Star Wars: The Force Awakens will make a billion dollars regardless of its Rotten Tomatoes score, how many stars someone gives it or if it gets a thumbs up or down. In fact, it’s going to shatter all box office numbers out there. So if you are expecting the typical review and a star rating, well that’s not going to happen. There’s no reason for the typical review. There’s no real reason for reviews at all. In fact, reviews might hurt the film in that a writer could spoil many of the surprises of the film and there’s enough rumors out there already. But one of my jobs is to talk/write about movies and after seeing this movie, I WANT to talk about it. I want to talk about what it means to me and to others out there.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the movie I wanted. More than that, it’s the movie I NEEDED. See I grew up with the original films, the Holy Trilogy. I grew up with Han shooting first. With Luke finding out Darth Vader is his father and Princess Leia his sister. I grew up a Star Wars kid. I had the toys and wanted to be Han Solo (who didn’t?). The generation after me got the prequels and I don’t hate them as much as other fans, but nothing compares to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.
Nothing, until now. The Force Awakens is Episode 7 in the series and it’s the first film in 30 plus years to feel like a Star Wars movie through and through. We get new characters like Finn, Rey, Poe and Kylo Ren, but we also get the characters we love. If you’ve seen a trailer you know that Han Solo and Chewbacca are back. As is Princess Leia (called General Leia now) and the droids we were looking for, C3PO and R2D2. The film centers around the newer characters, but the older ones aren’t just thrown in there for sentimentality. They all serve a purpose to the plot and not just to get you teary eyed. Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get teary eyed especially during one scene.
Yes the plot of the movie feels familiar. The rebels we grew up with are now the resistance. The Empire is no more, instead the bad guys our heroes must fight are called The First Order. Some people might not like the familiarity of the plot, but to me that’s what makes it a Star Wars film. The prequels were there to tell the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker. The Force Awakens is here to continue the story after Jedi and create a new generation of fans.
That’s what I took away most from the film, it’s a Star Wars film for Star Wars fans and it’s a Star Wars film to create new fans. I grew up with Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia, today’s kids will want to be Poe, Rey and Finn and fight the evil Kylo. Adam Driver is perfectly cast as Kylo Ren. I thought he was simply fantastic in the role. Oscar Isaac is known more for independent films, but his Poe is a classic Star Wars character, a top notch pilot especially in the X-Wing. John Boyega’s Finn is also classic storytelling, a man who doesn’t like what he’s doing and wants to escape, gets caught in the middle and must choose between being a hero or run away. And then there’s Daisy Ridley’s Rey. For a generation that wanted to be Leia, a new generation will want to be Rey.
In today’s cynical world with YouTube video sized attention spans, for a few hours on December 15th, I was no longer an adult worrying about money and where my career was going. I wasn’t adult Ken. I was young Kenny watching his Star Wars movies. Cell phones weren’t allowed at the screening and it was great. I didn’t have a piece of technology in my pocket that we’ve grown to rely on. No little screens were lighting up a movie theater. I sat there with a soda and some candy and watched a movie that made me feel like a kid again.
The original trilogy is what got me into film. The Return of the Jedi was HUGE on the big screen to me. I didn’t see movies at the theater that often as a kid and now I see a hundred or more a year. Now it’s a job and I’ve lost that love for staring at a movie screen. My eyes move around the room and I wonder what emails I’m getting. But that didn’t happen with The Force Awakens. I sat there wondering what was going to happen next. I sat there wondering if there was more to Finn. I sat there amazed at the X-Wings fighting the TIE Fighters. I sat there wanting my own BB-8. I sat there and smiled every time the lightsabers made their sound. I sat there like I was six years old watching a movie on the big screen for the first time.
That’s what Star Wars: The Force Awakens will do this weekend, it will make young kids fall in love with movies. The prequels were supposed to do that, but let’s be honest, they didn’t. BB-8 is what they were aiming for (and missed horrifically) with Jar Jar Binks, a lovable character young kids will go crazy over. Finn and Rey are the new Luke and Han. Kids will play with their toys. Kids will dress up as them for Halloween. One kid (if not more) will find his passion and movies will become his life.
Because of that, I must personally thank JJ Abrams, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Williams and everyone involved in the movie. Yes, you too George Lucas. I must thank you for making a movie that reminds me of my childhood. I must thank you for inspiring me as a child and inspiring a new generation to swing a flashlight like a lightsaber. I must thank you for reminding me what watching a movie on the big screen can be like even for one day. I must thank you for making a movie that makes me hope Santa leaves me some Star Wars toys under my Christmas tree next week. I must thank you for making Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Thank you and may the force be with you… Always