WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Once again, I find myself jumping onto the hype train super late. Whilst the world was collectively losing their minds over the release of a brand new Star Wars movie, I was sitting back reading spoilers online with only the mildest of interests. I was never a huge fan of Star Wars to begin with and, despite how good those trailers were, it wasn’t enough to get me on board.
Then, of course, the film came out and people would not stop going on about how good it was. Everyone from aging men who grew up watching the originals to little girls who were now made die-hard fans were praising it. I pretty much had to watch it now. And I did. It was amazing. Here are the reasons why.
1. The New Characters
Like I said, I heard a tonne about the new film before I got round to watching it, particularly concerning the new characters and how everybody seemed to love them. Having now seen it, I get it, because these… these are some good lead characters.
Firstly, we have Finn, the renegade Stormtrooper. Already, the concept of this character is interesting. For years, the Stormtroopers existed solely to serve as faceless goons that get cut down by the heroes. For the first time, one of them was actually being presented as a character (unless it’s been done before in the extended canon that was rendered defunct after Disney’s buy-out).
From the moment he appeared on screen, I was drawn to him. And he hadn’t even taken his helmet off. In that first scene where the Stormtroopers raid that village, we see one get killed. So? They’re just mooks. Why should we care? But then, we see Finn rush up to his fallen comrade; the dying trooper leaving a bloody handprint on Finn’s helmet. Despite not being able to see Finn’s face, we immediately see the effect this has on him. He’s suddenly disorientated. He sees the raid for what it is – bloody and cruel. He stumbles about; the sounds of blaster fire and screams becoming somewhat distorted. He can’t even bring himself to shoot the innocent civilians despite being ordered to. He immediately draws sympathy (even moreso when you learn that the Stormtrooper that died was someone he personally knew).
Once the helmet is off, his face says everything, and later scenes further extrapolate (and confirm what we kind of already knew). He has been raised to be a Stormtrooper. He has known nothing else and this battle was his first foray into the field, having spent most of his time doing janitorial duty. As a soldier, this should’ve been like an honour or something – to finally do something of worth for the First Order. But that’s not what happened. He got a taste of what the First Order is really all about and, deep down, he knows that it is wrong. His whole life has just been thrown into chaos and, at first, he doesn’t know how to cope.
Something that I really liked about Finn was that, when he decided to ditch the First Order, he didn’t do it with some plan to fight back; to make up for being connected to the atrocities that have been committed. He didn’t want to join the Resistance and fight; he just wanted to leave. He wanted to get as far away as he could, find some quiet corner of the galaxy and just wait it out. Is it cowardly? Arguably so, but, honestly, wouldn’t you do the same thing in his position? I probably would.
After his desertion, we see how out of depth he is. He’s socially awkward with both Poe and Rey, but not in a “super quiet and keeps himself to himself” way. If anything, he tries to be sociable, tries to be friendly and confident but does a poor job of it. Look at the scene where he and Rey try to escape on Jakku. He keeps grabbing her hand and dragging her behind despite her protests. She definitely doesn’t need the help but he does it anyway because, well, isn’t that what people do?
He’s almost like a big kid in terms of how he reacts to everything; the scene of him and Poe in the TIE fighter being a prime example. When they destroy the sentry guns, Finn can’t help but be excited, along with Poe. They start screaming like a couple of twelve-year olds playing Call of Duty or something (and trust me, I’ll get more into how cool Poe is later). And look at his face when Poe gives him his new name. He’s always just been a number but here was somebody willing to give him a proper name. You can see him processing this in his eyes; he can’t believe he now has a name and he immediately takes to it with utmost glee.
But the best part about Finn is his progression. At first, all he cares about is getting away. But then Rey, one of his only friends, gets captured. Despite the insurmountable odds, he proceeds to lie to the Resistance about his expertise concerning the Death Star 3 – I mean, the Starkiller Base – just to save her. He barely has a plan but he doesn’t care; he just wants his friend back, safe and sound. I absolutely love this brief exchange between him and Han.
