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17 December 2015 @ 06:47 pm
Screaming crying perfect storms I could make all the tables turn...  
Wow. Wow. Wow. I can't even form thoughts right now, much less compose a coherent post. But the brilliance of writing is that you can be very considered in your critique and take the time to really reflect on all aspects.

I loved the film, I was absolutely captivated the whole time and I thought the balance between old and new was done exceptionally well. Right off the bat, The Force Awakens gets four stars from me. However, I want to get the things I didn't like out of the way so I can gush over everything else.

The main thing I couldn't reconcile myself with was the Kylo Ren arc. I think the character has a lot of potential and I'm intrigued to see his backstory, but I thought they could have been more imaginative in the way they delivered it. Throughout the whole film, I kept thinking, 'Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it' but I didn't expect it to mirror previous films so completely.

- Another death star
- Another father figure/mentor being betrayed and killed
- Another cantina (with weird, wonderful, sly creatures)
- The First Order is The Empire
- Kylo Ren is Darth Vader (started training as a Jedi, slaughtered other Jedis, went to the dark side, now wears a cape and mask)
- Snoke is The Emperor (puppet master pulling the strings behind the scenes)

I am totally on-board with having a few familiars in place to make for a warmer welcome into the saga, but I felt that's what the original characters did really well. The items above were major storylines which I felt were redundant as everyone who'd seen Star Wars before knew what to expect. (Or, in my case, hoped were being set up and lulled into a false sense of insight.)

Also, I thought that a difference of thirty years meant the freedom of a blank slate, a fresh dynamic and endless options to play with. I expected a whole new world, when it was the same old world with fancy new names and toys.

Yes, I was very frustrated by these items and, while they're major, it didn't stop me enjoying what the film was setting up (possible prequels and sequels in effect) or what the film had done in:

- providing a continuation of VI
- giving seasoned watchers a stack of easter eggs
- creating a film which can stand on its own for newcomers

Fair warning that there will be many more lines for the things I loved:

Excellent opening sequence: the ship moving across the screen, eclipsing the planet behind it; storm troopers lined up, ready for action; menacing Kylo Ren with his bad-ass sword-sabre and manipulation of The Force. It was a perfect blend of classic Star Wars and contemporary cinema.

They gave a face, a personality, and a story to a stormtrooper. These are one of the most popular and easily recognisable cosplays of all time, yet we've never explored the fact that they're not robots. Beneath that boss (though useless) white exterior beats a human heart. Characterisation - classic Abrams!

Han's role was such a joy to watch. That he used to be this young, headstrong, carefree cowboy (and there is still a streak of that) but, three decades on, he is completely believable as a mentor to Finn and Rey, offering the former advice and the latter a place in his crew.

More than anything, I LOVE Rey. Her introduction and the way they followed her through the film is exactly what I want from my leading ladies. Too often - especially in action roles - women are presented as having something to prove or "one of the boys" and they completely miss the mark. Personally, I don't want to see women acting like men, I want them presented as fully formed characters in their own right.

Rey is hardworking, self-assured, self-reliant, self-sufficient, and empathetic (for mine, this already makes her a much more likable protagonist than Luke or Anakin). The fact that she treats BB-8 as a being and not an object, even when it means not accepting the rations she is offered as payment, is a testament to her character.

That introduction to Finn He sees her being targeted and races over to help, before she takes care of the two thugs herself, then chases him

Now, point form:

- Poe asking the stormtrooper's name, he responds with, "FN-2187" and is then christened Finn
- While trying to outrun the starfighter attack, Finn points to a ship offscreen, asking why they can't take that one. "That ship's garbage! We're taking this one!" screams Rey just before her intended vessel is blown up. "The garbage will do!" Pan across to said "garbage"...MILLENNIUM FALCON!
- The amazing escape scene which features wicked piloting from Rey and shooting from Finn was heart-poundingly good.
- Finn (to BB-8): "Droid, please."
- When Finn gives BB-8 the thumbs up and BB-8 responds with a flame popping out of its chest
- Han and Chewy stepping onto the Millennium Falcon and the former saying, with a smile, "Chewy...we're home." (ALL THE FEELS!)
- How 31-year-old Lupita Nyong'o manages to capture the wisdom, essence, and affinity of a character many years her senior is absolutely incredible
- C3PO having none of that beautiful Han/Leia reunion by sticking his gold head in between them to greet "Mr. Solo!"
- Rey, gaining confidence in her newfound powers of The Force, convinces a stormtrooper to loosen her shackles, leave the room with the door open and drop his weapon
- Finn: "We'll use The Force."
Han: "That's not how The Force works!"
- As soon as Han followed his son onto that bridge, I knew it was over, but my tears still smarted when he fell to his death.
- I ugly cried when I saw Chewy piloting the Millennium Falcon on his own for the first time ever

Once was never going to be enough for this film. So, the following week, I booked us in for an indulgent afternoon at Lux (the Hoyts version of Gold Class). Complimentary softdrink and popcorn, amazing recliners, and we treated ourselves to some alcohol and mid-movie snacks...perfection! Then there were the things I picked up on the second viewing:

- Simon Pegg is the disgusting lump that is Unkar Plutt
- Gwendoline Christie is the storm trooper captain, Phasma and she's every bit as awesome as you'd believe - though I cannot believe I didn't pick up on it the first time around
- When they're have a group discussion onboard, Finn flicks a switch that brings back the holograms present during Luke's training in A New Hope
- I loved watching the scene with Rey coercing a stormtrooper and knowing that it was Daniel Craig (aka JB-007)

Also, my tears started when Han saw Kylo Ren walking onto the bridge and didn't stop until well into the epic battle scene in the woods. That look on Han's face. Ford portrays the internal battle so well because you can see him struggling with the decision of whether or not to say something...then it's almost as if Leia's words repeat themselves and he strengthens his resolve. And his face before he falls...not betrayal, not hurt, a little sadness and a lot of love.

Questions:

- Whose helmet was Rey wearing as she ate her dinner overlooking the desert? It looked like Luke's old helmet (or at the very least another X-wing pilot helmet), but she seems genuinely surprised to learn that Luke Skywalker is not a myth.
- There's an obvious Rey backstory, but who is the family she's waiting on - is it a shrouded mystery because we know them?
- What is the bond between Rey and Leia? I was intrigued that after losing Han, Leia would choose to hug Rey over Chewbacca when they walked off the Falcon.
- What's the deal with C3PO's red arm? Is there a story there or was it just some humour to diffuse the tension?
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