Last Friday night I sauteed a chicken breast, and boiled some spaghetti, popped a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and settled in to watch The Force Awakens for the first time in quite a while.
I mentioned the meal because I was so excited to watch the movie again and I wanted to breath it in and fall in love all over again. I was going on a date with Star Wars.
I fell in love all over again. I really love this movie. I can see where the criticisms come from (though people criticizing a franchise that’s always been about remixing tropes and archetypes for doing it again feels like a reach…) but I can’t help but love it.
So much of that love belongs to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who are both so unfathomably wonderful. Rey and Finn aren’t particularly deep characters on the page. They are, as Luke, Han and Leia before them, archetypes, two searching orphans looking for home and belonging, and they find it in each other.
This would be wooden and dull and frightening if it were given to two actors with less charisma and less chemistry. Daisy and John click well together, so well, in fact, that they’re instantly connected, but they feel like family, not lovers, which is rare in a Hollywood blockbuster, and so so worth celebrating.
And then there’s the Kylo Ren issue. I think that Kylo is a pretty good villain, if pale in comparison to Darth Vader, but that’s kind of an impossible standard and is also the point of Kylo Ren. He’s not supposed to measure up, but he’s trying desparately to get there. The pressure of being from the greatest family in the galaxy broke him, and he reached for quickest connection to that legacy. It’s reiterated over and over again in Star Wars that the Dark Side is powerful and it’s quick. The light side requires patience discipline and letting go, allowing The Force to do the work. Ben Solo lost that battle because of the weight of expectation placed on his shoulders so he gripped to quick easy power.
THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.
And, I saved it for last, you guys, I promised I wouldn’t spend this whole era dwelling on Poe Dameron, so I’m going to put it up here, and leave it at this. I am in awe of this character, who was shaped largely because of the actor they wanted playing him. (Oscar Isaac said he’d do it but not if he died.) Who became a focal point of the series because he was popular, and who models a kind of dedication and joy rarely seen in this trope of character. The hotshot pilot is supposed to be cocky, obnoxious, and out for himself, not quietly confident, deeply dedicated to his cause, and kind beyond reason. You keep waiting for Poe to be a dick. And then he isn’t.
I love Poe.
Alright, next week we talk about The Last Jedi, which should be great because no one on the internet ever talks about The Last Jedi right? We’re wading into new territory.