Han Solo’s line in the last trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is as neat a summation as anything. After three (in retrospect, kinda weird) prequel movies (which i still like, in varying degrees), here’s a movie that feels exactly like a movie that could have been made three years after Return of the Jedi. Is it what everybody thought it would be? It’s both considerably more and a lot less, i think, months later (and having just rewatched it for the first time–i know, i’ve been busy).
- A lot of ink has been spilled about the structural similarities of the plot to the original Star Wars, and it’s both correct and irrelevant. The ceremonial blowing-up-of-the-giant-battle station could have been fleshed out a bit more, or have been something else, but it’s nothing more than set dressing for what the movie’s actually about.
- Which is that, 30 years later, our dashing, young, attractive heroes have each let us down. Han Solo and Princess Leia couldn’t raise a kid. Princess Leia couldn’t form a lasting coalition. Luke Skywalker couldn’t rebuild the Jedi order. Things are a mess, and in the case of 2/3 of them, they’ve stopped even trying. Just like before, yes, but it matters the world that we grew up with these people (and even my 5-year-old nephew already grew up with young Luke, Leia, and Han), and they’re not mere name-dropped ancestors.
- Fortunately, the movie is mostly about all these fun new people we get to meet and they’re endlessly fascinating. Sure, this is great in the corporate Shared Universe sense, but when my wife is still thinking about what the fuck is up with Kylo Ren after just the second Star Wars movie she’s ever seen, then you’ve probably done something right.
- Seriously, it is an insane feat of writing (acting, directing) to drop four or five new, big characters into the most famous story of our age and have them instantly burst into an iconic life of their own. Imagine if The Phantom Menace made us care about any of its new characters.
If the girl finds me up in the middle of the night watching it again, i hope she’ll understand.