A year ago I wrote a blog post about the thrill that I experienced the first time I watched the original STAR WARS -- now referenced as Episode IV – A NEW HOPE -- as well as excitement while watching the trailer for STAR WARS: Episode VII - THE FORCE AWAKENS. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed by the latest STAR WARS episode.
A massive fleet of reviews and critiques have been published since THE FORCE AWAKENS was released last Christmas, with the film receiving an average of 8.3 out of 10 on IMDb and a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
THE FORCE AWAKENS has been referenced by some critics as a reboot of A NEW HOPE – Rey (Daisy Ridley) lives out an existence on a harsh and desolate desert planet much like Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, and who is accompanied by the droid BB-8 -- like Luke’s R2-D2 – and joins forces with former Stormtrooper Finn who can handle weapons as well as Han Solo.
I'm not delving into the nit-picking of the "old style X-wing fighters were better" or "what's with all the nostalgia?" I felt that the nostalgia is a nod for old fans, yet don't alienate new fans by making them feel they are missing out on major plot lines.
While I do agree that more could have been included of the subplot between Han and Leia instead of a token appearance by Carrie Fisher, I refuse to feed into the ageist and sexist attitude regarding her physical appearance and performance. Ultimately it was director J.J. Abrams who bore the responsibility for direction of Fisher as well as her most questionable action of hugging Rey rather than Chewbacca in a pivotal scene.
For anyone who has bought into Seth Abramson's "40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens," I encourage you to take the time to read Film Colossus co-founder and editor-in-chief Chris Lambert's four part series arguing against all 40 points, starting with Part 1.
As I stated in this article on “What Star Wars can Teach Small Business and Entrepreneurs”, don’t bother engaging in a dialogue about Rey being unrealistically talented without reading Charlie Jane Anders post “Please Stop Spreading This Nonsense that Rey from Star Wars is a ‘Mary Sue’”. I agree with Anders implication that the term “Mary Sue” is a toxic trope that discredits females as believable main characters. Rey has survived by scavenging for several years, and her ability to use a lightsaber is supported by her effective use of a staff in defending herself against other scavengers. She has some familiarity with spaceships, as she scavenges for the valuable machinery parts that can be bartered for food and resources.
Additionally, her skills can be attributed to her Force sensitivity, much like Luke and Anakin Skywalker. Whether Rey is a Skywalker descendant or a Padawan saved and secured away by Luke remains to be seen.
THE FORCE AWAKENS may not be a "perfect" movie -- what movie is? -- yet it's the sum of all its parts that makes this film the perfect introduction of the STAR WARS mythos to younger generations. A diverse cast led by what could easily be a gender neutral character is not only refreshing, but encouraging in teaching our youth a cultural lesson that gender, race, and socioeconomic classes aren't what define an individual. Resourcefulness, intuition, perseverance, and strength of character are all valuable traits that can give hope to future generations.
As Lucas himself stated on the mythology of STAR WARS and its themes in a 1999 interview with Bill Moyers --
Listen to "Power of Myth" author Joseph Campbell discuss the hero and mythology of STAR WARS, and Moyers describing watching the film with his sons in the following clip:
Much like the original film that inspired its saga, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is not merely entertainment for the masses. This film exemplifies the power of storytelling through film, making a profound effect on its viewers for a lifetime.