Star Wars: The Force Awakens did was it needed to. It restarted the franchise after Lucas’s disastrous prequel turn. It stamped Star Wars as Disney’s in the same way Iron Man did with Marvel. We weren’t just picking up where we left off, but rebooting a bit, too — and that’s fine. It’s what had to happen.
I enjoyed the movie immensely, and not just because I got to take my six year old daughter for her first experience of Star Wars on the big screen. (She loved it.)
What follows isn’t a composed review. I’ll need to see it a few more times for that. Instead, it’s more a random set of things that occurred to me during the movie and after. I’ve avoided spoilers, too.
My daughter’s a Star Wars Rebels fan and her favorite character is Sabine. Still is. But Rey’s edging in. I never really understood how bad the movie business (and the publishing business and the television business) is at giving girls action heroes to root for until I had a daughter. Now I can’t escape it. It’s a constant struggle finding something to show her or read to her that has a female protagonist who isn’t a princess or school girl obsessed with boys or isn’t focused on teaching how to be nice or how to get along with friends.
Rey’s exactly what Star Wars needed. A girl who kicks ass and isn’t a princesses and — unlike Sabine — gets top billing. When we left the theater, Nora said, “I want to be Rey for Halloween.”
I was always optimistic about this movie. Leading up to it, all the signs pointed in the right direction, and all the new Star Wars stuff Disney gave us was pretty damn good. Star Wars Rebels was easily the best new Star Wars on a screen since Return of the Jedi. The new comics capture the feel of the good Star Wars movies. It was clear Disney saw the Rebellion Era as the “default,” and would use it to inform the look and feel of future material.
And we were going to see a return to practical effects. Which goddamn did we need, after the bad (and not just dated) CGI of the prequels. For the most part, The Force Awakens succeeds here. The aliens in its version of the Cantina sequence look great.
But — and here’s my turn toward complaining — the large creature work failed. The creatures moved like stage productions, where you admire the artistry while still seeing clearly that it’s a few guys in a suit. None lived up to the standard Jabba set 30 years ago. You could watch the costumes crinkle around the…