5.1.16

Star Wars - Force Awakens

My dad was not able to watch 'The Return of the Jedi'. I was not yet one and he wanted to be with his son. Of course, he might just be saving holiday time to watch the Cricket World Cup just around the corner, but what do I know?

I made up for that lapse by going with him to "Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens". So many feels were had in the roughly 3 hours that we were in the theatre.I don't know about him, but I had a blast. One of the best treats of 2015 as the ear ended.

Shameless Plug - It was such a great experience that Satish and I ended up recording our latest podcast on the movie.

Beware reader - thar be spoilers ahead

The movie hits all the high notes of nostalgia. This was my first time seeing the crawl on the big screen and I was grinning like a big idiot. Watching Han and Chewie enter the Falcon was just amazing. Harrison Ford can still pull off the rakish rogue, which says a lot about his longevity. My favorite scene was watching Rey and Finn run to the Millennium Falcon. And that was within the first hour of the movie. The rest of the movie cruises on scenes like these. Admiral Ackbar, the charge of the TIE Fighters, the light saber duels... it was goosebumps for most of the movie.

J J Abrams and Disney have done a great job. Disney has decided to pretty much chuck out most of the canon barring the original 6 movies and Clone Wars. That is a bold move - one that may backfire. Ofc if they keep churning out more movies like this, then I don't see how Disney will fail to keep making tons of money. The merchandising is already out and there are Monopoly sets, action figures, puzzles (proud owner of a Kylo Ren floor puzzle which the boy put together in 10 minutes) and so much more.

There are some really deft touches to the story. Rey is hands down one of the best Hollywood heroines I've seen on the silver screen. I was not at all surprised that she was the one with hte force, so awesome is her presence on the screen. Clone Wars introduced us to individual storm troopers, but Finn pushes this to the next level.  And I really hope Poe gets more footage in the next movies - Oscar Issac was really good in A Most Violent Year and he is good here as well. Kylo Ren is iffy - he might grow on me I suppose, but he is no Darth Vader. The returning cast are charming in their own way - their presence lightens the movie and pushes your memory back to the first time you tap into the franchise. And lets not forget the robots - BB8 is great, but 3C3P0 is back and R2D2 is around. The practical effects were great - less CGI and more actual effects enhance the movie experience. Overall it was great fun watching these characters.

And yet, I have 2 small areas of disappointment. First - the story. Yes, the nostalgia value is great and it's going to be interesting seeing how the characters develop. But that seems to be the high point of the movie - nostalgia. In a universe of characters, Disney and JJ have decided to stick to the old tropes and the old cliched characters. Heck, they didn't even bother thinking much about the enemy's base - Death Star Killer Base. Not only is the name similiar, Solo even says it - it's just a bigger Death Star. Heck, they even destroy it the same way. If Disney doesn't ush the story any further, then that will be a shame. Pandering to a select group of viewers (granted they are the only ones that can pay) is backwards. You want to push the story forward and explore more ways of storytelling the way Episodes 4-6 did.

The second is the characters - Rey, Kylo, Finn and Poe might just as well be called Leia, Anakin, Luke and Han. Rey sometimes feels like a mush of Leia and Luke and the frontier trope seems boring now. I won't be surprised if Disney plays it safe and makes her a part of the Skywalker family tree. That will be a minor sadness - one special family of humans is basically lording over the rest of the galaxy. The Jedi training is ofc, just starting and I won't be surprised if X-Wings are lifted from the ocean. That will satisfy the legions of fans, but I don't know if that will enhance Rey or make her a stronger Jedi.

This movie will be a classic of our times. Will Disney continue churning nostalgia specials or will we get a meaty story with next episode? Only time will tell. Till then...

May The Force Be With You.