The Force Awakens
I mean come on they just remade the original
11th January 2016
Warning, spoilers, blah, blah, blah.
The cinematic event of the year, and possibly the decade. That's what they hailed it as. Because apparently nobody learned from The Phantom Menace that rebooting franchises doesn't always work.
That's not to say that The Force Awakens is anywhere close to being the disaster that was Episode I. In fact, it's a very good and very enjoyable film. It successfully introduces a whole host of new characters to the franchise that are interesting, well-rounded and believable (save for one or two moments of typical Star Wars silliness, but that's where the Fiction part of Science Fiction comes in).
But the fact remains that it's essentially a shot-for-shot remake of Episode IV. A New Hope still stands head and shoulders above the rest of the Star Wars films. The special effects still hold up weirdly well almost 40 years later and it manages to tell a story exceptionally well. So, I can see why they decided to emulate the Episode IV model, but what I'm disappointed in is that they essentially decided to ride the nostalgia train non-stop for almost 136 minutes.
Luke Skywalker's replacement is Rey, who - like Anakin Skywalker in Episode I - is a slave with a weirdly large amount of freedom to go and do pretty much whatever she wants. She lives on a planet eerily similar to Tatooine and survives off of scrap material that she can trade for food tokens. She comes into contact with a droid who has secret information vital to the Resistance (read: Rebel Alliance) in their struggle against a mysterious Empire-like organisation known as 'The First Order'. They are building a giant space weapon that kind of looks like Halo that is capable of destroying multiple planets at once. Soon after, Rey meets a mental old man who trains her to follow in her footsteps.
Does this sound familiar?
This mental old man is none other than Han Solo rather than Obi Wan Kenobi. He sees a lot of himself (and possibly Luke) in Rey, and after his - shall we say difficult - relationship with his son he wants someone else to follow after him. These paternal relationship difficulties manifest in the form of a Sith lord who would rather be like dear old Grandpa Vader than his actual father.
Due to the fact that The Force Awakens is basically a remake of A New Hope, it's sensationally obvious within the first hour, like Obi Wan before him, Solo will die, tragically, at the hands of the villain of the piece.
That being said, I'm a big fan of Kylo Ren in general. So much is made of the dark side being full of anger, hate, and fear, but although young Anakin shows this, Darth Vader is in fact a pretty chill guy for the most part. He gets mildly annoyed sometimes and his punishments of choking people may be a tad harsh, but he keeps it in control. Ren gets truly fucking pissed. He is almost a petulant child, but it's a side of the Sith that hasn't really been seen often enough. He has inner struggles before killing his father and is clearly a much more complex character than just 'evil'. The emperor's replacement, Snoke, is currently a bit of an enigma, which is promising for the continuation of the series.
Ignoring the fact that the film essentially spoils itself, the train of nostalgia is ridden a little too far throughout, which is a crying shame because both Rey and Finn are incredibly well-written and performed by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. Perhaps it is just impossible for this film to live up to the insane hype that it has received and I'll enjoy it more on further watches but I don't think it was better than any of the original trilogy. And I'm not sure, but I might even prefer Sith. 'better than The Phantom Menace and Clones' doesn't sound very good, in my head.
Anyway, I digress. I'm glad Han Solo is gone, because now we can focus on the new characters without being held back by the 73-year old trying to squeeze every penny out of the franchise before he dies. I'm looking forward to seeing the new characters build further, especially under the training of Yoda - I mean, Luke.