I finally got around to seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens today and couldn’t resist taking the time to write down some quick impressions. I was shocked and extremely grateful that I made it through the opening weekend without being exposed to any spoilers so I will extend to you all the same courtesy. While I do not discuss any plot points below, I don’t want to be the jerk that inadvertently ruins something for a reader that hasn’t seen it yet. Everything after the break is to be read at your own risk.
Despite my best efforts, I was super excited going into this movie. For me, my Star Wars fandom is an eternal love of the original trilogy (in any format) and being able to start watching those movies from any point and not only know what part of the movie I am at, but what dialogue comes next. It is fond memories of the early video games, everything from the brutal NES releases to the classic LucasArts titles. I know there was more than one night I stayed up late on a school night playing X-Wing in my room with the lights out after my mom went to bed. It is the Expanded Universe novels which I eagerly read through, at least before the galaxy got too crowded. Books like Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy will forever to me have a place in the Star Wars universe.
But times have changed. The franchise has stumbled, and the sting of Jar-Jar Binks and The Phantom Menace isn’t something that is easy to put out of one’s mind. I also have had to come to grips with the fact that I may not be the target demographic for these films anymore. The prequels and subsequent cartoon series made it quite clear the franchise was after a younger audience and less concerned with the older fans. And if that wasn’t enough, the Expanded Universe, and with it characters I had come consider part of the Star Wars family, was officially discarded for whatever was to come. These were difficult things to come to terms with, yet I kept hope alive.
So, with all that said, I can happily say that I enjoyed this movie. It introduced likeable characters, plenty of space opera action and adventure, and managed to capture that original Star Wars feel without coming off as forced. It was something fresh and new while at the same time familiar. There were some subtle references and Easter Eggs to please viewers like myself and the new generation of heroes are certainly engaging and worthy of our fandom. It actually felt like a story again and not a two-hour toy commercial. There were a few nitpicks I had, namely some clichéd or overly familiar plot elements, a few implausible learning curves, and a sub par acting performance by a certain HF, but overall these did not detract from the quality of the film. I am a bit worried the main villain thus far might have a bit too much of the prequel Anakin Skywalker in him emotionally, but only time will tell. For now, I am in celebration mode. This movie did a lot to restore my faith in the franchise and has me looking forward to the next one. It successfully engaged me in the galaxy again. A job well done.