Yesterday my school had a free screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I had not seen it in theaters because I did not know if it would be worth the money that cost. To be honest, I thought that a seventh SW movie was overkill, that it was just being done to make more money off of a franchise with a gigantic, profit-garnering fanbase. The main reason I held any interest in SW is because I like multi-generational stories (other examples include Les Misérables and ATLA/LOK). With the exception of their appearances in the animated spin-off shows, most of the characters didn’t seem to have much characterization or chemistry. The starship battles and light-saber duels felt drawn-out to me. I disliked the light-dark duality, or at least the way they talked about it. I could rarely follow the plots, which seemed full of unnecessary detours and pointless spectacle. The acting always felt either understated or overstated, the characters not very emotional or colorful. In fact--and I know I may get grief for daring to say this--I thought the acting and characterization were comparable to that of Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender.
All this is to say, my expectations going into my school’s auditorium to see The Force Awakens were moderate at best. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
Last night was the first time I ever truly enjoyed myself while watching a Star Wars film. The script was great. The acting was great. The characters’ relationships were great. I didn’t lose interest during the battle sequences. I laughed at the humor. I admired the camerawork. I felt invested in the characters, actually feeling affection for them. (My only sore spot is that my sister, who saw the movie last winter, had already told me the Thing that Kylo Ren does at the end, but that may have saved me a lot of shock and pain.)
I had been afraid that there would be many repeats and recycled ideas and concepts and archetypes. (In particular, I had thought Kylo Ren would be just another Darth Vader. But, while he is striving to live up to Vader’s memory, he is different enough to be interesting: when his allies fail, he throws destructive tantrums instead of killing them; and admits to feeling conflicted about his actions.) Like ATLA/LOK, there were enough parallels to the older movies’ plots and reappearances of old characters to make it clearly the same series, like a case of history repeating itself, without seeming to be mere repetition of the same story.
The bottom line is: after years of merely dabbling in the series, I now feel that I can truly call myself a Star Wars fan.