“Chewie, we’re home.”
Han Solo’s poignant words to his longtime mate Chewbacca, after walking aboard the Millennium Falcon for the first time, captures the essence of a major theme of the latest, long awaited Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Through the act of bringing back the old characters and the old themes, creating new characters who carry on the family lineage behind the films, and connecting many of the dots left astray in the past movies, director J.J. Abrams pieced together not only what Star Wars fans have been anxiously anticipating, but a film which can be enjoyed by all.
From a young age, the Star Wars series has always been my favorite movie series. Whether it was the neighborhood plastic lightsaber wars, which sparked the constant need for a lightsaber clipped to one’s belt, or the play put on by my neighborhood mimicking much of the overall plot of one of the Star Wars movies, Star Wars plays a prominent role as I reflect back on my early childhood. That being said, when I heard that a new Star Wars movie would be made this year, I could not wait to see it on its opening weekend.
The movie exceeded expectations; from the opening scene of the credits, where the legendary “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away….” appears on screen, to the last scene, in which the viewer gets to see the person they have been waiting the entire movie to see, Abrams brings a new energy to the hallowed series. With a handful of new actors, including the two leads Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn) as well as the antagonist of the film, played by Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), the movie goes into new directions never pursued before with characters in the former movies, without leaving behind the former stars and heroes such as Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and, of course, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). Many of the most stunning scenes occurred when the former characters were displayed for the first time in the film, or when the former characters teamed together or clashed against newly created characters. This brought nostalgia as well as excitement for the remainder of the film.
While some critics criticized the film for being too much like the former movies, and others criticized it having a simplistic storyline that was dull and repetitive. However, I firmly believe that the similar plots are what make the Star Wars Industry what it is. The new characters emerge as new heroes, and the connections between new and old characters keep the viewer on the edge of his seat during the movie, and it’s what keeps us wanting more afterward. The Force Awakens left the viewer with several questions involving many of the new characters, leaving us pondering as to what excitement the new movies will deliver in the future.
After talking to other fans who had seen the film, I came to a conclusion that those who had seen the other Star Wars films, and considered themselves Star Wars enthusiasts, enjoyed every minute of the newest film and had ultimately positive things to say about it. The exception for some people was that they wanted to see a storyline that differed from the past movies. Ryan McGloin (‘16), Star Wars aficionado, states, “I loved the film from the very beginning when I heard Chewbacca’s classic loud roar. It brought back very good memories… Star Wars is back”. Landon Nott (‘16), another Star Wars buff, declared, “I thought it was really well done and adored the film, but I wished that there was a different conflict other than the ultimate goal of the destruction of the Death Star.” I concluded, however, that those who had not seen past Star Wars movies and who were generally not big fans of the movie did not tend to enjoy it as much, as they were unfamiliar with the past characters and connections among family members and themes, leaving them left behind as far as the significance of the characters. Win Martin (‘16), commented , “Because I hadn’t seen the other movies, I didn’t understand what was happening, so I found it hard to understand the significance of the plot.”
When comparing Star Wars: The Force Awakens to previous Star Wars films, it takes a leap up to the next level in terms of graphics, acting, and special effects. While George Lucas, the creator of the prequels, is not at the helm of The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams truly brings a new energy and force to the series. Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke several records, including the biggest opening weekend release and single weekend gross, at $529 million, and the fastest film to $1 billion, which it earned in just 12 days. Although gross records are not always an indication of the quality of films, Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly was a home run. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film 93%, which is a notably high rating for the website. To those contemplating to see the film, go see it; you will not regret it.
Cover image courtesy of starwars.com.