Saturday, December 19, 2015

Another Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review & Fan Girl Meltdown


Some warnings:
  1. This blogged review is packed with spoilers. Please, please don't read it if you haven't seen the movie. Even if you don't intend to see the movie, don't read, because you'll say something later to someone who hasn't seen it and you will FREAKIN' SPOIL THE MOVIE. And that's just total dark side stuff right there.
  2. I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. HUGE. The original trilogies were MY LIFE from the time I saw A New Hope until Return of the Jedi came out. I would recite the first two movies on family car trips, under my breath, as scenery rolled by. I skipped the last day of high school to see the first showing of Return of the Jedi in Evansville, Indiana - the nearest theatre showing it to my hometown of Henderson, Kentucky. I would watch A New Hope over and over and over when it came on HBO, and my mother would beg me, no, not again, Jayne, please, not again... I had the albums from all three movies - yes, I had the soundtracks, but I also had the albums where clips from the movie were used to tell the entire stories of each movie on one LP each. When I interviewed for a job in 1997, I said, "Oh, one thing: I'll have to have the day off when tickets for the new Star Wars movie go on sale, and another day off when the movie premieres. That will be in 1999, and I'm not sure of the exact date yet, but it's not negotiable - I have to have those days off." So sad that I hated the prequels with every fiber of my being. But I still have a life-sized, cardboard Han Solo that lurks behind me during conference calls from my home office, I still have two Star Wars-related posters framed and up in my home (it's art, dammit!), and there's a Han Solo tree ornament right beneath my Flying Spaghetti Monster tree topper. Always. 
So, knowing those two points, here are my reviews of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

Quick review: far better than the prequels, better than Return of the Jedi, but still not as good as A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back - but nothing can be, so, well done!

Extended reviews: I went to see the movie in Portland with one of my best friends from high school who just happens to be living in the same part of the world as me all these years later, and his lovely family. I just need to give that shout out. I had expected to see the movie all by myself - what a treat to see it with family.

Also, I burst into tears as soon as "A long time ago.... " came on the screen. But I did that for the first prequels too, so.... I was still worried.

The film: I thought it was terrific. Not absolutely great, but very good - the prequels aren’t even close to the league this film is in. It was so nice to have the FUN back in a Star Wars movie! I’m so glad Lucas was NOT involved.

I’m really intrigued by how deliberately derivative the plot is - my theory as to why that is is that JJ and Kasdan are going to try to resolve a bunch of stuff Lucas did NOT in Episodes IV - VI, like Yoda saying to Luke, “If you leave now, help them you could; but you would destroy all for which they have fought, and suffered.” There's a method to this derivative madness, and I'm going with it.

LOVED Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn - perfectly cast - and loved those two characters oh so very much. I can’t wait to watch them through two more movies, and I don't just mean for a romance! I'm so intrigued by the character of Finn. He's entirely original, and very much needed in this universe: a storm trooper who realizes what he's being asked to do and decides, um, NO. A true rebel. And no special powers, just sensibility and heart. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that. A friend said this, and it's stuck with me: "I'm so ready to see Rey's backstory and, although I know Finn is supposed to be infatuated with her, I'm kind of on the fence about her having any type of love story. I hope she is the Luke of this trilogy rather than the Leia." I so get that.

I was stunned that Han Solo was a primary character and in much of the movie - I thought he’d be just a cameo. Yes, even though he's been marketed front and center, I still thought he'd have maybe 15 minutes in the film.

Way to go, Carrie Fisher - you are still Leia. I was skeptical you could do it. I so stand corrected. You aren't a Princess - you are a Goddess.

I’m confused by Maz Kanata - I’ll be interested to hear how this female Yoda came to be with a magical basement in her bar. That whole thing felt out of nowhere, so I hope to get some backstory in the next film.

Only one thing I couldn’t quite get my head around: when Kylo Ren took his helmet off, I had to stop myself from saying out loud, “What in the hell is Severus Snape doing in this movie?!?” I don't think he looked like the son of Han and Leia. He looked like the child I would have with Alan Rickman. Oh, wait, I've said too much... Rey, on the other hand - wow, if she isn't their child, I'll be stunned.

And, my joke as the credits rolled: My god, how did Mark Hamill remember all his lines?!? Seriously: I am on the edge of my seat to see him in the next film!!! The ending of this movie was EPIC AND PERFECT!!!! Loved hearing a "Noooo!" from behind me when the credits started.

This movie was completely free of midichlorians, and for that, I think we're all thankful.

But there is a DARK SIDE to the whole showing: someone spoiled the big moment in the movie before I saw it. I had vowed to stay off of Facebook as of Thursday morning and not go on it until after I saw the film on Friday, and I turned off all interviews about and previews of the movie on TV in an effort to remain spoiler free. I hate spoilers. I hate not getting to experience surprises in a film. But on Wednesday, some asshole - probably a guy - wrote this comment on a Facebook page story that had nothing to do whatsoever with Star Wars - like, something on the National Geographic page or something about Yellowstone or whatever: "Han Solo is killed by his own son." I read the sentence before I realized what it was. So someone just went around to random Facebook pages that had nothing to do with Star Wars and wrote that just to ruin people's experience. WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT?! What kind of person gets off on just robbing people of an experience? A psychopath. The things I hope happen to you cannot be written on this blog for fear of being arrested for making a threat.

So, other than THAT total dick move...

I had a wonderful experience watching the movie. The FUN of Star Wars is BACK!!

Postscript: All of the things I was worried about on my way to the theater in Portland to see Star Wars yesterday: My bus breaking down, that while on the train we could come to standing water on the tracks and, therefore, we couldn't proceed, that a homeless person in Portland would pee on me (always worried about that), that the second bus I took after the train would break down, that even MORE people would spoil MORE plot surprises before I got to the movie, that Gregg would announce he and his family had already seen the movie at a special screening and they'd just drop me off at the theater on my own, that my online ticket would be rejected at the box office, that projection break down, that there would be a power outage, and that there would, at some point, be mention of midichlorians. ‪#‎firstworldfears‬

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