On December 18th I walked into a theater, and had my faith in my favorite childhood memories restored. So powerful was this restoration that I had to talk about it immediately… so I went onto slack and joined a channel that we had created just for this purpose. Similarly powerful was my desire not to spoil the experience for anyone else. So after some thrashing about, I declared over twitter in the above tweet that I would give it a month…. that on January 18th I would feel able to finally talk about Star Wars Force Awakens in the open. Today is January 19th, the day after my self proposed embargo ended, and I am ready to talk. This however it is a bit of a lackluster statement, given that it seems like the global internet embargo was something along the lines of “any time after the first of the year”. While we recorded the AggroChat spoiler show a few weeks back, I kept to my original stated date. Now the floodgates can open and you can expect me to be less measured about information regarding the movie. Essentially my theory is that if you cared at all about this movie… you had a month to go see it relatively unscathed… any spoilers are now on your own damned head.
For starters…. I love this film. I love so much about it. Largely because it made me realize how much I really did love Star Wars after all. In the post Phantom Menace era I spent much of my time suppressing my joy about the franchise even though there were really awesome offshoots like Star Wars Rebels and the Clone Wars cartoons that absolutely redeemed just how frustratingly bad at times the prequels were. I guess part of me didn’t want to get hurt again, and while I started off trying to fight the hype… by the time Force Awakens launched…. I was a gibbering mess of fandom. The most awesome part of all of it, was sitting in the theater and listening to the entire place erupt in applause when the opening scroll came on screen. I did find it funny that in my theater a few people booed when they saw the Lucasfilm logo, but that quickly gave way to much cheering. Then at various moments, like BB8 flipping the thumbs up… made everyone laugh and cheer as well. I am so happy that I got to see it on opening night, because I feel like the energy was so amazing that it would have been painful to have missed that. Now to delve into some of my characters and thoughts about them.
Rey for me is the Star Wars equivalent of Amy Pond… the girl who waited. The question is who exactly was she waiting for. Right now there are two competing camps in fandom… that peg her at either being the daughter of Luke Skywalker or the grand daughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi. There is another group of people who seem to think she is the lost child of Han and Leia… but I seriously think that someone might have known about this before now and maybe just maybe they would have recognized her. I mean this is the universe where a Senator can go from pregnancy through delivery without receiving any prenatal care and be completely baffled by the fact that there are twins. So maybe they lose babies all the time. Part of me wants it to be as simple as Luke’s kid, because Disney talked about how the “Saga” movies centered around the Skywalker legacy. If Rey is not a Skywalker… that means that the focus of the movie according to Disney has to be on a Skywalker… and the only one of those that we know is Kylo Ren. I want this movie to be about Rey, because she is hands down the best character we have seen. Part of me still hopes that Mara Jade gets brought back from the now destroyed Expanded Universe… and we end up seeing Rey as the child of Luke and Mara. I could see Mara having to hide her on a backwater planet. Going to go into more about the staff she carries around all the time…. but mostly I love Rey with all of my heart and she is the sort of character we need to carry forward the franchise for the next generation.
Finn is super awesome… and I think his story arc of how the reluctant Stormtrooper escaped to join the Rebellion is great. I fully expected him to be the new Han Solo in that he is the one that is super reluctant to “do the right thing”. This over reaching desire is to get as far as humanly possible away from the First Order, and rightly so… given that he was abducted as a child and placed into their creepy mind control scheme for breeding perfect warriors. I need to actually read the novel related to Finn, but enough of a summary was that basically the other Stormtroopers you see him interact with… were all in his four member pod that he trained with. He served as the captain.. and the guy who plants the bloody hand on his helmet is suggested to be the “screw up” of that team named Slip. When Finn is confronted by TR-8R the shock baton trooper… it seems super personal… which makes us think that maybe he was either Zero or Nines one of the other two members of that team. The Finn story arc is one of redemption, but he comes across as such a likable character from the moment we meet him. Like there was part of me that wanted Rey and Finn go to off into the sunset having amazing adventures together. As far as how he works into the trilogy… there are folks that seem to think he is going to be Lando’s kid but that would just cheapen the character of Finn. If anything I think Finn might somehow end up being related to Sana Starros, a character introduced in the “in canon” comic book series. I just keep thinking that the various characters that have been carefully introduced in those comics will eventually make their way into the movies in one form or another.
Poe is one of those characters that I thought I would end up being annoyed by. In every single pre-release shot had this strutting and preening nature to it… and I guess in theory he does do that. His character however is super likeable and ends up being this awesome character from the moment he hits the screen. Firstly he wins huge points with me by being devoted to his droid… since droids are in essence the pets of the Star Wars universe. The folks that care about them as more than just a walking toaster… always win huge points with me. On top of that he is like the best damned pilot legitimately. I don’t remember what Tam had his kill count at, but it was irrationally high. What makes it even better is the fact that Poe and Finn make such an amazing team. There is talk as to whether or not this is a “bromance” or a romance and I am honestly fine with whatever that ends up being. I don’t necessarily feel the need to ship these two together, but at the same time I wouldn’t mind if that was the direction the movie was going. For me the interactions in the Tie Fighter mimic those of Han and Luke in the Millennium Falcon taking out Tie Fighters. I personally feel like Finn was so interested in seeing that he survived, because he is super loyal to his team members…. and from the moment they escaped together Finn I think considered Poe as part of his “new” team, just like he seemed to have the same instant loyalty to Rey. Supposedly there is a bunch of backstory about his parents in a comic series leading up to Force Awakens and I need to track it down… but the lineage ties back to the Rogue Squadron from what I am hearing. Which makes me wonder if Poe is going to be the star of the Rogue One movie.
