I wasn’t even going to go. The relentless merchandising of Star Wars: The Force Awakens had turned me off months ago. Don’t feed the hype, I said to myself. Corporate films still suck.
Then a couple of weeks ago, we went to see the final Hunger Games, and the theater was selling $5 advance tickets for the preview night of Star Wars. Okay, it’s a shitty little theater (tonight we counted the number of hand prints we could see on the filthy screen). But it still seemed like, well, the force was with us. So we bought, and tonight, we went.
The Force Awakens is relentlessly self-conscious and self-aggrandizing. It’s an ode to its own history, and mostly to the first Star Wars, which was the first movie I ever saw on a date, so I have to admit I have a sentimental fondness for the franchise. The audience applauded when old characters appeared on screen. It’s corny like that.
It’s also great movie-making, if you believe great movie-making is about creating a world — which few films do better than the Lucas legacy. And while the effects, the sets, the costumes, the animation, and the music (Lin-Manuel Miranda!) are all big and breathtaking, it doesn’t make you feel like it’s showing off the latest high-tech wizardry. With cute creatures/robots and lots of top-gun aviation acrobatics, it’s quaint in a way. A throwback to the breakthroughs of the OG film. Plus, it’s got a kick-ass heroine and a funny, sweet
African-American black lead. Their romance is nostalgically chaste, built around hand-holding. This is family entertainment, which frankly is a relief to me after having to turn off so many TV shows because my kid enters the room. Game of Thrones, Star Wars is not.
The Force Awakens was fun. Entertaining. Not earth-changing. But a message there, about how morality is about the choices we make, and how the good team is the one that unites all manners of beings: human, alien, animal, android.