By Lucie Swenson
Like many other families, my parents, my brother and I set out to watch the entire Star Wars saga together before seeing the latest installment, which came out in December of last year. Re-watching the movies allowed me to appreciate them more and I found that a lot of the material felt relevant in my own life.
Certainly, some people would like to live in a galaxy far away from the monotony of life on Earth. When people are upset with one another, it would be nice to take out a lightsaber and destroy everything around them, just as we see the villainous Kylo-Ren do in The Force Awakens. Yet in reality, the closest we can get to such an other-worldly experience is watching these films.
The new Star Wars space drama earned more than $1 billion in just a few weeks, proving just how successful these classic movies still are. Granted, old stars reappear in The Force Awakens, and they create a lot of the hype around the movie. But the new director, J.J. Abrams introduces a diverse group of new characters, all of whom are interesting and imperfect. For me, the individuality of these characters is where the true success of the Stars Wars movies lies. It’s too early to know the fate of these characters, as The Force Awakens is the first of a new trilogy, but the sight of the characters Finn and Rey each holding a lightsaber is among the most exciting moments in a Hollywood film this year.
Moreover, in The Force Awakens, Abrams decided to cast Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley—a Latino man, an African American man, and a woman—in leading roles. Abrams embraces real-life diversity, and the movie is better as a result.
In the 2002 film Attack of the Clones, the character Anakin Skywalker is shown getting his hand cut off and replaced with a robotic one, just as his son Luke had onscreen 22 years prior in The Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps, the hand is symbolic, although I see it as running out of new ideas. J.J. Abrams has been known to replicate old story plots instead of creating new ones, as can be seen in his brand new Star Wars blockbuster.
For example, it should be a huge revelation that the main villain of this film is directly related to two of the main characters, but this is not nearly as jaw-dropping as learning that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. There is also a massive spherical weapon that’s used to destroy a planet in this movie, as was the case in Episodes 4 and 5. The writing has never been a strong suit in Star Wars, so I didn’t have high expectations for this new film. The recreation of big moments from the original series, I believe, is over-used, and this was one of the film’s greatness weaknesses.
Nevertheless, this historical film saga still feels young When you think about it, Star Wars has been a great example of new and exciting trends in the capabilities of cinematic artists. This new film shows us both onscreen and off that while there is still some greatness in old legends, there is so much more to learn from new voices. Regardless of a few quirks, this movie is a must-see. So be sure to see The Force Awakens, and may the force be with you.