Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

*Spoiler warning: waves hand-: “You will see the movie before reading this review…You will enjoy this movie, come back to this blog; like this blog, and subscribe to it.”*

Blasted Jedi Mind Tricks, they never seem to work on other bloggers (to my knowledge). Hello WordPress, this review’s a little late to the game, but in my head it made sense to review this two weeks later so that any hot water over movie spoilers could cool down. I intend to write this review from the perspective of a Millennial Star Wars fan who grew up on the special editions, survived the prequel trilogy, and who fell in love with the old Expanded Universe that Disney did away with last year.

Plot Summary: If you were determined to ignore my spoiler warning, then the First Order has risen out of the ashes of the Galactic Empire while being lead by Supreme Leader Snoke, while General Leia Organa is leading the Galactic Resistance while being backed by The New Republic. Amidst this galactic warfare, Luke Skywalker has gone into hiding because his Padawan (and nephew) Ben “Kylo Ren” Solo has destroyed Luke’s new Jedi Order by slaying all of Luke’s Jedi apprentices.

The plot of this movie involves us following the adventures of Finn, an AWOL Storm Trooper (“FN-2187”) who helped Resistance Pilot Poe Dameron escape captivity, later meeting up with mystery girl Rey. Finn and Rey later run into Han Solo and Chewbacca, and we discover more about Kylo Ren’s back story and his internal struggle with the light and dark sides of the force. I can see Han Solo’s son falling to the dark side as a slight reference to Jacen Solo falling to the dark side to become Darth Cadeus in the Expanded Universe, though that may be purely coincidental. All things considered, I truly loved this film and I list why below.

What I enjoyed: First off, while many people are still complaining about Kylo’s light saber, I freaking love the damn thing. Ren wields it like a Claymore, and the light emitter being unstable only adds to the power that it may posses. Those hand guards are also super practical in the sense of defending one’s hands from getting cut off. Special effects aside, I enjoyed the acting chemistry between Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) as they have a strong bro-mance, that many fans are hoping turns into an authentic romance (which would be a first for Star Wars, Expanded Universe aside).

Personally, I think there’s a stronger romance hinted between Finn and Rey (Daisy Ridley). I think Rey stands as a great female protagonist for how smart, strong, and quick she is with all of the situations that she ends up in. And while it was highly tragic, Kylo killing Han Solo with his light saber was an incredibly powerful scene (especially with how Chewy reacted by shooting Kylo afterwards, a boy he once thought as his nephew). Han’s death was more powerful than when Obi Wan become one with the force in Episode IV.

I believe that Kylo killed his father to further his hero worship of Darth Vader and to fall closer to the dark side, but it may only serve to bring Kylo further regrets in the future films for Kylo to seek redemption. That battle at the end of the film between Rey and Kylo was awesome, it showed how strong in the force Rey really is with how she was able to defeat Kylo with Anakin Skywalker’s light saber. Lastly, I think the writing in this movie blended the formula of episode IV with a modern rehash for a new generation of Star Wars fans, which in my eyes redeemed us from the travesty of the prequels (Refer to: The Plinkett Reviews). That being said, there were still somethings I didn’t enjoy about this film.

What I Didn’t Like: I’m just going to say it didn’t feel like exactly like the old Star Wars movies because it wasn’t written by a young George Lucas, it felt like Star Wars re-imagined by a fan of the old Star Wars films who wanted to re-imagine Lucas’s vision. I’m not calling the movie a giant fan fiction by any stretch, it just focused so heavily on the new characters we barely had enough time to feel for the old Star Wars characters again. I’m disappointed that Mark Hamill had no lines in the movie and had less than five minutes of screen time.

I’m also upset that Captain Phasma turned out to be a let down of a character (thus far). We’ll see if Phasma turns up again in the next film so that she’ll actually do some more productive stuff other than bossing her platoon around, and ending up in a trash compactor. Lastly, it would have been nice for an explanation on which planets were destroyed by the Star Killer Base since I’m not sure if Courscant was destroyed or not.

Final thoughts: There was a lot of debate from fans on whether or not JJ Abrams could pull off directing the next big Star Wars film set, and I was one of the people who felt he could. Now with record breaking sales and legions of new fans talking about Star Wars, JJ did it. He’s not going to be known as “Jar Jar Abrams” anytime soon. I feel like this movie was successful due to the nods and fan service to the first trilogy, but at the same time it didn’t make me feel warm inside the same way the old trilogy does. I feel that the new characters are great, but we could have used a little more time with the old characters since nostalgia was a grand overarching theme in the film. I will continue to pine over the loss of the old Expanded Universe, but I think JJ made the right decision from a marketing standpoint. What this film has done has paved the way for a new generation of Star Wars fans to learn about the epic space opera that took place a long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away.


The Writer Who Doesn’t Read

Long has it been since I’ve been able to pickup a book and read it all the way through to the end. I’m not one to read up the latest trends either. And I’ve never been one of *those readers* who stayed up all night to enjoy a riveting novel.  The last time I did read books that intensely was when I was reading World War Z and Slaughter House Five back in my senior year of high school (2007-08, how I miss thee so.)

When I was in high school I considered myself a “punk rock reader”, meaning I only read what wasn’t considered popular by mainstream book culture. This is why I only started reading Harry Potter in the last year, why I used sparked notes to get my way through King Lear in British Literature class, and why I am still hesitant to even bother with the Twilight saga (especially since I’m not the target audience for such a screwy love story).

In high school and college, I loved joy reading different books that caught my attention. My imagination was able to paint pictures in my head of a great literary play of far off galaxies (Star Wars), and PTSD war soldiers who claimed to be abducted by martians (Vonnegut). The last book I can fondly remember reading was “Fire and Rain” by David Browne which told the tale of how 1970 was a pivotal year in ending the optimistic spirit of the 60s, and how pop culture shifted after the Beatles split up. I would like to pen a book in that style about the year 2011, which I feel was a real game changer from the uncreative stagnation of 2009 and 2010 for the world of music (with special thanks to Adele, lol).

My interest in books dwindled after college due to the stress of a four year relationship ending and not being able to hold a job (and I’m still searching for a career today). My life fell into a deep pit of depression for a very long time. Reading books would make me fall asleep after a little while, and I could never read more than a chapter at a time since I read the words slowly. On the flip side, the events of 2014 have largely been a vast improvement in my life with how I’ve re-discovered my sense of self respect, gained valuable work experience, and strengthened my resolve to live life the way I want too. My interest in literature is slowly returning to me now that my joy in life has returned.

Words have become my friends again given how my quality of life has improved. I partially owe this interest returning thanks to comic books like The Walking Dead and Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”. I’ve also started looking back into the poetry of William Wordsworth and Robert Burns. Lastly, I was tipped off to the awesome vampire novels of Anne Rice by a friend. I intend to to read more than I did before, but I will do so at my own pace and with books that I deem to be of a strong quality. I can still be a “punk rock reader” like I used to be. I just need to trust in my own opinions on a book instead of what other critics have to say about it, which makes sense given how I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Star Wars Episode III.