The Force Awakens (Finally) – Character Summaries Maybe?

The Force Awakens (Finally)

Well, the movie of the century (so far) has been released.  The Star Wars franchise has successfully secured it’s top spot in current popular culture once again via a brand new feature film and it has made its mark as the fastest film to reach $1 billion in the box office, the highest grossing opening weekend box office, and will likely top out to be the highest grossing film ever.  J.J. Abrams attacked this project expertly and did a thorough job of creating galaxies, planets and landscapes that kept the Star Wars feel.

If you don’t do theaters because of the myriad of great excuses, the primary one being the second mortgage you have to take to pay for it, do yourself a favor now.  Go to your local theater and see this masterpiece.  No, it’s not perfect but god damn is it fun and exciting.  If you aren’t afraid of spoilers and whatnot, continue reading.  I am about to start babbling about this movie and because I did not go to college to learn how to expertly write movie reviews, it is probably going to be really hard to read.  Maybe not though.

Before seeing Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens it would probably do you well to catch a good run down of episodes IV, V, and VI.  I wouldn’t recommend rewatching the films (or even watching them for the first time) because who has that kind of time anymore?  The new film does a good job of continuing the saga and sadly, it rewrites history by completely excluding Jar Jar Binks.

Even without the Gungan hero, the movie delivers the story I wanted on screen at a pace that was action packed with interesting stretches of dialog that developed the characters involved.  Speaking of characters….

The Force Awakens (Finally) 2Meet Rey (Daisy Ridley) , who has no last name.  I am going to assume for now, from expanded universe talk and subtle hints that her surname is going to be Organa, or Solo, or Skywalker (Oh please let it be Skywalker).  I’m not sure, but she’s someone’s kid, and purposefully not putting a surname on her character just smacks of SECRECY!  Regardless, Rey is an interesting and powerful female character who not only takes care of herself, but establishes herself as a fucking Jedi master in record time.  Seriously, the force is so strong with her that she pummels Darth Snape (when you see Kylo Ren, the main baddie with the red lightsaber without a helmet you will know why I gave him this moniker) into oblivion.  She befriends Finn, a defected storm trooper and, well, from the way the film ends, let’s just say she is most likely going to be the trilogy’s primary protagonist.

Daisy Ridley plays this role well and shows that actors and actresses that do not have major accolades under their belts can achieve greatness.  She’s been in a few movies that don’t look familiar to me and has appeared in several short films.  She is perfect  for this role and she carries the film from beginning to end.  I was convinced that she was a Jedi, no, the CHOSEN ONE, by the end of the movie, even though Abrams and crew has all but removed Jedi and Sith from current lore.

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This is Finn (John Boyega).  He is a former storm trooper who realizes he is working for evil bastards who do evil things.  His name was given to him by Poe Dameron, the galaxy’s best pilot or something.  His original name is FN-2187.  I am just going to call him Lando Calrissian Jr (LCJ)  because the movie kind of gives the vibe that Finn is “special.”  Perhaps he is special because he is Leia’s son from when Lando was “taking care of her” when Han was a slab of carbonite.    Anyhow, he is always sweating and always nervous.  He is always excited and is always really highlighting his absolute terror of getting his ass beat by the First Order (The evil group that came to be after the Galactic Empire crumbled).

He is a pretty scrappy fighter and he takes a bit of an ass whipping in the movie.  He is fighting for the admiration of Rey and I can’t wait until they find out they’re related.  Just like when Luke and Leia found out.

John Boyega did a great job as Finn and while he did a little bit of overacting, he did great.  His spunky character felt genuine and I cared about him and his quest to get away from the dark side.  As far as his work history, I know the guy was on 24.  Other than that, he has a few movies and television shows under his belt.

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It wouldn’t be star wars without the dynamic duo, Han Solo and Chewbacca.  Yes, Han Solo dies.  Yes, his son, Darth Snape kills him as a sort of cleansing process that his master has led him to do.  Yes, Han Solo is still bad ass motherfucker who has more swagger than all the characters in Star Wars, even if Harrison Ford is 73 years old.  Chewbacca is still a badass and the relationship between he and Solo is stronger than ever.  They offer relevance to this new film and their dialog offers a refreshing sense of humor.  Ford nails Han Solo, and it’s hard to believe that even though its been like 50 years, he’s still HAN FUCKING SOLO SON!  Peter Mayhew, the guy that plays Chewbacca, even returned and guess what?  NAILED IT!

