I liked the original trilogy. It was a story of good versus evil, rebellion against an unjust world, and divorce from your parents… the hero’s journey. I’ve listened to this story time and again over the years and it has taken on many different shapes. Each story adding a new aspect to the myth and revealing new insights into that journey within ourselves.
It was also, in retrospect, not a great series of films. It was campy and I enjoyed inhabiting its world until my early twenties when it started wearing off and getting dusty. It became a trope — a cliché. I had seen the Kurosawa films, read stories of real betrayal, and the hero’s journey took on new dimensions for me that Star Wars could never fulfill again.
The prequels merely served to seal that vault in my mind.
When I thought I had moved on a few things in my life came together which sparked my interest in the universe once more. For various reasons I ended up purchasing a copy of Imperial Assault when it arrived on the scene. I didn’t buy it for the universe at the time but the mechanics… which brought me back into the fold and made me receptive to the new Battlefront game and the hype around the film.
After seeing the film I walked away torn between hope and disappointment.
I was disappointed because the story behaved as if there were little or no consequences after Episode VI. The First Order takes the place of the Empire and has access to an order of magnitude more resources to construct and even bigger Death Star. Its political motivations are still highly suspect and vague but it still really hates the Republic for no discernable reason. The rebellion still exists but as far as we know only because the First Order does. There’s no explanation of how the First Order came to be. The destruction of the second Death Star was supposed to have ended the war for the rebels… what happened that continued on this war for another forty-some-odd years?
I was also disappointed that the film was essentially an amalgamation of Episodes IV and V. The only difference being the addition of a few new faces. This is still the story of a lone desert-dwelling orphan gifted with special powers by the Force rising to her calling (sound familiar?). It’s still the story of a small, rag-tag band of guerilla rebels blowing up the big, bad super-weapon using a clever, ill-conceived, single point of failure (again?). There’s still Han, Chewie, R2D2, C-3PO, Han, Luke, Leia, a trench run, patricide, and all of that. It all feels like deja-vu.
And maybe that’s the point. Maybe Rey’s story is Luke’s story and there’s a plan. Maybe Han and Leia forgot Kylo’s birthday and that’s why he turned to the Dark Side. The redeeming feature of this film is that it gives this new trilogy plenty of questions to answer in the next two films. The answers had better be good because the setup feels a little weak.
The only thing this film did for me was remind me that I’m getting old and cynical. Evil is still evil in this film because evil is evil. The rebels are still good guys because… the Empire. There’s still a super weapon. It’s still rediculously easy to destroy. Storm Troopers are still hopeless and should really take off those masks when they try to aim a weapon. I bet it would help.