As a geeky child of the 70’s/80’s, Star Wars was part of my DNA. Not my favorite Sci-Fi, but it was definitely a big presence in my life. Going into a December 17th (pre-opening) showing of Force Awakens with 5 friends I was excited, anxious and occasionally panicked. The latter because, for all the fanfare, the prequel movies failed in some pretty important ways. The prequels had a few things they HAD to do:
- Show how Anakin became a great pilot and Jedi (score: 2/5)
- Show Anakin and Padme’s romance and how the twins came to be (score 0/5)
- Show how Anakin was driven to the Dark Side and became Vader (score 1/5)
- Show how the Emperor rose to power and the Jedi were wiped out (score 1/5)
- Capture the spirit of the old movies (Score 0/5)
No matter how good you are at creating, you can never achieve your best without a counterpoint. I blame most of these failures on the writing. Most writers have editors and publishers over them, George Lucas thought it would be best if he was in charge of everything. He was wrong. Tons of pointless scenes, major plot holes, awkward dialogue, nonsense politics and a love story that may explain why George was single at the time.
So come 2015 and George is out and on first watch I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to fall apart.. for the shoe to drop. and the credits rolled and it never happened. On second viewing, worries subsided, I felt it was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It had some things this move had to do also, so how did it do?
- Capture the spirit of the old movies (5/5, although it did this by largely cribbing many plot elements)
- Show what happened to the old favorite characters (5/5)
- Introduce and do character development for new characters (5/5, I felt the new characters were better developed than their predecessors)
- Find ways to move the old favorite characters to the background or out altogether (4/5, I have to admit, I assumed Han was going to die two years ago)
- Make us crave more Star Wars (10/5)
- Brought us villains who are flawed and not all powerful
- Showed us what a good pilot really looks like. Luke was supposedly good, but he was always flying in a straight line.
- Brought us a more colorful cast of characters
- Brought us new ships without looking like ridiculous CGI
- Made the story and settings more compact and manageable
I wouldn’t have imagined this, but I am more interested in Rey, Poe and Finn than Luke, Leia and Han right now.