So, to round out our “12 Days of Star Wars” Dennis, Steven and myself (Don) decided we’d hash out our complicated and emotionally charged feelings about the film and then allow you all to chime in in the comments section. Sound good? Cool. I’ll start it off…
DON: So, I saw the film Thursday at 7:00 pm. I went to the AMC on Van Ness and I’m not really sure why. What happened was- I like seeing big movies at the huge single screen theater in Corte Madera but they were only offering 3D and I didn’t want to see it for the first time in 3D. So I freaked out and went farther south than just north which is where I live. Anywho…
The theater was packed but I was disappointed that maaaaybe 2-3 people dressed up. They also let us come into our theater early (we got there at 3:00 pm) and sit down so the whole “waiting in line” thing was also kaput. Still, it was a great experience once the main event came on.
As soon as the Lucasfilm logo came onscreen I got very emotionally exhausted as I’ve really been waiting for this for over a year. Plus it was difficult to do my work as a critic and avoid spoilers or early opinions since critics could post the Wednesday before. When the crawl started, man…I felt like I was in a dream. My friend next to me who is a huuuuuge Star Wars nerd started weeping a little bit. It was just so amazing and surreal to see something so important to us all as a movie and a cultural touchstone happening finally. Something that many thought might never happen (or happen in a “good” way) because George Lucas seemed so hurt by the reception of the prequels and so lost with what to do. He clearly did the right thing letting his vision move into more capable hands. I wanted to start this off and just see how your experiences went because you both took your boys and Dennis, I know you saw it early.
DENNIS: Indeed I did. It was a press screening at 11:00 on Tuesday morning, three days before it would formally open. The security was stupid. It was the night after the premiere in Los Angeles and we didn’t even know what theater it would take place at until the day before. We were forbidden to announced in advance we were going to the movie, much less bring anybody. So once the movie started, it was in a medium-sized theatre with a decent size of critics fanned all over the place. We had to leave our cell phones in the car, which always infuriates me. Film critics: the biggest cause of cell phone piracy! Sheesh…
I can’t say I was as emotional as you, Don … at first. But it was an interesting experience adjusting the “here and now” of the opening crawl with what I’d read over the past few months. Also unlike you, I made the stupid mistake of reading one too many spoiler sites so I know exactly what was going to happen … and was dreading it the entire time. Of course, I’m referring to the fate of Han Solo, but more about that later.
I absolutely loved the introduction of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) in this extended universe of fallen starships and rusted-out debris. My emotional reckoning happened when Han Solo and Chewbacca stepped on board on the Millennium Falcon for the first time. When Solo stepped into the cockpit and flashed that knowing smile, my long-dormant inner geek was released.
STEVEN: Getting to see the film in 3D with Dennis was kind of a traditional experience, and while we’ve gone to opening days or press screenings for movies we’ve been looking forward to, there hasn’t been this kind of palpable excitement to see a film for a long, long time.
My biggest fear, to be honest, was the quality of the 3D. Lately I’ve avoided 3D projection because of dark screens, blurry images, etc., but I gotta say, this was the finest, clearest 3D experience I’ve ever had. The awesome Star Wars themed glasses probably didn’t hurt, either!
My little Geek heart swelled with joy when the title blasted onto the screen and the scroll began. I was down for the experience. Unlike JJ’s Star Trek which change the game by recasting iconic roles and created an alternate universe that was similar yet different, viscerally, this movie was pure Star Wars. From the directing style choices, costumes, ships, music, it was all old school. Sure, it’s 30 years later, but it’s not the years honey, it’s the mileage. I don’t mind subtle upgrades in the ship and uniform designs. Change, in this case, isn’t automatically a bad thing. Think back to the clothes and cars from 30 years ago and see how much things change.
While the script laid very heavily on the story beats of A New Hope, I really liked the natural conversations between the characters as opposed to the stilted, dialogue from the original. Sure, we have a couple of Stentonian moments, but they’re forgiven because of the big picture.
DON: I agree about the Han and Chewie moment but even bigger for me (and my crowds) emotionally was that excellent reveal of the Millennium Falcon! That probably got the biggest cheer at both of my screenings. But I wanted to use that Han/Chewie intro as a jumping off point for the…let’s say “lesser” moments of the film. I love the movie and am excited to see it a few more times but, there were some silly moments. And that’s FINE as all the movies have them. But let’s start with the Han and Chewie intro. Fantastic “character” moment done perfectly but how in the hell did they just happen to be there where the Falcon was flying by, freeze its controls and bring it aboard. While many of the seemingly sillier/clunkier plot points kind of fix themselves on a second viewing, that one seems very suspect.
STEVEN: The Han & Chewie moment got the biggest reaction from my audience on my second viewing, too. Seeing Harrison Ford try to be a swashbuckling professor of archeology chasing after alien crystal skulls stretched my suspension of disbelief, but as an aging Han Solo? Perfect.
DENNIS: Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. Since we’re all working on seeing the film at least 10 times in the theater, here are a few things to consider. I absolutely love the fact that the creative team left so many facts questions unanswered. Like that ungodly span of time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi so many years ago, we actually have something to think about between now and 2017.
So, who exactly spawned Rey (Daisy Ridley)? There is no debate about the fact that she was left on the planet Jakku when she was five, which means about 15 years prior. On the one hand, she a scavenger who has learned how to take care of herself, and somehow learn how to fly spaceships and speak droid.
