Two viewings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I usually don’t write about movies, but I’ve been discussing Star Wars so much with family and friends that I might as well write down all my thoughts. A few days before I watched The Force Awakens, I re-watched the first six movies in machete order (which leaves out The Phantom Menace, so I really only watched the first five movies).

I watched The Force Awakens in theaters twice, so I’ll be placing my comments for each scene side by side.

I’m publishing this pretty late, but as a courtesy, there will be spoilers. Enjoy! 

First viewing
-Music! The opening crawl brings on an attack of nostalgia. (Uh oh, I can feel my bladder filling up.)
-I thought the opening stormtrooper scene was a nice touch. They feel scary, and the flashes of light feel different already from the other movies.
-I did not expect Poe Dameron to be the first main character we see. I’m not sure who the old man is, but the scene is reminiscent of Luke and Obi-Wan’s interaction in A New Hope, especially since they’re on a desert planet.
-I’m slightly let down by the reuse of the plot point where Poe hands BB-8 the map for safekeeping. It’s blatantly similar to the Princess Leia and R2-D2 scene in A New Hope. I do like that they’re trying to find Luke Skywalker, instead of making him a major character in the movie.
-Kylo Ren stopping the blaster midair is a great moment, especially the sound. I’m loving the sound design of the movie so far. Good thing I’m watching in a theater.
-I missed what Poe said to Kylo, but everyone else is amused. I’m not so sure if I like the placement of the joke.
-I love the moment when Rey takes off her goggles. I know the music playing is her new theme song, but I can’t pin it down for now. I’ll make sure to listen to it again later.
-I’m enjoying this sequence where Rey scavenges for parts, cooks her instant bread, and stares off into the sunset. It’s such a great way to establish her life on the planet. She seems quite able to handle the daily monotony.
-Finn jokes that he’s “telling himself” to calm down, which is a cliche. But that TIE fighter scene where he and Poe try to break free had me on the edge of my seat (not just because I was trying not to pee).
-Captain Phasma is being useless right now. The way she apologetically makes excuses is not the Captain Phasma I expected from all the marketing.
-I love this sequence where BB-8 recognizes Poe’s jacket on Finn. The Millennium Falcon reveal also made me gasp for joy.
-I’m a bit nervous about Rey getting the Falcon off the ground, but she does it anyway. The moment where Rey turns the ship around so Finn can shoot the TIE fighter is gold.
-Kylo Ren’s temper tantrum is pretty scary. He’s unpredictable and untrained, which makes him more like bratty Anakin Skywalker than calm Darth Vader.
-BB-8’s lighter joke is hilarious. Not sure about Finn’s reference to Rey’s “boyfriend.” Seems out of place. But I like that they’re setting up something between Rey and Finn.
-I like Han and Chewy’s reveal, but I already saw it in the trailer. I’m not so sure about the whole creatures fight in the corridor. I’m also want to know why Han is back in the smuggling game, without Leia by his side.
-Ah, Snoke reveals that Han Solo is Kylo’s father. I’m glad I didn’t see this one coming, since everyone was making such a big deal about Rey being Han and Leia’s daughter. Kylo referring to Darth Vader as his grandfather is a great callback.
-Another cantina scene. I have a feeling Maz is the Lupita Nyongo character, since she sounds important and wise. I’m a little perturbed that this is another repeat of the original cantina scene, but I like the tension between Finn and Rey, especially after Han tells Finn, “Women will find out everything.” Perhaps this is a reference to the first six movies? Or is it a hint about Han and Leia’s past?
-I gasped when I saw the lightsaber. But Rey touches it and goes into a full-blown hallucination. I thought it was a slightly convenient way to introduce plot points, but she doesn’t seem to get a lot of good information. I don’t understand why she’s so freaked out about it instead of intrigued. She usually faces unfamiliar situations head on.
-I’m not enjoying this Snoke character. He seems hokey, like he’s a character from Green Lantern. I don’t like his size either, even though I know it’s a hologram. Seems like he’s compensating for something.
-Han and Leia meet, and C-3PO popping out of nowhere made me laugh. Chewy’s hug for Leia melts my heart. There’s sweet dialogue between Han and Leia, which makes me sad that this relationship from the original trilogy is so fractured. But at least they’re smiling at each other.
-I’m a little disappointed that they’re recycling the “blow up the bad guy space station” plot.
-Sanitation? Cheap joke.
-Wow, the interrogation scene where Rey reads Kylo’s mind reminds me of Harry breaking into Snape’s head.  but my favorite element here is the amazing use of sound and music to illustrate the internal push and pull of the Force.
-The disposal of Captain Phasma makes me so angry that I can’t even enjoy Han’s joke about throwing her in a trash compactor. Is this really how she goes down? Does she have a chance to redeem herself at the end?
-I felt that Han was going to die as he steps out onto the bridge, but when it actually happens, I’m devastated. Harrison Ford finally got his wish to kill off Han. Leia feels it too, which is heartbreaking.
-Somehow these aerial X-wing battles don’t impress me, since it’s a replay of the original trilogy (except there’s an Asian woman pilot!) I know they’re going to succeed in blowing up this new Starkiller, so I’m not worried for them. When Starkiller explodes, I’m actually disappointed. Two out of three movies in the original trilogy end with the good guys blowing up the bad guy base. Nothing new.
-Forest fight. I don’t think Finn is going to last long. I’m so excited seeing the lightsaber wiggle in the snow, because I know it’s going to go to Rey. I’m thrilled when the lightsaber flies past Kylo and lands in Rey’s hand. Best moment.
-Hurray for Rey, but her sudden newfound strength is a clichéd cop-out. I expected Kylo to be more powerful, and just leaving him in the snow seems anticlimactic.
-Finn is dead? No way. They may have killed Han, but Finn is too valuable a character to be dead at this point.
-I’m so happy R2D2 has woken up. Seeing BB-8 and R2D2 together is more cuteness than I can handle.
-I’m disappointed Rey only kissed Finn on the forehead. But I guess that’s too much for the first film, and they might establish it more in the second film like they did with Han and Leia.
-This last sequence got me excited when I saw the Falcon soar over the green hills of Ireland. The island Rey lands on is a popular tourist attraction, Skellig Michael, that I could have visited this summer while studying abroad. But it was a long sequence, and I needed it to end and not end. I was enjoying the movie, but I desperately needed to pee. But the last scene with Luke and Rey staring at each other is glorious.
Conclusion: I was blown away by the movie. There were lots of recycled plot points from A New Hope and other flaws, but I didn’t mind too much at this point. I thought the movie was executed beautifully and lived up to its expectations. Looking forward to Episode VIII!
 Second viewing