“You sure you’re up for this?”
I love heroic characters – the kind of people who fight against evil no matter what the odds. But very rarely do these heroes admit to having fear. Finn, having just broken into an enemy base that has a weapon that he just saw vaporise, like, five planets at once to rescue his best friend, straight up admits that he is scared. And rightly so. But the film doesn’t mock him or condemn him for being scared. At the risk of getting personal here, true courage isn’t the absence of fear. True courage is about carrying on and doing what you want/need to do despite that fear. I just find it a lot more inspiring and it finally comes to a head when Finn finds himself face-to-face with a very angry Kylo Ren.
He’s on his own (Rey having just been knocked unconscious), in a dark forest, with nothing but a lightsaber that he has barely any experience with. He’s going up against a guy who’s not only proficient with said weapon, but also possesses a tremendous amount of Force power and really, really wants the lightsaber that Finn has. What does Finn do when Kylo demands he hand it over?
“Come get it.”
God, just thinking about it makes me go giddy with excitement. Granted, he doesn’t win the fight but give him props for even attempting and not getting killed within two seconds. So, in short, Finn’s awesome.
Next, Rey. Can I just quickly point out that I loved her introductory scenes? There’s no dialogue; it’s just presented to us. It was just so intriguing. I admit, my personal memories of the previous Star Wars films are hazy at best but I can’t recall a scene like it. It establishes who she is, what she does and it’s hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for her position, seeing her living on her own in an abandoned wreckage and eating what looks like the blandest soup ever. Even the brief moment of her putting on an old pilot’s helmet is humourous and charming (showing an almost child-like attitude) and a bit depressing.
For me, though, the worst part (at first) was when Rey tells BB-8 how she’s waiting for her family to come pick her up, adamant that they’ll come back. The moment she said that, I knew what had happened and her family, whoever they are/were, ain’t coming back. That’s the biggest tragedy of her character; she keeps deluding herself that they’ll return. She keeps saying how she needs to go back to Jakku, worried that she’ll miss them. On one hand, give her credit for believing it for so many years. It was probably the only thing that kept her going; the only thing that convinced her to wake up every morning. Come her meeting with Maz Kanata and she’s forced to admit that she’s been abandoned. You can see the internal struggle on her face. She knows it but doesn’t want to believe it; she can’t bear the thought. You just want to hug her and let her know it’ll all be okay. Even though it doesn’t when she starts to build her own family with Finn and Han, only for the former to be put into a coma and the latter to get killed.
Of course, this isn’t all to her. She’s also a badass, something that is repeatedly proven. She’s almost ferocious in battle; look at her face when she chases after Finn. At the same time, however, she has a soft heart, even if she’s not quite aware of it. She caves into BB-8’s pleas to take him in, refuses to hand him over to Unkar despite being offered probably more food than she’s ever seen and, despite a somewhat rocky start, finds a companion in Finn.
Plus, how can you not fall in love with her when she finds out that Luke Skywalker’s a real person? Or when she meets Han Solo? Her eyes light up like a kid on Christmas; the look of wonder and excitement on her face is perfect. I just love how she can go from fierce warrior to precious woman-child without it seeming disjointed.
I also want to address the claims some have made of Rey being a Mary Sue. For those not familiar with the term (which has changed somewhat since its inception), a Mary Sue is, essentially, a character (usually female) who is flawless. There can do no wrong, they have the perfect solution to every problem and all the characters (even their enemies) admire/respect/love them. Many have accused Rey of being as such and while there are instances where that argument can hold water, it’s for the most part unfounded because she isn’t perfect.
As I said earlier, she deludes herself into thinking her family is coming back for her. When confronted with the reality that she has been abandoned and told that she has a destiny to fulfill that involves Luke, she literally runs from it. She seems almost desperate to impress her peers and, in some instants, is presented with having some low self-esteem.
