I sojourned through the never-ending parking lot, avoiding the handful of storm troopers and Jedi Knights exiting their vehicles, and gave thanks that I had my online tickets in hand when I saw the long lines into the theater. The lines nearly stretched out the doors as moviegoers, many dressed in full fandom, waited to enter one of the multiple theater rooms for their turn to witness a classic reborn, and I don't mean the new Corvette Stingray.
I was tempted to stand in the never-ending concession line for popcorn, but then I remembered I had a half-eaten chocolate chip cookie in my pocket (compliments of my writing group meeting from an hour earlier) and a few sticks of trident gum. Stealthily, I snuck these tasty treats into the theater undetected. (I know. I'm such a rogue.)
After challenging and defeating a group of teenage boys in an arm wrestling competition, so I could take their perfect seats which were dead-center to the screen (to which the wookie from the parking lot gave me a hairy thumbs up), I sat and waited another 20 minutes for the previews to start. My award for the best trailer preview of the night was a surprise, going to Zootopia. That bit with sloths running the DMV had the whole theater rolling, and I mean everyone. The laughter eased our anxious anticipation as we waited for the main event to begin.
The theater went dark, a black screen with bright spotted space stars appeared, and the epic Star Wars yellow block text glided up the screen in the familiar trapezoid shape we have come to know and love. The crowd cheered, even the group of tough-looking teenage boys sitting in front of me, still nursing their sore shoulders.
And now, without further adieu, here are the...
5 THINGS I LOVED ABOUT STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS.
- Going easy on the green screen. It was refreshing to see a good balance of green screen special effects v. real models and costumes.
- Decent Plot Line. I enjoyed the plot and the nostaligc throwbacks to the original Star Wars movies.
- Melding the old characters with the new. I thought this was done well. We got to see the old characters we know and love and witness the passing of the torch to the new characters that are set to take their place.
- The new characters were fun. The chemistry wasn't quite spot on between the actors, but I think there is lots of potential for growth in the future movies. To me it's like watching the pilot episode to a new show. We have the background story of the new characters (at least most of it) and now we can really dig into their storylines going forward and grow to love them.
- Mystery behind the new baddies. I found the mystery behind the new bad guys, namely the First Order, Kylo Ren, and Supreme Leader Snoke, intriguing. We get bits and pieces about them in the movie, mostly about Kylo with Han and Leia being his parents and his failed training with Luke, but that's all. How did they stay in power this long? Are they kidnapping kids to brainwash into Storm Troopers? Is Snoke an actual Sith or something else? And is Snoke an actual giant? Or will we find out he's a midget like Yoda and suffers from a severe inferiority complex, thus the giant projection of himself.
While the movie was fun, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, there were a few things that left me scratching my head. Luckily there was nothing as annoying as Jar-Jar in this new episode, although I was secretly hoping the theory of Darth Jar-Jar might come to pass. JJ Abrams (which I'm pretty sure stands for Jar Jar) shot this theory down in an interview, but still, I hoped.
Here are the 5 THINGS I DISLIKED ABOUT STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS.
- Fin and Poe are immediate BFF's. This was incredibly rushed and out of place. Fin's line, when asked why he was helping Poe escape, "Because it's the right thing," was cheesier than Velveeta. They knew each other for like 5 min before they crash landed. Then when they meet again they are totally bromancing, hugging, BFF's. Sorry, they needed more time together in my opinion to reach that point. Luke and Han took a while, travelling together, mission together, to reach that point. The Fin and Poe relationship was forced (pun intended).
- Why does Fin run like a wuss the first time he meets Rey? He's running to go help her fight off some goons. She beats the goons, looks at him with angry eyes after the droid, BB-8, speaks to her. C'mon. You're a trained storm trooper. Sure you may have been brainwashed, but you must have been trained to fight. Why would you run away like a scaredy cat? It felt completely out of character. They were trying to be funny, but it fell flat.
- The chromed-out storm trooper, Captain Phasma. She's the top ranking storm trooper and appears to be a tough soldier, but when she's captured by Fin, Han and Chewy, she rolls over without a fight. What? A real soldier would let themselves die before turning off the shields because they are threatened by a blaster. And she never fought. Not once! Why not have Captain Phasma become a worthy opponent for team bad guys? Have her fight the three of them, but get away and call for backup, thus letting Fin and Han drop the shields and adding to the conflict.
Better yet, it should have been Captain Phasma who fought Fin outside the canteena with the vibro-arm-sword-thingy. Then she could have made disparaging remarks toward Fin, like, "You were always soft in training," or something to that sort. That would have made Fin's trash talk about "Look who's in charge now, Phasma," make more sense and given Phasma an actual role in the movie. Unless they make Captain Phasma a hidden spy for the resistance, her character was just plain dumb and unnecessary.
- The new Starkiller Weapon. Where do I begin? This was a cool idea. I loved the look of it on the big screen and the effects were awesome. But the Starkiller had some major issues that could have been fixed with a few quick explanations and details. I can accept that they found a way to steal a sun's energy to use as a weapon. Cool idea. I like it. But I had a hard time with the following questions. They seriously nagged on me during the movie.
1. How do you drill through a planet's core to build a base, and keep the natural landscape of mountains and vegetation, without causing severe earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, plate tectonic shifts that absolutely destroy the planet?
2. How does the Starkiller move around? Is the Starkiller only a 2-shot wonder? It's never explained (at least that I remember). If the Starkiller sucks off all the energy from the sun, then they fall out of orbit and the natural atmosphere, vegetation, photosynthesis and oxygen go away with the sun. So they get their first test run wherte they blow up 5 planets, then they get one more shot to fire the weapon to take out the resistance, but the base and weapon are used up and done after that. Unless I'm mistaken, they never said it could move in the film. If it can move, how is it getting around from solar system to solar system? Can it go into lightspeed? If so, just mention it.
- Puny Resistance. Why are there only a few hundred resistance fighters taking on the First Order base? Did I miss something here? Leia, you know where the First Order base is. You know what it's capable of. For the love of the Force, call in the cavalry. Your ships have lightspeed. Get everyone in the galaxy over there to help you blast the First Order Starkiller base to smithereens.
I get that it makes for a better David v. Goliath story to take on the First Order base with a small, ragtag, group of fighters. Cool. Do that, but explain why it has to be that way. Why is there no backup coming?
BONUS ANNOYING SCENE:
There was one more short scene that bugged me. It wasn't a huge deal, but in a way it ties into #5 on my Dislike List. When Rey left to go find Luke, she takes the Millenium Falcon into lightspeed, and BAM! we are there at the mysterious planet where Luke is hiding. This is a planet in an area of the Galaxy they had no maps for previously, which tells me it's kind of far away. But in 10 seconds, Rey and Chewy fly there pronto. There's no break in the scene to tell us otherwise. It takes ten seconds. JJ, just put a cut scene after going into lightspeed then show the ship flying into the sky of the new planet to land.
Make me think it took longer than 10 seconds. If it only takes 10 seconds to get anywhere in lightspeed, why didn't General Leia Organa call in the cavalry? Seriously.
All-in-all, I enjoyed the movie and give it a B+ rating. It brought back the nostalgic feel of the original Star Wars movies, had a decent plot line, and I like many of the new characters that were introduced. But, it wasn't quite the epic feel I was hoping for, some scenes had issues, and some of the main characters were one-dimensional.
With that said, will I go to see the next dozen Star Wars movies Disney plans to release over the coming years. Yes. Yes, I will. And I hope Darth Jar-Jar makes an appearance in at least one of them.