Star Wars: The Force Awakens – How will Episode 7 Affect the Star Wars Saga
It’s no secret that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the biggest movie on the planet right now. Ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, fans have been eagerly anticipating a potential new Star Wars movie. And now, our wait is over, and the movie is breaking all sorts of records (it’s already the second highest grossing film domestically at over $700 million). Which isn’t all too surprising, given the two years of excitement building up to this release. Plus, The Force Awakens follows after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, which meant we’d see Han, Luke, and Leia once more. Yep, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one heck of a hyped-up movie.
But is Star Wars: The Force Awakens deserving of all the hype? Did this seventh installment in the Star Wars Saga properly continue the sci-fi space adventure that George Lucas started over 30 years ago? Or is The Force Awakens too predictable, glitzy, and similar to another Star Wars story we’ve already seen? Before we can answer those questions, let’s recap what exactly happens in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The movie begins with the Resistance trying to find Luke Skywalker. The First Order is also after Luke Skywalker, led mostly by Kylo Ren. Kylo, the son of Han and Leia, betrayed Luke and turned to the dark side under Supreme Leader Snoke. The map to Skywalker, hidden in a droid named BB-8, ends up in the possession of two newcomers: Rey and Finn. Together Rey, Finn, and BB-8 flee The First Order by finding (and flying) the Millennium Falcon, and soon, run into Han Solo and Chewbacca, after Han detected the Falcon on his radar.
On the way to the Resistance base with BB-8, they visit Maz Kanata’s castle, where Rey feels a pull from the Force and discovers Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. However, The First Order is quick to find them, and Kylo Ren captures Rey. Kylo attempts to read Rey’s mind to find the map to Skywalker, but Rey, growing aware of her Force power, resists him.
As the First Order test their weaponry by wiping out the New Republic, the Resistance attack Starkiller Base, while Han Solo attempts to reconnect with his estranged son, Kylo Ren. Desperate to end the struggle between the light and dark within him, Kylo kills Han Solo. Kylo then battles Rey and Finn, but they end up fleeing as the Resistance successfully destroys Starkiller Base. With the map leading to Luke complete, Rey is sent to deliver Luke his lightsaber, and The Force Awakens ends with Luke turning around to see Rey extending the lightsaber out to him.
Sounds like a fast-paced space adventure, right? You bet. Those that positively favor the film credit its ability to be fun, light on its feet, and an entertaining time at the movies. However, a lot of fans found that the lightning-quick pace left too many questions and plot holes. Who exactly are the Resistance, and First Order, for that matter? What about this new Republic that is destroyed? And that Supreme Leader Snoke guy? Needless to say, there’s plenty left to be answered in Episode VIII and IX of the Star Wars Saga, which both delights and angers fans.
One thing that most fans can agree on, however, is the overall acting improvement in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trilogy newcomers include Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Issac as Poe, and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. The acting chops of these four have impressed and surprised both fans and critics, bringing to life complicated, interesting, and sometimes funny characters on screen.
Beyond the new cast members, many fans were also delighted to see their old favorites from the original Star Wars trilogy returning in The Force Awakens. However, the delight is short-lived: the new film completely destroys any notion of “happily ever after” that we might’ve been left with after Return of the Jedi. Han Solo is killed by his own son, Luke is in hiding, and Leia is left to grieve alone, turning to the only thing she knows how to do: lead the Resistance. This new reality for the original trilogy heroes hasn’t sat well with a dedicated part of the fan base.
Beyond this, the most overwhelming piece of fan criticism of Star Wars: The Force Awakens seems to be in its similarity to the first movie in the Star Wars Saga: A New Hope. Both Star Wars films feature an Imperial troop trying to recover secret plans that the Rebels/Resistance have hidden within a droid. The hero of both films is an orphan from a desert planet. And both A New Hope and The Force Awakens feature an enemy base with a weapon of mass destruction that wipes out entire planets. It’s all too similar to be considered a coincidence, many fans claim. Some even claim laziness in storytelling, relying on being overtly nostalgic and self-referential, calling the film “predictable” and “factory-made.” These naysayers blame two things: the “maximum profits and minimum offensiveness” state of Hollywood moviemaking today, and the massive baggage of the series and the nearly impossible expectations of fans.
This is where the fans that loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens fight back: “This was the most hyped movie of all-time,” fan Charlie Jane Anders writes. “There’s no way to strip away the cultural baggage that’s accrued to the first three Star Wars films. But watching The Force Awakens without those expectations, you can see it the way it was meant to be seen. The Force Awakens is all about revisiting the big ideas of the Original Trilogy through the eyes of a new, younger set of characters, and rediscovering what made those movies great.”
And at the end of the day, that’s the thing to remember: It’s a new Star Wars film. Predictable, confusing, underwhelming, whatever: It’s still a new addition to a saga that has delighted fans for almost forty years. And it’s entertaining, well acted, and superbly filmed. And it still feels like Star Wars. Really, that’s all we can ask for from a Star Wars Saga film.
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