Emphatically, worth it!
There are lots of really great things happening cinematically and thematically in this film that make it worth the watch. Like the really great use of negative space and the symbolic way the light is consumed by the dark in the opening scene… Or the great interactions with the characters, and the way it allows for romance and friendships but stays true to the Hero’s Journey as explained by Joseph Campbell in his books… Or the beauty of the landscapes…
But we’ll go in depth on all (or at least some) of those in a minute. I want to give those of you who haven’t seen the film a chance to back out now.
I managed to see it spoiler free. I almost caved earlier today and looked at a post that had fun facts about Easter Eggs to be seen in the new Star Wars Episode VII…
But I am so glad that I did not! I think the experience would have been diminished by the knowing beforehand what mysteries were to be revealed.
So, if you haven’t seen it, this is your opportunity to walk away from this post before we get into the really big spoilers. If you want a better review, that’s spoiler free, check this one out over at Geekritique. He’s my go to for news on all things geeky.
Otherwise, run! Because from this point out there will be…
Geekritique also has a spoiler heavy review here, for those of you who want more than just my girly interpretation of the characters and whether or not it’s a date worthy movie…
So, the Gentleman came through and we went to see it, even though it’s not a thing he usually likes (he’s definitely a Trekkie and not a Star Wars fan). Thus the after the movie conversation didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Based on some of his comments, I found myself not wanting to discuss the movie with him because he didn’t seem to enjoy it that much… if you judge by his words, but if you judge by how he reacted during the film, he liked it.
Thus when asking whether or not this qualifies as a good date movie, I have to stipulate that it depends on who you’re seeing it with. If you’re seeing it with a fan, someone who is willing to discuss and debate what’s going on in the film, then of course. If, however, your date isn’t really into the whole “Star Wars thing,” then skip this one… especially if you are someone who is excited about seeing it.
The alternative might be if you are taking a non-fan who happens to be an English teacher to see it and preface it by telling them to watch for the archetypes and overt examples of the hero’s journey. They’ll love it! And you’ll have oodles and boodles to talk about!
For the Star Wars fans, the symmetry with the original trilogy is fairly obvious, and I’m not going to go into it too much. For the fan of mythology and archetypes and Jungian psychology, the similarities to the original trilogy mean it also has the inherent archetypal mythology of the original.
You have the unwitting hero who not only doesn’t know they are a hero but doesn’t want to leave their home. Also a nice touch that the hero’s home is a wasteland and they must go to a lush place full of life to be awakened to their talents. While a good many of the trailers kind of led us to believe that Finn, the stormtrooper turned resistance fighter, would be the hero, as he’s seen wielding the blue lightsaber (which, as it turns out was Luke’s and Anakin’s before him), the hero is in fact young Rey (played by Daisy Ridley). It’s nice to see that the Star Wars universe has joined the feminist movement and we have a really strong female character.
Not that Leia wasn’t a strong female character in her day, but she still was the damsel who needed to be rescued… Admittedly, she often did the rescuing once the support was there, but she still was in essence the damsel in distress archetype and not the hero.
Interestingly, Rey also gets captured and needs to be rescued. And in a similar circumstance (sort of) as Leia’s imprisonment in the first Star Wars movie all those years ago, where she’s tortured by a Darth Vader like character on what is the equivalent of an Empire vessel and must be rescued by Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a young seemingly nobody who wore (albeit not in this scene) a stormtrooper’s uniform.
That’s an example of one of the interesting things that makes this so unique: the juxtaposition between hero and victim. All of the characters have the potential to be heroes and to be victims.
First up is Rey.
Rey was left as an orphan and her family history is completely unknown, although it seems that she is as mired in prophecy, or at least something bigger than we know, as Anakin and the Skywalker twins were in all the earlier movies. She is obviously tough because she’s had to survive on her own for a very, very long time, if we are to gauge by the tally marks she’s made to record her time alone on Jakku, the desert wasteland where the story begins. She obviously has the good heart of an innocent (which is kind of necessary for a hero in the beginning), because she could have sold the droid, BB-8, for rations that are desperately needed, but she doesn’t, instead taking the lesser rations than what she knows she deserved. She has a way with machines similar to Anakin in the first of the prequels, the one that isn’t even worthy of the Machete order… I’m wondering if this isn’t going to have something to do with the story later.
Maybe she’s the rebirth of Anakin, as he was supposed to be… The one who will bring balance back to the force, which is why the lightsaber calls to her and not to the villain, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), who thinks it should be his birthright as the grandson of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. There is also the comment by that Maz Kanata woman (I use the term loosely) who vaguely resembles Yoda in that she’s small and off-colored and sort of looks like a reptile and is ridiculously old. She makes the comment about eyes, specifically that she has seen Rey’s eyes before, and maybe that’s what she’s referring to.
Of course, that would probably seriously piss off the Kylo Ren character.
