Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 2015. Directed by JJ Abrams. Written by Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt. Starring Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkin, Domhnall Gleeson, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, and Mark Hamill. POPCORN: There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it? CINEMA: More appropriately, have you seen it? POPCORN: Alright, nerf-herders, y’all had enough time. This is, like, your spoiler alert. You don’t wanna know about how Jabba was Han’s dad, or that Jar Jar is a Sith lord now, don’t read any further. Heh-heh. CINEMA: What’s up with the cardboard tube? POPCORN: Lightsaber, dude. I’m going all in for this. CINEMA: You would. So, it’s true. All of it. The dark side. The Jedi. They’re real. And JJ Abrams has killed Han Solo. POPCORN: Dude, he wanted out way back in RETURN OF THE JEDI. Can’t fault the man for coming back just to make sure they did it right. What, you bummin’, bro? We need to hug it out? CINEMA: Get away from me. No, I know that Harrison Ford pushed for Lucas to kill his character when they destroyed the second Death Star. He felt that it would give the film more emotional gravity, which I suppose we have now in this episode . . . POPCORN: Saw it coming, man. Not before I sat down in the theater, but soon as we find out who Ren was. Then him and Leia were all sayin’ goodbye, like, yeah, it’s going down. By the time he’s walkin’ out on that bridge to face his son, it feels like Obi-Wan going to sacrifice himself. CINEMA: That’s the problem that some people are having with this film. Most of it feels like something we’ve all seen before. Not that it’s bad; quite the opposite, really. George Lucas has criticized it as being all recycled ideas, as if his original film wasn’t itself a very entertaining rehash of ancient myths. He went so far as to say that selling his franchise to Disney was like selling his children to white slavers – POPCORN: Make sure Luke wears his jacket when he goes out in the snow. Try to keep Leia away from those fatty foods. Don’t let Han get himself into too much trouble. Oh, and how ’bout you write that check now, eh? CINEMA: Funny that the white slavers might be taking better care of his children than he has recently. THE FORCE AWAKENS is more of a remix than a sequel, but it does cleanse the palate of the nasty taste of those prequels. There’s no more talk of midichlorians, choosing to ditch the bad science of that series with the quasi-mystical fantasy of the original movies. POPCORN: Hey, I didn’t hate those movies. They were kinda shiny. CINEMA: Polished turds, my friend. The greatest feeling for most people when they saw this one was . . . relief. No matter what its failings, it was still better than watching Jar Jar’s tongue go numb and flop around outside of his mouth. POPCORN: It’s blowin’ up the box office like it was a Death Star. CINEMA: It’s making historic numbers, true, and is more deserving than AVATAR – POPCORN: You mean, James Cameron’s FERNGULLY? CINEMA: – but the question is, how much nostalgia is too much? I loved Kool-Aid as a child, but it’s not the same when I drink it now. We’ve got a new Luke Skywalker in the form of Rey, living on some backwater desert planet, learning that she’s Force-sensitive later in life. There’s a cute robot being pursued by remnants of the former Empire because he’s holding information they need. We’ve even got another Death Star, though it’s cleverly called Starkiller Base in homage to Luke’s original surname. Did we really need another Death Star? POPCORN: Dude, we didn’t need another Death Star in RETURN OF THE JEDI either. So what? If I had something that could destroy planets, I’d be building that shit again too. Might wanna nail some plywood over those exhaust ports, though. CINEMA: Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy, was asked to reprise his role for this one. He turned them down, explaining that it would have bored him. POPCORN: Well, come on, man. What would he have, one line? Copy, Gold Leader. Whoa, that got him! CINEMA: That’s what I’m saying. He was a fairly big character in the expanded universe, with appearances in all of those X-Wing books and as part of Rogue Squadron. But he probably took one look at the script and realized he’d already done this movie. Hell, they were probably going to kill him for shock value anyway. POPCORN: Dude, where’s the love? Seeing this flick was like being a kid again. CINEMA: No, I felt that way too. I enjoyed Star Wars again for the first time, really, since THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Then I left the theater and the adult took over again. You know . . . the part of a person who can look at something objectively and critically evaluate it, setting aside any emotional connections in order to see things for what they are. This was derivative. Call it an homage if it makes you feel better, but I agree with all the critics who felt that maybe they were going to get something just a little less familiar. POPCORN: You are one critical bastard. So you haven’t liked a single Star Wars movie since THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK? CINEMA: Liked them, sure. But love . . . POPCORN: What was wrong with JEDI? CINEMA: Too many damn teddy bears. POPCORN: Dude, an Ewok will kick your ass. I ain’t even kidding. CINEMA: Anyway. So it’s about thirty years after the battle of Endor, where the teddy bears helped to destroy the second Death Star. Luke Skywalker, after trying to establish an academy for training new Jedis, has vanished. He is the last of his kind, and the First Order (the even more Nazi-like tyrants who rose from the ashes of the Empire) want to find him and kill him. Apparently, they never heard about that whole strike-me-down-and-I-will-only-become-more-powerful thing. POPCORN: There’s this Resistance pilot named Edgar Allan Poe meeting that EXORCIST dude down on Jakku. Dude’s all like, this will begin to make things right. Like he’s talking about the prequels or something. And he slips ol’ Poe some kinda map to find Luke. When the bad dudes show up and start killin’ everything, Poe hides the map inside this beach-ball robot dude – CINEMA: BB-8, who’s trying desperately to be even cuter than R2-D2. POPCORN: – and the robot is found by an even cuter version of Luke. Bad-ass scavenger chick called Rey who doesn’t take shit from anyone. While all that’s going on, this Darth Vader wannabe is having a blast watching villagers get shot and torturing the pilot dude. The wannabe Vader – CINEMA: Kylo Ren. POPCORN: – finds out about the beach ball. He gets mad and has a hissyfit. A couple times. For some reason he’s got the real Vader’s mask in his bedroom and, like, talks to it all the time. He’s like, show me the power of the darkness and I’ll finish what you started . . . Grandpa. Yeah, that’s right. He’s Han and Leia’s boy, and he’s one of those kids that’s, like, really, really messed up by his parents getting divorced. CINEMA: Alright, hold on a minute. I just have to say that I think we got short-changed on seeing Han and Leia together. This was a relationship that made up much of the original trilogy for lots of people, but we never get more than a few lines of dialogue between them. It’s almost like bullet points about their relationship. I would have liked to see a bit more . . . POPCORN: What’s she gonna do, dude? Lean in and whisper, “Hey, captain, you want me to bust out that gold bikini?” CINEMA: I don’t know. She essentially sends him off to his death when she asks him to bring their son back home. She knows it, and he probably does too. I can live with only seeing Luke for a few minutes when we did, but there should have been more Han and Leia. POPCORN: Well, dude, if it makes you feel better, she’s probably gonna join him by the end of this trilogy. CINEMA: And what about Kylo? POPCORN: You mean, was he a little bitch? Yeah, dude. But I kinda liked it that way for the first episode. If he woulda been all Darth Maul bad-ass, I woulda been doubtin’. CINEMA: Hmm, room for evil growth, I like that. He does have Skywalker blood in him. POPCORN: Yeah, and we all know that Anakin was a little bitch before he got some lava in his eye and turned into the baddest mofo in the galaxy. CINEMA: And now that he’s done this thing that he was conflicted about – POPCORN: Pig-stick his dad. CINEMA: – he can reach his full potential. What I found interesting was that the entire film is about inner conflict. We’ve got the stormtrooper, FN-2187 – POPCORN: Finn. CINEMA: – who has been raised and trained his entire life to serve the First Order. When Kylo lands on Jakku to find the map to Skywalker, he sends the troopers out to destroy the village. But Finn sees one of his close friends get killed – POPCORN: The dude that leaves the bloody handprint on his helmet? CINEMA: Yeah. There’s a book called BEFORE THE AWAKENING, where we get some of Finn’s back-story. He grew up as part of a four-man crew, where it seems everyone but him had a nickname. There was Nines and Zero, thus called because of the numbers in their given First Order names, and Slip, who apparently slipped up a lot. Finn originally came to Captain Phasma’s attention because he was top in his class and yet kept covering for his friend Slip. POPCORN: Slipped up one last time, I guess. CINEMA: Not that these things can be