Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a full theater was an incredible experience. From an hour before our showing, to the opening text crawl, to the end credits, the Jedis, rebel pilots, and Princess Leia’s in the crowd cheered with excitement.
I loved the movie. It has its flaws, like every movie that isn’t Die Hard, but this was the most fun I’ve ever had in a movie theater. Now that my bias is out of the way, let’s get into this.
What can’t be argued is that Episode VII is heavily influenced by the original Star Wars trilogy, specifically the first film, Episode IV: A New Hope. If you look closely at the story beats in both, they’re almost identical. But that’s OK.
The Force Awakens is meant to feel familiar. One of the movie’s strongest themes is homecoming — not only for the characters, but for the audience as well. This is the first time we’ve come back to the Star Wars Universe in 32 years. OK, so it’s the first time we’ve actually wanted to come back.
We ran like hell from those prequels.
Making the story in The Force Awakens similar to A New Hope represents a fresh start for the franchise. It also assured that this new start would still feel like Star Wars. This is the same reason why Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams were also involved. The Force Awakens is supposed to feel like coming back for the holidays, ignoring your family, and taking a nap in dad’s recliner.
But the plot isn’t the only reason why The Force Awakens is familiar. This re-introduction to the franchise works because the movie was made with three audiences of Star Wars fans in mind, and it represented each of them through members of the cast.
There are the old fans, the ones who were raised on the original trilogy and are still grumpy about the prequels. They’re Han Solo and, more specifically, the perpetually grumpy old man Harrison Ford. Then you have the young fans whose parents showed them Star Wars. They’re represented by Rey. They are fresh-faced unknowns experiencing everything for the first time with perpetual wonder and awe, guided by an older generation. Lastly, there’s Finn, for everyone who stumbled into the theater with absolutely no idea what was going on.
A new guy for the new guys.
The Force Awakens can be viewed by everyone in the audience because it’s familiar. The characters are relatable, and the story is unmistakably Star Wars — which is great, because there so much new lore introduced in this movie. There are dozens of new characters between the Rebellion, the First Order, and Supreme Leader Snoke.
Episode VII packs all of these new elements while still respecting and paying homage to the original trilogy. The Force Awakens is a new jumping-on point for the Star Wars franchise, and the most successful reboot ever. Everyone, “We’re home.”
Article by contributor Tyler Leighton.