Last night we finally managed to surprise the children and take them to watch The Force Awakens at the cinema. Read on for my impressions of the film as an avid Star Wars fan.
*****There will be SPOILERS ahead*****
I’ve had my doubts for a long time now, and that’s probably why I wasn’t queuing at midnight on the day the film came out. That’s certainly something that part of me would consider doing. But ever since they announced that the Expanded Universe (EU) was no longer anything to do with the official Star Wars timeline, I’ve found myself emotionally distancing myself from the release of this film. My kids have been going mad. “When are we going to see it? When are we going to see it?” is all I’ve heard for the past few weeks. If it was up to me, I’d probably wait until the DVD came out. But that would be more than a little unfair, as I’ve shaped them into the Star Wars fans that they are…..you know what I mean. Action figures, Star Wars lego (by the ton), books, games, DVDs: you name it, they’ve almost certainly got it. So last night, off we went. Their little faces when we turned into the cinema, after pretending we were going shopping, were an absolute picture as you can well imagine. Not long afterwards…..it started!
Calmly sitting back watching the film open, I was reminded of going to see the first Star Wars film with my grandfather in 1977. I can recall clearly both of us giving each other looks of absolute amazement throughout the film, and him and I being blown away by it on leaving. I was only nine at the time, but it always seemed to me from that day forth we shared an unspoken bond. That played on my mind a lot last night. The introduction, music and writing scrolling down the screen certainly evoked the right emotions. Perhaps all of my worries had been for nothing? Perhaps these were the right people to safeguard the legacy?
Watching expectantly in hope that all of my dreams would be delivered, it felt for me as though things were on a knife edge. I couldn’t possibly predict which way it would go. Just as a feeling of ‘it isn’t going to go well, because it all looks rather sandy and a lot like Luke Skywalker’s home planet’ started to swirl about in my stomach, the Millenium Falcon appeared as a complete surprise, totally out of nowhere. I inched forward on the edge of my seat. My favourite spacecraft flying again brought renewed hope, despite the fact that the pilots weren’t who I’d hoped they would be. But it didn’t take long for Han and Chewie to make their entrance, one that would have had so much more impact had I not already seen it strewn across the internet. That would have been the emotional impact, the goose bumps up my arm, had I not already seen it. Why on earth didn’t they save it for the film? To make everybody go…..of course. Things moved on at pace, but I wanted to know more about my favourite characters. There was of course no time for that. But a couple of questions immediately dropped into my mind. Finn and Rey thought the Falcon was being boarded by stormtroopers and were unleashing a poison gas. You never see them stop unleashing the gas. They didn’t know it was Han and Chewie. What was that all about? As well, Han and Chewie were transporting very dangerous creatures for money, something that becomes apparent. You don’t learn much more than that, but to me it seemed out of place. Looking a little like slavery, but maybe not, it doesn’t seem like something that either would do. Han despises slavery, having set Chewie free from the Empire’s grip, hence Chewbacca’s life debt to him, while Chewie would never have let Han become involved in something like that. Of all the things the two of them could be doing when they came across the Falcon, this really shouldn’t have been it. Not very well thought out, methinks.
Quickly the action moves on to a noisy bar full of aliens, music playing in the background. So we’ve had the sandy planet, and now we have the bar. I’m having more than a little deja vu. Not for the last time. Luke’s lightsaber appears out of nowhere, without any explanation, before the enemy arrives hunting for the new band of heroes. Cue action, explosions, fire fights, a very brief lightsaber sparring session, before the rebels arrive, albeit just a fraction too late. It seemed a little hasty, and Han using Chewbacca’s bowcaster seemed totally wrong. It isn’t something he would, should, or could do. He should be barely able to lift it, but that definitely isn’t the case. Wrong! Just wrong. I thought so at the time, and then amazingly, he goes on to use it later on in the film. For goodness’ sake. But we move on. To something I was rather looking forward to, and something which the film was building up to: Han and Leia meeting up again. Given their relationship throughout the previous films, and as we go on to learn, the fact that they have a son together, you can assume that they might even have been married, but their reunion after so much time is just little in the way of anything. No emotions, no nothing. If you ever come across the expanded universe books, you should read them for many reasons, one being the relationship between these two. I’ll say no more. But we do go on to learn that the evil Jedi (no mention of Sith) is none other than Han and Leia’s son. Now to most who didn’t know this (and I’ve tried hard to stay away from any spoilers over the last few weeks, so I didn’t know) it might well have had the same kind of impact as finding out that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father. Perhaps that was the intention. But Han and Leia’s son turning into an out of control evil Jedi is straight out of the expanded universe. Talk about taking the mickey. The writers must have worked really hard to come up with that one. Where on earth do they get such fabulous ideas?
