Thoughts On Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I tried to keep my expectations at bay for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the franchise changing hands to Disney I didn’t know how well they’d be able to pull it off; Well, they seem to have succeeded. When the film came to our cinemas everybody seemed to be singing it praises and I allowed myself to feel the excitement fully for the first time. Unfortunately, I feel like this is one of those cases where coming to it as a major Star Wars fan has actually been a drawback. The Force Awakens is a brilliant movie. It was fun, had great humour and appealing new characters. So why afterwards did I feel a little empty inside?
If you have a preference for the original Star Wars films then you’ll probably love The Force Awakens as it’s definitely a return back to its roots. In fact, one of the main criticisms of the film is that it’s a little too much like A New Hope. I’m one of those rare individuals that didn’t mind the prequel trilogy, and I also find the expanded universe interesting, particularly the Old Republic Era. These times feel more exciting because they’re set before the collapse of the Jedi. Each individual has more training, and this results in far better lightsabre combat. I also like the mysticism surrounding the Sith. The Force Awakens has reset everything so that once again the rebels are on the back foot. Not only does this make the victory at the end of Return Of The Jedi feel less meaningful, but also limits the possibilities for exploring the force. I would have liked to have seen them rebuilding the Jedi temples and searching for lost knowledge, something that we haven’t yet seen. There were some moments during the plot that felt a little rushed and unclear too.
The story in The Force Awakens wasn’t bad as such, but felt somewhat lacking at the same time. It creates more questions than answers, and I reckon that how well we remember this film will depend on how the next ones follow it up. Parts of it also confused me based on previous knowledge of Star Wars. There were moments where it felt like they were taking liberties with how the force works. Initially I thought they were only planning to scrap everything set after the original trilogy. This didn’t bother me as there would be benefits to keeping the direction of the new plot a surprise. Well it turns out that the entirety of the expanded universe has now been moved to Legends, even events that happened years and years before the new film. Even if this decision turns out for the better, it’ll take a long time to soothe fans that have dedicated years to all of the books, comics and games. I personally feel that if you have a wealth of material to work with, then why not use it? It seems like they have definitely been inspired by it however, so perhaps in time parts of it will gradually move back into canon.
I’ve seen some criticism for how the new villains don’t seem to be evil enough. I actually really like Kylo Ren as I feel like his insecurities make him an interesting character. Perfect heroes can be flat, and the same is true of villains. Something that has always drawn me to Star Wars is that most of the bad guys were driven from the light at some point, and this can result in a potential back-story. I wasn’t so keen on Snoke’s appearance however, as it felt a little too much like something they’d do in a Marvel film. I guess there’s still not enough that we know about him yet though. I haven’t yet gotten around to reading any of the new books either, which may help to fill some of the gaps for me.
As a cult classic any attempt to add to the Star Wars franchise is going to be under pressure to deliver. There are lots of different elements to the franchise too and I imagine it appeals to people for different reasons. My partner and I love it more for the fantasy, mysticism and lightsabres than the space battles, and in all honesty we weren’t too fussed about seeing more of Luke, Han Solo and Leia. Overall The Force Awakens has probably delivered, but I’m still waiting to see what will come next before I can decide for sure what I feel about it.