By Michael Parnell
Being old has its advantages. When Star Wars (Because it was not chapter four then) came out, I was 19 years old. I remember the experience of going to the movie at Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, N.C.
It was communal experience. When you went there were no advance tickets. There were no multiple screens showing it. You stood in line and waited your turn to get into the one theater showing the movie. In the line you talked with each other about what you had heard about movie. All of it was a big mystery to us because we had no spoilers or inside information; there was no Internet.
Then we stepped in the theater and saw these words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ….” And the journey began.
Star Wars is a generational thing. After more than a decade a new Star Wars movie has landed. And it is great.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the first of a new trilogy of movies that comes after the terrible prequels wrought at the hands of Star Wars creator, George Lucas. These new movies are not related to Lucas, because he sold his company to Disney.
It begins three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi. Now there is from the ashes of the Empire a group known as the New Order. This group is headed by the evil Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Snoke is aided by General Hux (Domhnail Glesson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Ren is a follower of the Dark Side of the Force. The Force is the spiritual power in the galaxy that acts to hold things together and give life.
Standing against them is the Resistance. This group is lead by Princess Leia, now General Leia (Carrie Fisher). Her best pilot is Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Poe has been sent to the planet Jakku to meet with Lor San Tekka (Max Von Sydow) to get help in locating Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).
Skywalker has disappeared and is the last living Jedi Knight. Both the New Order and Resistance seek him.
Along the way we meet Rey (Daisy Ridley) who comes from Jakku and gets caught up in the story. And we meet Finn (John Boyega) who has a moment of transformation and joins in the Resistance.
I say no more out of fear that, one, I will spoil the movie and, two, I think I have said too much. It is best to walk in with as little information as possible to get the greatest effect.
Let me speak to what it was like seeing all of this again. First, it was like seeing a great band from your teenage years get back together again and finding they still have the chops to play the licks of the old songs and have the moxie to pull of some new tunes.
It was good seeing those who were part of the first three movies back together again.
Another thing is that this movie is made better because of one thing: Lawrence Kasdan. Kasdan wrote the script for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. His writing helped make those two great.
His writing informs what makes this movie. Knowing this universe/mythology helps make it more watchable. And Kasdan does not succumb to George Lucas’ largest error: the desire to sell things related to the movie afterward. Yes, there are hundreds of items for sale now related to this movie, but you do not feel the movie is a product placement dump.
Another thing going for this movie is it is not Caucasian/male centric as the other movies were. We have heroes now that are female and black. There is also a female villain, Capt. Plasma (Gwendoline Christie). This is supremely important because of the first point I made.
What is being done here is the introduction to Star Wars to a new generation. And this generation is more inclusive and less desirous to see a bunch of white men doing it all.
To drive the point home, a friend posted this on Facebook from a tweet he read: “Overheard at a viewing of The Force Awakens today. Three 10-year-old girls: “You guys. This is OUR @StarWars!” That is why this movie is so important. Now a new group of young people get to go on the journey and find the joy that is the story from “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt (based on characters created by George Lucas)
With: Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Max Von Sydow (Lor San Tekka)