When I heard that a new company had taken over Star Wars from George Lucas, I had mixed feelings. He was 100% involved with the prequels, and while I liked them, I still came to the same conclusion that most people did: less is more. When he did the originals, he had other people telling him what they thought worked, which was part of the reason he wanted 100% involvement in the prequels. He felt we weren’t getting his full vision. But now, Disney would have very little of Lucas, even less than the originals did.
Then I found out JJ Abrahms was directing. I was still wary. You see, I do like what Abrahms did with Star Trek, but my main problem with his version is that he doesn’t want the movies to be their own thing. He kept relying on Nimoy to come in and play future Spock, instead of creating his own thing. JJ Abrahms is a great producer, but he’s much better when he’s playing with his own toys, like in Lost, Cloverfield, or Super 8. (I never watched Alias, by the way) So I wasn’t sure. But I decided to do what I always do, give the new guy a chance.
Now allow me to talk to the naysayers out there. This movie is not supposed to replace the work George Lucas did. You’re not supposed to sit there and compare it to the prequels, or even the original movies, because they had years to build up a fanbase. They have a legacy that no matter how good these new movies are, they will never measure up to. What I did is what you’re supposed to do: put those movies away and judge the movie on its own merits.
The Force Awakens is not a rehash of A New Hope with a female lead instead of Luke Skywalker. And it appears Abrahms has learned from his mistake. He has very little connections to the original. Instead of the Empire, we have the First Order, which was formed from the remnants of the original. Rey is an enigma, more than Luke was. Luke’s puzzle pieces were all revealed as early as possible. Rey, however, has no revelations. We have spent two years now wondering who her parents are.
Finn is probably the most interesting character for me. He is a former Stormtrooper, which completely rewrites the canon that I had believed. I had believed that since all the stormtroopers were clones of Jango Fett, they all had a hive mind, and none of them would even consider rebelling, because they couldn’t think of it. But is it different with the First Order? Is there no brainwashing with the cloning, or is the brainwashing simply less effective? And is his rebellion permanent, with no after-effects? Here is a character who doesn’t want to be what people think he is to be, but to be his own person.
Kylo Ren…I’m not sure what I think of him yet. I do like the design of the new lightsaber. But the mask is ineffective. See, the great thing about Darth Vader’s mask was that it hid a disfigured face, which we didn’t see until Return of the Jedi. But Kylo Ren’s face is not disfigured. But I do like that he considers Darth Vader someone to admire. We only see a few hints of the past with him, allowing him to start as an original idea, not a rehash of a former villain.
Some have complained that Abrams should have adapted one of the many books in the Star Wars expanded universe, like the Heir to the Empire trilogy. However, I think this was a better move. If he had adapted the books, he wouldn’t have just the fans of the movies to please. He’d also have the fans of the books. Focusing on only one set of fans was a better move. Let’s just judge the movie for what it is, not what it could be.
Next month, I close this series with my thoughts on the most recent addition to the Disney Star Wars franchise, Rogue One.