Warning: This will contain spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Read the non-spoiler review of the movie here.
Okay, everyone who has seen the movie should read this. Everyone who hasn't, well, you've been warned.
So, what did I think of the movie?
Well, I think it was extremely good and I admire a lot of the bold choices it made. Unfortunately, I think it wasn't quite as bold as it could have been. Much of the movie is a rehash of A New Hope with the entirety of the Death Star plot being grafted onto what was already a perfectly serviceable film about finding Luke Skywalker.
|I love the bromance between these two.|
The premise of the movie is General Leia Organa Solo (Carrie Fisher) has sent out pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to seek out Luke Skywalker. Along the way, he's captured by new villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Rescued by a defecting Imperial Stormtrooper, Finn (John Boyega), the pair steal a TIE fighter and crash-land on the planet Jakku with droid B-88.
Meeting mysterious scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), they need to dodge the dangerous First Order and deliver the map to Luke Skywalker's location back to the Resistance. There's a lot more going on such as the Empire's new superweapon and the return of several old favorites. Explosions happen. A lot of explosions. Lightsabers. Pew-pew!
Then we discover Kylo Ren is Han Solo and Princess Leia's son.
Kylo Ren betrayed the Jedi Order and helped Supreme Leader Snoke destroy it. This ends Han Solo and Princess Leia's marriage as well as drives Luke Skywalker into exile, looking for the First Jedi Temple. Then he kills Han Solo. Kylo Ren is defeated by Rey, who is revealed to be force-sensitive. The Resistance also destroys the Empire's new superweapon a.k.a Starkiller Base but not before it blows up the New Republic's capital. The movie ends with Rey meeting with Luke Skywalker and the two sharing a meaningful look.
The Starkiller Base is a pretty cool concept I really enjoyed with the whole idea of, essentially, building a gigantic gun in the middle of a planet rather than attempting to do a whole space-station. I also like the fact they manage to one-up Grand Moff Tarkin by destroying the New Republic capital. Unfortunately, this last bit is completely underplayed and deserved a lot more attention. I thought Coruscant was destroyed before double-checking and the fact it wasn't is kind of a disappointment.
|I still love you Princess Leia! Don't tell my wife!|
I don't have a problem with Han Solo dying, really, because I think he died a hero's death. Han attempted to reach his son's humanity and did so knowing it probably wasn't going to work. It's a more noble and honorable death than dying blowing up the latest Death Star substitute. Both Chewbacca and Leia have suffered worse losses with the former being a slave while the latter lost her entire planet (not to mention her son) but I imagine both of them are tormented on the inside.
The character of Kylo Ren a.k.a Ben Solo is one I've made mention of being one I consider to be thoroughly hateable but I suspect this is something which will divide fans a great deal. There's a sharp divide between the people who think Kylo Ren is going to be redeemed and those who think he's going to die unrepentant in a traitor's death. The fact he's very similar to the character of Darth Caedus (Jacen Solo), who was damned despite a redemptive death, is interesting despite the fact I believe Kasdan when he says it's just a coincidence.
Personally, I always thought becoming Darth Caedus was the worst thing which ever happened to Jacen Solo and may have been the thing which killed my interest in the Expanded Universe but Kylo Ren is an interesting character. I think it's because he was designed to be a corrupted corrosive figure from the get go. I also like how he's such a complete contrast to Anakin Skywalker.
|The Resistance is pretty cool. Albeit, not as cool as the First Order.|
I'm 50-50 on whether or not they're setting up a story of redemption for the entitled little bastard but I'm personally hoping either he dies saving Rey or chooses the Dark Side voluntarily. I don't think I really could be comfortable with Kylo Ren getting away with all of his crimes, especially as he butchers an entire village of pacifists in the beginning. It's not even as if he is motivated by a desire to bring order to the galaxy, he just wants to be cool and evil like his grandpappy: a man who realized he was a pathetic loser on Palpatine's cybernetics table and was tormented every day of his life by self-loathing until his death.
So what did I think of everything else?
I think Rey is almost 90% certainly Luke Skywalker's daughter. Forget the physical resemblance, forget the fact she has Luke as well as Anakin's skill set, forget the fact we have Kylo Ren abnormally interested in her, and the fact she's force-sensitive enough to beat a wounded Dark Jedi. No, what really sells me is the fact Rey is a figure who completes the story beats of setting up the dual legacies of Anakin and Luke Skywalker.
Kylo Ren is trying to fulfill the legacy of his grandfather while Rey is a potential heir to Luke's honorable path. I also think the fact Luke Skywalker lost his child in the massacre of the temple, only for her to return to him as an adult is an excellent source of drama for Episode VIII. The fact Anakin Skywalker and Luke's lightsaber calls to her all but seals the deal for me.
|The First Order throws some kickass parades.|
No, he would HUG HER TO DEATH WITH A WOOKIEE HUG then take her to Leia for more Wookiee hugs. Also, the movie is setting us up for a big confrontation between Rey and Luke Skywalker as the beginning of Episode VIII. We would have had the big emotional beat between Not-Jaina and her parents much earlier. Now we can never have that kind of reaction between Han and Not-Jaina.
As for the performances of John Boyega and Oscar Isaacs, I have to say both really brought their characters to life and I wouldn't at all be surprised if they along with Daisey Ridley were offered contracts akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make movies for the foreseeable future. Heck, with the Star Wars Anthology movies, I'm still hoping Ewan McGreggor and Hayden Christensen are willing to do a live action Clone Wars movie.
Ewan is a great actor and Hayden is a better one than his Anakin performance would have you believe (there's only so much you can do with, "I hate sand" people). I bought all their characters and, even more so, I wanted to spend time with them the way I did with the original power trio of Han, Luke, and Leia.
|Star Wars: The Apology, predicted in 2009.|
The First Order is akin to North Korea with better weapons and supply chains, a place where reality and ideology do not have to mix in the slightest. The fact they make use of child-soldiers and have a 30-year-old military commander shows just what a pathetic sham they've built around themselves.
But who is Snoke? I've heard a lot of theories like he's Darth Plagueis or the Grand Inquisitor from Star Wars: Rebels. My personal theory is I'm hoping he's nothing more or less than an alien from the Unknown Regions who just so happens to be a practitioner of the Dark Side. It's a big universe and while I want Rey to be the daughter of Luke Skywalker, I think we can safely retire the Sith if we have folk like the Knights of Ren to replace them.
|A picture of Rey because why not?|
I would say I'm a little miffed that Han, Leia, and Luke have had such rough lives post-Endor but that's on Kylo Ren. They established thirty years of galactic peace and while things ended poorly between Han and Leia, they show they still loved one another. Indeed, Han Solo died trying to prove how much he loved both his wife as well as wayward son.
The survivors of the original trilogy are heroes, though, and they'll roll with the punches in future movies. I also think their lives are mostly better off than they were in the Legends continuity. Doubly so if Kylo Ren can be brought back from the Dark Side after something so monstrous.
In conclusion, I really recommend The Force Awakens and it's opened up a lot of interesting avenues for further works to expound on. I want to know the answers to my questions and that's always good for a franchise as robust as Star Wars.