I think just about all the angles on The Force Awakens have been covered. From penetrating think-pieces explaining our obsession to frowny-face predictions to satisfied first-viewings. So I’m going to leave the proper movie-reviewing to others. There really isn’t much else to say.
Rather than analyze the aesthetic qualities of the The Force Awakens, let me simply say that I loved it. Yes, it was an homage to the earlier movies, but that’s okay with me. As a life-long fan, that was the itch that needed scratching, and this movie delivered. So that’s the long and short of my review.
With that out of the way, please allow me to go full-nerd here with seven random reflections on The Force Awakens. This will have spoilers, so do not read-on until after you have seen the movie.
1. Kylo Ren must die. He has committed the unforgivable sin in the Star Wars universe. It’s not quite killing Bambi’s mother, but it comes pretty close. If there’s any justice in Star Wars land, Kylo will be no-mo by episode 9. In fact, here’s a good title for the final installment: “Star Wars – Episode 9: Kylo Ren Must Die.”
2. If you’re gonna sell-out to the darkside, don’t build a Death Star. Seriously, it’s not going to work out. You may get one or two shots off, but then you get blown to smithereens. Is it really worth the expense for only one or two shots? How much money does it cost to build a Death Star, anyway? Putting a dollar amount on that monstrosity would require a number in scientific notation. Who’s paying for this? If they build another one, they should call it “Death Trap” or “Money Pit” because it ain’t gonna work.
3. Nobody really wants to bring “balance” to the force. Characters say that in every movie. It sounds all new-agey and stuff, but no one really means it. Did anyone miss Darth Maul after he was cut in half by Obi Wan? Who was pining away for the Emperor after Darth Vader killed him? Answer: Nobody. Why? Because no one really wants parity between the good side and the dark side. They want the good side to destroy the dark side. That’s not balance. That’s one-sided domination. Star Wars may trade in the rhetoric of new age mysticism or Buddhism or whatever, but nobody means it.
4. J. J. Abrams could have erased Episodes 1-3 with one of those time-travel plot wrinkles like he threw in at the beginning of Star Trek. Just think about it. Abrams flushed the entire mythology of Star Trek in that first movie—including all the stuff from the TV series and all the material from the 80’s movies. Why didn’t he save that piece of brilliance for The Force Awakens? It would have been a masterstroke of genius. He could have rehabilitated the series and erased the Jar Jar Binks nightmare. Talk about a catharsis. The Force Awakens is fantastic as it is, but this was a massive missed opportunity.
5. Speaking of Star Trek, did you notice that the storyline was kind of like Star Trek: The Search for Spock? I wonder if that was on purpose.
6. The force is strong with Rey, and I bet her Midichlorian levels are off the chizzain. But I hope it never occurs to anyone to mention it. I’m willing to forget that little magic-sucking detail from Episode 1, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. We don’t know why Rey has innate Jedi-level competence with the force, but that’s okay. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s hope the explanation has nothing to do with Midichlorians. If the materialists want a space epic, let them go make one. We’re taking Star Wars back.
7. Han Solo died too soon. And this may be my one complaint with the movie. The relationship between Solo and his son was too underdeveloped to support the pathos they were trying to achieve in the climactic scene on the bridge. Viewers simply don’t get enough buy-in to this broken relationship between father and son.
I saw The Force Awakens last night. I re-watched Episode 4: A New Hope with my kids tonight. As I was watching young Solo tonight, I couldn’t get over the fact that I now know how his story ends. Star Wars and Return of the Jedi left us with happily ever after. The Force Awakens leaves us with something else. My viewing of the original movies (Episodes 4-6) will never be the same.