The only real instances of “Mary Sue-ness” come from her being able to pilot the Millennium Falcon, being able to use the Jedi Mind Trick and beating Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel. For the first, it’s explained in additional material that she used to sneak onto the Falcon and try out the flight simulators (which I do think should’ve been explained in the film) and for the second, she initially struggles and only succeeds through trial-and-error (plus that scene is awesome anyway).
As for that lightsaber fight, do these people not recall how out of her depth she was? She wielded the lightsaber like a staff, which looked incredibly clumsy and might’ve even got her killed at some instances. She spent most of the fight retreating from Kylo, who is easily superior to her on account of being more in-tune with the Force. Not to mention, he was emotionally unstable due to committing patricide only a short while ago and bleeding a bunch thanks to a gunshot to the stomach from Chewbacca. Had Kylo been in peak condition, Rey would’ve lost, which means their eventual rematch will be even more awesome when Kylo isn’t as vulnerable and Rey has received proper training.
Rey has all the hallmarks for a great protagonist – she’s likable, has plenty of depth and room for potential. So, yeah, she’s awesome too.
Despite not being in the film all that much, I feel like I should talk about Poe Dameron a little bit as well, if only because… God damn it, he’s such a nice guy! We’re used to seeing the cocky, attractive rebel with a devil-may-care attitude but I don’t think I’ve seen one that’s also just a massive sweetheart. I mean, let’s count the ways.
When Finn decides to break him out, Poe seems to immediately trust him. Granted, why would a Stormtrooper pretend to break him out just to trick him but he doesn’t know anything about Finn. Plus, a Stormtrooper growing a conscience seems unheard of given how the First Order reacts to Finn’s desertion. Not to mention, even though Finn’s primary reason for freeing Poe is because he needs a pilot, Poe doesn’t seem to mind. Hell, he’s the one that brings it up.
“Why are you helping me?”
“Because it’s the right thing to do.”
“…… You need a pilot.”
“I need a pilot.”
Then there’s the actual escape. Finn doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s never operated a weapon besides his blaster. But Poe calmly talks him through it. He explains how the TIE fighter guns work as best as he can. I mentioned it earlier, but that short scene in the TIE fighter manages to build a pretty tight friendship in only a few minutes. Again, Poe knows nothing about Finn but treats him like any good person would.
And when the two meet up again, not only is he relieved to see that Finn’s okay (and proceeds to vouch for him for the Resistance), he comments how Finn is wearing his jacket. Finn, without hesitation, is prepared to give it back but Poe tells him to keep it. It might not seem like a big deal to some but letting someone who you’ve really only known for less than an hour have an article of your clothing? That requires a high level of trust and faith. Poe’s probably had that jacket for years yet he’s willing to let Finn have it just because it looks good on him. That, and Finn’s probably never owned anything in his life. This is his first real item of clothing. I’m sorry, I think I might be tearing up slightly.
Even Poe’s interactions with BB-8 are sweet as sugar. We don’t really see the two interact too much but it’s apparent how much they mean to each other, with the two having a pretty heartfelt reunion after being separated for so long.
Speaking of BB-8, can I mention how incredible it is that the obvious R2-D2 replacement has not only been received phenomenally well but is now widely considered to be better than R2? I was pretty familiar with BB-8 before the film’s release but I didn’t expect to love him as much as I did.
Not to knock R2 or anything but it was amazing to see this tiny droid express so much emotion with just its movement and sound effects. You can’t understand what he’s saying; he doesn’t have a face to express emotions, yet you can always tell what BB-8 is thinking or feeling. There are so many little moments with him that just made me go “d’awwww,” from his following Rey like a lost puppy, that sad tilt he gives when he thinks Poe is dead, that freaking thumbs-up with the lighter – BB-8 is, ironically, one of the most human characters I’ve seen in a sci-fi film. The fact that he’s not CGI and is an actual robot probably helps too.
