I don’t have a lot to dispute regarding Danielle’s review. However, I did want to talk about my own feelings regarding this franchise and world.
I saw the original Star Wars in the theater when I was 6. I was Leia for Halloween the next year, and my sister and I had Darth Vader and Leia 18 inch dolls. I saw all of the original trilogy in the theaters, at a time when we didn’t have a lot of money, so movies in the theater were a big deal for us. When VCRs became a thing, one of the first movie purchases we made was a box set of the original three movies.
When the prequels came out, I was super excited! Went to the first on opening night, and was bitterly disappointed. Lucas had sucked much of the magic out with is “explanation” of the Force, and let’s face it, the original cast had chemistry in spite of Lucas’s directing, not because of it.
When news of The Force Awakens came out, I viewed it with marked disinterest. I had been burned by Lucas before, not gonna get fooled again.
Then the clips of John Boyego as a black storm trooper hit the web, and I was dubious, but allowed as how I might eventually watch the film. Then news that the lead would be female, and I perked up a little more. I discovered that Lucas would not be directing, and I decided, yeah, ok, this could be good. Word came out that Lucas hated it, and I was in.
Yes, Lucas gave me one of the more magical moments of my childhood, watching Luke Skywalker become a Jedi, but often I find myself thinking that he did it by accident rather than design, because those films were never for me. They were made for the hurting nerdboy Lucas had been, who never got over it. The fact that a tiny nerd girl was used to subsuming her own gender identity to be able to identify with the heroes in the fiction she had, was completely coincidental. Yes, we had Leia, but she wound up having to be rescued, a lot. And the less said about the gold metal bikini the better. Although, this quote from Carrie Fisher regarding the infamous bikini is priceless:
“To The father who flipped out about it, -‘What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?’ Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.“
This movie, though. This movie was made for all the little nerd girls and boys. Because, yes, Rey is the lead, but there’s also Poe Dameron (best pilot in the Rebellion), Finn who broke his programming to do the right thing, Han and Chewie.
And oh, the glorious Carrie Fisher back as an older and wiser Leia, who has seen some shit go down and survived stronger than ever. And the first person who comments that she hasn’t aged well, can go screw. Unless you also want to talk about how Harrison Ford has aged. But you probably don’t, because dudes are allowed to get old, while women are supposed to remain youthful and dewy until we magically vanish or something. Carrie Fisher has handled the body and age shaming trolls spectacularly.
I still want to be her when I grow up.
One thing I do dispute is that this film is at all derivative. I think intertextual is a far better word. Yes, there are a lot of callbacks, in setting and scenes, but they’re used with characters who could not be more different. Yes, Rey starts on a desert world, as Luke did. But instead of someone raised by a loving aunt and uncle, who are killed to motivate him to move forward in the story, we have a young scavenger who has lived on her own for who knows how long. She’s tough, scrappy, and capable in her own right. Luke may have been a good pilot, but Rey is overall, I think, more competent at survival. And while she doesn’t want to leave Jakku, she does, not motivated by conveniently fridged relatives, but by the desire to do the right thing and get BB-8 to the Rebellion.
Several scenes harken back to the original, but they aren’t copies, they are homages, callbacks that let you know that yes, this may be Abrams, but he doesn’t want you to forget for one moment that you are watching Star Wars. As one of my room-mates put it, “Lot’s of Star Wars, very little Abrams.”
I don’t want to get spoilery, so I’m being vague on purpose.
Plus it’s nice to see Bottomless Shafts and Dangerous Walkways without Handrails, Inc. is still getting work from the Empire.
So, I liked it a lot. A lot more than I intended to. In fact, as I told several people, “44 year old me is really kind of pissed off that 6 year old me didn’t get to see this film.”
But also, old people!!! People, including women who have aged like people age! And female storm troopers, and Captain Phasma, and female fighter pilots, and female villains and heroes and POC in all the parts! YES!!!! Hooray for Diversity and Inclusion.
So, if you want to come here and rant about how a girl Jedi and a black storm trooper are taking away all your birthdays, move along, pal. We got nothing for you here. If you’re looking for sympathy, it’s between ‘shit’ and ‘syphilis’ in the dictionary.
By the by, it’s great to be back. Next I’ll rant about the MCU. Have a good New Year!!!!
Edited to fix my spelling of Lucas’s name, because my bandmate spells it with a K and that stuck in my head.