But what happened prior to her being dumped on Jakku? During her Force-inspired vision when she touched Luke’s lightsaber, there were a number of clues:
We see Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren on a rainy planet looking pretty intense. Is this the moment when things went south with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker? Was Ben Solo / Kylo Ren the pupil that turned against Luke? That would seem to be the straight line, but what if there’s more to this story? It’s visually implied that Rey is Luke’s daughter, but what if she wasn’t – and was Kylo’s twin sister? You might say he should have figured that out when he was poking around in her brain the way Vader mind-raped Luke and found out about his sister.
Ah, But what if she doesn’t know where she comes from? There would be no way for Ren to know if she doesn’t know. But what if he knows and didn’t tell her? What if Han figured it out? When she said her name, there was a palpable reaction from him, and in the next scenes, he’s offering her a job in that awkward way when things really mean something to him.
If we are to follow the patterns established from previous Star Wars films, it totally makes sense that Rey was hidden on Jakku after Luke lost his apprentice. Let’s not forget it, Obi-Wan Kenobi did the same thing when Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader. He hid Luke on the planet Tatooine and then hung out to make sure he was okay. Not unlike Max von Sydow at the beginning of this film, one system away from Rey.
We may have to wait for Episode VIII or IX for a straight answer, but a big clue might have happened in the second trailer with that voice over from Luke talking about how the Force is strong in his family.
And by the way, that brief Force Vision segment is a masterclass of cinematic storytelling. As details emerge from the layers upon layers of dialogue, flashbacks, flash-forwards, crazy placement in other films with guest stars such as Yoda, and both iterations of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
And that’s the smartest thing the creative team did: they gave us 100 things to study, virtually guaranteeing repeat viewings.
DON: Well, a few things to delve into there for sure. My sheer guess is that Rey is Obi-Wan’s GRAND DAUGHTER due to kind of what you said above in that there was a huge span between not only Episode III and the original Star Wars but also a massive span between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In short, we don’t know what Obi-Wan was doing between going from Ewan McGregor to Sir Alec Guinness and we also don’t know if he had a love interest. Apparently some of this is addressed in the new comics but I’ve yet to read those.
So it would jive that Obi-Wan had a Jedi kid, that kid had a kid (or, twins) and was summarily taken out thus forcing them to hide Rey for her own good. Again, a total guess but it would also make sense so they can introduce her parents in another film. I mean, Rogue One is a film that takes place soon after the events of Return of the Jedi. All that being said, if Rey is Han and Leia’s kid and Kylo-Ren/Ben Solo’s sister, that’s just dumb that no one said anything in The Force Awakens. Seriously. If it turns out that way and unless Han, Leia and Ben got memory erased, I will not be happy.
STEVEN: I think in order for Luke’s legacy to carry on in future installments and to give Luke a real dog in this fight, Rey is his daughter. If Luke’s big bad is his snot-nosed, Force-laden nephew and just avenging the death of his friend, it’s not AS forceful (sorry) as Luke’s daughter vs. Han & Leia’s rogue son.
DENNIS: Well, all things being Star Wars, it’s a strong possibility they are twins. But let’s go with your theory. If Rey is a Kenobi, then who are her parents? According to the official canon timeline, 19 years passed between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars, Episode IV. It’s possible Obi-Wan became Ben, got himself a groovy shag pad out beyond the Dune Sea on Tatooine and had himself a little post-Jedi coming out party. Let’s say that happened within five years of hanging up his (Jedi) lightsaber.
It’s also possible that somewhere in there, he mated with someone and they had Rey’s mother or father. If Force Awakens happens 30 years post-Jedi and Rey is around 20 years old, that means her mom would have been around 25, five years after the Empire fell. That’s a LOT of (pardon the pun) fertile ground to explore in flashbacks, novels or comics. That would also leave open the possibility of casting a 45-year old badass woman strong in the ways of the Force. I suppose it could be a man, but the idea of Rey’s mom played by Charlize Theron is too tempting to pass up!
STEVEN: Let’s be honest, Dennis. You’d be happy to see Charlize Theron play ANYBODY’S mom!
I actually think we’ll see the end of the Luke & Leia chapter of the saga in Episode VIII. In order for Rey, Finn and Poe to stand on their own, they need to be kicked out of the nest. Much like Luke lost (…at least in a corporeal sense) his mentors by the time Yoda faded out in Empire, Rey needs to be her own Jedi without Luke backing her up.
I’m curious where Artoo and Threepio end up at the end of this trilogy. I’m guessing BB-8 sticks with Poe, and Artoo is already with Rey, soon to be reunited with Luke. Does Threepio stay with Leia and we end up with another missed opportunity to see our favorite teams in action. Now that we’re never going to see Luke, Han and Leia together again, I’m hoping to at least see Artoo and Threepio in action together again.
Speaking of Artoo. I was already to give the little droid props for staying in low power mode and hidden away, but still monitoring, until he knew the First Order was dealt a blow by the destruction of the Starkiller Base and the remainder of the map to Luke’s location was safe … the JJ had to go and blow it by saying it was just BB8 crossing paths with him and it took him a while to power back up.
And yeah, there’s a LOT of coincidental meetings in this film. This base is built in a planet, and even if most of the operational systems were in a common area, the ease in which Han, Chewie and Finn bump into Rey was very convenient. There were a few moments like that in the film. I’m just sayin’…
Join the conversation! Let us know your viewing experiences the first (or tenth) time you saw The Force Awakens. What lingering questions or crazy theories do you have? Sound off below or on our Facebook Page!