Finally, we come to the new antagonist, Kylo Ren himself. When I found out more about who he was as a character, I actually found myself getting very excited to see him. This Darth Vader wannabe was actually a whiny, piss-baby? Sign me up. I’ve developed something of a fascination with these kinds of characters – villains that present themselves as imposing, all-knowing, all-around better than you, only for them to be much more pathetic than you’d think.
Having now seen the film, while I don’t super-dee-duper love Kylo, he is still a great character to analyse. Darth Vader is undoubtedly a better villain but Kylo is more interesting. The film could’ve easily had a Darth Vader knock-off; a character created for the sole purpose of attempting to recapture the same dread Vader carried with him. But that would’ve backfired and the character would just be seen for what it clearly was.
Ironically, though, Kylo Ren represents that thought process. They couldn’t create a character like Vader, so why not make a character that’s desperately trying to be like Vader? Everything about Kylo screams Vader, to the point where some little kids actually still mistake Kylo for Vader.
It’s just oddly fascinating. When we first see Kylo, he has the intimidating prescence, the deep voice, the slightly off-putting helmet – his first scene shows him stop a laser bolt in MID-AIR! We wonder what lurks behind the mask. After all, Vader wore one not only to hide his disfigured face, to conceal his humanity, but also as a breathing apparatus. Then Kylo takes his off and we see… a normal face. A young man who looks like he’s barely in his mid-20’s. He literally dresses like Vader to look cool. It even extends to his lightsaber in a way (though the cross-guard proved to actually be useful later).
Some might say that this reveal is disappointing but I disagree. Granted, the same thing happened with Vader. The prequels showed that this powerful, threatening force was once a whiny brat whose fall to the Dark Side was more stupid than tragic. With Kylo, they establish early on that while he is incredibly powerful, he’s quick to anger when things don’t go his way. Every time he trashes his surroundings like a teenager who just lost a game of Halo online, we get the impression that this sort of thing has happened frequently enough for his men to expect it. It’s not like Vader who had three films building him up as a bad-ass, followed by three more films that presented him as a snot-nosed brat.
Kylo is constantly teetering on the edge; desperately trying to keep his emotions down in an attempt to be like the unfeeling Vader but his inner turmoil keeps lashing out. Because, as much as he hates to admit it, there’s still a little bit of good left in him (at least, at first).
I absolutely love the scene where he talks to Vader’s helmet. He admits that he can feel the pull of the light; he can constantly feel his family reaching out to him, trying to coax him back. And it seems like he’s tempted. He could go back, he could be forgiven, he could attempt to atone for his actions. But he doesn’t want to. Whether it be because of Snoke’s influence and apparent child-grooming (no, seriously, Snoke’s been in his head since he was a kid) or because of his obsessive worship of Vader, he doesn’t want to be Ben Solo anymore but Kylo Ren.
In any other context, his begging his departed grandfather to help him through difficult times would be heartwarming. But it’s not. It’s disturbing and heartbreaking because, at the end of his life, Vader, or rather Anakin, wouldn’t have wanted Kylo to take this path. Anakin died saving his son. Anakin died killing the Emperor, the man who manipulated and controlled him for so many years. Was he redeemed? That depends on your viewpoint. But he wanted to atone. Not to be forgiven but to at least make up for his mistakes, and he gave up his life to do it. If he were to learn that his own grandson slaughtered the Jedi like he once did, he wouldn’t be proud. He’d be disgusted that Kylo was no better than him. Yet, for some reason, Kylo isn’t aware of that.
This is what I meant by Kylo being a super interesting character, and there’s still more to see in future movies. I haven’t even gone into his murder of his own father. Will that have long-term repercussions for his own state of mind? Will he be haunted by that decision? Could he potentially be redeemed later on or will he be denied even that? Will he ever see his mother again and how will the two of them interact should that happen?
I’ve already banged on about these characters (and I know there’s stuff I’ve neglected to mention) but I think I’ve made my point clear. These are some fantastic characters that have been brought to life thanks to both the writing and the acting, and the fact that I’ve written a collective 3000+ words on them is a testament to that. Now, how about we talk about something else about the film?
