An Opinionated Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I could talk about the script, special effects, pacing, etc. of the new Star Wars movie. I could, but I won’t, because I don’t really care.

It’s a good movie. It’s not actually a perfect movie, but I loved the story and the characters. I laughed and I whimpered, and I will be running to see the next one.

But, more than that, it surprised me in two very important ways.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

 

There’s a girl (Rey). She seems competent and interesting and likable, with plenty of potential for a story arc. But I’ve seen that before.

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There’s a black guy (Finn). He seems competent and interesting and likable, with plenty of potential for a story arc. But I’ve seen that before too.

Finn

So I’m sitting there thinking: I know where this is going. Finn is going to die early in the movie so his whiter* ally Poe can understand how high the stakes are. Rey is going to be rescued. It’ll look like she can be the hero, and then at the last minute a guy is going to step in and save her.

*Poe is played by Oscar Isaac, who is Guatemalan American.

AND THEN.

Finn and Poe crash. They both make it out (I told you there would be spoilers!) but it’s Finn the story follows, Finn who meets Rey, Finn who gets character development.

As for Rey… well, I think this moment kind of illustrates her treatment in the movie:

Rey: ‘Stop grabbing my hand!’

Finn: ‘No! We have to run!’

Rey: ‘I know how to run without you holding my hand!’

 

Rey is built up as the traditional hero of the movie, the successor to Luke Skywalker.

Towards the end of the movie, Rey takes up Luke’s old lightsaber to face down the supremely creepy Darth Vader wannabe. They fight. She does well, but he’s winning. He has her trapped on the edge of a cliff.

So naturally I’m sitting there, all stressed out, curled into a ball in my seat and biting my lip. It’s not because I think she’s going to die (we’ve already had our shocking death for this movie). It’s because I’m hoping like crazy: please let her rescue herself.

AND SHE DOES.

To sum it up: the black guy survives (probably) and gets the girl (and hopefully isn’t her brother). The girl is the protagonist and remains the protagonist for the entirety of the movie.

May the Force be with them.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “An Opinionated Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  1. It doesn’t take any skill to put dark-skinned or female actors in your film. Rey is a horrible character. She has zero personality beyond “I’m strong! Don’t hold my hand!”. Is that how female representation should be? Moving females from damsels in distress to personality-less action heroines who are interchangeable? She doesn’t have a single interestig line of dialogue.

    Finn is a lot of fun though – a moral hero that doesn’t know how big or small the situation he’s in. I loved him.

    1. It may not take any skill to do this (except on the part of the actors, their agents, and the casting staff) but that doesn’t mean it happens often enough, certainly not in record-breaking sci-fi blockbusters.

      Different characters will always resonate with different people. To me Rey is funny and brave, empathetic, competent but vulnerable, emotionally conflicted but self-aware, someone I can identify with – and, yes, feminine. To you she’s a horrible character. That’s fine. I’ll continue to adore her, and hopefully you’ll enjoy her character development in future movies.

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