Doug: Time it is. Spoil you must.
Karen: Howdy folks. While Doug and his boys are going to see it today, and we'll hear from him soon, I've seen it twice now, and I want to chime in with some thoughts.
First, I did enjoy it. I felt it was in the spirit of the original trilogy and was visually stunning, and thankfully did not have the synthetic, over-CGI look of the prequels. I am so glad they decided to film in real locations, and use film stock. The story also is much more personal and relatable than the whole trade guild mess from the prequels -as soon as the beginning crawl said, "Luke Skywalker has vanished" I felt like the story would be focused in the right direction.
The new young protagonists were interesting and likable, if still somewhat mysterious, I am assuming we will learn more about Rey's parentage in the next film. I am still wondering what made Finn break his conditioning and rebel -is there something going on here that will also be revealed?
I have to be honest and admit that the moments that brought me the greatest joy were those with cranky old Han Solo and Chewbacca. Seeing those two together again, and seeing the Millennium Falcon soaring across the screen, were enough to make me go home with warm fuzzies. I've been asking myself how much of my good will towards the film is due to nostalgia, and I'm sure that is a nice chunk of it. Perhaps with some time it will be more clear to me if I like The Force Awakens on its own merits or just because I get to see my childhood heroes in it. I think there's enough in the film to like it beyond the nostalgia factor -but let's not kid ourselves: it's a heavy factor.
Not that everything was perfect (none of the Star Wars films are). I felt there were too many call backs to the original films. Another Deathstar? Why? Even the movie seems to poke fun at this, when the Rebels are planning their attack and Han sort of sarcastically says something along the lines of "There's usually a way to blow these things up." We have a youngster on a desert planet who has a greater destiny. A robot carrying secret plans. A cantina with a bunch of strange-looking aliens. A character who leaves winds up coming back to help. The mentor to the younger characters dies...it just felt like there were too many parallels. It's obvious it was intentional but much like Superman Returns, it felt like overkill to me.
I also have mixed feelings about Kylo Ren. Obviously he's not meant to be Darth Vader; by the time we first saw Vader, he had been in his position for a couple of decades and was largely in control of himself -his was a simmering anger that he was able to direct with a laser-like focus. Ren on the other hand is all angst and fury, confused as hell and perhaps even psychotic. While this comes across there are also some odd moments of humor, when he throws his tantrums, that make him far less menacing and more pathetic. I suppose the true villain here is the Emperor stand-in (another call back), Supreme Leader Snoke -a terrible name - who seems to be manipulating Ren. I wasn't surprised by the revelation that he was Han and Leia's son, but I do wish we'd had a little more build up to it. The way it was revealed seemed rather off-handed.
I suppose Harrison Ford finally got the death scene he's been wanting since The Empire Strikes Back. No wonder he's been so happy to do all these TV shows and press junkets -he's finally free! Maybe I'm too hard on him. He seems like a decent guy, just not enamored with the whole 'Star Wars' life. In any case, I thought he did a great job in the film. He really brought back Han Solo -all the ego, the humor, and the subtlety too, he pulled it off. I was very happy to see Chewie get featured quite a bit. I just wish he'd had a scene with Leia after Han's death. I also wish Ford and Mark Hamill had gotten a scene together, but barring flashbacks, this appears unlikely.
Carrie Fisher didn't get a lot to do this time around -and Hamill even less! - but I'm sure we'll see more of them next time. There are still so many unanswered questions about what has happened between Return of the Jedi and this film. And why the heck do jedi always run off and go into hiding when they have a problem? Yoda and Obi-Wan did it, and now Luke is too? Geez guys, how about dealing with your problems?!
Despite any quibbles, I am excited to see where the story is going.