2. The Humour
This is probably a weird thing to focus on but I was really surprised by how funny this film could be. Star Wars is not a comedy by any means yet there are plenty of moments, be it a single line, a brief conversation or a tilt of BB-8’s head, that had me either grinning like an idiot or actually full-on laughing at.
Normally, the idea of a Star Wars film trying to be funny would put a lot of people off. The Phantom Menace tried to be funny in an attempt to appeal to little kids and look how that turned out. Poop and fart jokes and unfunny slapstick from Jar Jar Binks – a character that, to this day, many believe was a Sith Lord in disguise (because nobody is that stupid, right?)
But the difference between that and TFA is that the humour comes naturally. When a funny line is said, it’s not actually trying to be funny. For example Finn’s reaction when Poe says they need to go back to Jakku to find BB-8 because he has a map that leads to Luke. Finn’s only response is a shocked, exasperated and angry scream of “You have got to be kidding me!” This, plus John Boyega’s delivery, makes it funny. Like I said, the film doesn’t attempt to make jokes; they just kind of happen. Even Kylo Ren can’t help but express snark at points.
I could list a whole bunch of my favourite gags from this film but, since this article is already too long, I’ll just share my favourite joke. It’s an obvious pick but, damn it, it’s funny.
3. The Incorporation of the Old Cast
When it comes to something like Star Wars, the return of old characters can be a tricky thing to pull off correctly. On the one hand, we want to see all these familiar faces come back. We want to see where Luke, Han, Leia and all that are and what they’ve been doing all these years. At the same time, however, we don’t want them to overshadow the new cast. We shouldn‘t want that.
They had their adventures; they had their development. It’s time to pass the torch to a new generation; a cast that a new generation of fans can fall in love with without needing to read several dossiers just to know what’s going on. If the film focused entirely on Luke and co., then newbies would be completely lost. And if they kept taking the spotlight away from Finn, Rey etc., then we’d wonder why Finn, Rey etc. are even here if they’re barely contributing. Fortunately, TFA strikes a very good balance.
Several characters do return but while they serve important roles, the story doesn’t deviate from the new characters. The film very much sets up Finn and Rey as being the most important right now; they are the new faces.
That being said, as much as I love the new characters, it was still great to see the old crew again (even though, like I said, I’m not a massive Star Wars fan). I think Harrison Ford did a stand-up job as Han; his reunion with his son and subsequent death being the highlight. You can see the betrayal and heartbreak on his face.
The interactions between him and Carrie Fisher as Leia were great as well. Not only does Leia have this experienced and wise prescence to her, but you can tell that their break-up wasn’t the result of some forced “oh we’ve got to break these two characters up just for drama” bullshit. They’re both genuinely hurting over what happened to Ben, and it’s apparent that they still love each other despite the hardships.
Chewbacca had his moments too; mostly how he reacts and bounces off of everyone else. His hugging Leia upon seeing her again for the first time in years melted my heart in particular. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s integrated into future films considering he’s now co-pilots with Rey.
C-3PO and R2 didn’t do much but I feel like they had enough of a prescence to please the old-school fans. Just knowing they were there was enough, if you know what I mean. Seeing the comatose R2 was particularly disheartening and I’m interested in seeing if he’ll become a permanent fixture of Rey’s new group.
As for Luke, well, it was just really frigging cool just to see him, even if I don’t think his appearance was entirely necessary. Somehow, that final scene of Rey and Luke just staring at each other for a few minutes had more weight and emotion behind it than entire scenes in other movies.
Also, can I add how the film started with such an amazing line? “Luke Skywalker has vanished.” I don’t know why but that single line hyped me up when I saw it. I think it’s because this once simple farm-boy, who we’ve seen struggle in an intergalactic war, has become a legendary figure. His name is enough to make people turn their heads. Hell, Snoke can be interpreted as being deathly afraid of him considering how desperate he is to keep anyone from finding him. There’s just something inherently cool about seeing a character we’re so familiar with achieve this kind of status. And you can bet I’m looking forward to seeing him take to the stage once more in Episode VIII.
