Thursday, December 17, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

We arrived at the movie theater to see this about an hour and forty minutes early. Much to our surprise, there was no line outside the theater. But it wasn't because we were the first ones there: it was because the movie was already seating. We were there for the first show, the 7 PM, and apparently AMC made the call there was really no point scheduling anything on that screen beforehand. Can't say I blame them: for all intents and purposes, there's only one movie in theaters this weekend.

In case you're wondering, I'm not relaying the exciting adventures of me and Lindsay sitting in a theater for an hour and a half because it builds to some sort of fascinating story; I'm doing it because Facebook and Google+ automatically drop the first paragraph in along with the link. All of this is mainly to fill space to make sure no spoilers accidentally wind up in anyone's feed.

Which is, among other things, a roundabout way of stating that there will be spoilers in this review. Because what could I possibly have to say about this movie that doesn't contain spoilers? I mean, sure, I could tell you that you should rush out to the theater and see it as soon as you possibly can, but I'd be wasting your time. Even if this wasn't trending towards 95% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, you'd probably be planning to see it. Hell, you've probably already got tickets.

I will say that I don't think spoilers will actually hurt this movie. I went in with a pretty good idea what was going to happen in this thing, and that's from early plot leaks a year or more old. Honestly, I'm glad I knew what to expect, because... because....

The because is a spoiler, actually. So - last chance if you're reading this without having seen the movie.

...because the plot sucks.

No, really. The plot of The Force Awakens is horrible. All they did was reuse the one from Star Wars. It's essentially a remake where they're using the Force to imply a mystical reason for the past repeating itself, when it's obvious the real reason's that the folks behind this are just huge Star Wars nerds.

I'm glad I knew this going in, because it made it all the easier to get past it. Because, at the end of the day, I don't give a womp rat's ass that they rehashed A New Hope. A decent story barely made the top ten list of things I wanted from this movie, and they nailed more than enough of the items above it.

Including #1. The deviation I most wanted from this was something we've never gotten from this franchise, at least in the movies: a great female protagonist. If we're doing the "hero's journey" thing again, I want a heroine. And the reason I want this is selfish and simplistic: it's because I am bored as hell of watching almost indistinguishable young white men go through the same adventures with minor alterations.

When it comes to Star Wars, story is a minor trifle, but characters are immensely important. And, in Rey, we get the single best POV character the franchise has ever offered. I'm not going to go into too much detail on this, because this is something I don't want ruined for anyone.

Likewise, I'm not going to tell you too much about Finn, Poe, Maz Kanata, or Kylo Ren.... Especially not Ren. What's going on with his character is pitch-perfect: I'm thrilled with the choices they made. These characters - and the actors bringing them to life - are what Star Wars needs to carry the legacy forward for another generation.

Supporting them are the core characters from the original. Well, mostly just Han and Chewie, though Leia gets some good scenes, and Luke... Luke grew a beard.

It's great to see these characters, really - the audience I saw the movie with applauded when each appeared. The only thing that might have been better would have been maybe not having them in the movie. Honestly, it wasn't their movie, and I'd have preferred more time with the new characters. But that's a plot issue, and we already established how big of a deal that is.

Throughout the movie, there was a voice in my head that kept noting whenever something stupid happened, when characters were randomly thrown together to move the story along or when they devoted massive amounts of time and money to set up an unnecessary homage. I never stopped spotting them, but I never really cared.

Because of the music. And the action. And the adventure. And the amazing character moments that spun into even more amazing character arcs.

I can see the flaws here, but I still love every minute of this movie.

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