How The Force (Re)Awakened

This is not a Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie review. No, it’s just a few observations made during the watching of it. Sort of a “was-I-the-only-one-who saw-that?” type of discussion. But before I begin, two things:

  1. SPOILER ALERT: This post is suicide for anyone who has not yet seen the movie.
  2. I’m no Star Wars fanatic. I cannot tell you which system and star a Wookie belongs to, or the difference between Death Stars I and II. I’m only months old into the following. I can say I’m a solid fan, but forgive me if I fail to see something a forty year old super-geek, one whose basement is overflowing with Star Wars paraphernalia, would.

Isn’t it funny how the new movie felt like a remake of an already-told story? Just a rehashing of an old film as has previously been done for such movies as Clash of the Titans and Poltergeist? You noticed that, right? No? Well, give me a bit. I’m delving into devilish details in a bit.

Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, though I tried to postpone the gnawing feeling of déjà-vu I was experiencing at various times. Of course, the age-old battle between the Empire (now the First Order) and the Rebellion (now the Resistance) persists, and I understand the need for the new characters to be either descendants of, or the original protagonists and villains themselves. But somehow, the entire movie was increasingly suggestive of the original trilogy. The parallels between both movies never seemed to cease.

One such similarity which I didn’t find corny was the face-off between Kylo Ren and Han Solo, reminiscent of the confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. It oozed nostalgia – felt like they had come full circle, two generations later, to complete what Vader failed to do (eliminating a family member). It was in itself somewhat of a spoiler though, because I could tell that this time around, there would be no hesitation on the part of the son killing the father. Anyway, not so terrible a likeness to the older movie.

Now let’s move on to other semblances. In this movie, a cute little sweetheart droid (BB-8) carries a secret message meant for delivery to the Resistance – a map containing the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi. The First Order try to intercept and capture the droid, but several people (including Han Solo) attempt to see it delivered to the rightful recipients. Rey is captured and an attempt is made by Kylo Ren to extract the map directly from her using his telepathic ability. So isn’t it funny how Episode IV: A New Hope started out with a cute little sweetheart droid (R2-D2) carrying a secret message meant for Obi-Wan (allies with the Rebellion) whose whereabouts were unknown. The Empire tried to intercept this message, but several people (including Han Solo) attempted to see it delivered to the rightful owner. Leia is captured and an attempt was made by Darth Vader to extract the message from her using his telepathic ability.

The attractive, smooth-talking, charismatic, not-afraid-to-find-himself-in-a-sticky-situation Poe Dameron seemed to be a breath of fresh air. Throw in his awesome piloting skills, and I seemed to be looking at Han Solo all over again. It’s like old character niches had been scooped out for the “new” characters to fill in. BB-8 for R2-D2, Rey for Leia, Kylo Ren for Darth Vader, Dameron for Solo – regardless of the continued appearance of the most of the pioneers. These parallels threaten to keep the movie in a loop, instead of expanding the storyline.

Let’s not forget our prime villain. Kylo Ren, birth name Ben Solo, former Jedi apprentice of Luke Skywalker. He chose the dark side of The Force, and killed his father in order to cement his union with it. The original trilogy had Darth Vader, birth name Anakin Skywalker, former Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan. He too fell to the dark side, though could not kill his son when presented the opportunity.

If you haven’t agreed with me so far, you will on this one. In this movie, the Starkiller Base, an enemy station armed with a weapon capable of eliminating entire star systems, has to be destroyed by the Resistance. In The Empire Strikes Back, The Death Star, an enemy weapon capable of eliminating entire stars (duh!) has to be destroyed by the Rebellion. They both had weak points which when damaged, caused the destruction of both weapons. Young hotshot pilot Luke Skywalker took care of the first; young hotshot pilot Poe Dameron did the latter. “Sure,” I can hear the forty year old super-geek saying. “It’s not as silly as you make it seem. The Starkiller is obviously an upgrade of the Death Stars I & II – from killing stars it can now take out entire systems.” I smirk with derision. The bad guys seem to need fresh ideas on how to be bad.

But there IS a flip side to this coin. Of all the creatures and objects in the galaxy, they chose to do one thing differently. Can someone explain to me why Kylo Ren’s lightsabre had a hilt? And even more of a conundrum: how was he able to perform those complex maneuvers without slicing his own hand off? The jagged, fiery aspect looked awesome; the hilt though, just seemed impractical.

But if you can ignore all that…AWESOME movie!
This wasn’t supposed to be a review. I only meant to make observations without passing judgment, but alas! My final words on the matter: I maintain that I was thoroughly entertained watching it, despite my ramblings above. A popcorn movie I guess. I am quite disappointed at the lack of originality though. I expected a continuation and broadening of the saga, not just history repeating itself.

And one last thing – Chewie is back. I can try to tolerate the improbable eight-foot frame decked out in maddeningly silky hair. But the incessant, ridiculous moaning I cannot stand any longer. Someone should murder that Wookie.

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