Once, a few decades ago, here in this galaxy… my father took me to see Return of the Jedi in the theater. So when the Force Awakens was given a December 2015 release date, it was inevitable as a Sith apprentice killing his master that I was taking him to it for Christmas. We went Saturday Dec. 19th and it has taken me this long to blog about it. :p
And here's the obligatory warning for spoilers and relentless gushing of my first fandom. Turn back at the Death Star and proceed back to hyperspace.
So I stayed away from all the speculation and film news rumor mill other than the broad stroke stuff. The sale of the franchise to Disney was a relief after cringing through the prequels and proclaiming I would have wrote better material for free because of my love for Star Wars. Nothing could be worse than them. I knew J.J. Abrams was a Star Wars fan first and when they pulled together veterans like Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan, so I trusted the Force would guide them.
And guide them it did. Not only is it good Star Wars, it's a good movie that blockbusters so rarely have been. Maybe the tide is finally changing? And DIVERSITY! Women and POC men sprinkled everywhere along with old alien friends, and some of them were even X-Wing pilots! Nien Nunb, I squealed when I confirmed that was you in the credits. Excuse me while I flail a bit because I've been thinking about making an X-Wing pilot costume for close to a year. Now we have a canon female pilot character, Jessika Pava!
The following is randomly generated by what I think, not in order of what was shown on the screen, so I'll try to be coherent about the stream of consciousness but make no promises.
- Blue lightsaber = Anakin's lightsaber that Luke lost when he lost his hand in Cloud City, Bespin. This was a point I picked up in the trailer with the shots of Finn igniting it and a lightsaber was shown being passed around. "Luke gave Finn his lightsaber," was the commentary. I don't remember seeing anyone point out that the blue one that Ben Kenobi gave him was lost in the Cloud City duel along with his hand. So vindication when Maz Kanata confirmed that it was the same one and there was no time for the story of why she was keeping it for Rey. Why I think this is significant? Besides the fact that it called out to Rey through the Force, in the Legends Extended Universe, the Empire got a hold of the lightsaber and Luke's hand and built a clone from the DNA. The First Order guys said they had cloning for stormtroopers instead of the steal them as babies and raise them. And all the Internets to the commentor on Tor.com that recognized that's exactly what the Jedi did before their fall in the prequels.
- FINN! All the woobies for Finn, all the love for Finn, "we've got the Force" Finn! I adore Finn, in case you missed that. I'm not sure what the monomyth term is for a protagonist realizing he is on the wrong side (TVTropes gave me Heel Realization but I doubt that is the academic term for it), but his story arc beginning struck that monomyth chord. Then he meets Poe and Rey and BB-8 and he's all in for his friends. He's pretty handy with the lightsaber. I'll be happy with either it's just stormtrooper training or he's Force Sensitive too.
- Rey is an awesome badass and will kick even more ass once she's a full on Jedi Knight. And if any wankers call her a Mary Sue in my presence, I won't bother with arguing how she is the hero of the monomyth including the refusal of the call to adventure, I will just cut you with the Disney licensed SHIELD branded pocket lightsaber. (Come on Disney, you own Star Wars and it was in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Put some money into R&D; it's got two franchise selling feature!)
- If Rey isn't a Skywalker, I'll eat my new Star Wars shirt. We can safely infer that she was a baby apprentice that survived the destruction of Luke's Jedi School from her abilities and the memories the lightsaber unlocked for her. And she built a fighting staff that resembles a lightsaber. But I'm on the side of we got more clues than that. Her piloting skills; both Anakin and Luke were renowned for their piloting. My mouth fell open when I realized what I had assumed was Han and Chewie flying the Falcon in the trailer was Rey. Han offered her a place on the Falcon, which as far as I know he has only done for Luke before. The blue lightsaber called out for her. Artoo woke up when she arrived at the Resistance base. Kylo Ren pulled her dreams of an island in the ocean (where she found Luke) out of her head, which is a pretty weird dream for a kid raised on a desert world.
- Why did you abandon Rey, Luke? If the above is true, I hope Luke has a damn good reason for leaving her behind. I will accept: "What happened to Guardian 1 and Guardian 2? They left you on Jakku! But I left the trail starting with Lor San Tekka and he was supposed to keep an eye on you and the lightsaber for you guys to find me." Or "You were supposed to live in Tuanul with Lor San Tekka. Okay, you got bored there and then got stuck with the scavengers. Never did earn enough to get back to Tuanul." Or "Look, our family history sucks. Your grandfather fell to the Dark Side, but he turned back before he died! But he didn't raise me and Leia and we turned out okay. Leia, Han, and I all tried to reach your cousin Ben and he fell to the Dark Side and helped kill your mother. So maybe we Skywalkers shouldn't raise the next generation. And I did pick awful guardians for you, I'm sorry but that kinda proves my point."
