As the sixty millionth person to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I have little to add to the commentary. I liked the thing. For a franchise that smelled like Bantha poodoo in 2005, to return to such crisp, confident form, especially in a decade marked by ever more frantic action pictures, is relief enough. Oscar Issac, compensating for not taking his clothes off at any point in the movie, made a fine debut as an X-wing pilot who may or may not look with undisguised affection at recovering storm trooper Finn (John Boyega). Adam Driver, still the owner of horsey hair, was surprisingly effective as a baddie who keeps denying that he’s Han and Leia’s son; it was a shrewd decision to have Driver destroying monitors and shit in his office (the Star Wars equivalent of Earth teens jumping on beds, slamming doors, and blasting Green Day) when he didn’t get his way instead of Hayden Christensen pouting his purple mouth and mewling. I still maintain that the Star Wars universe has some of the least effective names in sci fi/manga history, therefore Driver’s character could’ve been called Rilo Kiley and have done with it.
Now that Disney has shown it can restart the franchise, I can’t wait for it to prove it can make a more original movie.
(a) The awkwardest scene: Leia and Han’s last. It’s played, written, and timed as if no one had rehearsed it. A friend said yesterday, “Well, Leia and Hans also haven’t seen each other in years, so it works for the scene.” Fisher had gravitas but her voice has turned to cold volcanic ash.
(b) Boyega was the worst actor, a graduate of the Mark Hamill School of Puppyish Enthusiasm.
(c) It took me a while to puzzle out the differences between the Resistance and the Republic; it made sense after I read a couple articles suggesting the Resistance as the Republic’s Department of Defense. It also made sense when I remembered it’s a Star Wars movie and who gives a shit.
(d) The best lightsaber duel since The Empire Strikes Back. Loved how they sputtered, as if they’re a couple years from shorting; the hissing as they make contact with moisture; the crossbeam on Rilo Kiley’s saber’s hilt burning Finn. Abrams realized his characters don’t need to jump 5325 feet in the air to be convincing as warriors (there’s also the suggestion that Rilo Kiley has functioned as a Force practitioner without ever fighting a light saber duel).
(e) The unfussy bits of film poetry: Daisy Ridley’s Rey sliding down the sand dune on Jakku in the shadow of a destroyed Star Destroyer;
(f) Ridley as Rey was everything I wanted from a Star Wars heroine, including what I wanted from Leia in the original trilogy.
(g) I like the idea of the First Order officers as college kids too young to know the Empire but getting to wear cool caps and do fascist salutes. Rilo Kiley and — awful Star Wars name alert — General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) imitating bitchy version of Vader and Tarkin worked.
(h) Harrison Ford, whose voice creaked like a shutter in the wind, looked frailer than Alec Guinness, more than a decade younger when he filmed Star Wars: A New Hope.
(i) Best Han line: “The Force doesn’t work like that!”
(j) oh god Oscar Isaac