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Reviews Film / The Force Awakens

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01/28/2018 11:11:01 •••

A triumphant new film, with some minor problems.

So, the characters.

Poe Dameron is an X-Wing pilot for the Resistance, and while he gets some good moments, he's not very prominent in this film.

Finn is interesting in that he's a Stormtrooper for the First Order who defects. He adds a human element to the brainwashed soldiers, and his pessimistic desire to run away is nicely overcome by his new friendships. He gets some great moments that remind us what Star Wars is really like, but it's not annoyingly self-aware.

Rey is a scavenger hoping for something more, but her life has taught her about technology and self-defense. She has a similar background to Luke, but she wants to stay home even after leaving because she hopes her parents will return. Mary Sue? Not to me. I wonder if there would be the same complaints if she was a man. Luke was never questioned for his skills.

Neither Rey nor Finn is given dominant screentime, interestingly, so they both serve as the main characters.

BB-8 is a comical sidekick done right, if a bit Disneyish. Han Solo is back at the level of his best film, The Empire Strikes Back, providing all the quips and heart we have loved for decades.

Kylo Ren is a fascinating villain. While he looks like a Darth Vader Clone, it's more about how he fails to live up to that presence. He's almost psychotic in his raw, brutal, unhinged power, but he's also divided, having committed to darkness but being pulled by the light. He's really as significant as the heroes. He's an unstable person who always makes the wrong choices and feels trapped to make them even though it hurts him, but his choices are despicable despite his sympathetic elements.

The story is a bit repetitive, sure. But there's enough done to distance it from Episode IV, and some SW conventions like the family twist are played with. The parallels are also partially intentional: Ren wants to succeed at Vader's failures, so his regime is very similar in tech and order. There are some great moments of depth that the originals didn't aim for and the prequels usually couldn't pull off, and one particular spoiler scene is so excellent and powerful that it never fails to shake me to my core. But the film can do bold and huge things properly, so it doesn't feel wrong.

Snoke isn't very interesting, and the blatant Nazi parallels in the First Order were too much.

I'd like to note the representation. Women and people of color, or women of color are all given major and background roles, but these demographics never come up in the story and it lets these people just be people without preaching. It helps to make the universe more diverse on the human side, and the subtle approach is great. I just wish this trilogy wasn't afraid to let the minority roles die without some grand sacrifice, because that is the only inequality I saw.

Overall, the same action, humor, and heart has been achieved, with emotional complexity never done so well in the series and some seriously impactful moments. Go see it.

01/28/2018 00:00:00

Good, fair review.

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