Hey look! Another movie review!
I’m sure that everyone and their mother will be weighing in on the latest Star Wars film in the next week or so. I mean, there are already several hundred reviews out there by now. There’s a lot of buzz about this new movie, especially after the poor showing of the last three Star Wars films. Could the franchise reclaim the magic? The short answer? Yes.
I saw the film last Thursday night, and I really, really liked it. Now, as I said, there’s no shortage of reviews covering tons of different angles of the film, and all its various merits. So, to set myself apart from all the other reviews, I’m gonna handle things a little differently. I’m going to examine the film through the lens of how it impacts all those action figures I bought. This is, after all, and action figure review site, is it not?
All in all, I really loved this movie. Sure, it didn’t top the original trilogy, but it was very definitely a worthy successor. It was a fantastic experience, from start to finish, and the whole “event” around it has really done a bang up job of reigniting my excitement for the franchise.
The general plot is very similar in structure to that of A New Hope (with a little Empire thrown in for good measure). A lot of the story beats are going to feel very familiar, but not in a bad way. The similarities are important to the story, and are key to recapturing the feel of the older movies.
Now, let’s look at some specifics:
—-THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW!—-
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
REY– Daisy Ridley’s Rey is the undeniable star of The Force Awakens. The others all play important parts, but this is her story. There are some very definite parallels between Rey in TFA and Luke in A New Hope, and that seems to have been an intentional choice. Unlike Anakin in the last three Star Wars films, Rey is incredibly competent, and spends pretty much none of the movie time whining about things being unfair, which was a refreshing change of pace. The reveal that she was force sensitive isn’t a huge twist, but it worked very well, and subverted expectations after images of Finn wielding the lightsaber were plastered everywhere. Daisy Ridley carried the movie with a fantastic performance, creating a genuinely likeable character who you truly want to see succeed. Ridley had great chemistry with pretty much all of the supporting cast, but her interaction with Harrison Ford really stood out, as did her scenes with BB-8. Given Rey’s status as the definitive star here, I’m actually a little surprised by her only having three main release figures at this point, but I’m definitely happy I got the two I did, and I’ll definitely be down for her one additional look from the end of the movie.
FINN – John Boyega’s Finn featured pretty prominently in the film. If Rey is the new Luke, Finn seems to have taken Han’s position as a likeable rogue. His arc was definitely a compelling one, showing us that not everyone working for the First Order is necessarily bad. Also, it’s a minor note, but I was thrilled to finally get a main Star Wars character who’s terrible at flying ships. It added a level of depth to the character that made it really easy to connect with him. Boyega gave a very strong performance, and he had great chemistry with both Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Oscar Isaac’s Poe. I definitely want to see more of this guy, and I hope we get a closer look into what separated him from the other Stormtroopers. Prior to the film, I thought Finn’s figures were well done but kind of boring. Not anymore! I’m definitely glad I grabbed his figures in both main scales.
POE DAMERON – Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron was probably my favorite of the new character’s introduced, which is kind of surprising, because he’s absent from a decent chunk of the film. Poe definitely takes the Leia role of the new power trio, being the first hero we meet in the film and being responsible for the film’s plot being kicked into action. A lot of what make’s Poe such an endearing character is Oscar Isaac’s performance in the role, which takes what could have been a fairly two-dimensional character and adds a lot of charm and charisma. Because of this, even with a smaller role, he’s just as memorable as the other two mains. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more of him in the next two films. Poe’s figures were sporting two distinct looks: his jacketed “civilian” look, and his X-Wing pilot gear. I opted for the jacketed look in both scales, but he actually splits his time pretty evenly between the two looks, so I kinda want to pick up the pilot gear look too, especially since he and Finn do indeed share the same jacket, making my current display an out of continuity nightmare. Oh, the humanity!
BB-8 – Replacing R2-D2 is no easy feat, but man did BB here do an admirable job. I loved the practical effects nature of the little droid, and they guy had plenty of personality without being annoying or overly cutesy. His early scenes with Rey are definitely a highlight of the film, and the little brother/big brother relationship between him and R2 later in the film were a lot of fun. I’m happy to have my Black Series BB-8, but now I’m definitely going have to find one of the smaller scale sets featuring him!
