Well, the force awakened a bit over a week ago, and I finally got around to making my way to the movie theater, hoping (vainly) that the crowds had thinned. Not so, much to my chagrin. I was excited to see the movie, but not beside myself. As a child and youth I loved Star Wars and delved headfirst into the expanded universe of comic books, games and novels. Like many young people, I dreamt up my own adventures in a galaxy far, far away. My enthusiasm for the world has waned with time (three awful movies will do that to you), but there has always been a special place reserved in my cerebellum for Star Wars. I wanted very much to like this movie. It just didn’t happen. No matter my love for the original trilogy, something just did not work for me, and I will try to explain the reasons as best I can.
Where There’s Snoke There’s Fire
There was something very much out of balance in this movie, and it took me a while to figure out just what it was. The original trilogy is full of great moments of heroism from Han Solo, Luke, Leia, R2D2 and all the other forces of the rebel alliance, but they are offset by villains more than equal to their courage and goodness. Darth Vader, The Emperor, Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett, are all memorable and worthy adversaries. The Empire’s crushing stranglehold on the galaxy steeps the entire trilogy in a sense of stifling, authoritarian dread. Every victory by the rebel forces seems hard-fought and won only by the skin on their teeth. The oppressive political power of the empire is the status quo of a regime holding to the power it usurped from the senate. This is all explained without needlessly excessive exposition. God knows less is sometimes more, especially when faced with essentially hearing the Trade Federation’s tax forms read aloud in the prequels. The problem with TFA (The Force Awakens) is that it flees in the opposite direction and favors explaining nothing at all.