Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

The Force Is Strong with This One

Posted 01/19/2016 by Jordan Prochnow

artwork courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a must-see for fans of the original films.

I’m sitting in a crowded theatre, a pair of IMAX glasses perched over my own tortoiseshell frames. My parents are stealing candy from the box on my knee, and a hush settles over the theatre as the screen turns black. Yellow words scroll across a star-filled screen as the film’s iconic theme trumpets in the background. Millions of people have already witnessed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I am about to see it for a second time.

I watched the Star Wars films for the first time with my dad when I was five years old. To me, they were a type of magic – it was a world full of clever droids, zooming x-wing and TIE fighters, and princesses with enviable hair. I have loved the films for nearly my entire life, and have been able to watch my six-year-old brother fall in love with the movies himself (our house is practically a Star Wars museum at this point).

The new film is centered on Rey, a scavenger with a mysterious past living on the sandy planet of Jakku. While her story intentionally mirrors Luke Skywalker’s original story in Episode IV: A New Hope, Rey managed to exceed all  of my expectations. Daisy Ridley portrays a character that is more resourceful and powerful than other women (and other characters in general) in the Star Wars universe, and doesn’t need to be saved by any of the men. Rey has undoubtedly been favored by young girls, and it is relieving to see a strong female character in the new installments, along with more female involvement throughout the film – Female X-Wing pilots, Lupita Nyong’o’s mystical Maz Kanata, and Captain Phasma, a Stormtrooper.

Rey meets BB-8, a plucky and smart spherical droid tasked with a top-secret mission. She teams up with other new characters to bring BB-8 to the rebel base, and along the way they meet many familiar faces. The audience cheers loudly when Han Solo comes onto the screen, his signature smirk ever-present as he mumbles iconic lines. Many recognizable characters are featured in the film, but I was disappointed in the under-representation of some of them. Carrie Fisher’s iconic General Leia Organa, formerly known to all as Princess Leia, is only shown for a total of 10 minutes, and doesn’t contribute much to the plot. While it would have been nice to see more of her, the film cannot rely on the old characters to drive the plot.

The character that has been met with the most criticism thus far has been Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, the new bad guy for this installment. While I love Driver’s other roles in the TV show Girls and the wonderful film This is Where I Leave You, Ren pales in comparison to his predecessor, Darth Vader. Although his relationships to several characters in the movie provide an interesting and unexpected plot twist, Ren is simply not as threatening as Vader. He has powerful mind control due to his Force-sensitive nature, but this is overshadowed by the random, destructive temper tantrums that he throws out of frustration. Ren acts like a petulant child, allowing his history and emotions to get into the way of the jobs that he does.  If Ren is to be taken seriously during the rest of the series, he needs to, no pun intended, use a little more force.

The new film has undeniably caused an awakening around the world, earning almost $250 million in North America alone on opening weekend. Since then, the film has earned almost triple that amount, overall grossing a whopping $1.592 billion and becoming North America’s highest-grossing film of all time. Merchandise has frequently been sold out in stores, and voracious fans have returned to see the film again and again. “I noticed so many more details this time,” said Jackson Prochnow, my brother, whose love for Star Wars is almost as large as his mop of hair. He has now seen the film three times, and stated that this movie is much better than its predecessors (The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and Revenge of the Sith).

Overall, The Force Awakens is a wonderful addition to the franchise, and was much better than the newer trilogy. In the Star Wars universe, the iconic line “I have a bad feeling about this” is frequently mumbled by both jedi and rebels alike. For once, movie-goers shouldn’t listen to them. They should heed the advice of Obi Wan Kenobi and just move along to the box-office.