The Force Awakens and Rekindles My Love of Star Wars
If you came here looking for the posters that I pinned or tweeted about, and you don't want to read through hundreds of words detailing my renewed adoration of Star Wars, just skip to the end.
I finally got a chance to see The Force Awakens!!! Yes, three exclamation marks were necessary for that. Don't worry, that's that last time you'll see them. It's just that I'm excited about this, that it was better than I imagined, and that I was able to avoid almost all spoilers, by not reading a thing about it and averting my eyes on Twitter. Due to other obligations, I thought I would have to wait until the Blu-ray to see it. Instead, I bring you my accidental sort of recap of my relationship with Star Wars/review for The Force Awakens mere weeks after the premiere! (Ooh, sorry, I lied about the exclamation, but that's it...I think.) At the start of this I had originally written that I wasn't going to talk much about the movie, because I wanted to wait until I watched it again and could remember more. I just had some posters to share, but then I kept typing. And the results are below.
The Force Awakens? Yes, it sure did. It also awakened something in me. My love of Star Wars was reignited. It never went away, but I just haven't been attentive to it for a long time. Now and then, I see bits and pieces of "A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back," or "Return of the Jedi" on TV. I'll pay attention until a commercial break and then it's back to doing what I have to get done. I have them on DVD, but they've been neglected for some time. But having a job that sends me to hundreds of random websites daily, having a Twitter account that I usually check often, and being an affliate of TeeFury and RipApparel, I see mentions of this series a lot, sometimes daily. It's an unavoidable staple of pop culture. I just haven't sat down and watched any of it beginning to end in a long time.
When I was a kid, the Star Wars universe was a part of my life that I would often think about. The series has just always been there. That's what happens when something is hugely popular and is two years older than you. It just is and always has been and always will be. I fell off my new 10-speed bike one day when turning in a patch of dirt on the road. I went home with a skinned knee, and a trembling chin, and spent the next couple hours curled up on the couch watching Empire, which made me feel better. I think that was the first time I saw it. Sometimes I take it for granted and think there will always be time to revist it, some other time.
Sadly, I never got to see the original trilogy in the theater, even when they were re-released for the 20th anniversary. My family didn't understand the appeal of taking a ten-minute drive to the theater and paying for tickets for something we'd seen a number of times. (I went to a re-release of The Princess Bride a few months ago and it was absolutely worth it). Two years later I enthusiastically went to The Phantom Menace, and then went back for a second time. Part of that was because of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon. When he was mortally wounded, I started writing fan fiction in my head about that moment and kind of became obsessed. The other part was that is was more Star Wars! I loved the adventure, the imagination, the scenery...the podracing. I got all the books I could read. My brother and I were inspired by it artistically and began drawing spaceships and weapons. I still do when I can.
So even though there was, and is, a lot of negativity and disappointment surrounding the prequels, they certainly had their place, at least with me. Of course, Eventually the enthusiasm faded. Nowadays I realize it was a lot of colorful fluff that didn't really convey a sense of urgency and definitely could have had better dialogue. They seem to have been made for children instead of a general audience that can have fun with them while also taking the story seriously. Even so, there's still a place in my life for them (a small one), and I will forever adore Qui-Gon.
Some may wish the prequels had not been made, but then we may not have The Force Awakens now. Maybe any sequel plans would have been abandoned altogether. Maybe without the disappointment of the prequels, no one would have felt the need to go back to the big screen and instead just leave it to the books and video games. Or maybe we'd just now be getting the prequels instead of Episode VII. Can you imagine them with J.J. at the helm? That could have been interesting.
But let's not think about what could have been. Let's think about what we have now, and we have a beautifully-done piece of cinema. The Force Awakens is a movie that I will count among my favorites of all-time and that I think I love more than the originals, even though you need all that backstory to really feel the tragedy that happens. I could have done with that moment going a different way, but a movie that makes me have a feeling that powerful is a very special one. This is the one that really turned me into a fan who will never again forget how special this galaxy far, far away is.
Now I see the beating heart that those prequels were missing, which was snuffed out during a lightsaber duel with a thrust through the chest of my favorite Jedi. The original trilogy was grittier and had more substance and a wonderful twist. The Force Awakens goes back to the sensibilities of the first movies. There was a great range of emotion in this sequel, some of that being a reaction to just seeing Han and Leia again, still alive and 30-plus years older and wiser. (It's sometimes strange to think of our actors aging with us, seeing that frailty of life in front of us. But damn if Harrison Ford doesn't still look great. And people are actually being asses to Carrie Fisher for how she looks now? What disrespectful idiots.)
The Force Awakens respects the past while paving a way for the future while being on much firmer footing than the previous three installments. There were many parallels with and homages to the wider world of the series, which makes it feel real and lived-in, like the rusting AT-AT in the desert of Jakku or threatening someone with throwing them in a trash compactor. Then there was one point where I immediately thought of Qui-Gon and how he went out, and another reminiscent of the end of Serenity, with two characters, who had been through so much, sitting in the cockpit of a spaceship, solemnly starting a new chapter.
The Force Awakens is a fascinating reinvigoration of Star Wars and J.J. Abrams, as always, was a choice that I didn't doubt. The new characters of Rey, Finn, Poe and BB-8 can absolutely take the burden that was too heavy for Anakin and Padme. Oh, my goodness, BB-8. What a hilarious and sweet character. This little soccer ball with a head didn't say one real word but stole so many moments, like the scene with the thumbs up. Just like R2-D2, BB-8 is a robot with huge personality. This movie was terrifically fun and funny, had well-drawn characters that felt like real people, and it was also quite devastating. It's amazing when a movie can do that and make it all look effortless.
Speaking of effortless, I've never had more admiration for Harrison Ford. I was reminded that he's one of my favorite people. I was so enthralled with Indiana Jones when I was younger that I'm surprised I didn't set up a shrine in my room. How did I ever forget that? There were a few scenes in The Force Awakens when Harrison said everything there was to say with just his eyes, the emotions raw on his face. Every moment was genuine, both in writing and acting, with how people talk and their attitudes even in dark times, and that's why it all worked so well. Humor goes a long way to making me love characters and breaking down my defenses.
The Force Awakens deserves every bit of its $781 million domestic haul and more than $1.6 billion worldwide. (As I was writing this today, the totals were updated to $812 million and $1.73 billion!) Now I'm really, really looking forward to VIII, IX and the spin-offs. Though, I wonder if any of the rest will touch this one in my affections for being both so hilarious and so sad. I don't really want sad, but if it's done well then it can be superb and The Force Awakens was absolutely that.
So, now what do I do with this rekindled love? Pre-order the heck out of the Blu-ray, I'm thinking. And, also, bring you all the fun things when I can, like t-shirts and these wonderful posters. I really want them all to put on my walls, but my walls are completely covered. I'm sure there will be one I can't live without at some point and I'll decide that one of my other posters can come down for a while. I have a lot of Fringe. Normally, I wouldn't even think of doing that, but that was another Abrams project, so I'm thinking it wouldn't mind. There are so many great artists making fantastic designs.