‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Brings Franchise Home In More Ways Than One

UPDATE: I apologize to anyone who happened upon this article via Bing and a MAJOR spoiler they plucked from this review for the description. I had no control over that and no idea why that happened. I actually posted a spoiler warning, which I’d like to re-emphasize — this review does contain spoilers. Again, my apologies.

“Chewie, we’re home!”

It’s the phrase that made many a Star Wars fan run down the street to order tickets in advance. It’s also the phrase that helped define Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thanks to a sequel few of us truly saw coming, we are once again in the Star Wars universe. The adventure continues and it feels right — it feels like we’re home.

At the very beginning, we’re told that this will be a Luke Skywalker-less movie. At least physically. In actuality, this is very much a Luke Skywalker-driven film. We go on this journey with characters who love him and characters who admire him to “bring him home.”

I will say that aside from the movie being about Luke, it’s also very much about the concept of home. “I’m home,” “come home,” and “we’re home” are said throughout The Force Awakens. I really don’t think it’s a coincidence. J.J. Abrams said this film was built around the question, “Who is Luke Skywalker?” I think Episode VIII will probably answer that question. Episode VII was instead all about the concept of home.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) is convinced the desert planet Jakku is her way home. Despite Rey’s miserable existence there, she believes she must be there for “her family” to return at some point and bring her home from an unexplained exile. Rey is forced to realize over the course of the film that it’s the perpetual optimism of a little girl binding her to Jakku. She has the power to find her way home; she just needs the courage to use it.

Meanwhile, Finn (John Boyega) is a man without a home — he didn’t even have a name at first. He’s determined to make a new one as far from the diabolical First Order as possible. One can hardly blame Finn for that. In the process, he finds a home of sorts among people who exhibit the kindness and empathy that he would have been taught was wrong. Just as mysterious as Rey’s exile to Jakku is how Finn comes to see the First Order as wrong.

Perhaps the most painful conversation about home in Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes with one of the movie’s primary antagonists: Kylo Ren. Ren (Adam Driver) is conflicted about where he belongs. It is an internal warfare not unlike what Anakin Skywalker experienced as a Jedi — and for the record, far better acted than what we saw in the prequels.

The difference is that Kylo Ren sees being pulled back towards the light side of the Force as an obstacle to be overcome rather than a glimmering hope that redemption is indeed possible. Kylo Ren feels his home is among some nefarious characters. Meanwhile, loved ones are hoping he’ll “return home.” It’s a tug of war with an outcome that proves that for some, you really can never go home again.

The journey of this Star Wars movie was heavily driven by the concepts of Luke and home, which, I confess, made the First Order seem practically irrelevant. We may get to know more about their evil intentions in the upcoming films. For now, I almost feel that the Empire-esque organization and their giant Death Star knock-off could have been left out of the movie and nothing really would have been missed.

That’s pretty much all the criticism I have for The Force Awakens. It was much more entertaining than any of the prequel films, and I’m going to go ahead and consider it one of the best Star Wars movies in the franchise. J.J. Abrams really outdid himself. More importantly, his love of Star Wars came through with his directing.

Star Wars fans should know that they’ll probably want to see The Force Awakens more than once. Every fan I’ve talked to said there was so much they missed the first time that they only appreciated upon a second viewing.

Have you seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet? What did you think of it? Feel free to geek out in the comment section below!

[Image via Screen Grab From YouTube/Lucasfilm]