Before the film was released I thought the addition of these two would cheapen the experience, after seeing it, I can’t imagine it being near as entertaining without them, and if Han Solo doesn’t make some kind of Resurrection for episode VIII, I don’t know how on Earth it will be as well received.  It will have Chewy though.

The story of Han Solo between Episode VI and now is interesting, if lacking.  Apparently he had a son with Princess Leia and their son went to the dark side.  Don’t know why, don’t know how.  We just know that Luke Skywalker became a Jedi school teacher and I guess he tried to start the Jedi order again or something, and Ben Solo/Darth Snape pulled the ol’ Anakin Skywalker and killed all of Luke’s students.  Pretty dark shit.  I would love to see Ben’s downward spiral on some screen – maybe netflix, eh Disney?

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The bad guy himself!  Kylo Ren (Darth Snape, portrayed by Adam Driver)!  When you see the guy without his helmet on…you know what?  Fuck it.  Here:

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But Mafufu!  He doesn’t look anything like Severus Snape!  Fuck you, yes he does.  Enough of that though, Darth Snape is without a doubt a way better villain than any of the previous films.  He has more character than Darth Maul (But not the Sith Kung Fu shit that maul does) and he manages to show more emotional dialog and feels less wooden than Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker Too).   Darth Snape manages to go through more character development in one film than any single character from the previous films, proving himself to be more intriguing than previous villains, and he is not a complete bad ass.  He got his ass handed to him by someone who JUST learned that she has Jedi skills.  He got out forced and out light sabered and outsmarted.  His whole reason for existence is to be like his grand daddy, Darth Vader, and well, Vader would not be very pleased.

Adam Driver sold this role so well.  The character is depicted as weak minded and has issues with being pulled towards the light, unlike Anakin who was pulled towards the dark.  He kills his father, Han Solo, and that single act probably catapulted him into top ten villains of all time.  You don’t kill Harrison Ford.  Even though the death of Han Solo cemented Darth Snape’s foothold in the dark side, I believe the dialog, the fight, and the suspense of the situation between he and Rey was an award winning performance from both actors.  Driver’s acting showed a desperation for something more than his current standing and his attempts to woo Rey to the dark side were compelling to say the least.  Kylo Ren is the absolute best villain that Star Wars lacked in Episodes I-VI.  Blasphemy, you say?  Darth Vader was great, but not as interesting.  Bring on the hate.

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“Who’s the shiny storm trooper?”  That is Brienne of Tarth errrr, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie)?  Regardless, there was a mountain of hype built around Captain Phasma and honestly, all I saw was another Boba Fett style character, except the hype surrounding her came before the film itself.  I was expecting her to whip out some ass kicking moments but her role was to constantly nag Finn for being a shitty storm trooper, and to be the butt of a trash compactor joke by Han Solo.  I shit you not.  Her role in this movie was a fucking punch line for Harrison Ford.

I bet her action figure will become the rarest one.  It will be worth $5,000.00.  Nerds will laud her as the scariest character in the new Star Wars movies memes and T-shirts will be made in her honor.  Then when someone sees the films after the fucking hype train hits an all time high, expecting greatness from her, they’re going to be disappointed.  What a waste.  Just like Boba fucking Fette.

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Princess Leia, a character loved by many a teenage boy, is a shining example of what too much cocaine, liquor, and whoring does to movie stars.  All the stories I have read about about Carrie Fisher have led me to believe that she was quite hedonistic and took no issue in enjoy the occasional libation every now and then.  George Lucas created a monster.  I bet if she had known she would be in these new films, she would have taken a little better care of herself, but her looks fit her role now as she has been demoted from princess to general or commander or something.  Her presence was strong, but not forced.  I wanted her to die, I want the old characters to leave us in this new trilogy.  I want that evolution of story telling to take place, but I did not get that.

Oh, by the way, Leia is the reason Han was killed, so I expect dissertations on why Leia is the ultimate asshole of the new trilogy.  I will start the hate train now…..

Why you gotta bring up old shit man!
Why you gotta bring up old shit man!  What’s this got to with the movie!?

TAKE THAT, SHE DEMON!

