I’ve now seen StarWars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens twice, so I’m finally ready to say something about it. Since there are plenty of good reviews already (see a bunch on Rotten Tomatoes), since reviews always carry the risk of spoilers, and since people are taking Star Wars spoilers extra seriously, I thought I’d try something else.
Rather than a review that explains specific elements of the film and my opinion about them, I’m giving my general reactions. Five of them to be precise.
From the look of the film to the John Williams score, from the lack of everything that made Episode I so terrible to the presence of most of what made the original trilogy so great, this is a real Star Wars movie.
There are plenty of old favorites, and we knew they'd be there from the trailers and promotions (I won’t say who, just in case some readers were in a galaxy far, far away from all Earthly communication). It’s a lot of fun to see the old characters; it's like catching up with old friends. As someone who grew up with the original trilogy, I admit I got a little misty eyed from time to time.
3. It’s just as fun to meet new characters.
One could imagine curmudgeonly fans of my generation resisting the new characters as young whipper-snappers butting into a perfectly good reunion (and who should get off our lawns!). But that’s not the case for me. The new characters are every bit as likeable and interesting as the old ones, perhaps even more so in some cases. Also, the galaxy of Star Wars looks every bit as diverse as other places known for their diversity, such as Earth.
Veering into some specificity, I can’t resist saying that a certain droid may be the cutest robot since Wall-E.
4. The philosophical core of Star Wars remains.
How can you become a good person, and why is it sometimes so hard? What does it mean to be a good person, anyway? How should we react to evil, both within and without? What do you owe others, and what do you owe yourself? What follows from the fact that everything in the universe is in some sense connected, whether through the Force, traditional religious metaphysics, or plain old science? When are wars, whether of the star variety or not, justified? How should we think about diversity and unity among humans (and droids and aliens)?
These are just some of the philosophical issues that Star Wars movies have always dealt with (yes, even the prequel trilogy). The Force Awakens is no different.
I’m keeping this spoiler-free, so I don’t even want to say what the questions are, but rest assured, we don’t get all the answers. There’s plenty for fans to speculate about, and plenty for the remaining sequels to sort out. I’m extremely eager for Episode VIII! May 2017 can’t come soon enough!