How does one prepare to watch one of the most anticipated films ever?
By binge-eating sweets, drinking coffee and hoping the butterflies in your stomach is actually nerves and not an inconvenient need to go for a poo when the film is mere moments away from starting.
That was how I felt three years ago on the night that I saw Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, at a midnight screening in a packed theatre. Not far away was an Obi-Wan Kenobi and the costume was pretty spot on.
The lights finally went out and the curtain opened and it started. And I began a mental checklist. Lucasfilm title? Yes! Opening title and crawl? Check. Pan down to a planet? Check. Ship entering frame? Check. It had passed the first of my mental tests so I sat back and (almost) relaxed.
Almost two and a half hours later I left the cinema and met a co-worker who had seen it in another of the full screenings. We said one word… “wow!” To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. To say I was relieved would also be an understatement.
The Force Awakens is brilliant. It feels like Original Trilogy Star Wars, not because it’s a lot like A New Hope, but it’s got that same… je ne sais quois… the look of the film, the feel of the locations and characters, the story… it all screams Star Wars to me.
The new characters shine throughout this film. The old characters are a welcome sight to behold. Seeing the Millennium Falcon again is just like going home after a long trip away.
Of all the new characters introduced in this film, Poe was my instant favourite, the way he interacts with BB-8 was so heartwarming, he’s funny but got a lot of heart. His scenes with Finn, from their first conversation on board The Finalizer to their brief but significant moment before flying to Starkiller Base really made me hope to see more of that bromance throughout the Sequel Trilogy.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Rey, and not in a creepy way, her line about thinking Luke Skywalker being a myth really hit me, she’s a fan just like us, except to us he is an actual myth. The way she goes through the film, being thrown into strange and new situations and having a sense of wonder is great to see, especially when they are flying over Takodana.
Finn, I think, is the heart of the film. How can we not love him. He deserted the First Order, he is incredibly loyal towards Rey, even when he does leave he comes back and instantly wants to find her. He endangers the whole galaxy just to go to Starkiller base just to find her and he almost gets himself killed trying to protect her from Kylo Ren.
Speaking of whom, Kylo Ren… definitely one of my favourite Star Wars characters of all time and perfectly played by Adam Driver. He’s an angry boy who is good but want to play bad and has a desperate need to prove himself to his master. His conflict within himself is what makes him so intriguing and he has definitely been the character I speculated about the most. I was shocked to find out his name, ‘Ben’, and that scene him and Han Solo is one of cinemas greatest moments for me. I love Kylo but I hate him for his murder of Han. Like the character I am also conflicted.
Han and Chewie’s triumphant return to the screen (and the Falcon) is so well portrayed. It’s as if they hadn’t been away for over thirty years. Han’s story in this film is well thought out and his death is unfortunately necessary but hard to watch, even now and I have seen the film countless times by this point. Other than the scene with Kylo, his best moments are those with Leia. Seeing them together was beautiful and their farewell was perfect.
Like A New Hope and Phantom Menace, being the first part of a trilogy, The Force Awakens purpose is to set up the world, introducing the new characters, reintroducing the older characters and setting up the state of the galaxy, the Resistance and the First Order. This isn’t just another part of an ongoing story. For the fans it’s a continuation but for the new fans it’s the beginning of their Star Wars adventure and it paves the way for ‘The Last Jedi’ to really take the story for these new characters and run with it.
Some fans may have criticised it for being too similar to A New Hope, for me this wasn’t a problem, my theory is that The Force Awakens was the film the fans needed. The familiar and the new all together to make one beautiful package.
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