New Years Resolution: Write about something other than Star Wars for this site. Until then…
December 18th, 2015:
My daughter Anna audibly gasped when the lightsaber flew past Kylo Ren into Rey’s hand. My youngest, Cecilia, stood for the last hour of the film, mouth agape. And my son leaned forward the whole film as if he was meant to hop through the screen to join the Resistance.
In those moments I knew while I would be there opening day for Episode VIII not only to feed my own hunger for Star Wars, but to satiate my childrens’ now voracious appetite for the saga. The torch has been passed. This is their heroes’ journeys; in that way the film worked 100%.
Still, I was nervous heading into my second showing of The Force Awakens. The film won me over with its emotional beats; I loved the experience. But there was a nagging feeling that some narrative gumminess would overcome the emotion during future viewings. (I won’t get into the details here, because there are plenty of hit pieces out there, it was not a deal breaker for me [see below]).
Sunday morning, I sat in a packed 10 am showing with my parents and my family. It was thrill to see the new film with the two people who schlepped me to the OT (original trilogy), fed my most of my Kenner desires, and generally put up with my Star Wars obsession for the better part of my life.
My dad laughed throughout, and found the film satisfying. My mom found it too intense at times, and more troubling…I found out my mom thought Han Solo’s name was Hans Solo for the past 38 years. It would have been less upsetting if she misspelled my name Robb.
Some of the seams in the story were more pronounced this time through. But I am happy to say that when it came to the big moments, the film still delivered.
There has been a lot of quibbling online on the geek sites about “The 50 plotholes in The Force Awakens”, or how people are foolish to check their brains at the door.
I get it.
I love when a film can not only be emotionally satisfying, but employ impeccable narrative cohesion. It would be wonderful if it happened more often. But if only one of those is on point, I will take emotional connection over a drier, disengaged narrative. The Force Awakens fits the former, though admittedly some of the emotion is coming from outside the confines of Episode VII: experiencing a Star Wars film for the first time with them was a loaded experience for this mush-head.
Since the first viewing my two daughters have been in a perpetual argument on who is more like Rey. It reminded me of how my twin brother and I used to argue over who was better: Luke or Han?
- Luke, obviously.
My son has spent a majority of his time since the first viewing in hour-long Star Wars toy playing sessions. When I listen in, it is an aural trip back in time to when my brother and I would spend days re-imagining the OT.
My three year old spent more time in my lap this time. She turned and smiled at me no fewer than a dozen times. She ran around the house Sunday afternoon in my son’s Kylo Ren costume. Her favorite new toy is the Play Dough set with the Millennium Falcon.
And Anna spends her time drawing pictures of what she imagines Rey’s next adventures are going to be, stopping by to ask me what I think, from time to time. It reminds me of my own Starlog and speculation ridden youth.
I am not sure where The Force Awakens will end up landing once it gets run through the ringer and some of the dangling threads left unsewn are put together in the next films. But the one thing it will not lose: the Force is once again strong in my family due to the film, something that would have seemed a folly just a few months ago.
My current Star Wars “rankings”:
- The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars
- The Force Awakens
- Return of the Jedi
- Revenge of the Sith
- Do I have to choose another?
- No, really, do I?
- okay, Rebels and The Clone Wars above I & II..above Sith, really
- Ewok TV films, Christmas Special and Droids cartoon all tie for last place.