The Force Has Finally Awakened

So I went to the 7 p.m. first showing of the Force Unleashed, geared up and ready but also apprehensive, because I’ve been hurt before. But…

Holy. [Expletive removed]ing. [Expletive removed].

Excuse my language, but that’s the best way I can think of to put my reaction to Star Wars Episode VII. If I could leave this review at just that, I absolutely would. But of course, I’m a critic, and I’ve got to be a bit more thorough. So here we go (and I will, of course, keep this as spoiler free as I can)

Episode VII is a mirror in many ways, and that’s totally okay. Gone is the feeling that you are literally watching a cartoon, something the prequels were guilty of ad nauseum. Back are the practical effects. The Falcon’s chess board and hidden compartments, the rough metal hallways, rusted and used. Everything feels real, because it is real. The few moments of CGI feel completely organic.

So let’s get the nostalgia out of the way. Yay! Han and Chewie are back! Leia is a general! Luke is…. lost? Well, alright, it is the first part of a new trilogy. So there’s the nostalgia, and as much as I never thought I’d say this, that is absolutely all I have to say about my childhood heroes.

Let us move on to our new generation. Finn (Jon Boyega) is a delight from his first conflicted moment to his last heroism. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), our new Luke-level pilot, goes beyond shooting womprats and delivers some epic dogfights. BB-8, our non-replacement replacement R2? Well, I am seriously tempted to spend $80 on a remote control version.

But it’s Rey (Daisy Ridley) I want to talk about. It’s Rey that, of any character in this franchise, I have actually felt a palpable and genuine connection to. The confidence of Han Solo, the cockiness of Luke, the gentleness of Leia, the fierceness of Anakin and Vader; Rey is my new hero.

She’s a force of nature in her own right. When Finn meets her, he constantly tries to take her hand and lead her away from danger, and she repeatedly rejects it, saying “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you!” At any point when Rey feels like the damsel in distress, the princess in need of rescuing, woe be unto those who think that’s real, because Rey is way too badass to be any sort of damsel in any kind of distress.

There’s humor too, and good humor. Not ‘Jar-Jar zapping his tongue, falling over, and being a general stooge minus the other 2’ humor, but actual genuine human connections. When we are uncomfortable, or scared, we have ways of dealing. Gallows humor is called that for that very reason, and Star Wars was chock full of it in the Original Trilogy, and it’s returned here as well.

It’s so hard to write this review, because I can’t and have no desire to spoil anything, as it all has to be felt firsthand. Performance wise, this is probably the best Star Wars yet. Lucas’ direction for the prequels somehow turned Oscar winning actors into blocks of wood, and the amateur nature of the original trilogy also resulted in many awkward deliveries. Now? Now we have experienced actors, and newcomers who blow it out of the water. This is the first Star Wars that feels 100,000 percent genuine from the very start.

Suffice to say, it’s incredible. JJ’s training on the Star Trek movies paid off in droves, because this is the new Star Wars we all wanted.

Categories: Commentary