planned, but everyone expected the chrome-plated captain to be the breakout star. Kind of their new Boba Fett. But then, after Finn has freed Poe Dameron, he gets into it with this other trooper outside Maz Kanata’s castle – POPCORN: The dude that yells traitor and busts out the big-ass riot control baton? CINEMA: That’s the one. He goes up against a lightsaber and actually holds his own. The internet is all abuzz over this trooper, naming him TR-8R, though, in reality, he was probably FN-2199. You know, Finn’s childhood friend Nines. That adds a little more depth to this thirty-second battle, while also bringing us back to what I was saying about inner conflict. POPCORN: Traitor. Huh, I liked that dude. CINEMA: The screenplay was released this week (in order for THE FORCE AWAKENS to be considered for awards), and it makes the characterizations a bit more intriguing. It describes Kylo as being weakened, horrified, and shocked by the act of killing his father. In the novelization of the movie, Supreme Leader Snoke – POPCORN: The big Emperor-looking dude? CINEMA: Yeah, in the book Snoke is telling Kylo that Vader’s only weakness was his love for his son. He was more or less urging him to do what he might not have otherwise done. The script also suggests that, when Rey finally picks up the lightsaber to fight Kylo, she feels the dark side urging her to kill him right now. POPCORN: Not a bad idea, dude. But then we wouldn’t get to see ’em kicking each other’s asses in the next movie. CINEMA: Or the training that you know Rey’s going to do with Luke. The screenplay also describes Luke as being amazed and conflicted when he sees Rey, specifically stating that “he doesn’t need to ask who she is or what she’s doing there.” POPCORN: That’s his daughter, dude. We all know it. CINEMA: That is the speculative frontrunner. It might explain why she’s so adept at harnessing the Force, and why she’s drawn to that trunk where Luke’s old lightsaber was on mothballs. POPCORN: Wonder what they did with his hand . . . CINEMA: In the vision she has when she touches the weapon for the first time, we see her being dumped on Jakku. She appears to be about five or six years old. It’s possible that when she was very young she was at Luke’s Jedi Academy. Then Han and Leia’s son, Ben, apparently went darkside and slaughtered all the padawans – POPCORN: Shit runs in the family. CINEMA: – joining some kind of dark Jedi group called the Knights of Ren, changing his name to Kylo Ren. Luke, or someone, got her out of there in a hurry – POPCORN: – and since Tatooine is the shitty sand planet where everyone goes to hide out, Luke figured he better pick a different shitty sand planet to hide this one. CINEMA: In the novel, when Rey sees herself being dropped off, there’s a voice behind her. It says “Stay here, I’ll come back for you” . . . and then “I’ll come back, sweetheart, I promise.” If that doesn’t sound parental, then I don’t know what does. POPCORN: She could be Kylo’s sister. Just cuz nobody mentions twins doesn’t mean they weren’t, you feel me? Ain’t like it’s never been done. CINEMA: They do like to repeat these motifs in the Star Wars story. Must admit, this idea was in my mind while I watched Kylo interrogating her. POPCORN: If they started makin’ out or something, we’d of known for sure. Hey, maybe she’s a Luke and Leia lovechild. CINEMA: Not even going there. But I’ve heard some speculation that she could be a Kenobi. POPCORN: Naw, man. Even if the old dude got it on just before he got cut down by Vader, she’d still be, like . . . almost forty. She ain’t but half that. CINEMA: In any case, her gifts are innate, training or not. With this whole new world of the Force being suddenly thrust upon her, it might serve to activate all these subdued abilities. POPCORN: Is that why her and Finn kick Kylo’s ass so bad in that battle at the end? CINEMA: Well, duh. He’d just killed his own father, even though he was conflicted about doing it. Remember that little speech? “I want to be free of this pain . . .” POPCORN: “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?” CINEMA: Poor temperamental weasel, he was probably still in shock from his own actions. Not to mention, he’d taken a shot in the chest from Chewie’s bowcaster, something that probably would have killed someone else. He still hurt Finn pretty bad before Rey stepped in, the lightsaber hurtling into her hand. POPCORN: Dude, that was sweet. And I don’t care what you’re sayin’ now, I heard you cheering when that shit happened. CINEMA: I did. And I knew it was going to happen. POPCORN: Prediction, dude: Kylo’s gonna tear some shit up in the next episode. I know you think he’s a little bitch cuz he killed your boy, but