Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I saw Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens for the second time, and it has really reignited my love for Star Wars. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here. This is not a review of the film, but a very quick note to say how it brought me back into Star Wars fandom.
I used to be a massive Star Wars fan, with the original trilogy, when I was younger. I lost interest during the second trilogy. I just watched Episode III for the first time. That’s correct, I’ve never seen it before today. I watched it partly because I wanted to fill in the story gaps that I’d missed. But I also wanted to revisit those middle films and give them a fair shot, watch them with new eyes, so to speak. I don’t want to dog on Eps I – III, but what I learned today is that my initial reaction and a lot of the criticism of them is accurate. There are a lot of reasons why I never connected with those films, but I think the biggest one is character. I never cared at all about the characters in those films. Anakin, Amadala, Obi-Wan, etc., none of them seemed to matter. None seemed real or identifiable. Not even Yoda. The story is engaging, the political drama really interesting, but the characters are flat, wooden, emotionless archetypes that have no substance. I know that people always blame the writing and/or the directing and/or the acting, with a lot of validity. The characters are awful. The whole thing lacks HEART. It’s like Lucas assumed we were all invested in the world he built, not the characters he created, so any ol’ characters would suffice to say the necessary dialogue and sell the storyline.
With the very first movie, Episode IV, you immediately clicked with the characters – you cared about what happened to Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, etc. And those characters carried you through the following films because you cared about them and you wanted to know what happens to them, and secondarily because of the amazingly detailed world that was built around them. And that’s what’s so brilliant about The Force Awakens: you not only have all the original characters that you already love and care about, so in a way it’s like a homecoming or a family reunion, but you immediately love the new characters too and connect with them. I left the first screening wanting to not leave at all, wanting to know more about Rey, Poe and Finn, wanting to stay in their world. Caring about what happens to them. Wanting to know what happens next in the saga.
Seeing Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie again reminded me how much I used to love Star Wars. Meeting Finn, Rey, Poe and BB-8 – and even Kylo, Hux, Maz and the others – made me love it again in a completely new way. And because of that, “The Force Awakens” is easily my (close) second favorite movie behind “A New Hope”. And I absolutely cannot wait for the next one!