I just got out of seeing the new Star Wars film, and I missed my train home, so I’m starting my review while I wait for Lord of the Fries. I was always planning on seeing The Force Awakens, but I wasn’t sure when it would happen. Then I saw discussion on the internet saying that Rey was a Mary Sue, and I had to see this film. As of this sentence, I’m writing from home (the phone’s battery was nearly dead), and this isn’t really going to be a review so much as a series of sentences that are grouped vaguely into paragraphs because I’m still processing exactly what happened. Anyone who has seen the film knows what I’m talking about, and there are spoilers in this post, so I’m just going to hit Enter a bunch of times before I actually get to the review.
BEWARE: SPOILERS AHEAD
You really shouldn’t be reading this if you don’t want to be spoiled.
This is your last chance to get out. Are we all up to date on The Force Awakens? If you’re not, I’ve given you enough warning, it’s all spoilers from now on.
I am very impressed that the internet has been so respectful about spoilers, especially in regards to Han Solo’s dath in the final act of the film. I don’t really remember much about the first time I saw A New Hope, but I do remember Obi Wan Kenobe’s death, and Han’s death was very much a reflection of that, down to the falling of the bridge into the abyss thing. Part of the hero’s journey is having the father figure die so that you can truly walk on your own, which is why Han had to die (also, he and Leia had finally made peace with each other, so that ship was doomed, we’ve all seen Joss Whedon shows, right?). Han was Rey’s Obi Wan, and Luke is her Yoda. The Force Awakens very much follows the structure of A New Hope, and I’m perfectly okay with that, because that’s how it should be in this epic saga.
Star Wars is now a seven part story about the people who live in this far, far away galaxy. It’s fitting that the structure of The Force Awakens mirrors that of A New Hope, because the politics of this place still haven’t been figured out. Overthrowing an Empire doesn’t mean that there will be immediate democracy – Napoleon rose to power in post-Revolutionary France. Whenever a side loses a war, there is a faction of them that remains, and with enough influence they’re able to amass an army. We’ve seen that in our own history, why would it be different elsewhere? Humanity is doomed to repeat its mistakes, and the Star Wars universe is much like our own in that sense, except the scale is so much bigger.
I don’t really have much more to say about the film just yet except for this whole Rey/Mary Sue situation (here’s a great explanation on Pajiba of where the term came from). I’ve also seen Finn being criticised for being passive – is it because the traditional male and female roles were flipped when Rey saved Finn? I have no idea. Yes, Rey is a kickass lady, but I guess we’re not allowed to love her because she doesn’t have quite enough flaws. First of all, that’s bullshit. She’s too talented? Are people scared of quotas or something? So this woman was abandoned on a desert planet by her family, and she collected scrap metal to trade for food. It kind of makes sense that she’d know how machines work. Given that she was left by her family at quite a young age, she probably had to learn how to defend herself as well. As for Finn, it’s pretty damn brave to escape the First Order, and he knows how to shoot. Yes, he wanted to run, but so did Han Solo. It’s easier that way, it always has been, but he chooses to go back for Rey. She may not need saving in a traditional sense, but his heart is in the right place and that’s all that matters. Also Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver were all fantastic, but you know that. You’ve seen the film.
The one thing I found a bit strange was Rey’s wavering awareness of the Force (which by the way is way too powerful, why are humans able to weild that much power?). We get the first hint that she’s a Jedi (well, I already knew that because I’d spoiled myself to an extent reading about this whole Mary Sue situation) when she picks up Luke’s lightsaber. Then when she’s being interrogated by Kylo Ren, she’s able to see into his soul. At that stage she must be aware that something’s happening and that she’s somewhat connected to the Jedi, because then she uses the Force to break out of her restraints and cell. Then she forgets about it for a while, until she’s fighting with Ren, and he mentions the Force and she uses it to not fall off a cliff. I think I need to watch The Empire Strikes Back again soon.
The Force Awakens was a good film, and it’s structural similarities to A New Hope reflect the way that history tends to repeat itself, and organised groups form after an oppressive government is defeated. People want things to change, others want them to stay the same, and we see the same patterns over and over again. I enjoyed The Force Awakens, but I’m hoping that Episodes VIII and IX don’t similarly copy The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Given the strength of this film however, I’m optimistic about the remaining films in the trilogy (although I haven’t seen Jurassic World).