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C-3PO and R2-D2 are the Star Wars slapstick comedy duo we love, but they took a major back seat to the film almost entirely.  Hell, R2 really only became part of the movie at the conclusion.  3PO has a mysterious red arm, but he is still kind of annoying.  They both play a pivotal part in the film’s denouement where Rey is tasked with finding Luke Skywalker.  Finding Luke Skywalker is the ultimate goal for everyone in this movie, including the First Order.  No one knows why, but the next film will surely delve into the reasons.  I really wish these guys had more time on screen, but honestly, that would take screen time from the most amazing character ever devised in the history of all things Star Wars

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Say hello to BB-8.  I have never bought a Star Wars toy (Okay, the red dual light sabers don’t count), but when I first laid eyes on this little guy I immediately requested some kind of figure of him for Christmas.  BB-8 emulates emotion better than any other droid and is super fucking cute at everything he does.  I dare you not to go “AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW” when you watch him go down stairs.  He beeps and boops and while he is an expert at showing happiness, sadness, anger, and frustration, BB-8 is a sassy little bastard.  He is loyal to the rebels and he belongs to Poe Dameron.  He has a crush on Rey and a burgeoning bromance with Finn, and I can’t wait to see how well he meshes with R2D2 on the next film.

BB-8 plays an important role in finding the location of Luke Skywalker.  More importantly, however, is the toy that Sphero, the company that creates remote controlled spheres for people with smartphones to play around with all day, has created.  I’ll just leave this here for you to watch:

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This is Andy Serkis.  All those contraptions around him are cameras or sensors or whatever.  the dots on his face are motion capture sensors that trace and track his facial expressions used to map over a CGI model of who fills the role of ultimate villain: Supreme Leader Snoke.  Who is probably a Sith Lord, and some say he is Darth Plagueis (The guy who lorded over Darth Sidious, AKA Emperor Palpatine.)

Snoke’s introduction is a quiet conversation between his hologram and Darth Snape.  At first I didn’t notice it was a hologram and I thought he was just some really giant guy.  I was happy to see it was just a really large hologram which made absolutely no sense.  Snoke looks like he went through hell though.  His face is all chopped up and he looks really old.  Finding any information on him is nigh impossible and he is currently a big secret.  How will he affect the story of the new trilogy?  Will he see Darth Snape rise to power, or will Snape just use him as a stepping stone to grasp the true “POWAH OF THE DARK SIDE?”

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This is Poe Dameron.  The movie begins with him and BB-8 snagging some important information on Luke Skywalker.  Of course, that all goes to shit and those two are separated.  He is a really good pilot (the best pilot in the galaxy) and he has his X-Wing moment where he blows shit up expertly.

Dameron is played by Oscar Isaac, who has a pretty interesting filmography.  His acting was a bit overboard and his character felt cheesy in general.  His character belonged on any other movie, but he really stuck out in this movie every time he was on screen.  All smiles, all positive statements, and this winning, almost jockish attitude did not fit well with the overall theme of the film.

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This is Maz Kanata.  She, like Rey, is the female replacement for one of our favorite memorable characters.  As Rey is the replacement for Luke Skywalker, Maz is the replacement for Yoda.  While she is interesting enough, and she manages to thrust the fate of a Jedi into the hands of Rey, Maz is just as quickly forgotten as she was introduced.  Her castle cantina was destroyed by the first order and we never find out if Maz makes it out alive.

Another thing that kind of bugged me was that throughout the whole film, Abrams insisted on using practical, real effects.  However, when it came to Maz and Snoke, they said “fuck it guys, let’s break out the computers and get some of that Final Fantasy 7 CGI goin’ on!”  Not that I was disappointed, but I felt like Abrams had an opportunity to put some more puppeteers to work, but instead he probably hired 30 graphics artists to create her.  She was motion captured by Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave).

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Here he is.  Mr. Robot Hand himself, Luke Skywalker.  Finding Luke is the goal of the whole galaxy and it is a race between the rebels and the First Order.  The good guys find him first, as we learn through Rey’s cross country run that Luke has been becoming one with the force on a nice grassy island that is probably an ancient Jedi temple or something.  When Rey arrives, she holds out the lightsaber (the one that Luke has always used) and the camera spins around and then credits.  Luke Skywalker was in this movie for 10 seconds and it was amazing.  Great job Mark Hamill!  You did better acting by standing still and silent than you did in the entire three original films!

That was a long character round up, I know, but I just had to get that off of my chest.  These roles were well thought out for the most part and the acting was spot on.  Big thanks to all the people who directed these guys!

 

 

 

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