9 Thoughts on “The Force Awakens”

21Dec15

I saw it, so here I am…

1.) It’s undoubtedly good. Let’s just get that out of the way: people looking to have fun at a fun movie are going to find that fun movie here. Not getting into the “artistry” or lack thereof (I’m not sure I can fully explain the weird paranoia surrounding that claim… but I do here), but I feel that’s the work of the Disney Movie Machine. They make good products, and this is clearly one of them. I’d maybe go so far as to say it is as well made or better than “The Avengers,” but that might be nostalgia speaking. But, really, most of the movie was designed for nostalgic purposes, so what are we saying here?

2.) Good Casting and Acting. This may be hollow praise, but “Awakens” is probably the best acted “Star Wars” movie to date. That’s kind of like saying you have the best pitching arm on your T-Ball team, but it doesn’t make it untrue. And not for nothing, but a lot of that is* simply showing up and appearing to have fun. Then to have actors give it a little extra oomph, and you really have something. Something more than the Prequels at the very least.

3.) My wife’s push. We are often running short on babysitters, and this week was full of played babysitter cards. So our viewing of “Awakens” was getting pushed back. My son (6 year old) claims to not enjoy “Star Wars” and was leery of watching he thought could be “scary.”

I was trying to think of other viewing strategies, but my wife simply pushed forward and made it OK for our son to come with us. We went to his favorite theater (the NoHo Laemmle, which is pretty good FYI), promised popcorn, and brought him a blanket so he could hide when he wanted. While he sat in her lap the whole time, he had a lot to enjoy. She made it happen for all of us.

Speaking of which…

4.) My 6-year-old son’s favorite moments. Based on me watching him react and talking to him after:

-Any time BB-8 was funny.

-Any time Han Solo was funny (which is a lot).

-Rey and Finn. He really enjoyed them, leading me to…

-The moment near the final battle where Rey calls the saber to her hand, he actually cheered. He has come out of the movie explaining to me that Rey is “better” (read: “more powerful”) than both Kylo Ren and Finn combined. So… score one for action heroines.

This leads me to…

5.) My 6-year-old son’s least favorite moments. 

-Any time BB-8 was in trouble (he’s very present and cannot see that there’s simply no way a movie with so much riding on a cute droid toy is going to destroy that toy in the first half of the movie).

-Rey’s nightmare (aka “The exposition/foreshadowing dream”).

-the trailer for “Beasts of No Nation.”

6.) My 6-year-old son’s FATHER’s favorite moments. Based on me:

-The Falcon Reveal

-the humor was actually funny (in fact, if you’d told me 10 years ago that there would be a “Star Wars” movie which got a legit laugh from the line “Droid, please,” I would have called a doctor for you).

-the fact that Han Solo is in a LOT more than just a cameo.

7.) My 6-year-old son’s Father’s least favorite moments. They’re nitpicks, really:

-Some parts were just set-ups for future movies, with no in-movie resolution. The Supreme Being (?), the way Moz mentions that she not only found a lightsaber that’s been lost for 30 years, but that she’ll tell us another time (…look, lady, you don’t have to tell me all the details, but it seems like the reason you found it is going to be really laborious).

-Some parts felt like dialog for the future video games. Especially Poe’s “We got a couple cannons up ahead that we have to take care of.” Do we? I mean… kudos for making the moment clear, and there’s something to say for setting up that Finn can’t just jump into a space machine and be instantly great at it, but… that line… it sounds like the pitch for the pre-boss level.

8.) Inevitable Batman-Rolling Stones Call-Out Moments! I think I enjoyed the Falcon reveal and the lots-of-Han facts partially because they remind me of Batman and the Rolling Stones.

The reveal of the Falcon feels very similar to the reveal of the Batmobile in the 1989 “Batman” movie. Both are money shots accompanied with an appropriate musical sting, and are preceded with a couple lines of set-up dialog. Of course, the Falcon gets the undersell (“The garbage one will do”) where the Batmobile gets a knowing “Had I known” sell (“Get in the car,” “Which one?”). I’m not big on cheering in the theater, but the Falcon’s reveal got a cheer out of me. I knew it was coming, I saw the set-up a mile away and I did not care.

The Rolling Stones reminder comes in the fact that I apparently enjoy watching old guys perform a young man’s game. While it’s probably debatable whether Harrison Ford “should” still be doing Han Solo things, I think it’s absolutely true that he is still capable of Harrison Ford acting magic. And really, that’s all Han Solo has been up to this point, so why wouldn’t it work? Same goes for the Stones: the best thing they do is be the Rolling Stones, so as long as they can do that — and as long as you ENJOY them being the Rolling Stones — they are going to be entertaining.

9.) Ranking. I’m sure many people will put “Awakens” above “ROTJedi,” but I am not one of those people. I was telling a friend that the Original Trilogy aren’t even movies for me at this point. They just exist as a piece of my personal history. The same reason I cannot watch one without the other two is the same reason I cannot separate them in a ranking of the movies. “Awakens” was always going to fight for fourth place, leaving the only mystery to be “Is it better than all of the Prequels, or all of the Prequels COMBINED.” I might just be. It’s the first modern “Star Wars” movie in 30 years. It’s fun and it feels kind of significant.

But if you like lists, and you just gotta know:

  1. Empire
  2. Star Wars
  3. Jedi
  4. Awakens
  5. Sith
  6. Phantom Menace
  7. Clones

*”Is?” Like I was there for all of these movies and I know how easy it was to make them. To the credit of the “Awakens” cast, they made it look pretty easy.

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2 Responses to “9 Thoughts on “The Force Awakens””

  1. Good breakdown. Love to hear what you and your son like.. So great that he likes Rey so much! Was you son OK with the death scenes? Those seem like they’d be tough.

    To add: Did they really build another Death Star that could be blown up by hitting the right spot outside? Did they really learn nothing from “grandfather?”

    Speaking of the X-wing stuff – What the hell were they up to? I’m sure a lot of details got cut for time, but doesn’t it seem like their mission is a bit ambiguous?

    Or maybe I just like Poe…

    -E

  2. The whole Death Star 3.0 thing is a little undercooked and underwhelming. I’ve been theorizing/apologizing that the way it went was this: Death Star 1.0 blows up. The Emperor announces plans to build DS 2.0. A fraction of extreme right-wing Imperials — the Tea Party of the Empire — say, “This Emperor isn’t doing enough to destroy entire planets! Let’s make an even BIGGER Death Star!!”
    If you think of them as Tea Party guys, then you can accept them as not the most enlightened bunch.


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