4. Rey’s Vision
I don’t know about you but I love dream/vision scenes. Actually, I should be more specific. Sometimes, dream sequences are an excuse to show off surreal imagery that makes no sense and exists to confuse the audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of sequences; they just don’t appeal to me.
What I’m referring to are scenes that, while surreal and bizarre, actually foreshadow certain events, display previous scenes in a different light or fool the audience with multiple possible outcomes. Combined with really good camerawork and direction, they can wind up being disorientating, exciting and horrifying. And while it was pretty short, I immediately fell in love with Rey’s vision once I saw it.
It’s hard to really describe it but I just loved how Rey transitioned from one location to the next. One second, she’s in an unknown hallway; the next, she’s back on Jakku, reliving her abandonment and screaming after a spaceship to come back. We see her surrounded, alone, in a thunderstorm in a desolate landscape. Kylo and the other Knights of Ren forming his imposing shroud of blackness. It’s all potential foreshadowing; maybe these events will transpire, maybe they won’t. It gives us insight without giving too much away.
I especially loved the use of sound; most notably how they weaved in sounds from the original trilogy. When the vision starts, we can hear Darth Vader breathing. Does that mean anything? Is it just to sound cool and threatening? We don’t know. Then there’s the brief shot of a hooded Luke, leaning against R2 next to a roaring fire, accompanied by his infamous “NO!” from Episode V. Nice callback, or is that what Luke’s feeling internally? When we see Luke, could this be in the aftermath of Kylo’s betrayal and subsequent slaughter of the other Jedi-in-training?
And, of course, there’s the super easy to miss whisper of “Rey” from Obi-Wan. What significance does that have? Is that foreshadowing as well? Is Obi-Wan connected to Rey somehow? Again, we don’t know – it might be meaningless, but the potential is there. It creates excitement. For me, at least.
Who knows what the next film (or even the one after) holds in store for us, but this vision alone was enough to make me want to see the next one in the cinemas, just so I can hopefully experience that feeling of shock and amazement with other people.
5. Rey & Finn’s Friendship
I know I spent over 3000 words banging on about the new characters at the beginning of this article but I just had to dedicate a section to the friendship between Rey and Finn. Before I saw the film, most people seemed to be focused on the relationship between Finn and Poe, and I don’t blame them. For as short as it was, it was well handled and surprisingly developed. That, and it made people ship them like crazy. Yet I didn’t see many people talking about Rey and Finn, which surprises me because their relationship is so good.
John Boyega and Daisy Ridley do such an amazing job at showing how these two go from complete strangers to best friends. Their interactions are just so genuine; take that scene where they escape Jakku in the Falcon, for example. The way they just run up to each other and babble almost incoherently at how awesome they were. There was something pure about it. In fact, that’s how I’d describe their friendship – pure.
And it makes sense as to why they become so quickly attached to each other. They’ve known no one else. Granted, Finn had Poe but they were separated after only a few minutes of knowing each other. Rey has had literally no one. So when Finn goes out of his way to try and save her on Jakku, expressing concern for her safety even after he’s just been shot at, Rey almost can’t process this. She’s been dreaming for her family to come back and, now, here’s this stranger that actually cares about her. It’s just nice to see a film showing the benefits of expressing kindness to strangers, especially in a world almost over-saturated with grim/dark stories that are all about how we can’t trust anyone and solitude and bitterness is the only or best outcome.
Possibly my favourite interaction between the two is at Maz’s bar. Finn, having decided to just leave, begs Rey to come with him. He’s seen what the First Order is capable of and just wants to get away from them. He doesn’t want to be a hero; he just wants to survive somewhere. The fact that he wants Rey with him not only shows how much he cares about her and wants her safe but could also show how he doesn’t want to be alone. If he’s going to hide in solitude and try and live something of a normal life, he’d love to do with his best friend.
