I consider myself a Star Wars fan. I’ll admit that I’m not one of those die hard Star Wars fans who dresses up as one of the characters from either the original trilogy or the prequels for every Halloween or ComicCon, or who adores the Star Wars universe to the extent that I will even indulge in the comics or novels pertaining to the so-called ‘expanded universe’. Nevertheless, I would consider myself to be more aligned with Star Wars fandom than that of the “Trekkers” who are the eponymous admirers of Star Trek. In other words, I was very excited for the upcoming sequel to the beloved Star Wars series.
It is difficult to come out of a highly anticipated and overly hyped film such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens without being slightly disappointed that specific characters or story elements were not used in the way that one hoped. The fact that J. J. Abrams marketed the film with such secrecy concerning the plot and the details concerning the new characters and their respective place in the new films left audience members, such as myself, imagining a variety of possible story arcs and new characters and the roles that they might play in the new trilogy. As a result, when seeing the finished film, one is often left feeling disappointed that the storylines and characters that they hoped would be featured in the film were not present.
It is hardly a compliment to note that this film is significantly better than the prequels which were released in the early 2000s, as they were a dismal and unnecessary addition to the franchise, with poorly written dialogue and horrendous casting of Anakin Skywalker. However, The Force Awakens is well-acted, with exciting action sequences which move the plot in a fast-paced nature, and a deep, personal conflict that the audience has developed towards the new villain due to his connections to the protagonists of the original trilogy.
The new characters of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Finn (Jon Boyega) are by far my favourite new additions and elements of this film. In my opinion, they are the only two characters with which the audience is given a sense of their origins and inner-conflicts. Kylo Ren is a fascinating character both for his connection to the original characters from Episodes IV-VI, as well as his conflicted and tormented personality which tears him between his decisions to be a part of the dark side while also being held back by the good inside of him. There is much more to learn considering the character motivations of Kylo Ren and particularly an explanation as to why he chose to turn to the dark side and why he loathes his family which is only mentioned in one sentence at the beginning of the movie. The character of Finn is also one of the few characters who, unlike many of the other new characters introduced in this film, is given a brief explanation as to how he came to be placed into the Star Wars universe, and why he has chosen to fight on the side of the light. Both actors deliver solid performances worthy of the audience’s respect, and I am excited to see how their respective characters will develop over the course of the upcoming two sequels.
My biggest disappointment with the film centered on the character of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. We are given very little explanation as to where she has come from and why and how, exactly, she is going to play an important role in the new trilogy. Rey is simply thrown into the movie as a seemingly perfect female character: she can inexplicably fly aircrafts, speak multiple languages, handle complex technologies, and use the force. I would also have liked to see more of Leia, C3PO, R2-D2 and Luke in the film, as although we are given an indication that they have a role to play in this new trilogy, it is rather overlooked and makes their screen time in this film rather pointless and only used to satisfy the fans who hope to see the original protagonists in the film.
However, the film is an enjoyable new addition to the Star Wars franchise, providing new characters and conflicts that have not yet been seen while also nodding to the previous characters and elements that fans know and love in the original trilogy first released in the late 1970s and mid-1980s. I am excited to see where the characters will go in the upcoming sequels, and hope that we will be given a greater development into the individual characters’ backgrounds and motivations. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of the original Star Wars films, and to any film-goers who are not familiar with the previous films, I would recommend that one would view Episodes IV, V and VI prior to viewing, as the subtle nods made to the original films, as well as the films story functioning as a continuation of the original story will be more understandable for those familiar with the franchise. But there’s no need to watch/re-watch the prequels. There never was, and they should be disregarded from hereon out. Episodes IV-IX are now the only episodes that should matter to true Star Wars fans.