Friday, December 18, 2015

Lineage

Now Playing: John Williams - Rey's Theme (Star Wars: The Force Awakens OST)

Quick thoughts on the movie. I'm not even going to bother going around spoilers, so this is a full-on mega spoiler filled post.

We went to see it yesterday--Silvia, Ren, Silvia's friend Scott, and I--and actually got there early enough to eat sushi beforehand and then get somewhat decent seats at the theater. They were kinda close to the screen, but not absurdly so. I didn't have to lean super far back to see it and, if anything, it felt more immersive. Sometimes in long panning shots, I'd have to turn my head slightly to look over from corner to corner--it was nice.

The projector hiccuped on three separate moments. Halfway through the Warcraft film trailer--which none of us even knew existed--then through the two attempts they made to put on the X-Men Apocalypse trailer (and thank Batman they gave up trying to play it--I'm so sick and tired of that franchise, not even Sansa Stark can make me interested), and then RIGHT WHILE THE MOVIE WAS PLAYING.

It was in an early scene at least; Poe and Finn's escape. Rest of the movie cruised by okay and we got a good crowd--they didn't talk in stupid moments (except for one guy who, after five minutes of staring at Luke's lightsaber, very helpfully shouted "it's a lightsaber!") and cheered and clapped and d'awwed in all the right spots. When Chewie and Han showed up. When we saw the Millennium Falcon. When Leia and Han locked eyes and then C-3PO barged in like the cute oblivious droid he is. When battles were won.

Oh and side note, baaaaaah, BB-8 IS SO FUCKING CUTE. HE'S SO FUCKING CUTE. SOMEBODY MAKE ME THAT DROID AND PUT A RIBBON ON HIS HEAD AND GIMME.

(I, too, d'awwwed at all the right moments).

I don't really have anything cohesive and introspective to say about the movie that most people won't say already. We kinda guessed a lot of what would happen (Han and Evil!Ben, why are you standing on that bridge, you know how this ends. . .) and have the same theories on Rey's lineage as everyone else does. So all that said, I thought the movie was pretty good. I don't know if the hype messed with it exactly, but I certainly came in expecting one thing and got another. Mainly, I guess I was expecting an awesome, self-contained, epic story all on its own, while really, it very much feels like the first part of one.

That's okay in some ways because it makes me excited for the rest of the new trilogy. But it also doesn't really help it stand on its own. Usually, this problem plagues the second part of stories, where they're just the boring middle and everyone's rushing to the BIG FINALE and we have to get the housekeeping stuff out of the way. But this time, if we're lucky, Force Awakens will be the least interesting of the new trilogy--just The Beginning. Set up these characters. Set up these conflicts. Watch where they go.

Which, to be fair, can probably also be said of the first Star Wars movie. There's never been a time in my life where I haven't watched the original trilogy all back to back--if not the same day, then within the same week/three week period. So I've never had to wait for the next part, I've always just experienced the original trilogy as one big, singular story. It could just be that the new trilogy wants to capture the same feeling.

Above all else, I did come out happy from the movie. One was that the marketing team did an excellent job at not revealing a single substantial plot point of the movie so I got to discover the story as it unfolded. But mainly because of Rey, who is most definitely the true hero of this movie. Of this trilogy, probably. I love her and what she represents.

There was a moment I realized how much of a gift this movie was--and that's somewhat connected to how the theater reacted. It was at the climax, with Finn down, Kylo Ren with the upper hand, calling forth the light saber that had once belonged to his uncle. When it trembled and trembled and then flew out right past him and into Rey's hands, the entire theater exploded in applause. I don't know why but I didn't expect that. I didn't expect this crowd--of men and women and adults and teenagers and children--to cheer for this unknown girl. To want her to fight, to impress us, and to succeed.

And when she fought and she was clumsy and afraid, but insistent and energetic, I knew I wanted more of her in these stories.

This might be a debatable opinion, but I think a lot of casual Star Wars fans overlook Luke. Especially first movie Luke--young, teenage boy just wanting to join the military and get away from his boring farm life. The fan-love lies in Han Solo or in the colorful sidekicks, the badass villains, even Leia gets some love from the young girls who are fans. But Luke is just The Default. He's just our Hero.

But when I saw the original Star Wars trilogy as a little girl, I loved Luke. I loved Leia and Han and the droids too, but I loved Luke for his spirit, his drive, his compassion. How much he dreamed, how he was never not a teenage boy who was utterly impatient and entitled. I loved how much we saw him grow up in the original trilogy, how the way he carries himself and how he speaks changes. He has a presence that's not rivaled by any.

And as this film was ending, when Rey was climbing up to the temple, I realized she was the first character in years who'd ever managed to capture the same spirit as Luke. Figures that spirit would only be truly found in the franchise it originated from.

I knew I would love her the second she put on the old rebel pilot's helmet, and it hung lopsided on her head as she snacked and looked out into the desert. Now that I know she's going to be trained by Luke as Kylo Ren will be trained by The Big Bad (whoever the fuck that guy was--I'll look up the Star Wars wiki later), I just might explode from the anticipation of the incoming sequels.

by Djibril Morissette-Phan
(Tumblr/DeviantArt
The other thing that made me happy coming out of this movie is that, weirdly, Star Wars is one of the only stories out there that makes me truly care about family relations.

While we were watching the original Star Wars trilogy on my birthday, Silvia and Ren and I discussed that annoying trope that's done a lot with secret parentage stories. Which is basically that the kids get weirdly fixated and obsessed with their blood relatives despite the fact that, for all intents and purposes, they're practically strangers. We're all very much of the opinion that the people who raised you are more your parents than anyone you share a genetic link to.

But despite this fact, I've never been bothered by how Star Wars handled family lineage. I never once questioned how they all reacted after such revelations. I liked that Luke sought to bring out the good in his father despite the fact that they knew nothing of each other, and I liked that even after years within the Dark Side that Vader managed to choose his son over the emperor.

And I like that now, in the upcoming sequels, we might get an epic showdown between cousins. (KICK HIS ASS, REY [SKYWALKER]. Ben and that weirdass lightsaber's got nothing on you).

Just think about it! Think about the emotional and physical stakes. It's going to be so goood.

I think the primary reason it never bothered me in Star Wars is because of the Force connection, how it bonds people above any sort of comprehensible, explainable level. It's also that even with the discussion of family bonds, there's a lot in the friendships too, with the droids, with other rebels and aliens, with all the alliances. Friendship is just as important as family, sometimes even more so because it's friendships that the characters return to.

And in the end it doesn't bother me because it helps humanize these characters. Darth Vader could just have been the bad guy that force-chokes the shit out of incompetent admirals left and right, but he's also the man that struggled with his mistakes and questioned his humanity and ultimately made a great sacrifice and found redemption through his children.

Anyways. My point is, this is the weird kind of movie that grows fonder to me the more I think about it. And it's got me genuinely excited for the sequels to come.

Can't wait for what comes next.
~Becky

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