Rey, on the other hand, considers staying. After all, she’s grown up on hearing stories about the heroics of Luke, Han and all that. Now here’s an opportunity to to do the same thing. That, and Han even offered her a position on the Falcon. A job offer from one of your heroes? Who wouldn’t want that?
But what I love the most about this scene is that it isn’t a breaking point in their friendship. Finn doesn’t agree with Rey’s decision but he doesn’t blow up at her and call her an idiot for it. Likewise, Rey isn’t disappointed in how Finn is being cowardly and wanting to run away. She just doesn’t want her best/only friend to leave. Even when Finn admits that he lied about being a Resistance member, she isn’t shocked or hurt or tell him to shove off for lying. If anything, she takes it well and seems to understand why he did it. Why would he admit to being a former Stormtrooper? I loved that moment so much because, in any other movie, this would have lead to the break-up. They would’ve fallen out, stormed off in separate directions in a huff, only to rejoin by the end of the film and apologise. But no, the film doesn’t bother with that needless drama because the drama of them going seperate ways due to differing beliefs is enough.
Hell, Finn, despite his admitted cowardice, does a complete 180 when he sees Rey being kidnapped. He was ready to run and hide but the moment his friend is in danger, he does everything he can to get her back. Even lie about knowing how to disable the shields for the Starkiller. Is that Finn developing bravery? Maybe, but I like to think that he values his friendship for Rey far more; it overrides his own fear.
There’s also a nice moment where, during some scenes outside the base, we see Rey wearing Finn’s jacket. It’s a really understated moment but it’s a neat touch that further cements how close the two have become. They even get turns protecting the other against Kylo despite being heavily outmatched.
I’m aware there are some people that like to think their relationship will go into romantic territory but, for me personally, I’d prefer it to stay platonic. While I do think a romance could work between the two, it’d be nice just to see a platonic friendship between a man and a woman in a film for once.
That and I kind of ship FinnXPoe.
6. The Action
The thing about action scenes is that, like a lot of things, they’re easy to make. However, it requires actual effort and imagination to make a good action scene. A good action scene should have you leaning forward in your seat; it should make you gasp, shiver with anticipation and leave you with a dumb smile on your face. And TFA has several of those.
It’s hard to really describe why they’re so good. I think it just boils down to a combination of the music, the camerawork and, most importantly, the fact that we actually care about these characters.
There were a number of moments that had me actually wincing and screaming in shock at, like when Finn look a lightsaber to the back from Kylo (hell, that whole fight was awesome). And, of course, I have to mention everyone’s favourite:
Seeing a single Stormtrooper dropping their blaster and whipping out this stun-baton thing to fight some dude with a lightsaber (and nearly win!) was oddly exhilarating. We had never see something this weirdly awesome in any of the previous films, had we?
Speaking of, I loved the fact that, despite lightsaber fights being the ones that everybody reenacts and loves, there was barely any actual lightsaber fighting in this movie. That way, when they did happen, even with complete newbies handling the weapons, they were exciting.
Plus, the few lightsaber fights there were (all two of them) felt somewhat visceral. There were no big jumps or flips or videogame-esque physics being utilised – just simple, straight-up sword fights which, funnily enough, made them arguably better than the lightsaber fights seen in the prequels.
It’s important for the action to always be engaging; if the audience doesn’t even find intergalactic space battles or sword fights fun to watch, something’s gone wrong. Fortunately, TFA‘s action is anything but and I can’t wait to see what sort of cool scenarios will appear in future films.
In conclusion, while I don’t consider myself an aficionado of the series, and I doubt I’ll fall in love with the entire franchise like some people, I can say I’m on-board with this new iteration and these new characters. The Force Awakens is by no means a perfect movie (it had problems) but it’s a fantastic start to this new saga. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I can’t wait to see what new adventures await for Rey, Finn and the others and you can bet I’ll be getting a ticket to see Episode VIII once it’s out.