BY ALEXA CHERRY
For the UAS Whalesong
When I was growing up, my friends referred to me as a “walking, talking Star Wars dictionary.” I’m sure I was not alone in this – though in my isolated cul-de-sac in my small corner of the American Southwest, I was the dominant Star Wars authority. I know because I defeated all who challenged my title, though admittedly, not with knowledge. Why try to outsmart someone when you can just hit him or her with your plastic lightsaber until they go away? This is a philosophy that I have maintained late into life. Star Wars was a huge part of my life from basically birth until I was roughly 13 years old. So, fast-forward roughly a decade, give or take a few years. I was upset when they announced Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars, and still more upset when I found out that another actual movie was being made. You are talking to someone who, in her teen years, came close to fisticuffs over being recommended the animated Clone Wars show by a friend. “Watch it,” they said, in response to which I would go off into a harangue about the original sextuplet of films being the One and Only Canon and any other televised attempt at telling the saga was Wrong and Bad and so were they for partaking in this malarkey.
Long story short, I wasn’t planning on going to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at all. I ignored all trailers, avoided all hype, refused to discuss it in public or private – and then, upon coming home for Christmas break 2k15, I realized that if I didn’t watch it I was going to get it spoiled for me by social media and that was the worst possible thing. Undergoing a drastic 180 in attitude overnight, I convinced my dad to go see it with me, and so off to The Valley Cinema we went.
I am delighted to announce that The Force Awakens was an absolute romp of a film. “Romp” seems like a weird word to use, but I think it’s a great description. TFA (as I will henceforth refer to the movie) was nostalgic, but in the fun and exciting way rather than the sad, bittersweet one. It takes viewers on a wild space ride down both memory and adventure lane, while still being accessible to anyone who hasn’t seen the original 6 films (and yes, they exist, I’ve met some of them). And as far as the characters went, they were amazing and enthralling, but also amusing. The main villain, Kylo Ren, is a spooky man in a spooky mask with a ridiculous laser-hilted lightsaber that looks poorly constructed because it is – it’s a vintage lightsaber from the era of A New Hope, because while Kylo is wildly antagonistic, he’s also a total hipster. The new Adventure Trio is composed of the absolutely charming Poe Dameron, a dashing Rebel pilot with persistently perfect hair; Finn, a Stormtrooper who has too many feelings for his own good and a penchant for holding his friends’ hands; and Rey, a Strong Female Character who can laugh and be relatable just as easily as she can kick ass. And there are the trailer-hyped cameos, of course, with Han Solo, Princess-General Leia, and Chewbacca fighting alongside the new squad.
My other main concern regarding TFA was related to the new droid, BB-8. As a kid, I would have followed R2-D2 anywhere, even when I couldn’t understand what it was saying. When the hype about TFA started growing, and especially after it finally premiered, I began to hear ominous murmurs that the new droid was better and cuter than R2-D2. Highly offended by these slurs against my favorite droid in the universe, I made up my mind that there was nothing BB-8 could be or do that would make it likable. However, I was immediately proven wrong. BB-8 is not better than R2-D2, but then again, nor is it any less lovable. In a modern-day alternate universe version of TFA, BB-8 would be Poe Dameron’s spoiled corgi. While being completely loyal to Poe, it’s also friendly and loved by the rest of the new squad, and has every bit as much personality as R2-D2 and even C-3PO. Heck, I might get myself one of the $150 Sphero BB-8 toys as a graduation present – I’m that into it.
Plot-wise, the movie was very well paced and seemed pretty clearly explained. It kept the hype momentum going from the opening scenes, maintained the PowerPoint-style transitions from the original movies, and as I mentioned earlier, it did not rely so much on previous film knowledge that it was unappealing to audiences new to Star Wars. I’ve only seen it once, and the one problem I did have was with the aforementioned “hype momentum.” When the movie started and throughout most of it, I was thrilled and almost falling out of my seat; however, at the end, the movie takes a sharp drop in energy levels, becomes kind of bland, and leaves off on a very open-ended, frankly unsatisfying conclusion. I know that the sequel is already in the works, but I don’t think it’s very good movie-making form for your film not to be able to stand on its own. TFA essentially left off on a giant “TO BE CONTINUED,” which did not leave me as a viewer feeling very enthusiastic.
Regardless, I would still recommend going to see it if you haven’t already! If you love Star Wars, you’ll like it; if you’re new to Star Wars, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. There’s been a trend of “grim-dark sci-fi” in modern media lately, where the future is a horrible time and space is a horrible place and no one is allowed to have any fun. TFA turns this trend on its head, having flagrant amounts of fun and offering exactly zero apologies for it. And if you’re a college student like I am, I think we can all agree that “flagrant amounts of fun” are more often than not a necessity to get us through the semester.