One of the many great things about New Zealand is that we frequently get to see movies before other countries, since we are the first on the other side of the International Dateline. When it comes to huge releases like a new Star Wars film, this is extra great. I can’t get spoiled if I already know everything, right? Anyway, yes, I did go to the midnight release and I wanted to put some quick, spoiler-free thoughts down for those interested.
First, a little background. I love Star Wars. Like, I really love Star Wars. I grew up in a very nerdy family, always surrounded by sci-fi fandoms. I honestly cannot ever recall not knowing that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Star Wars has been ingrained in me from childhood and I will follow along wherever it goes. However that doesn’t mean I can’t see the weak points in the franchise and recognize where things could do better.
All that said, absolutely I loved the Force Awakens. I went into the theater expecting to really like it, which can be dangerous. High expectations can be dashed more easily than low expectations can be raised. However the film went above and beyond what I expected. I was worried the film would rely too heavily on nostalgic references to get by or would fall victim to some of the pitfalls the prequels fell to like over-use of CGI, corny laughs, and gaggingly terrible romantic dialogue. Luckily my fears were unfounded.
While nostalgia certainly plays its part in the film, I feel that with a universe like this one it is near impossible to avoid. It is, afterall, a sequel. It calls back to previous characters, locations, and events in the universe because those characters and events have lasting effects on the universe. However I wouldn’t say that the film relies on nostalgia to be good. The new characters like Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and others were great. The old characters didn’t feel shoe-horned in. There are allusions to the original trilogy’s styling and plot structure that devout Star Wars fans will appreciate but they aren’t necessary to enjoy the film if you don’t recognize them. If you don’t know anything about Star Wars, obviously a lot of the plot will be lost to you. Similarly, if you have no knowledge of the characters and events from the original trilogy and prequels, you might not be able to appreciate some of the character development quite as much, I think.
Some people were concerned that the trailers and teasers shown for the film would be giving away too much and there wouldn’t be any substantial new info from the film itself. I can say without a doubt this was proven very false. I was quite surprised at some of the events of the film.
My one big concern with the film: not enough Captain Phasma. There is never enough Captain Phasma.
I don’t want to say too much more, because I think if I do I might accidentally spoil things. So I’ll just end here for now. But you should definitely go see it!