Here’s my thoughts on the new Star Wars film, in two parts.
1. The non-spoilery:
Now, full disclosure time – Star Wars isn’t my primary fandom. Heck, it’s not even in my top three. I’m a Whovian first and foremost, a Trekkie next, and a Grimmster -shake your head if you like, but I enjoy that daft little show.
Star Wars is one of those cultural institutions that I respect, but don’t go out of my way to indulge in. Or didn’t, until one of my favorite authors(Chuck Wendig, just in case you’ve never read this blog before) went and wrote a book set in the Star Wars ‘verse to get us all ready for the new film. It’s called Aftermath, and you might have heard of it because of the kerfuffle surrounding the trolls in its Amazon reviews. If you were to read these, your eyes might bleed from the WTFery contained therein, but I highly recommend reading the actual book instead.
And then one of my best friends saw Episode 7 and said it was wonderful, and as she’s trusted my opinions on entertainment before, I decided to trust hers.
This film ticked a lot of boxes. Nostalgia. Fanservice. Action. Conflict. Humor. Big booming John Williams score. Adorable droids. Et cetera.
I can’t help but compare it with the experience of watching Episode 1 years back – I was so excited then,and left feeling so hollow. Everything looked right in that particularly elaborate Star Wars way, but it didn’t feel like anything. I felt lost in the mess of a plot, and the characters were fairly wooden. I didn’t care what happened to them. They failed to make me care.
Episode 7, on the other hand, made me care. They gave me fully fleshed out characters, simple plots that tangled together to make a larger, more satisfying story, and even got me to pay attention during the protracted battle scenes, of which there were several. I actually cared who was in those little ships, so I barely blinked watching them zip around shooting at each other.
Even the little droid BB-8, who’s been plastered on every available inch of advertising space in the universe by now, has more personality than most of the cast of Episode 1. By design he’s got more subtle movement, and thus more emotive capacity, than any other droids I’ve seen. This includes C-3P0, who is sadly gifted with a frozen face that undercuts anything else he might want to express. The fan theory that R2-D2 is a foulmouth is even canonised in a throwaway line by another character who retorts “Don’t you call me that!”
So Star Wars. It gave me some stars, some war, and some characters I gave a fuck about, topped off with a cliffhanger that has me genuinely curious about Episode 8.
Now, below the sweary droid* lie great whacking spoilers, so turn away now!
*quotes provided by Malcolm Tucker
2. The spoilery
REY! Oh my goodness, Rey. She’s knowledgeable, she’s clever, she’s resourceful, she’s got the Force – holy shit, I really hope they don’t screw this up. We last see her standing before Luke Skywalker, holding out his lightsaber – the very saber that called to her and showed her she had the Force.
Speaking of the Force – no more midichlorian bullshit! It’s back to being that which is within us and surrounds us again like it’s god damn supposed to be.
Finn!!! A reformed Stormtrooper, now that’s a surprise, and a good one! Even while he’s still in his armor, you can see his humanity breaking through, and it doesn’t take long for him to realise he’s not cut out for slaughtering innocents on Jakku(or anywhere else.) I really enjoyed John Boyega’s acting in this role, and he’s one to keep an eye on in my book. For playing a soldier brainwashed from childhood, he has a lot of complexity and feeling – proof, as well, that a person’s true humanity cannot so easily be quelled.
Which brings me to Kylo Ren. A young man torn between the light and the dark, who ultimately chooses darkness, and is now presumed dead alongside his father. It’s a terrible waste, and it feels like one.
Captain Phasma looks cool but doesn’t do much (except, apparently, anger fanboys who pre-emptively cosplayed her assuming she was male – there’s a screenshot of this very scenario floating around somewhere, it’s a hoot) but with her fate left up in the air, she may be back to make more mayhem in the next film.
Han and Leia are there doing their fanservice, of course, but they also serve an important role in bridging the events of the years (and films) past to the events of now. They also show the human cost of war in a beautiful, terrible way.
WEXLEY WEXLEY WEXLEY WEXLEY WEXLEY!!!!! That is all.
Overall, it’s a solid film, and makes me hopeful for the next episode. I’m not going to cosplay it or anything, and at $12 a pop, I’m unlikely to see it again while it’s still in theaters – but it’ll be fun to watch later at home, with the pause button at the ready, so I can squee over the really good bits over and over.
I might have to acquire myself a BB-8 though. That little fucker is seriously adorable.