he’s coming back suped-up for the next round. Gonna have some real Darth Vader parts now, probably a few more after he takes on Rey and Luke. CINEMA: You think so too, huh? POPCORN: Yeah, dude. It’s gonna be bad-ass. CINEMA: But I can see it all coming. POPCORN: So? CINEMA: Here, let me line up the rest of the trilogy for you. When Kylo interrogated Rey, he didn’t get much from her, but he did see that there was a place in her mind. She might not even have been aware of it yet, but what he described is probably the island where she finds Luke at the end of this movie. Old Man Skywalker might eventually reach out to take the lightsaber she was holding out to him, but it will be to casually toss it aside. If they allow his character to be a bit less wooden than he was in RETURN OF THE JEDI (which might happen since Lucas isn’t on the set anymore), there will be some kind of flippant remark – POPCORN: You don’t happen to have my hand, do you? CINEMA: Exactly. Or he’s going to give it to her, or toss it aside until he gives it to her later. Or wait until the big revelation that a Skywalker has always held this saber – POPCORN: And then give it to her. CINEMA: There will be lots of Luke and Rey training scenes – POPCORN Intergalactic Rocky. CINEMA: Exactly. Meanwhile, Kylo will be getting angrier and destroying more First Order property. Maybe he will have his own training montage, with Snope running beside him in a drenched sweatshirt and a whistle hanging down his chest. I don’t give General Hux long, since these guys wouldn’t want anyone around who might have their own ambitions. But rest assured that, by the end of Episode VIII, Kylo will find his way to that island. POPCORN: Then the shit hits the fan. CINEMA: It will stink, my friend. Whether Luke picks up the lightsaber again, I’m not sure. It’s possible that he will just stand there Kenobi style. But he’s going to die. Probably just before Rey actually does pick up the saber, essentially claiming her name and her new place in the Star Wars universe. The match between her and Kylo will either be a draw, or Rey will lose, but it will set everything up for the final third of the trilogy. POPCORN: When she has one of those I-sense-the-good-in-him moments, and Kylo tosses Snopes or Plagueis or whoever the hell that big hologram dude is down into a reactor shaft. Oh, and she’s either gonna hook up with Finn or Poe by the end, gettin’ knocked up so somebody can say – CINEMA and POPCORN: It’s twins!! POPCORN: Dude, that’d be awesome. CINEMA: No, it wouldn’t. Whether you see this blatant replay of STAR WARS as good or not, the advantage of the original is that it could stand on its own. You could watch it and never have to see another movie in the series. With this one, you really don’t need to have seen any of the first six movies. Abrams did a fine job incorporating both past and present into one film. However, you can’t really get away from needing to see what happens next. Call me cynical, but there’s something a bit devious in the film’s design. POPCORN: You’re still admitting you liked it, dude. Even if you complain about it. CINEMA: It’s like passing the baton. This was a great run on a familiar track, but it all depends on what happens next. That will really tell me if this was a great new beginning, or the beginning of a terrible end. POPCORN: Dude, don’t be a dick. Not yet anyway. CINEMA: Oh, I’ve offended you because I feel a little disappointment? POPCORN: Here’s the problem, man. You go in there after reading every spoiler for, like, two years. You seen the trailer a hundred times. Then you get all worked up like you’re gonna marry the damn movie or somethin’. CINEMA: Well, there’s this entire machinery of expectation that starts churning when a new Star Wars movie is coming. It makes me feel like I’m getting married. POPCORN: Star Wars ain’t the marryin’ kind, man. It’s like a really good-lookin’ chick – or dude, I’m not judging – and everybody’s been with them. I mean, everybody. Little kids. Your uncle and your grandma. Your ex-girlfriend. They all been with this chick. Some of them, like, twenty times. You call her up right now, dude, and she’s yours. But then she’s gonna come over to my place. She might even get with that old toothless dude that’s always diggin’ in the trash downtown. CINEMA: What in the hell are you saying? POPCORN: She’s gonna be what she’s gonna be, man. Ain’t no use in hoping for this or expecting that. But you really already know what to expect. Just get in line, get your ticket, and wait for the damn ride. CINEMA: So . . . Star Wars is a dirty slut. I guess we’d never have gotten that from Siskel and Ebert. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.