Star Wars Original Trilogy fans, at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, the worst parts of the new film were the classic characters you’ve been looking for, with one exception.
Before getting into the reasoning, it is understood many of you will disagree with the above statement, but before the crucifixion begins, let it be known that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a fantastic movie.
There are certainly throwbacks to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but unlike what some negative reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes have claimed, this is a worthy continuation with a style all its own.
Abrams pays homage, but his entry in the saga is unique and stands on its own.
A particularly present surprise includes the likability of all the new characters — Finn, Poe Dameron, Rey, BB-8, even that dastardly Kylo Ren — they all seemed fresh and interesting.
You wanted to take this journey with them in much the same way you did with Luke, Leia, Han, and Vader in the Star Wars Original Trilogy.
This world is full of the hope and danger and the feeling of authenticity fans were missing from the prequels. The only thing that seemed tired and aged were the presentations of the characters we had waited so long to catch up to since the conclusion of Return of the Jedi 32 years ago.
Let’s start with C-3PO and R2-D2.
Oh and by the way, massive spoiler alerts from this point forward.
Got that? This is your last chance. Okay, let’s begin.
C-3PO and R2-D2 went mostly unused in this installment. While C-3PO got a nice pop from the audience when he appeared for the first time — and so did R2 — it was overshadowed by how little both droids were used.
Only at the very end of the film, after Starkiller Base had been destroyed, do we get a functioning R2 unit. As for C-3PO, his inability to play off his friend for most of their scenes took a lot of the fun out of him.
But how these two were used is a small slight compared to Star Wars Original Trilogy favorite Han Solo.
Yes, as Harrison Ford has stated in press junkets to promote the film that his character has a full emotional arc this time around.
His and Leia’s son, Kylo Ren (or Ben Solo), has betrayed them, and he is now in a role where he’s forced to find the good in his boy, a reverse of how Luke was trying to find the light within Vader throughout the last part of the Star Wars Original Trilogy.
The arc was a good one (with tragic consequences), but Ford brought the same roguish humor and charm to his character. The only problem is that at a certain point in the film — well before the finale — you realize he will be the sacrificial lamb in this entry.
Spending time with Solo after that point — and it comes when he leads Finn and Chewbacca in an effort to shut down Starkiller Base’s shields — feels like you are spending time with your dearest loved one during their final days of hospice care.
At that point, it feels like a “be careful what you wish for” moment for all us Star Wars Original Trilogy fans who wanted to see what became of Solo after ROTJ.
There is also the added tragedy of his and Leia’s crumbled relationship. Aside from the fact Leia has little to do this go-around, it’s sad to see her character experience so little joy in life after the presumed happy ending of ROTJ.
Now she has to get through the rest of her life without her soulmate while living with the knowledge that it was her own son who killed his father/her one true love.
How’s that for depressing!
Last but not least, it’s difficult to see so little of Luke Skywalker, having to wait until the last shot in the film for the opportunity.
You feel slighted, but you also feel anger at Luke. Why did he turn tail and run and let the world crumble and one of his best friends die.
Luke has betrayed his friends and his cause almost as much as Kylo Ren betrayed his parents.
The only bright spot left over in The Force Awakens for fans of the Star Wars Original Trilogy — Chewbacca. Peter Mayhew does an excellent job using his limited acting tools to bring humor and, eventually, heartbreak to the proceedings.
Unlike the other tragedies of The Force Awakens, however, you feel empowered by Chewbacca’s sorrow at the loss of his best friend. You know he’s going to honor Han by fighting on and being a source of strength.
As a fan of the Star Wars Original Trilogy, I’m now a little sad that I got to see them again because it served as a sobering reminder of mortality and the harsh reality that every good thing must end.
Luckily, there is a renewal in John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaacs, that makes me want to embark on this journey. I just wish I didn’t have to see the deterioration of the old guard to get it.
That said, I somewhat understand it was necessary.
[Image via Star Wars Original Trilogy: A New Hope screen grab]