So this is normally the day when I post some article on an old and crazy Golden Age comic book character but since it’s the Christmas season and since most of the pop culture consciousness has turned its massive head towards one particular franchise for the time being
I thought it would be interesting to offer my two cents on the movie and the franchise as a whole.
Note: The following below does NOT include any spoilers for the new film. Feel free to read away at your leisure.
I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens, at least enough to want to buy tickets for the next one. Let me be clear here, I didn’t think it was “Oh my God this film is the greatest thing ever in the history of movies J.J Abrams is a God among men” good but good enough to bring Star Wars back into the popular consciousness and is a feather in the cap of the movies director J.J Abrams.
I thought it was a respectful homage to the old cast, I think the new cast did a phenomenal job, and I think the future of the franchise is in very good hands.
Most importantly I thought the movie succeeded in its most important goal: capturing the spirit and feel of the original trilogy.
But what exactly does that mean? How did the Force Awakens succeed in making us remember the original films while going out of its way to say “hey those prequels that everyone hates? Yeah, those don’t exist anymore”? Well, let me explain what I think makes Star Wars a huge success.
For starters there’s something we have to come to grips with: the Star Wars movies just aren’t very good.
Okay, pitchforks down everyone! Let me explain.
If you take the original trilogy and put it up against another science fiction masterpiece like “2001: A Space Odyssey”
Then you can start to see a lot of holes and uncomfortable gaps in the plot.
For example: Isn’t it kind of strange how the Death Star is a massive space station the size of a small moon but only needs one exhaust port to vent what must be a massive amount of waste energy into space. And doesn’t it seem weird that all that exhaust wouldn’t send something as small as a fighter sized torpedo flying outward?
Isn’t it strange that a farm boy from a backwater desert planet who just recently joined the Rebellion (bear in mind in the beginning Luke wanted to join the Empire as a pilot) was just given a highly advanced space fighter and expected to survive the dangers of combat in deep space?
Granted, you can make the argument that the Rebellion needed all the pilots it could get and that Luke was familiar with the controls from flying his T-16 back home, but as any actual fighter pilot will tell you combat is incredibly stressful.
And that’s just the first film. How about the elephant in the room that is the really uncomfortable kiss between Luke and Leia in the Empire Strikes back?
Or how about how an entire legion of the Empire’s best stormtroopers
were defeated by these guys?
Here’s the thing though. The Star Wars movies may not be very good but that’s okay. In fact: it’s part of what makes them brilliant.
In the original trilogy George Lucas tells us an epic story filled with space ships, laser swords, and feats of daring that seem so impossible you could call them magic but the story he tells is only part of something that is so much bigger. Probably his most brilliant scene in the entire trilogy is the Mos Eisley cantina scene from A New Hope.
Sure the scene has a purpose within the film, the main characters are looking for a ship to take them off planet and it introduces another character in Han Solo
but Lucas takes time in this scene to let the audience look at all the aliens and other crazy characters that are also in the bar. You may know Luke and Obi Wan but aren’t you a bit curious about this guy?
or this guy?
or how about this guy?
What’s the back story for these creatures?
Why is this band playing the same song over and over?
And how did Cornelius Evazan get the death penalty on twelve systems?
(author’s note: I do know why because Wookiepedia is a thing.)
Most of these questions have been answered and that’s what makes this scene so brilliant. The original Star Wars trilogy was wise enough to give us A story within its massive universe but it didn’t tell us THE story. It granted its audience enough information to be entertained but left enough out there for us to fill in the blanks on our own. And fill in the blanks we did. The toy and merchandise empire Star Wars spawned?
What better way to play out our own adventures than with a Star Wars action figure? The library of books and video games?
A chance for other people to put their own stories into the Star Wars Universe.
You want to know why I think the prequels failed to catch the original spirit of Star Wars and were viewed as awful movies? They tried to explain too much and be more complete movies by talking about things like space politics and…
And that is why I like Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We don’t know why the First Order exists or what it’s plan is.
But we don’t need to because, much like the motivations of the original Empire, we are capable of filling in the gaps ourselves. We barely know any of backstory or motivations for any of the main characters in the new movie
but that’s okay we can do it ourselves, at least until the later movies reveal more about them.
Star Wars is a brilliant franchise because it has the courage and wisdom to surrender itself to the fans. Much like the Force itself the fandom is a an energy field created by each person making their own contribution to the story as a whole no matter how big or little. It surrounds the fandom and binds the movies, books, games, tv shows, and countless fanfics and wiki articles together. It is no longer just Lucas’ franchise or Disney’s franchise, it is a franchise that belongs to everyone who loves Star Wars.
So in conclusion, go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s a wonderful way to get back in touch with your imagination.