KYLO REN – They say a hero is only as good as their villain, and Star Wars has always had some of the best villains, so there was a lot of pressure on Adam Driver’s Kylo to deliver. Early on, he looked like he might just end up being Vader-lite, but that wasn’t the case in the end. He definitely had an imposing air about him, and the reveal that he was Han and Leia’s son added an interesting side to him, and I’m glad they didn’t decide to drag the reveal out. The scenes where he tortures Poe and Rey sell him as a pretty bad dude, to say nothing of his scene with Han. But, unlike Vader, he wasn’t all menace. There was a conflicted nature to the character, showing him as someone who’s just gotten too far involved in something they didn’t fully want. He’s also got an immature streak to him, resulting in a few momentary tantrums, but it’s handled quite a bit better here than with Anakin in the prequels. I really liked the character overall, and I look forward to seeing more of him. As far as action figures, I’m definitely gonna have to track down one of the smaller scale figures, because the somewhat lackluster Black Series figure just isn’t doing this guy justice.
GENERAL HUX – Hux was portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson, who was the only of the newly added actors with whose work I was immediately familiar, having enjoyed him in both About Time and Dredd (I won’t bring up Frank). He’s kind of a goofy, likeable sort of guy, so seeing him take the role of essentially Grand Moff Tarkin for the new films was definitely a change of pace. This character was straight up evil in the perfect way, and Gleeson’s performance was delightfully detestable. I was definitely impressed to see him pull that kind of range! I’ve managed to grab his smaller scale figure, but I definitely want to get his Black Series figure too!
THE MINOR PLAYERS
STORMTROOPER/ COMMANDO/FLAMETROOPER/RIOT CONTROL – The Stormtroopers are definitely a fixture of the franchise, and they’ve been at the forefront of a lot of the advertising for the new movie. Gone are the bumbling buffoons of the original trilogy (well…mostly), replaced by an army of faceless bad guys that are truly menacing. The new types of troopers all get some pretty cool focus moments, and the Riot Control Troopers in particular get a really cool fight scene. Definitely happy to have the troopers I’ve got, and I definitely want some more.
R2-D2 – R2 gets an even more reduced role than 3P0, and actually spends about half his screen time as a deactivated, empty shell. However, once he turns back on, he plays a pretty important role, and he’s set up to get an expanded role as the new films continue. And he never does get to use those giant missile launches that the figure had! Missed opportunity if you ask me…
GUAVIAN ENFORCER –I had no clue what kind of role these guys would play. They only get one scene, but it was actually kind of fun. Looks like they’ve taken up the Stormtrooper role in terms of ineptness, though that’s not a huge surprise, since they’ve got targets painted on their faces!
And then there are these guys. For better or for worse, there are a number of characters from the toyline who do essentially nothing in the film. GOSS TOOWERS and PZ-4C0 are both briefly visible at the resistance base, but I never did see SARCO PLANK. Also, I’m glad I didn’t decide to pick up any of the Constable Zuvio figures, cuz that dude was literally nowhere.
THE PLAYERS I DON’T HAVE FIGURES FOR
HAN SOLO – Harrison Ford’s return to one of his most famous roles was definitely a major selling point of the movie. He slipped back into the role seamlessly, and was definitely a highlight of the film. I was a little saddened by the reveal that he never really got to settle down, but that was a minor drawback. I picked up on him filling in for Obi-Wan pretty early on, but it wasn’t until he walked out on the bridge with Kylo that I realized just how far they were taking that parallel. His death is definitely the film’s biggest spoiler, and it hurts a lot. That said, it fits perfectly into the narrative, and it allows Han to finally cement his turn to a full blown hero.
CHEWBACCA – Chewy gets a pretty sizeable role, comparable to his role in the original films. His interaction with Han was absolute perfection, and he definitely clicked with Rey and Finn. Like R2, he’s definitely been set up for a larger role later on.
LEIA ORGANA – Leia isn’t present for the first half of the film, but once she makes her entrance, oh boy is she there. Seeing her reunited with Han was a truly powerful moment, and their last goodbye has the appropriate weight to it. It was also nice to see that Leia was allowed to age realistically, as it really hammered home just how detrimental these battles have been to everyone’s lives.
LUKE SKYWALKER – Finding Luke is a major driving force for just about everyone in the movie. Though Hamill is highly credited, Luke doesn’t actually appear until the very end of the film. That’s garnered some complaints, but I though it worked very well. I can’t wait to see Hamill properly return to the role in Episode VIII.
CAPTAIN PHASMA – Okay, so remember how everyone was super gaga over Captain Phasma, and proclaiming her as the next Boba Fett? Well, they weren’t entirely wrong. Like Fett, she is a fairly minor character who doesn’t add much to the story. At least she looks cool! Truth be told, I enjoyed Gwendoline Christie in the role, and I feel certain she’ll be used more in later films. But, gee, I sure am glad I didn’t shell out a ton of money to get one of her figures!