Disclosure: I attended a free press screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Like most people my age, we remember a number of life-changing experiences of our childhood. Going to see Star Wars in 1977 was one of those experiences. As a kid who really wasn’t all that in to science fiction (and, I’m still not), Star Wars was the exception. From the opening music to the closing credits a generation sat riveted watching a story that George Lucas imagined in his head and brought to life.
We stood on-line to watch The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Then we were duped by Episodes I-III, which, in my opinion were so bad it’s good they just have numbers. But now, 32 years after Return of the Jedi we finally have the sequel. And the teenager in me is so happy!
Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens comes to us with a new director, producer and co-writer, J.J. Abrams. He had big shoes to fill and I think he’s done a great job. Taking over a franchise like Star Wars isn’t easy but he did it with a love and reverence not just to the story and characters, but for the fans too.
So, about the movie and the 6 (Spoiler Free) Reasons Star Wars The Force Awakens Will Capture The Hearts of a New Generation
- The new droid, BB-8. This is no surprise given that BB-8 merchandise has been out for months. I think most of us assumed C-3PO and R2-D2 were “boys”. But BB-8 doesn’t really give off a male or female vibe and I think most of us think its adorable. In the movie it’s hard to get a real idea of its size. Sometimes you think it’s quite large then the cinematographers play with you and you start to think BB-8 is on the smaller size. And as for those blips and bleeps of speech, let’s just say BB-8 may have some of the funniest lines in the story. But, don’t think our beloved C-3PO and R2 are relegated to has-beens.
- Another girl! While there aren’t many leading females in the movie, there are a few that feature somewhat prominently. However, with Leia now a General and a Queen, and more “our age”, the new girl in town is Rey. She’s a spunky, no-holds-barred kind of gal. Perfect for young girls to look up to. And for those of us who grew up believing Princess Leia was pretty kick-a$$, Rey had some pretty big shoes to fill and we fall in love with her just as we did Leia. The story doesn’t give us much about Rey’s history but there are a few places where your mind will begin to craft her story.
- Han Solo and Princess Leia. They’re older and living their own “empty nester” kind of lives, although not in the “let’s remodel the house now that the kids are gone” kind of way. Han Solo shows up earlier in the movie than Leia and he’s as funny and charming as he always was. Leia is now the General of the Resistance and she’s had a lot to deal with since she told Luke he was her brother. But together they show how strength, love, and a belief in good over evil can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
- Kylo Ren isn’t just another Darth Vader. Most of us had a love/hate relationship with Darth Vader. We loved the robe and the voice and that funky mask but we pretty much hated him. Kylo Ren is clad in black with a more modern rendition of “the mask”. But he’s not Darth Vader or trying to fill that role. He’s actually much more complex and because we get to know a little more about him as the movie runs I think we, as the audience, feel more connected to his story.
- The Music. John Williams picked up right where he left off and pulls in another generation with his modern classical orchestrations. We’ve introduced our kids to the dun-dun-DUN-dun dun-dun-dun from the “original” Star Wars and for nearly 40 years it has been included on the soundtrack of our lives. With The Force Awakens, there are a number of times where the music describes the moment better than the visuals.
- The Story. While The Force Awakens picks up after Return of the Jedi, so many years have passed and there are a number of unanswered questions that don’t get resolved and plot holes that don’t get filled, all leaving us wanting more. At just over 2-hours run time, you’re pulled in to the story of Rey and Finn and Kylo Ren, and reconnecting with your childhood friends Leia and Han Solo that you don’t even realize it’s been that long. You’re captivated and a whole new generation connects with these characters just like we did.
There will never be a “first” Star Wars again, but just like other stories that captivated a new generation with its wizardry and characters of good and evil, The Force Awakens connects a new generation with their parents and brings together families and friends who are connected to this epic space opera and its characters. Whether you see it opening night or weeks later, it doesn’t matter. You’ll still feel the connection. And it doesn’t matter if you see it just once or multiple times, it’s a movie you’ll likely want to see again and again for many years to come.
Image credit: Lucasfilm, Ltd.