-Definitely paying more attention to BB-8 now. He’s so adorable!

bb-8
Image by Lucasfilm

-I’m sad that the old man (still can’t remember his name) got struck down. Now that I know who Kylo’s family is, I want to know the old man’s history with the Skywalker/Solo family. It’s like when Obi-Wan got cut down in A New Hope so soon without interacting very much with other characters (Of course, the prequels gave us more Obi-Wan, if you acknowledge the existence of the prequels.) I hope we will find out more about the old man in future movies.

 

-I hear the joke this time, and nobody is laughing. I don’t think it’s so funny either.

-The soundtrack when Rey is gliding down the slope feels like Harry Potter.
-It occurs to me that Rey’s first words are in a foreign language. I like it.

rey
Image by Lucasfilm

-I found out that the sound of a TIE fighter is a mix of an elephant call and cars driving on wet roads. It’s probably my favorite sound in the whole Star Wars universe.
-Now that I know what happens to Captain Phasma later on, I’m annoyed whenever she comes onscreen. The screenwriters really screwed over her character.

-Still love Rey’s line: “the garbage will do.”
-This sequence is fantastic. It’s probably the one scene that they filmed in real IMAX 3D, since it’s so thrilling.

-People online are calling Kylo a  spoiled baby because of his volatile reactions. I think it’s this scene that makes him so human.

-It’s corny when Han and Rey speak in unison, as if they’re long lost twins. It tries too hard to establish a strong connection between them. At least they don’t acknowledge it. I also don’t like Rey reminding Han how to fly his own ship. I kind of want him to snap at her as if she’s Luke.
-I’m disappointed that the “Han is Kylo’s father” reveal came from Snoke, a character who doesn’t mean very much to me. In order to prolong the mystery, I would prefer if it went like this: Snoke mentions Kylo’s father, Kylo calls Vader “grandfather,” then  Han refers to Kylo as his son. It allows the audience to connect the dots ourselves.
-The jokes feel cheaper this time around, and as a result I like Finn less than before, since he’s the main character making the jokes. It seems like he’s mainly there for comic relief, and it’s not very characteristic of Star Wars. Then again, it’s okay for the new trilogy to feel different from the prequels and originals, and for Abrams to try and please newcomers with jokes.
-As a result, I also like the hints of romance between Rey and Finn less.
-I like the feel of these animatronic characters in the cantina.
-Ah, there’s way too much going on in Rey’s Force vision. I’m trying to notice all the details, but it all goes by too quickly. Must watch this part again. Missed Yoda, and young Kenobi’s voices.
-I want more information on Starkiller base. Is it a converted planet? How is it all snowy? Is it not just another Death Star? Even if it has a different name, it’s really just a bigger Death Star.
-I just realized this is just like Empire when C-3PO ruins a tense Han/Leia moment
-The way Carrie Fisher pronounces her words is kind of strange. It’s like she’s talking out of the corner of her mouth.
-I’m paying more attention to Han’s final interactions with everyone, now that I know he’s going to die soon. His last interaction with Leia is heartbreaking.
-I can’t wait for Kylo to take off his mask. I like how vulnerable he seems without it, that he’s a young person with good looks that will no doubt be ruined later if/when he falls further to the dark side. For now he looks too wholesome to be a “proper villain.”
-I still hate this Captain Phasma scene. It really ruins the movie for me. I cringe just thinking about it.

PIcture by Lucasfilm
Image by Lucasfilm
Picture by Lucasfilm
Image by Lucasfilm

-Not much else I want to say about this scene.

-The lightsaber battle in the snow is beautiful, but I would have preferred more dialogue, more of Kylo goading on Rey like Darth Vader did with Luke, just get a better sense of what they’re thinking. More of Kylo saying things like “Come with me to the Dark Side!” and Rey shouting “Never!” Maybe I should read the novel.

-Rey has given Kylo’s untouched, wholesome baby face a battle scar. Whatever innocence he has left is being slashed away. We’re watching the development of a great villain here.
-Rey is still holding her staff, which means she hasn’t quite abandoned her identity as a scavenger, despite learning about the Force and lightsabers.
-Meh at the kissing scene this time around.

lukerey2
Image by Lucasfilm

-I still teared up at Luke and Rey’s scene at the end. Nothing like the orchestra blasting the Force theme to get my emotions going.
Conclusion: After reading lots of commentary, theories, and reviews, I definitely saw more of the movie’s flaws. All the nostalgic callbacks to the previous movies had less impact this time. I caught some of the cameos (Daniel Craig as a stormtrooper!) but missed others (R2-KT). Still, it was an enjoyable ride.

 

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