or leave a comment, but that just means you are forming a clan of crazies. Congratulations. If you want to poke fun at the hype of Star Wars, be creative about it like comedian Rory Scoval.
Now for those of you who have never seen any of the movies and are now intrigued, it’s not too late! There is a reason it is such a big part of our pop culture. Watch them! You have nothing to lose! A lot of people wonder which order to watch them. Some say the way most of us watched them, which is the original trilogy (episodes IV-VI) then the prequels (episodes I-III). Others say chronologically (episodes I-IV). Lately, the perfect way of watching it has been making the rounds on the internet. I haven’t watched the movies this way (yet) but knowing the stories this is definitely the best way to do it. So watch them in the Machete Order then check out the newest one. Enjoy it!
And Now, for the review…
Enough about Star Wars as a whole, let’s get to the movie we never thought we’d see: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Now this should go without saying but there are MASSIVE SPOILERS from here on out. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know anything about it before you have seen it, please do not read any further. Go see it, and come back when you are done.
I am a pretty big Star Wars fan. Unlike most, I wasn’t as into them when I was younger as I am now but I am a big fan of all of them. Obviously some are better than others. Before I continue with my review of the newest installment, here are my personal rankings of the existing movies:
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Episode IV: A New Hope
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- Episode I: The Phantom Menace
- Episode II: Attack of the Clones
I feel like this is an accurate ranking of the movies and many will agree with me, with the exception of the last two. Many people hate Episode I but I think it gets a lot more flak than in deserves. Sure it has the two worst things in the entire franchise (Jar Jar Binks and that douchey kid who plays Anakin) but it also has an awesome light saber battle and Liam Fucking Neeson. I rest my case.
The prequels are a sore spot for many fans (they really aren’t that bad) so when it was announced that Disney was purchasing the rights to Star Wars with plans of making at least 3 more movies, we weren’t sure what to expect, but we were excited. We all waited patiently for the day that we could once again return to a galaxy far, far away; and that day finally came last week.
I wasted no time getting tickets to opening night… which I ended up losing (long story) so I went the next day. To say I was excited to see it would be an understatement. So I knew I would have to watch it, then let it settle a bit before writing my review. A quick synopsis of the movie: Luke Skywalker has gone into hiding. The Empire is gone, but a new threat emerges in the form of the First Order. They are opposed by the resistance led by General Leia Organa.
When I left the theater after the first viewing I was so excited. I thought it was amazing, with great references and nods to the old movies we all love. The ending scene where Rey finds Luke Skywalker gave me chills. But there was one thing that didn’t quite settle right with me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it until sometime had passed and I had read some of the other reviews from fans who didn’t really care for it: It is VERY similar to Episode IV.
Really think about the movie you just saw. It starts with the First Order trying to obtain a special location (the map to Luke Skywalker) and a member of the Resistance hides it in his droid, BB-8 who is on the run on a desert-like planet. Sound familiar? Probably because that’s how Episode IV starts: The Empire tries to obtain a special location (the Rebel Base) and a member of the Rebels puts it in her droid, R2-D2, who ends up on the run on a desert-like planet. And that is not where the similarities stop. In both movies:
- There is a weapon that can destroy a planet or planets
- There is a villain with a helmet that alters his speech
- The leader of both the Empire and the First Order appears only in hologram form
- The main weapon is destroyed by an X-Wing Pilot destroying one crucial piece of it
- A beloved character is killed by someone who they were once very close with
I’m sure there are more similarities but those are the main ones that stuck out to me. And they are all MAJOR plot points. To be honest, I felt a little cheated. I felt like many of the angry reviewers. I felt that they marketed a reboot as a completely original story. But leading up to my second viewing I realized this was not the case.
I remembered why I watch movies in the first place: to be entertained. And this movie is extremely entertaining. Does this movie have similarities to Episode IV? Of course it does. But while I was watching it for the second time I realized there are plenty of good reasons for it. Sure both movies have planet-destroying weapons, but is there anything scarier or more threatening than a weapon of mass destruction? Shit that’s a legit fear we all have NOW. They made this weapon scarier than the Death Star (rather than destroyer one planet, it can destroy a whole system). And every weapon will have a weakness. I’m sure with tanks there is at least one sure-fire way to immobilize them and everyone that goes up against a tank uses that method of destruction. So it makes sense that pilots are sent in to destroy this one part of the weapon. Both Kylo Ren and Darth Vader have helmets that alter their voice. Why the fuck not? It’s intimidating and bad ass. Did anyone find Count Dooku frightening? Maybe, because he was played by the great Christopher Lee, but I like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren more and feel they are more bad ass. And if you watch the movie, it makes complete sense why a beloved character is killed in both (I still can’t bring myself to say that spoiler).
And the parts that are similar can really be looked at as improvements. In the entire original trilogy, Luke seems to be light but is constantly tempted by the Dark Side. Here we have Kylo Ren who is desperately trying to be on the Dark Side but is tempted by the light. He also can’t control his emotions, while previous antagonists always kept their cool. It’s extremely intriguing. And rather than the Storm Troopers being mindless clones of the same guy, they are people with conflicted feelings. The main character (Rey) isn’t trying to become a Jedi like Luke was, she kind of just becomes one almost against her will.
If you still think it’s too similar I say to you: SO WHAT? The creators of this movie took everything we loved, tweaked it a bit, and gave us a very entertaining and very polished movie. Loveable characters? Check. Awesome space fights? Check. Light Saber battlers? Check. Not as much CGI as the prequels? Double fucking check. And this has another big thing in common with Episode IV in that it set up the characters and now the sky is the limit for the next episodes.
My Ideas for Episode VIII
How can they top this movie? Or a better question, will they even come close to making an amazing sequel like Empire Strikes Back? Doubtful. But while I was watching it the second time I realized what I wanted to see in the next movie.
Throughout the movie they bring up that Luke went into hiding because he was training a new group of Jedi and one of them (Kylo Ren) went rogue. The movie ends alluding that Luke will be training Rey (who is probably his daughter in mine and many other’s opinions) the ways of the Force. This sets up the next movie perfectly.
want to see Rey being trained as a Jedi and going through the same struggles Luke and Anakin went through with their training, but I REALLY want to see Kylo Ren’s training and eventual turn to the Dark Side. The perfect way to do this in my opinion is for the creators to look at the formula of one of the greatest sequels of all time, and no it’s not Empire Strikes Back…
It’s Godfather part II.
Think about it: How cool would it be if we watched Rey become a strong Jedi, while flashing back to all the events that led to Kylo Ren fucking over his uncle and joining the Dark Side much in the same way Godfather part II did it? We all loved watching young Vito Corleone rise to power while Michael strengthened his empire. After all that’s why that is considered one of, if not the best sequels of all time.
Or they could make a movie about space politics, because that worked out well before.
Do you agree with me? Let me know what you think in the comments below! Give me your rankings of the Star Wars movies and your ideas for Episode VIII!