As many (not all) of my fellow nerds will corroborate this comes with pros & cons. We get to look forward to new movies, television shows, and easy to find merchandise for all of the things we love! But popularity also comes with people making decisions about established franchises that just don't care as much as the loyal fans.
I am far over due on this one but Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie was released in December. I had the pleasure of growing up on the original trilogy & was in high school when the prequel trilogy was release. I went to all three at midnight like a giant dork. When I watched them the first time I was just full of youthful naive excitement and left the theater buzzing that I just saw a brand new Star Wars movie. I mean come on it had been 16 years since a Star Wars movie was released! But the more I watched them & the material settled into my brain I realized they weren't that good. Not like they could have been anyway. Despite quality acting, & some moments of true brilliance the prequel trilogy did not have the same depth as the first trilogy. It did not flow as smoothly and it felt like there was a lot of extra, "stuff" that the plot could have done with out. Things that George Lucas said, "Oooo special effects can do this now we should try." And if you watch them in numerical order (as I recently did) you will find careless inconsistencies with the prequel trilogy.
This time around waiting for the sequel trilogy I remained excited, because I mean STAR WARS! But my excitement was far more cautious knowing that sometimes more of a good thing is just over kill. Sure sci-fi is cool again and that means this movie is going to kill at the box office but will it really add to the franchise or will it buried in the sand like the Star Wars Christmas Special?
After seeing it, and then seeing it again, and THEN letting it settle in my mind a little here are my pros & cons.
RepetitiveThis is something I anticipated because Star Wars is and has always been a classic hero's tale. I was not upset by this but it was a challenge at some points because this was the first installment of this trilogy. The "pay off" is still so far away and it is difficult to (at this point anyway) to look at this installment as telling it's own story. Sadly there were points where I was watching that I thought "Wait I've seen this movie already."
Rey's Jedi "On Switch"I know Jedi abilities are a natural gift & the main character was bound to show above normal talent but there were a few times that I could not help but feel her sudden ability to master various Jedi skill was too good to be true. There were a few, like her piloting ability, where it was obvious the Force was enhancing a skill she possessed that I felt were good indicators that this was our heroine & she will be the wave of the future. As the title suggest the Force was awakening in her but I feel like she should have struggled more considering she had no training & thought the Jedi were a myth at the beginning of the film.
Another Whiny Man-childI don't think this needs much explaining. I really should have expected, it all the Star Wars movies have one. Luke was pretty whiny in A New Hope & Anikan whined for the majority of the prequel trilogy. My hope is they develop Kylo Ren more in future installments and make his journey to the dark side believable. I like my villain's tough and scary not petulant & whiny.
The LookOne element I noticed more as I let the prequel trilogy settle was that it looked and felt more sophisticated & technologically advanced that the original trilogy despite being set in the past. This was arguably due to the fact that the prequels came out after & there WAS better, more sophisticated technology. I really enjoyed that The Force Awakens looked and felt like the original trilogy despite even more technology being available today. Everything about from the costumes to the sets & props felt like a Star Wars movie.
ConsistencyBefore you jump on my case for hypocrisy, what I mean by this is characters & plot lines were consistent from the end of Return of the Jedi to the beginning of Force Awakens. As a writer & an actor it can be challenging to revisit an old story after such a long time. With so many of the characters coming back the viewers are expecting them to be the same, older but the same. There was no conflicting plot points the information we have about the time in between movies made sense & the characters were true to their original depictions. It was like visiting with friends after being apart for a long time.
Girl PowerThe Star Wars franchise has always had strong female characters but I loved that we get a female as our main character this time. Not do we get a female lead this time but she is more than just a pretty face or a snarky attitude. Rey is strong (mentally & physically), intelligent, motivated, caring & likable. The writers put enough mystery in her back story to keep the fans guessing and hypothesizing in between movies. I for one can't wait to watch her become a kick ass Jedi!
ThrowbacksThere will be some, even many that will disagree with me & that's OK. For me though I love the puns, easter egg's, & jokes specifically to throw long time fans back to the originals. It is hard to pick just one but think my favorite throwback was the joke about the garbage compactor. So hate them if you want but I hope there are many more to come!!
When it comes down to it my reaction to this film can be summed up in just one sentence: This is the film we were all hoping for when Episode I was released.