So what’s the threat from the ex-Empire that the so called rebels have to stop? Oh that’s right, a planet sized machine that can destroy multiple planets. Funny….sounds familiar. You kind of mean like a Death Star Mk3, only it harnesses the power of a sun. Again, it must have taken ages to come up with that. So back to base for the heroes for a quick conflab about what to do. Low and behold there’s a weakness in the planet destroying machine…..REALLY! I didn’t see that one coming. But the shields need taking down. NO! By a small assault team. It’s beyond my wildest imagination. I don’t suppose there will be any Ewoks will there? So yes, basically the plot of Return of the Jedi. BRILLIANT!
So off go the small assault team, lead familiarly by Han Solo. They blow up the shields, but not before Han dies by his son’s lightsaber. All Chewie does is howl, and fire a couple of shots in the son’s direction. I’m really sorry, but Chewie owes Han a life debt. If you knew anything at all about Wookies, you’d bloody well know that he’d do a damn sight more than that. Pathetic! As Han dies, it cuts back to Leia, who I suppose is feeling his death through the force…..it’s not very clear. You’d think there might be a bit more feeling, (falling to her knees, crying, yelling…..that kind of thing), but it looks as though she’s suffering from a severe bout of wind, or has had the seafood for dinner. Poor doesn’t begin to cover it.
Back to the action: the explosives are set off, the heroes flee into the snowy forest, the shields come down, the X-wings attack, and just to add insult to injury, out of nowhere, there appears a trench for them to attack the weakness in the weapon, one that wasn’t there before when they were attacking it from the air. A trench? I’m sure I’ve seen something like that before. But where? Oh yes…..more deja vu. Muppets! By this time I’m long since ready to walk out, and if my kids weren’t there, I would have. Oh well, nearly over. What on earth could make it any worse? The battle continues into the forest, with Han’s son chasing down Finn and Rey. Finn gets knocked unconscious with Luke’s lightsaber ending up buried, with just its tip showing in the snow. HANG ON! The lightsaber quivers and shakes gently, about to leap out of the snow. Uhhhh…..are there any Wampas about to show up? Seriously…..you just can’t make it up. So of course the lightsaber flies through the air to the hero…..cue fight, Chewie rescues them both in the Falcon, and they all fly away with the X-wings from the great big explosion. Totally original. NOT!
R2-D2 wakes up for no reason from a self imposed exile and they then have the complete map to find Luke’s location. Rey, Chewie and the droids all head off to find him. No ceremony for Han, not really so much as a mention.
So there you have it, a few hours of my life wasted in a cinema last night. A few more random thoughts in no particular order.
- Where the hell were Wedge and Lando? They should have been there. Wedge most certainly would have been.
- BB8 is almost certainly the star.
- The best line in the whole thing was C-3P0 saying “Princesses”.
- Han most certainly wouldn’t have died that way. I’m trying to write my version of how he died (in the expanded universe) but it certainly wouldn’t have been like that, and he certainly wouldn’t have been mourned like that.
- It looks to me as though they convinced Harrison Ford (who always said that he hated Han Solo and would never play him again) to come back just for one film so that they could kill him off and he’d never have to hear the words Star Wars ever again. What’s that all about?
- It was basically a ‘Now That’s What I Call Star Wars’ best of, taking tiny snippets from each film and rushing them stupidly together. Whoever wrote all that rubbish, should really be strung up by their coralskippers.
- I have to say out of the four of us watching the film, my youngest daughter loved it, my wife was indifferent (not really a Star Wars fan), my eldest daughter was not particularly impressed, while I, as you can probably tell, was hugely disappointed. This was not unexpected to me, but what I was surprised to find, was a lot of other people coming out of the cinema, moaning about just how bad it had been. That’s not the impression you get in the press since it’s been out. There’s a surprise.
- As for all the five star reviews the film’s been getting, I have to wonder exactly who’s been writing them. Yes the effects are great, and I for one could sit and watch the Millenium Falcon fly around on the screen for a couple of hours (if only that had been it), but the plot with all of its borrowed bits and pieces was weak, with no real connection to the characters, old or new. And getting rid of Han Solo in that manner was just appalling. Even Darth Vader got a send off. Even as a one off film, did it really merit five stars? You’ve got to wonder.
Anyhow, I’m off now to reread some of the expanded universe, and see if I can complete my fan fiction on how Han really dies.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.