“There Has Been An Awakening”
This is a spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?” After months of acrimony and division, just in time for the holidays, millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy, and were suddenly entertained by the much needed pop-cultural return of Star Wars.
I enjoyed the film enough that I’m considering breaking my general rule about not wasting money on seeing a film more than once in theaters.
And I’m more of a Star Trek fan at heart.
I have JJ Abrams to thank for this. Like his 2009 reboot of Star Trek into a big-budget action series, this sci-fi revival took great pains to be entertaining while servicing the fans with tons of East Eggs and inside jokes. You could see his love of Star Wars, though, in his role not in another ill-advised prequel that changes inconvenient canon to suit his needs. Instead, he did everything he could to tell a story that allowed plenty of cameos by beloved characters while introducing new elements. The writer in me could quibble about the final scene of the film, and I felt a distinct echoing of story beats from the original trilogy throughout (including the new Starkiller Base and a notable confrontation on a narrow bridge). But all of those echoes serviced the nostalgia of older fans without preventing the film from discovering new fans.
A lot of movie fans have derided the “universe” approach of mega-franchises and the preponderance of sequels and prequels and reboots and reimaginings. I disagree. When done well, there is nothing else like it. And we have been blessed with an embarassment of riches this year in that regard, with this film and Jurassic World in particular. Next year, we get Independence Day: Resurgence, Star Trek Beyond, and a “Wizarding World” spinoff of Harry Potter, to name a few. And in 2017, we get to see where Leia, Luke, Rey, Ben, and beloved BB-8 go next.
There has been an awakening. I have felt it. The Force is back!