1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Here we are. Finally at the number one spot and as if there was any other possible outcome. Star Wars was my 2015 Geeking Out highlight for sure. I’m not sure what else to say here that I didn’t say in my The Force Awakens…My Heart column, and it’s too early in my tenure to become repetitive.
[Updated]: Feeling a bit more refreshed today and able to attack this column with the respect that it deserves. Last night trying to write I kept spinning my wheels and couldn’t find any traction. I wrote and erased more paragraphs then I’d like to admit. Well it’s a new day and a new year so it’s time to break down the glory of Star Wars, and if you still haven’t seen it (my first question is why? Do you not like joy?) please becareful as there are SPOILERS abound.
Soooooo JJ did it, huh? Given probably one of the tallest tasks in recent memory, JJ Abrams, was asked to ignore Public Enemy and get us to believe the hype. On a diplomatic mission to restore balance to the force to a franchise that had more than just an arm severed by a lightsaber. Being a Star Wars fan hasn’t been easy over the last twenty years or so. There were prequels that attempted to neuter Darth Vader and re-mastered editions that tarnished the soul of the movies themselves. Star Wars needed a face lift, and Disney were the people bold enough to preform the surgery. When all was said an done the new face looked a lot like the old face, and I found nothing wrong with that at all. Did any one else picture the Joker from Tim Burton’s Batman unraveling the bandages around his face? No. No one? Just me then, huh? Alright. Moving on.
There is little question that Abrams was heavily influenced by Episode IV as a number of the same themes pop up in The Force Awakens. We are a given a character who lives on a desert planet with bigger dreams for her life, another whose looking to find redemption, an older mentor who helps bring our hero to the surface, a planet that can destroy other planets, and villains who wore badass masks. Writing all that down it seems like I could easily be talking about A New Hope but somehow Abrams presented these recycled themes, and made them refreshing.
If Star Wars needed something it was to be brought back to basics. Re-introduce us to what made us fall in love with a galaxy far, far, away in the first place. Think of it as an actual relationship when you’re in the wooing phase. You’re out, the conversation is good, the laughs are flowing, there’s brief arm touching, you’re going to kiss this person and you’re stoked. Now apply that train of thinking to the first time you saw Star Wars. Think back to the first droid you saw, laughing at C-3P0 saying we’re doomed, the way your skin broke out in goosebumps when the lightsaber turned… whoa. I’m sorry. This metaphor was supposed to be humorous but somewhere in the middle there it felt more like we were heading down a different path. A darker path. I’m going to bail on this, but we all get the point here, yes?
One of the most important parts of the new film was bridging the gap between the new cast and the originals. Abrams is able to pull off a passing of the torch so to speak through his use of Han, Chewie, and Leia (hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii guys). Not once do they feel like the main focus of the movie but their presence is enough to remind us how much we’ve missed them. Picture them like politicians endorsing their votes for these new group of candidates. Now some might say the lack of Luke in the movie was a bummer, I would disagree. I loved how the idea of Luke hung over the entire film, and helped turned him into something larger. Clearly he’s fashioning him self after Obi Wan but there’s now this Yoda like auro that shrouds Luke now. Not too shabby for a guy who never finished Jedi school.
Let’s just take a second to talk about this new cast of characters. I’ll start off easy with Kylo Ren who in my opinion should have been the direction they used for Anakin in the prequels. Basing his life around the actions of Darth Vader, displaying his naivety and clear misunderstanding of who Vader was and what he represented, Ren comes off as a lost, spoiled, brat. Someone who was good enough to wield a lightsaber but isn’t even worthy enough to be a Sith. Insert trump noise of failure here.
Then our heroes. While we were made to believe that Finn was going to be the Jedi we wanted, who didn’t geek out seeing him with that lightsaber, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was in fact Rey who was going to be the Jedi we deserved. The trailers didn’t do much to show us who she was, so as the movie unfolded and we learned more about her (or maybe we didn’t learn anything but we caught glimpses?), she kept gaining badass points until she had enough to wield a lightsaber! Let me add also, I had no idea how badly I wanted a lightsaber battle in the snow. It was like Kill Bill but way less violent. Okay, it was nothing like Kill Bill I just happen to like epic battles in the snow. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
For me, I think the best thing The Force Awakens has given us is the ability to talk about what’s next. One of my favorite things about LOST (another JJ Abrams project) was crafting theories. Episode VII gave us enough to wet our whistle, but I’m looking forward to having some of these answers make their way to light. Who is Rey (ooooooh we know that)? Does Finn have some sort of deeper connection since he was ripped away from his family? Snoke? Did Ren kill all the Jedi in training or was it a small class?
The Force Awakens has left us in good hands, and the future seems bright for the Star Wars franchise. Maybe with all the critical acclaim, Episode VII, can be the catalyst to bringing the original movies to Blu-Ray so us older fans can watch the movies we fell in love with. It’s nice to dream ain’t it? In the mean time though, it was so getting back home.