By Charly SHELTON
Finally. After years of waiting and hoping, a decent “Star Wars” film has awakened. Last weekend was filled with hype and rushing to try and get the last tickets available in each showing just to see JJ Abrams lend his hand to directing the second biggest franchise of all time (second only to Marvel movies). If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read any further. I will try to limit how many spoilers I give, but some are unavoidable.
SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!
Okay. “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” is shockingly similar to “A New Hope.” A kid from a desert planet who, unbeknownst to the kid, is sensitive in the Force, finds a droid with a map that will change the tide of the rebellion against the evil group of oppressors and stormtroopers, led by a dark lord of the Sith in all black and a really cool helmet, making his voice super deep. They find their way aboard the Millenium Falcon. A wise older character explains the Force a little bit and says they need to get this map to the rebellion, only to find that the bad guys find them first. After a daring rescue attempt, they rejoin the rebellion and give the plans over. They all stand around a holo-table and plan how they are going to blow up the bad guys’ mobile planet with a laser that can destroy another planet. They have to break in and disable the shield and rescue the female lead. As they are leaving, the wise older character we all really liked is killed by someone who used to look up to him and love him. Then they blow up the bad guys’ mobile planet with a bunch of X-Wings flying through a laser canyon, and everyone is happy.
There are other sub plots and changes. Planet instead of space station. Son instead of father. Space map instead of Death Star map. But other than that, it is basically a retooled Episode IV. Not that it’s necessarily bad, but just largely unoriginal. With so many stories in the “Star Wars” universe and so much that JJ Abrams and Disney have decided to discard from the lore, I was hoping for something new. Before the film came out, it was announced that all of the books and games that for so long existed in the “Star Wars” canon would not be recognized any longer and the only canon materials are the six films and the animated TV shows. To throw away all of that possible source material and just remake “A New Hope” is lazy on the part of Disney.
That being said, I enjoyed the film. I know it’s just a remake but when Abrams remade “Star Trek: Wrath of Khan” all of those nerds got to be happy so I want my moment in the light. There was no Jar Jar Binks or any equivalent. Daisy Ridley, the new female lead, is really cute and a good actor. There is a Millenium Falcon and X-Wings and stormtroopers and Luke Skywalker. It may have been derivative, but it was derivative of one of the coolest movies ever made. Just let me have this.
I have seen every “Star Wars” film on the big screen for the first time with my dad, from the re-release in the ’90s through the prequels and now this one. “Star Wars” is a torch passed from friend to friend, from nerd to nerd, from parent to child. These movies mean more than most. Not only are they part of our global culture, they are sacred experiences. So to have a movie like “Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” it feels like a slap in the face. “The Force Awakens” has something to it and, although it is basically an updated remake, it gives a new hope to our generation. And with a different writer and director for each episode, we will be getting a fresh take each time. This one was like “Star Trek Into Darkness.” “Episode VIII” (2017) will be directed and written by Rian Johnson, who did “Looper,” and “Episode IX” (2019) will be written by Johnson and directed by Colin Trevorrow, who did “Jurassic World.” Lots of different takes, so chances are at least one will be great.
I am a “Star Wars” fan, like my father before me. This film is important to me, and my hope is that it will restore balance to the series, healing the old wounds of the past trilogy and moving into a brighter future. It’s on you now, Rian. “Episode VIII” had better blow us away like “Empire Strikes Back” did.