I had some serious reservations about this droid before the launch of the movie, because it seemed like Disney was setting this character up to be the new Jar Jar. Disney films all have quirky often annoying animal sidekicks… and I think that is precisely what Jar Jar was trying to be… and what BB-8 seemed to be based on the insane amount of merchandising. On top of everything else… the design seemed to make no sense. Like I could not sort out what the robots primary function was, and I guess in theory… they are designed to be small compact astromech droids. Seeing BB-8 on screen however melted all the ice, and made me just simply gush. The thing about BB-8 and its head tilt ability… is that it makes the droid far more emotive than any other to date. Sure R2-D2 could convey a bunch of emotion with his antsy little back and forth dance…. but BB-8 can simply tilt its head to the side or let it drop… to convey curiosity or sadness. From the moment the little guy flipped open the lighter to signal a Thumbs up…. I was completely sold. I think BB-8 is pretty much the best dog ever… and if they ever made an open world Force Awakens game… I would want to run around the wasteland with BB-8 in the same way as I do Dogmeat in Fallout 4.
Kylo Ren was exactly the type of bad guy we needed in this film. We had heard before the film released that he was a Vader groupy, and I was not really sure how that would play out on screen. However they made it work… because he is still very much a boy trying to play for the affection of his grandparent. He never fully grew up… and far as much as he wants to be like Vader… he ends up nothing at all like him other than the same taste in clothing. Vader was this stoic force that made you afraid to even be in the same room with him… in part because his emotions were unreadable. Kylo on the other hand lets the entire world know at all times what he is feeling, and throws these temper tantrums anytime something does not go his way. He is a brash child, demanding to be respected…. when in truth no one actually respects him. Any fear they have of him, is not because of his power, but instead because he serves as this loose canon that does more harm to the First Order that he actually seems to do to the Resistance. There was one plot point that I knew would happen somehow… and that was the death of Han Solo. Once we learned the parentage of Kylo it pretty much decided that by the end of the movie he would end up killing his father. While I saw that scene coming… I still thought it did an excellent job of showing just how NOT in control Kylo really was. How he was continuing to struggle with his light side up until the very moment he ignited his saber into his father. I have this feeling that by the time we see Ren in the next movie, he will be more like Vader and be significantly more machine than he is man.
The last character that I am going to talk about specifically is Snoke, the enigmatic leader of the First Order. There is a lot of speculation as to who he really is… and I am absolutely putting my hopes in the Darth Plagueis basket. There are so many little things that are either purposefully trying to mislead us… or are there intentinally. Firstly the music that plays when they go talk to Snoke is apparently the same music that plays in Revenge of the Sith during the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise scene. Also Snoke is referred to as “wise” in the movie, which might also be a bit of foreshadowing. Similarly on the cover of the Darth Plagueis novel he is shown appearing to Palpatine in a hugely inflated hologram much the same way as Snoke does. When you look at his face… there is something going on… almost necrotic which would make you wonder if he is being kept alive through the sheer force of the Dark Side. Now on the other side of things… Plagueis was a Muun apparently at the request of Lucas. However since this series is departing from the Lucas approved universe… he could in theory be brought back and just about any damned thing they wanted to.
The other thing that I keep coming back to as well is Rey’s staff looks oddly like pretty much every single incarnation of Plagueis’s Staff Lightsaber we have seen in comics and the toys. I think there would be an interesting symmetry if she had this Sith artifact with her all along. Also given that Plagueis was essentially betrayed by the old Sith ways… he would be suspicious of the old “Rule of Two” thing and even the Sith lineage in general. So instead we have the Knights of Ren, which is a group of force users…. that he even talks about have not completed their training, in that he tells Hux to bring Kylo’s body so they can finish. Since he was thought destroyed by Palpatine his apprentice, it would absolutely make sense for him to create an order of a bunch of “less powerful” force users, instead of bestowing all of his knowledge onto a single apprentice that could easily depose him again. If we believe the whole “vergence in the force” stuff from the prequels… it would also mean that Plagueis either intentionally or not… created the Skywalker lineage. This loops back to the whole Saga movies being about the Legacy of Skywalker, which would be a pretty nice bookend especially if Plagueis ends up legitimately destroyed by the end. In any case… I need to wrap this post up because it has gotten pretty long. At another date I will talk about some of my disappointments in the movie, albeit super minor ones.
Have an awesome week.. and May the Force Be With You!