Star Wars Episode 7 Review: This series is old
NOTE: Please only read this review if you have seen Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens. It’s spoiler-tastic.
As Rey and Finn are fleeing from a First Order attack, Finn alerts Rey there is a nearby ship that they can use. “But it’s garbage!” Rey remarks, before having to pilot none other than the fan-famous Millennium Falcon.
Over time, the ship is repaired, a new crew is assembled, and once again the fabled freighter is able to spread its wings as fans of the original Star Wars trilogy remember.
In many ways, the Millennium Falcon featured in The Force Awakens represents the series itself.
Despite some trying to rewrite the past, the prequels did some irreversible damage to the Star Wars franchise. I know for a fact that I’m not the first to say this, and notable reviewers have already said it in the best way possible. Between the prequel trilogy, that other Clone Wars movie everyone probably forgot about, and a game series that almost retconned the entire series, Star Wars was on some rocky roads in the last 15 years. Sure, people still appreciated the series, but not without acknowledging that there were some new scars on its face.
I have always been of the opinion, just as the Red Letter Media reviews pointed out so effectively, that Star Wars was best when George Lucas wasn’t the sole god and creator of the series. Star Wars thrived most when it was a team project, and when others came in and added their own touch, just as Irvin Kershner did with The Empire Strikes Back. Arguably the original film would not have been the phenomenon it was without the editing prowess of George Lucas’ ex-wife Marcia Lucas.
So now we have Awakens, arguably the most anticipated movie in recent decades, headed by director J. J. Abrams who gave a similar makeover to the Star Trek franchise with fantastic results. What would Abrams and his team at Bad Robot do to revitalize the series with its many sores? What direction would he take it in with all the Mickey Mouse money at his disposal?
Well, he ended up making the original Star Wars with some added bits.
As I watched Awakens, the absolute parallels between episode 7 and (now) episode 4 left me startled.
-Movie begins with an attack on a rebel outpost and a new masked villain is introduced
-Main character is a forsaken orphan on a desert planet wistfully wishing for more in the world
-Droid carrying intel pivotal to the rebel’s plans is left on said desert planet, only to discover our orphaned main character
-Our main character friends meet a smuggler and end up going to a bar filled with various aliens and panning shots of said aliens, all the while they are given exorbitant amounts of exposition and later everything kind of goes to shit
-Smuggler and friends sneak into the enemy base to save the leading woman. Jokes about garbage shoots
-Rebels attack a giant planet-like laser cannon with fighter jets by shooting the insides, saving the day
“Oh, you’re just cherry picking!” you might say. But I’m not pointing this out as a negative thing, rather that I think it was actually very clever that they ended up going with a simple updated version of A New Hope.
If anything, Awakens was made for older people, who lived through the original release zeitgeist, to bring their kin and introduce them to their treasured childhood story. Sure, perhaps those older people showed their children the original trilogy, but between the hassle that is trying to watch an original, unedited version and the general age of the film itself, it’s hard for those kids to think of those Star Wars movies as their own. Lucas tried to do this with the prequel series, but we’ve already brought those movies behind the barn.
With Awakens, new, young fans of Star Wars can have their own film trilogy to grasp onto and bring into the future. The torch needs to be passed if Star Wars is ever going to continue as the phenomenon it is. I’m sure that’s what Disney wants more than anything anyways.
Throughout Awakens, there are constant reminders to older viewers, “well, hey, you’re old now”: The Millennium Falcon being called junk, Luke thought of as nothing more than a myth, Lea and Han’s dialogue largely being reminiscing, older models of famous fighters seemingly being extinct, the Death Star being a joke compared to the planet canon the First Order possesses. While there are plenty of references and call backs to the older movies (just about anyone who appeared in the Resistance briefing scene), Awakens is largely telling the audience, “Look, we know where we came from, but it’s time for something new.”
Although I felt I was just rewatching A New Hope again, it only makes me more excited for what is going to come next. The Empire Strikes Back is where the Star Wars series shines most and where I believe it really came to its own. So, what is going to be this new trilogy’s Empire? What absolutely new and innovative direction will this Trilogy go to become its own? What is going to be the new generation’s “dark middle chapter”? If anything, I think that makes Episode 8 have to live up to a lot more than 7.
Any machine can be repaired with the right tools, but it takes constant maintenance and care for the engine to work as well as it did on day one. While the Millennium Falcon may fly again, what’s more important is that we trust the new pilots behind the wheel. The keys may be handed over, but it’s up to them where they go in the galaxy far, far away.