I am giddy that I get to write this. Advanced warning: There are spoilers, don’t read this if you don’t want to know.
However, I’m guessing that my audience has probably seen the movie by now, given it’s opening weekend of $248 million dollars (thanks, Forbes.) That’s a lot of geek cheeks in the seats. I was thrilled to be a part of that weekend, with my 8-year-old son and my husband who was named for the main character of the first trilogy. While I am not as big of a fan of Star Wars as my son and husband, I am definitely a fan of the franchise that seems to have single-handedly kicked off my generation’s geekitude.
Now, before I soar off into what was right with the movie, I do need to ground us in what fell a little flat. The whole film seemed like a carefully crafted remake of the first movie. From the desert planet (Jakku, NOT Tattooine), to the cantina (NOT Mos Isley), to the ancient wisdom of a strangely accented alien (NOT Yoda,) all the way to a Starkiller (NOT the Death Star, people!) I was a little disappointed in the safety of the story. Dare I call it too much fan service?
That said, what the movie broke from the mold, broke out with style. From humanizing a Storm Trooper and making him a main character in the tale, to the plucky Rebellion pilot, to Rey. What can I say about Rey that hasn’t already been said? I felt they kept her very true to Star Wars form. Luke Skywalker was an amazing pilot and crack shot. Han Solo was a techie mechanic as well as being multilingual. Princess Leia had a keen political mind and was as good of a shot as her brother. So, to see Rey as a mechanical whiz as well as a proto-Jedi, as well as a pilot… she fit right in!
To acquaint you with my background, I grew up reading a lot of books where the main character was male – and I never thought anything of it. I simply accepted that the protagonist would have some characteristics that I could never identify with. With that in mind, my first sight of Rey fighting with a lightsaber against the dread enemy of the film almost made me cry. I felt this swell of emotion as she took on Kylo Ren. He was freaking out, trying to determine who she was and how she could do such a thing. Meanwhile, I was wondering why it had taken nearly forty years for me to have my turn as a Jedi.
It was an eye-opening moment for me to feel gut-deep emotions from a story that seemed like leftovers. The storytelling in The Force Awakens might be fan-pleasing, but as one of the pleased fans, how can I argue with that? I am excited about where this trilogy is going. After the disappointments of the Anakin Trilogy, I wasn’t certain I could trust the franchise. Were it not for the little rebel Cartoon Network favorite Clone Wars, I may not have tried at all.
As a writer, I find the art of storytelling to be an important aspect of my life. Whether the final product resides on the written page, or if it’s a film, or TV series, or what have you. The characters in The Force Awakens make the movie live. Whether they're old favorites like Chewbacca and General Leia, or whether their fresh faces like Poe Dameron or Finn, this movie has a lot for everyone, whether they are old fans or new. Personally, I’m optimistic for the galaxy far, far away.