So, I've been geeking out about the new movie. I've seen it twice now and am considering starting a countdown calendar for when Episode VIII comes out in 17 months. I've been absent from this blog for too long and thought this was a good opportunity to try it again.
I'll start with what I think the new movie really is: The Force Awakens is a retelling of the original trilogy with a twist. In the modern Star Wars galaxy, the rules have changed. The newest installment of Star Wars is all about letting go of the old and facing change.
It's possible that the film is experiencing a honeymoon period and that later people will pick it to pieces. But I think that it's worth exploring the film's overall theme of accepting change before that happens.
The line that sticks out to me most in the movie takes place at the beginning of the final battle between Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey. Kylo says: "It's just us now. Han Solo can't save you." For me, this statement invoked memories of A New Hope. Luke Skywalker is barreling down the Death Star trench alone. The rest of Red Squadron has perished or retreated due to damage. Darth Vader and his TIE fighter escort are closing in on Luke's Xwing and he drifts back and forth through the crosshairs. Just as Vader locks on to Luke's fighter, a blast from above sends him spiraling into space. Han Solo (and Chewbacca) save the day.
When Kylo Ren murders Han Solo, he removes that safety net. No longer can we expect that Han Solo will swoop in at the end to save our heroes. There is no one to catch them if they should fail. When Kylo incapacitates Finn, all seems lost. Until the moment Rey pulls Luke's old lightsaber to her with the Force and that electric blue blade is ignited.
The movie has set up the franchise and the fans to let go of the past. The future is not in Han Solo or Luke or Leia. The future lies with Rey and Finn. This is healthy for the film series and for the development in the story.
One criticism that I believe is valid is that the movie is just a rehash of much of the plot devices in the original trilogy. While this is true, it wipes the slate clean for the next set of movies. We've been reassured that the series is in good hands. Now the future of the series can be truly unknown and we can be ok with that.
Nostalgia is good, but it can only take us so far. The future is an exciting thing if we open ourselves up to the possibilities.