With $517,000,000 worldwide after its first weekend, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the enormous powerhouse fans knew it could be. This movie had so much anticipation even the President of the United States had something to say about it. After all, it was a long time coming, fans (especially on 4Chan), even the likes of CinemaSins, Nostalgia Critic, and Honest Trailers have dismantled the prequels brutally calling some of them unnecessary and terrible.
There have even been some who have the audacity to claim that this was the first Star Wars in 30 years. I am looking at you John Campea.
I will say defending the prequels is not my job. However, this movie that took the whole world by storm was monumentally more of a financial and critical success than all of the others. You know, unless you look at the early reviews of Episode I where even Ebert gave it a 4.5 star rating.
And just like in the past, the world is hailing this as the second coming of Star Wars (though it would be closer to the third coming).
But is it really? I mean, is the cinematic breakthrough that the world wanted, a movie worth a thirty two year wait? Is it a special effects marvel that would herald in a new unseen vision unlike anything seen ever before?
The short answer no. I mean no to all of it. If this was the next installment to the Star Wars franchise without the prequels, I do not think this is the movie that would have captivated audiences. And while the practical and special effects blend was something sorely missed in movies, it is not something unseen and truly breathtaking.
This movie did not have to do that though. Like when Rocky is being trained in Rocky Balboa, he does not need to go down that same old road again. That is what the prequels tried to do. And that was to its detriment.
This movie’s job was to remind the audience of what we fell in love with while giving a story that made it easier to introduce a newer audience to. And that is where is definitely succeeded. The atmosphere was everything we came to love about Star Wars.
The heroes were every bit as relatable as the older ones. It very much felt like a passing of the torch film. It respected the heroes of the past, but it understood that it is time for newer, younger heroes to save the day. Both Finn and Rey were spectacular. I think this is what happens when two unknown actors are given proper direction. Thankfully, Abrams has some directing experience here over Lucas when he did the prequels.
I want to make two somewhat spoiler points that are not especially crucial but explain why these two were so perfect. So warning; spoilers ahead.
Finn is not a hero trying to be a hero like Luke or even Anakin. He wants to get away from everything. To that end, he even lies to get close to the others, but instead of the cliche where he is caught, he simply comes clean. It helps build a dynamic that makes me see him and Rey becoming friends or even potential love interests in the future. Now, that is how you challenge some ideas and build a hero.
And Rey, she is the heroin I have been waiting for. She is smart, quick on the fly, resourceful, and all around a badass. She doesn’t need to be gritty like Imperator Furiosa was in Mad Max, nor did she need to be overly broken like Jessica Jones was from…well…Jessica Jones. Dammit Marvel. She has her own past and even her own damage, but this is the character who does not let that define her. She lives in the moment and does her own thing, which made me fill emotionally involved all the way to the climax.
That leads me to the story. This…phew…this was the movie that had a story, let me tell you. It reminiscently felt like an older Star Wars movie, even drawing from some of the old elements with small throwbacks and a few lines of dialogue to remind fans. Those elements were not used to define the movie though, which is why I enjoyed it so much. It told its own story. Each of the sides evolved, both technologically and personally, which led to things being the way they are. It made sense, and as the story was being told, I could not feel when we left the beginning to the middle. It all blended well, which is what a story should do, which is where Star Wars Episodes I and II failed to do.
By the time we hit the climax and had our plot twist, I was not necessarily shocked by it, but I was invested enough to say it makes sense. And then, it led to a clash that had the emotional fuel that fans complained was missing from the prequels.
When all was said and done, it even tact on something that made the story feel contained, complete, but making the audience want the next story.
This was a Star Wars movie through and through. Now, does it blow the prequels away? I don’t know…I still enjoy Episode III, but I can respect how people could have the opinion this was better. It flowed, it introduced well, and it made the audience feel a part of the story while maintaining our heroes of Episode IV through VI lived their lives.
But I feel why fans loved this one so much is because the prequels left such a bad taste in their mouths that when they finally saw something without the casts of the prequels that was relatively good, they were finally satisfied. The bar was set so low that the movie could have tripped over it. Though, I will say it easily jumped over it.
Honestly, I am just thankful Batman v Superman is scheduled for next year. This dynamo is the movie of 2015, hands down. Sorry Age of Ultron, but it is all Disney, so we all know their swaggering all the way to the bank.
So, for all those who have not seen it, see it. And if you saw it, see it again. This movie has rewatch value. Oh and for everyone, I want it said, the real heroes of this movie are Chewie’s Crossbow and the Millennium Falcon. If you don’t understand. You soon will.
Enjoy some photos from a premiere showing courtesy of Danny “Dviouz1” DeLuna below: