Getting William Shatner to appear as Captain Kirk in this movie and having him face off against Han Solo has to be one of the best kept spoilers in movie history.
But seriously I can’t say anything about this movie without spoilers so run away now if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
I remember years back listening to a very old interview with Mark Hamill where he talks about his making the original Star Wars movies and Lucas telling him that he’d get the original cast back again in 30 years to film the sequel trilogy. Over the years it’s been rumored that Lucas had envisioned 9 movies, some rumors have him saying 12! It was generally accepted among fans that these were unlikely as episode 9 was reportedly about the second death star and the appearance of the emperor which became episode 6 instead. Also with the prequels they took the wind out of the sails and Revenge of the Sith ended on the idea that the “Circle is complete”. Still there was always that idea that a sequel trilogy featuring Darth Vader’s Grandchildren might happen. There was even another rumor back around 2007 (i think) that Lucas had offered Harrison Ford a deal to come back as Han Solo for Star Wars in 2011.
Well we know the rest. He sold it to disney, JJ Abrams came on-board with the incentive that he had a clean slate that didn’t need to follow the outline that Lucas sold and could himself answer the question “Who is Luke Skywalker now?”
This movie is not so much the “who?” but more of a “where?”
The movie was one of the most intense emotional experiences at the cinema for me. From the opening scroll of Episode VII that mentions Luke and Leia I was already getting misty eyed. The movie bobbed along at a fast pace introducing new characters and questions to the saga but anytime the old characters showed up I’d get really nostalgic. Han and Leia seeing each other again and then C3P0 showing up had me going from misty eyes to tears of laughter & joy. The other powerful moments for me was the battle between Rey and Kylo Ren in the forest which had my hands shaking uncontrollably as I watched their fight and John William’s Score played. The part near the end with poor Chewey had me choked up.
If I were to pick a few negative points I would say that it suffers in parts like Star Trek 2009 did with the small Universe/coincidence syndrome. Having our young heroes bump into Han and Chewy and using the destruction of……was that Coruscant? or some planet just a significant…as an emotional device much in the same way that young Kirk bumped into old Spock and they blew up Vulcan. But here you can get away with it by saying it was the will of the force. Science Fantasy has got one over fiction there.
The other point which i’m neither see as a problem nor as a positive is that we the audience (at least those of us who know about Star Wars) can anticipate what’s coming. There are no big reveals, things are just revealed in a non-twist moment. I think a lot of people could guess what was coming to Han Solo, particularly with the long held belief that Harrison Ford wanted Han Solo killed off in ‘Return of the Jedi’.
As for themes it goes back to ‘A New Hope’, the new characters go on a journey. the older, wiser mentor is killed in front of our new heroes. They have a new goal/destiny by the end of the movie which will propel them to episode 9. The New Order are definitely the new assholes and reflect a world we live in which fascism appeals to the younger minds in a new form. Unlike the Empire the New Order isn’t run by a bunch of old dudes but by younger impressionable idiots who are dangerous as hell.
Kylo Ren is a complete dick. While Vader is the badass we openly adore Ren is the prat we love to hate. He is a fantastic character and definitely is reflecting the worst of today’s youth.
Rey, Finn and Poe are great too. The casting in this movie is indeed excellent. Definitely Rey is the answer to the call for a strong female hero in today’s cinemas. Finn I see a taking on a piece of Han Solo with Poe not yet fully developed for me to judge but certainly a character I look forward to seeing more of.
The Death of Han Solo. While some of us kinda expected it to happen that didn’t make it any less shocking or disturbing to see a hero of cinema. A cultural icon die. It’s a big big hit for fans. As to the manner of his death it was rather symbolic and poetic. I thought maybe he would go down in a flame of glory on the Millennium Falcon, but hey, at least he died on the bridge…Oh, wait, that was Captain Kirk.
This is a great movie. I think the best of the year. It gives us a Star Wars movie that we expect. It’s better than the prequels but against the original Trilogy this new Sequel Trilogy has not surpassed it. Why? Well mainly because we don’t get to see Luke, Leia and Han together again. Whatever flaws Return of the Jedi might have I still love those characters and they are what made those films. That’s not a swipe against this movie, it’s just that Star Wars was built on those 3 characters and nothing can really surpass that magic. But JJ Abrams does a damn good job of this one.
On a side note I actually once met JJ Abrams a few years back at the same Cinema that I watched the New Star Wars movie in. He was promoting Star Trek at the time and hadn’t yet been announced as the Director of the new Star Wars. That along with the nostalgia of the movie made this a very memorable viewing.
Favorite Quote: ” Listen, “big deal”. You got another problem. Women always figure out the truth. Always.” Han Solo