Star Wars reawakens audiences
Gentlemen and ladies, boys and girls grab your light sabers … but does it live up to the hype?
Abundant laughs and applause (no standing ovation, sorry) strongly hint the answer to the hype question: yes.
Don’t accept my word, those of moviegoers attest to having a good time, whether a brief “awesome” or “it’s phenomenal” to “I hope we don’t have to wait three years [for more].” As for those non-nerds who woefully complain, “I can’t keep characters sorted in franchises,” worries are misplaced. Generally, you recognize the good guys from the dark side by color. Stormtroopers that wear armor represent the dark side, too, except one that removes his head gear and suit after having a moral realization on the battlefield.
The opening night crowd contained a few men still in their suits (just off work?), though, not as many above twenty-something women. This likely reflects that aside from the strong essence of a strong woman Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), females in the first three installments (“Star Wars,” “Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi”) were icing on a cake containing multiple male confections.
*MILD SPOILER ALERT*
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” lovingly revives the best of the best from that trilogy and simultaneously yet, simply, weaves the exploits of three young characters – Rae (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger hoping for the return of persons from the past; Poe (Oscar Issac), an X-wing pilot; and Finn (John Boyega), a running, panting and sweating stormtropper deserter – with aged legends Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
Handy hacking, holding a wrench and with self skill teaching, Rae (Ridley) introduces to the series a woman as an action hero equal propellant. While impressing males with her talents, Ridley maintains her femininity and openness to romance, unlike “Hunger Games” Katniss Everdeen or the Divergent series’ Jeanine who are gender neutral.
Swirling through hyperspace at a near perfect pace, “Awakens” director J.J. Abrams has mastered (among other specialties) the arcade video game cockpit weapons blasting, saber duels and seamlessly intertwining simultaneous events by a rapid wipe (sound familiar). He wins hearts immediately with BB-8, an orange and white beach ball, antennaed headpiece and lost puppy boops and beeps. Ford resumes the position of wisecracker in chief. A villain in black with a voice filter arrives too, except he tosses wild, hilarious tantrums. Otherwise, seems like old times!
1970s filmgoers applauded at Lucas’s meshing B movies, Saturday-morning serials, Japanese historical epics and mythic heft (during a period of realistic relevancy on screen). Four years later, they would push a whip-lashing Indiana Jones overlapping the same formula into immortal hero category. Disney may reboot him, too.
Most reviews mount with no specific deep criticisms, so, I’ll adhere to the sacred protocol. That’s not to suggest no imperfections, just, there has yet to be made a 100% perfect film that is immune to critical thought. A few writers grumbled about “redux” aspects. Yet, those films rise to the cream of the top film icons of all time. Is that a weakness or a positive?