Review: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Post by Scott Stalcup

The Force Awakens . . . and gets smothered with a pillow.

*This post contains plot spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.*

It’s 1977.  You’re three, maybe four years old, and one day, your mom brings you home a puppy or a kitten.  Your preference.  For the next six years, you and that animal are inseparable.  You love that creature as much as you love your mom and grandma and great aunt.  Then around 1983, you come home from school and the dog or cat has run away.  No, I don’t mean run over by a garbage truck, scraped into a bin liner and you’re told it went off to live on a farm somewhere.  I mean, it’s gone away.  You’re devastated that the good times have come to an end and you wait for years for the animal to return, but it never does.

Flash forward thirty-two years and a man knocks on your door looking like Harry Potter and k.d. lang’s lovechild.  He says to you, “Hey Mister!  I found your pet!” and steps aside to reveal, a bit older, a bit slower in step, but still your dog or cat.  You recognize it.  It recognizes you.  You scream with joy.  Tears of happiness stream down your face.  The animal licks it away.  You’re hugging it, stroking its fur, and telling it how much you love it, how much you missed it and how you’re so happy it’s back.  Two hours pass almost instantaneously, and this same guy who brought back the animal, snatches it away from you, pulls out a small handgun and shoots the animal through the skull at point blank range.  Your guts hit the ground.  You can’t breathe.  You feel nothing.  Well, you feel nothing until the man puts his gun back in his pocket, strolls down the steps and in comes Chuck Norris to roundhouse kick you in the plums in a steel-capped boot.

If you weren’t caught up in the hoopla surrounding the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, you might share my sentiment at the film’s end.  Or you might just dismiss it as the ravings of a lone nut.  I hope it’s the former, but I really don’t care if it’s the latter.  It’s the Internet.  There’s worse than me out there.

Rivaling 1970s game show panel mainstay Paul Lynde’s homosexuality for “Worst Kept Secret EVER” was the return of Harrison Ford as Han Solo in the seventh film of the Star Wars franchise, annnnnnd in a similarly dickish move to that of Charlton Heston as George Taylor in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Ford would only come back if his character were killed off.  I can understand his reasoning.  Why get tied down to Star Wars when he could be associated with projects from his recent oeuvre like Cowboys vs. Aliens, Ender’s Game, and the fourth Indiana Jones film opposite Sleepy LaBeef or whatever his name is.  Career highs all of them.

So, Harrison Ford, ably assisted by J.J. Abrams, proceeds to do to the franchise’s fan base what his wife, Calista Flockhart, likely won’t let him do to her.  And after about two hours of being reminded why you/we fell in love with the series in the first place, the prequels merely a bad dream, likely a sack of oil saturated beer nuggets consumed too late at night, Han gets run through by his son Ben who is now mincing about trying to look like his grandpappy, but instead looks more like a transgender Snake-Eyes, going by the name of Rilo Kiley or Kylie Minogue.  No, wait!  I remember!  RICHARD KILEY!

This isn’t the film we are looking for.  Move along.

If Harrison Ford was only coming back on board to say “Hello” again only to follow with an immediate “Goodbye,” on the off chance he’s reading this, I’d rather he just stayed home.  Surely Lawrence Kasdan could have rationalized his absence in the same manner the surviving Beatles did twenty years ago when they reworked the demos of “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” with McCartney saying “John’s just stepped out for tea after putting his parts down.”

Now some may read this and think, “Jesus, old man!  Lighten up!  It’s just a movie!”  But it’s not just a movie.  I don’t mean the endless amount of, to quote Mel Brooks, “MOICHANDISING!” permeating every segment of consumer culture at the moment.  No.  When Star Wars came out in 1977, it gave a society still damaged from the upheavals of the previous decade and earlier part of the 1970s (Dare I type it?  Yeah, fuck it.)  A NEW HOPE.  A farm boy could get out of his backwater existence and become someone great.  A self-absorbed putz could become selfless and better himself in the eyes of society.  A pampered daddy’s little rich girl could be blown out of her shell and go on to help all levels of social strata.

After seeing those leaders in the 1960s who were going to lead us into a better world shot down before they had the chance, Star Wars gave us heroes again.  At the very least, it gave us what movies are at least supposed to give us: an escape for a few hours from the spirit-crushing realities of existence.  After fifteen years of school shootings, terrorist attacks, both from within like the recent Planned Parenthood shootings and the innumerable attacks of ISIS from without, and, not to sound like Fox News here, but the attacks on the East Coast in 2001, we sure could have used a film like that right now instead of the reminder of how screwed up the world is.  No fairy tales to be found in Episode Seven.  King Arthur is absent, only to be returned Excalibur in the closing seconds of the film.  Sir Lancelot is run through by Mordred, and Guinevere looks and sounds more like Morgan LeFaye.  Don’t bother looking for Merlin.  He died fifteen years ago.

If you’ve not seen the film yet, stay home.  If you have seen it, don’t go see it again.  Please.  There’s been enough death turning the opening fifteen years of the twenty-first century crimson.  And to J.J. Abrams, Harrison Ford and Disney, if I may quote Gerrit Graham in Used Cars, “You killed my dog, mister.”

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12 comments

    1. “All that writing just to complain about Han getting off’d by his son? There’s quite a bit more wrong with this movie.”

      Yes, but it’s brilliantly bitchy. Worst ending for a character of such grand stature since James Remar’s Ajax got arrested and handcuffed to a bench in The Warriors.

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  1. Sorry Scott, I have seen it multiple times and will be going back for more. While I do think the film has some problems, it is an incredible improvement over the prequels and probably the third best film out of the seven. It seems you mainly disliked the film because of the death of Han Solo, but your complaint that we need heroes is undermined by your neglecting to mention the presence of so many in this film, What about Rey, Finn, Leia and Luke? What about BB-8, C-3PO and R2-D2? Try to look past your nostalgia and evaluate the film on its own terms.

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    1. “Try to look past your nostalgia and evaluate the film on its own terms.”

      ERRRRRRRRRRRNK! New Criticism approach. Can’t be done. No work exists in a vacuum.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. P.S. Luke’s on-screen time is a flea fart in a hurricane, Nathan. And I KNOW you were paralyzed with laughter at some of those comments I made. I take my coffee like my outlook: Cold, dark and BITTER.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Luke took three films to still not be the badass that Rey became within five minutes of “awakening”. The tragedy is that Luke had that much screen time, and nobody thought to run him through with a light saber. One can only assume that the darkside is aware of the first three films and found a trip to Skellig Michael to be too far for too little.

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    3. P.S. Still shaking my head at how exactly R2-D2 who sat dormant since Luke left, BB-8 who is a blatant kiddie toy target to where you can make out the HASBRO and Kenner logos on the damned thing, and C-3PO who’s never been anything other than an android version of Kenneth Williams (the rest of you, Google him) are HEROES.

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    1. Fine. Substitute “dog/cat” for grandparent, girlfriend/boyfriend, other person to whom you had an emotional attachment and circumstances ripped them away from you, be it death, abduction, relocation or anything other than systems theory. The bloody thing’s a hypothetical anyroad.

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