- I blame Obi-Wan and Yoda for Luke's exile. Obviously, the lesson Luke picked up via example is when you have a disastrous set-back, you go hide yourself as penance. I hope the next movie gives us some more detail of just how bad the massacre and destruction of Luke's school was. My headcanon is Luke was concentrating on teaching children—remembering Yoda's pointed statements of how Luke at Empire Strikes Back was too old—but not cradle-robbing like the old Jedi Order did. I want Luke to find a different way, a third way, so badly. But the point being is no other adults around but him and Artoo. Ben Solo born right after the Battle of Endor may have been one of the older students and once he teamed up with the Knights of Ren, it was the Youngling Massacre all over again because the children weren't ready to fight. Oh double points if Supreme Leader Snoke told Ben about the Youngling Massacre and Ben decided this was another way to prove he's just as bad as Darth Vader.
- The kids can speak Droid, except for Finn. I don't know why I get such a big kick out of that.
- Poe is an awesome, strutting X-Wing pilot and I can't wait to see more of him with Finn and Rey.
- Kylo Ren has all of Anakin Skywalker's worst traits. The temper-tantrums destroying equipment make Vader look restrained in comparison. He keeps feeling a pull to the Light Side, and for giggles I really hope it's redeemed Anakin trying to tell him to stop talking to the mask. Really, it's creepy and the Empire is wrong and murdering your loved ones is bad.
- My theory is Ben Solo was a compromise name suggested by Luke. I've seen some stories/theories that say Han picked it, which I can see. But my first thought was Leia and Han bickering over baby names, each wanting one the other couldn't stand. And then Luke points out if it hadn't been for Ben, none of them would have met (and he suggested it before they decided to name the kid after him!).
- "There's always a way to blow these things up." Yeah, another superweapon, the Empire really doesn't have any new ideas, so I really appreciated Han the smartass pointing it out.
- General Leia! *Fist pump* I hate that her and Han didn't work out, but without getting into the new Extended Universe I don't know what their marriage faced. Other people have made good points that Leia's duties to the Alliance and then the New Republic and whatever Han had to do after going AWOL to free Kashyyk probably made them bad parents to Ben, not maliciously but they just couldn't give him the time he needed. Their kid died by falling to the Dark Side and they buried themselves in what they knew best to deal with it. Sad but believable, and I got the feeling that they still love each other.
- Death of Han Solo Actually, I got spoiled to this despite my care in not looking for any spoilers. As part of the Christmas present, I took Dad out to eat before the showing. The father at the table behind me said loud enough to carry, "When they killed Han Solo—" That's as far as he got because I started flailing in my seat to twist around and yelped, "Spoilers! We haven't seen it yet!" Luckily, my father missed hearing what he said, but I went in knowing Han was going to fall. Damn, that was still brutal. And Chewie's reaction was gut-wrenching. I have to applaud the film makers at how well the scene and the sequel were put together. Chewie had spent the whole movie so clearly not-putting up with Han's shit and actively calling him out on it, but we all know that with both the life-debt and the Han's bond to the Wookie that Chewie would never leave Han. So Han falls, Chewie goes berserk but manages to shoot Kylo Ren and then sets off the bombs they had been setting up to destroy the exhaust port (I think that's what they were in). The kids who had been watching the scene, escape the blast and then the camera stays with them. I'm left reeling with "OMG, Chewie blew himself up because Han died. Oh Chewie, oh Chewie." But then Chewie arrived in the Falcon and saved the kids! Oh thank God, more Chewie!
- The complaints that the Force Awakens negates Return of the Jedi's happy ending. Wait? What? Okay, I can kinda see where people with this complaint are coming from if I squint really hard. And I'm tempted to say it's due to me being a fanfic writer ("And then what happened" is the curse of our kind), but I really don't think it is. Just because our heroes of the original trilogy had some heartbreaking personal set-back does not change Jedi. THEY WON! Vader was redeemed and died before he had to worry about that pesky atonement for everything evil he had done. The Emperor died. They established a new government and pushed the Empire to the backwater and most of the Empire got over that except for the die-hard fanatics of the First Order. Strike up "Yub Nub" and dance people! And in the universe, Finn and Rey's reactions when Han tells them all the stories are true. A guy raised and indoctrinated from birth to be a stormtrooper and a desert feral child KNOW these stories. Leia, Han, and Luke are fucking LEGENDS in their own lifetimes. Because of Jedi's happy ending. So yeah, that. And I'm going to close this with cheering Ewoks because my heroes became legends and because I love those cannibalistic teddy bears.
Other People's Thoughts That Made Me Nod
Sci's spoiler free reaction to SW: TFA
One Fan's Blow-By-Blow Reaction to Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This is Why Obi-Wan Lied to Luke Skywalker About His Father
PVP: The Force Awakens – No Spoilers
Padme Didn't Die of a Broken Heart