Total shock: the new Star Wars is fun for all

This is me eating crow and being delighted to do so.

My wife and and I took our kid to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night, and I went fully armed with my skepticism because, ya know, JJ Abrams and ruined Star Trek franchise and lens flare and women losing their clothes while playing bit parts as men do everything heroic. I predicted, possibly at length, that we were about to witness Abrams ruining a second epic franchise, but at least this wouldn’t be so awful since there wasn’t much left to ruin after George Lucas destroyed it with the Prequels That Must Not Be Named.

BUT! Either someone really reined JJ Abrams in, or he had some far better writers/advisors, or someone gave him some good drugs. Because this Star Wars is great fun for boys and girls. It has two separate hero arcs for two separate heroes: one is a young man finding both his courage and the right side to fight for, while the other takes the more traditional hero journey of a lonely young scrapper discovering her hidden powers, leaving her narrow, circumscribed life, and joining a fight far larger than she ever imagined.

We really enjoyed it. It was great fun, with (intentional!) humor and fantastic action sequences, gorgeous settings, and real honest-to-goddess acting. Also: nothing even close to Jar Jar Binks or Ewoks. You will of course be required to check all scientific awareness at the door, which I mostly did happily, though I still choked at the idea of draining the entirety of a star’s energy into a sphere the size of a planet (with a living forest and snow on top, no less). I also had to consciously suppress any mental calculations about how long it would take to slow a ship to below the speed of sound after entering a planet’s atmosphere at the speed of light while somehow avoiding being turned into a paste dripping down the inside front windshield. (Never mind the calculations on how a ship could hit a planetary atmosphere at the speed of light and not become an instant and spectacular ball of ionized gas.)

But those moments aside…this was fun. Just fun. I want to see it again if only to admire the amazing sets and action pieces. And can I just say how utterly, wonderfully fabulous it is that after six damn movies, Star Wars finally gave us a heroine?*

This film erases the painful, slow motion disaster that was the prequels, or Episodes I, II and III if you’ve never quite grasped that the prequels came after the originals (I never have). For the first time since The Phantom Menace made us all throw our popcorn at the screen in 1999, I am looking forward to a Star Wars sequel.

* (Yes, yes, I know: Queen Amidala. She had such promise early on, but then turned into a two-dimensional plot device whose only purpose was to provide a reason for Anakin to go to the Dark Side, pop out two kids, and die. Daisy Ridley’s character of Rey does more in the first half of The Force Awakens than Amidala did in three movies.)

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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8 Responses to Total shock: the new Star Wars is fun for all

  1. Manuel Padilha says:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-film-starwars-women-analysis-idUSKBN0TX1J720151215
    Economics driven feminism?

    Thanks for the review. I’m watching it after Christmas and my predictions were very similar to yours. I feel I can relax a bit now 🙂

    • Fascinating. I don’t read those magazines, so was unaware…but one suspects that paving the path with dollars/euros is the only way feminism will ever make real progress.

      Enjoy your viewing!

  2. Joan Opyr says:

    Yay! I will now go to see it. After the miserable disappointment of the Hobbit movies — I loved LOTR, but the Hobbit franchise was worse than beating a dead horse; it was milking the dead Tolkien for plastic tchotchkes and T-shirt fodder — I have felt nothing but trepidation about The Force Awakens. Well, trepidation mixed with a strong sense of meh. But no more! Thanks for the new hope. (See what I did there?)

    • (I did see! Well done.)

      I should probably add that there is an occasional dose of corniness, and the swooping ending scene lasted about two minutes too long, and given that our protagonists were inside a weapon platform the size of a planet, they ran into each other with astonishing alacrity…but I’ll forgive a lot for the sheer fun and a woman getting to be a real hero. Carrie Fisher must be so jealous.

  3. Gailene says:

    To add to your earlier comment about feminism making progress, as an art and photography teacher (living in the Canadian coastal city that you visited this summer) who loves to give students a venue to pursue their areas of passion, creativity, interests…it ,meaning feminism, still stirs young women. Albeit, they often see and represent their viewpoints as injustice metered out to women and girls; but there is a driving awareness of gender inequality that still incites a call to action. It is heartening to say the least.

    Gailene

  4. Jacob Dugan-Brause says:

    Well, having finally dragged my husband and bears to see it in our favourite little cinema in all the UK (tickets £4, no less) must say we’ve lost hope with it all some way, long ago. This one didn’t bring me back in, sorry to say. Anyway, good on Disney and the great Hollywood script machine.

    Sigh. I’m okay. Move along…

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