He’s also another interesting soul. There’s this inner turmoil you can see going on within him… Well, when he’s not wearing that seriously badass mask. He wants to live up to his grandfather’s legacy, but he takes that to mean that he has to be a stronger dark Sith lord than Darth Vader. Curiously, he doesn’t have the Darth name, but that is perhaps because his training is not complete, as suggested when the new “emperor,” which Ren calls the Supreme Leader (or something to that effect) tells the actual military leader to bring Ren to him to complete his training.
Ren’s power is intense! His use of a force hold, in which he stops a blaster shot as if freezing it in time and then seemingly forgets about it for a good oh five or ten minutes just to be scary and awesome is seriously cool! And yet when he’s trying to get into Rey’s mind, she sees that he is terrified that he won’t be as strong as his grandfather… Hmmm.
He has some serious daddy issues, too. Of course being the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa might just do that to a kid. He gets his powers from his mother’s side, and his father is basically just a criminal who doesn’t really have any redeeming qualities. Remember, Han shot first, I don’t care what you say!
I find it interesting that he took off his mask when Rey asked. There’s something more than just idle curiosity there. There was seemingly an attraction, if I read the body language correctly, and that could make for some really interesting things down the road.
What if he’s the other half of Anakin? The dark half. So that Rey and Ren have to come together either physically or metaphorically to balance the force. Or destroy each other like Harry and Voldemort, only with both of them dead instead of one of them surviving. Or like the Skeksis and the Mystics from the Dark Crystal…
That would be the type of thing that I would have discussed had my date been more into Star Wars and not made me feel like an idiot for having been excited to see the movie…
Back to the potential love interest between Ren and Rey.
Actually, if the movies do take that route, we’ll have a love triangle. Let’s not forget about Finn, the stormtrooper turned rebel (played by John Boyega).
Finn was also made an orphan, like Rey, by the First Order (what the evil Empire has turned into) to be brainwashed and turned into a soldier who must wear his uniform all the time, making each stormtrooper indistinguishable from the next. They are literally faceless, and his big indiscretion that gets him sanctioned by the lead Stormtrooper (Captain Phasma, a woman!) was taking off his mask, symbolically giving him a face. Furthermore, he chooses to leave the dark side/the First Order because it’s the right thing to do, but doesn’t really have any loyalty to anyone…
He obviously immediately takes to Rey, trying to save her on multiple occasions, although in each instance she kind of ends up saving him.
And then there’s the moment when he asks her if she has an attractive boyfriend back on Jakku that she needs to get back to. Yeah, he’s crushing hard on her. The feelings are at least somewhat reciprocated. It is his fall, combined with the fall of Han Solo, that makes her take up the lightsaber to duel with Ren.
A love triangle between Kylo Ren and Rey and Finn would be interesting, albeit somewhat Twilight-esque. Her interest in Finn because he is good like her, but an interest in Ren because he is a force-user like her… Oh the possibilities.
Of course, this isn’t exactly a new idea. In the original there was a moment where it looked like there’d be a triangle between Luke, Leia, and Han… except turns out that Luke and Leia were twins. It’s possible this time they’d take it there. It would be interesting if, since the gender roles are swapped, if Ren becomes the seductress character trying to lure Rey away from her path.
It’d be more interesting if Finn was… Oh the possibilities!!!
And I can’t wait to see how they work Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac) into the story some more.
He was integral in kicking off the story, and was the one who blew up the Starkiller Base the way Luke did in the original… Speaking of, I don’t understand why they’d have a huge superweapon with such an obvious weakness. The damned “oscillator” (like the port in the original trilogy) was obvious to spot and looked almost like a freaking target! At least this time it took a little more than just
luck the force to aim at and destroy it.
Either way, we get a nice introduction to Poe, but very little else, yet he’s a relatively big name actor (Ex Machina), so he will more than likely have more to do with the story as we continue. Furthermore, it’s been suggested that he’s the Han character, being somewhat scruffy looking in some scenes, and it was his leather jacket that Finn wears through most of the movie, suggesting he’s got the rough guy thing going for him. He’s our scoundrel.
I am excited to see where this goes from here, and while I know some people will be put off by the similarities to the original (my date was, for sure), I think it was done well.
Besides, it’s Abrams, and that’s kind of what he does… Look at what he did with the Star Trek “reboot.” I put that in quotations because the Boy tells me it doesn’t qualify as a reboot because the characters are aware of the alternate timeline because of Spock.
Speaking of, the trailer for that one was sufficiently badass! While I’d seen it online already, it was much much better to see it on the big screen. And the music is awesome! Love me some Beastie Boys!
Side note: I think the Gentleman was much more excited about that trailer than he was for the whole Star Wars movie… I didn’t really believe people could be that divided on the topic. Like, I’d seen it in movies, or on TV, but I’d always thought it was a joke.
Guess I was wrong.
Anyway, it’s a good movie to watch on a date, if your date is someone who will discuss it with you and not try to trash the film just because he/she can. The character dynamics were sufficiently complex to make for good conversation and to allow for lots of speculation and I think Disney is marketing it well by having all sorts of movies and comics and books to come out in between major films in order to keep the talk and the speculation going.
I look forward to hearing your views.
And thanks for sticking with me while I geek out for a bit.