So here it is, our final entry in our look back at the epic Star Wars saga. Thank you so much for reading and supporting this series of articles. Everyone involved has had a blast doing it and we hope to do something similar in the future. I also want to personally thank the writers who contributed to the series. Thank you, guys! You all did a great job. Now all that’s left is to see the new movie! I know I have my tickets to Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi! May The Force Be With You…
Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens Written by Paul Wright
We never thought it would happen. A promise 40 years in the making. The fabled final 3rd act in an epic 9 part Saga. We knew that Anakin and The Republic’s story in the prequels would ultimately, inevitably end in tragedy. Now a new, uncharted story awaited us…
I don’t remember when I realized “This is really going to happen. We are getting the final 3 films.”. As I’ve always said seeing Star Wars films have always been deeply personal experiences for me and I was thrilled that as I entered a new chapter in my own life that I’d get to share in The Star War Saga with my friends and family once again. They thrilled me as a kid with the re-released Special Editions, The Prequels illicit many fond memories from my high school and college years, but now I’d get to experience the Saga as an adult. It’s a great feeling.
I do remember the excitement leading up to The Force Awakens. I remember that first incredible teaser released over a year before the film opened. Man, if there’s one thing Star Wars is incredible at, it’s the art of teaser trailers: Andy Serkis’ voice over. A panicked looking stormtrooper, a droid shaped like a ball, a girl on a big speeder, and of course a snow cover landscape with a dark figure unsheathing a red lightsaber with a cross guard. Then… BOOM The Millenium Falcon being chased by tie fighters. The trailer said “Here’s something new, but it’s continuing the story you love.” The idea of watching the fall of the Jedi and Anakin Skywalker’s decent into Vader was interesting (at least on paper). But there were a lot of questions left unanswered after Return of The Jedi and all our key characters were still in play. Finally we’d see that story.
As soon as I heard J.J. Abrams was the director, I knew we were in good hands. I remember him being interviewed for his first Star Trek movie and saying that he wasn’t a Star Trek fan, but Star Wars was why he became a film maker. In fact, if you look back on almost all of his work, he constantly brings up Star Wars as his reason for being a film maker. Personally, I think he did a hell of a job. The worst thing that could have happened would have been if The Force Awakens was… fine. Just a movie, just OK. Terrible is better than “OK” in a strange way. But he didn’t do that, he made a Star Wars film and one of the great Star Wars films at that. Yes the film has it’s flaws, but the movie is exactly what it needs to: a great start to a new trilogy.
What makes this movie work so well is its characters, both new and old. We all fell in love with Rey and Finn. Poe was cool enough, we’d see more from him in subsequent films. Kylo Ren gave us another truly great Star Wars villain. Everyone’s favorite Princess was now General Organa. In hindsight, I like what they did with Luke, it gave us that much more anticipation for the next Episode without being a true cliffhanger. But the man who stole the show was the smuggler who made The Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs…
There are so many things I could bring up and analyze with this film, but today I’m going to focus on one aspect a little more than the others: The Solo family (mainly Han and Kylo Ren AKA Ben Solo.
One of my favorite parts of this film is how Han Solo is portrayed and especially how Harrison Ford plays him. It’s been no secret that Ford has no great love for the Star Wars franchise. I was surprised he agreed to do The Force Awakens, but I think it was a great idea for Ford as an actor. He’s alive in this character and in this film in a way we hadn’t seen him in far too long. It was like, Holy shit, Harrison Ford… its good to have you back. This was not the Han Solo of the Original Trilogy. The thirty years had changed him, this was a man with more depth and perspective than the cowboy smuggler we new and loved. But the cowboy smuggler was still there.
This films biggest weakness is it’s plot. As so many other have said, when it comes to the story, it might as well be a remake of A New Hope. But in one of my favorite scenes of the film, when Han, Chewie, Finn, and Rey are on The Millenum Falcon, that “weakness” actually helps the movie to give us one hell of a great character moment:
Han Solo: This map’s not complete. It’s just a piece. Ever since Luke disappeared, people have been looking for him.
Rey: Why did he leave?
Han Solo: He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice, turned against him, destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible. He just walked away from everything.
Finn: Do you know what happened to him?
Han Solo: A lot of rumors. Stories. People that knew him best think he went looking for the first Jedi temple.
Rey: The Jedi were real?
Han Solo: I used to wonder about that myself. Thought it was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. A magical power holding together good and evil, the dark side and the light. Crazy thing is… it’s true. The Force. The Jedi… All of it… It’s all true.
What’s wonderful about this scene is that it brings Han’s story full circle. 40 years ago he stood in almost the same spot and called The Force bullshit to Ben Kenobi. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to point out how significant it was that Han and Leia chose to name their son Ben. This goes back to that new depth to Han that I spoke about before. I think that naming his son Ben was almost certainly Han’s idea, not Leia’s. Leia knew him more as the fabled General Obi-Wan Kenobi The Jedi warrior who fought in The Clones Wars, Han was the one who knew him as Ben in the short time they spent in each other’s lives. This tells the audience that the massive impact Old Ben Kenobi had on his life, was not lost on Han. This old man who Han dismissed as a fool set Han on the path that would define him. The path that led him to everything in his life that mattered. They spend such little time on screen together that fans forget how important Han Solo meeting Obi-Wan Kenobi was. But Han didn’t forget.
Ben Solo AKA Kylo Ren played brilliantly by Adam Driver has the potential to be one of the most complicated, interesting, and best characters in the Saga. As far as I’m concerned he’s already great. But depending on where the story takes him, by the end of the trilogy, he could become iconic. I always felt like this was how Anakin should have been portrayed in the prequels. What made Kylo Ren unique was his struggle not with the dark side, but with his better nature.
That was take on a dark force user that we hadn’t seen before. He saw the light as something tempting him off his path, where the dark side was so easy to slip onto for so many others.
I knew Harrison Ford would die in this movie the second I’d heard he signed on. There was no way he was going to stick around for two more films (they’re lucky they got him for this one). So I knew walking into the theatre, that’d we’d probably be saying goodbye to one of the most beloved characters in cinematic history.
As death’s of legendary characters go, it’s fine I suppose. Killed by his son and falling into an abyss. I still don’t know if Ben Solo intended to kill his father no matter. Had Ben Solo known what he was going to as soon as Han stepped onto that catwalk. Was Han getting through to him or was this the only way that confrontation could play put? I think there was doubt there in Ben Solo. The Dark and The Light inside of him pushing and pulling. Who knows? Unfortunately we all know the choice he makes…
Will he find some sort of redemption like his grandfather did? Does he even deserve redemption?
In the end, what makes The Force Awakens a great chapter in the Star Wars Saga is the magic. It manages to tap into the moments of wonder, the excellent characters, and excitement that make a great Star Wars movie. The stage has been set for Episode VIII. I hope The Last Jedi is The Empire Strikes Back of the new trilogy. All I know is that I can’t wait to visit this world and these characters again.
May The Force Be With You…
(To my female readers.. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it)