The Fourth Awakens

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This is a belated blog post about the seventh Star Wars movie that I’ve wanted to write for a while, but I wanted to watch it again for the second time first. As I was quite a bit disappointed after the first viewing in the cinema, I didn’t want to buy it – but luckily, the European Netflix added it recently and I could finally watch it again while taking down notes. I wanted to get my facts straight before berating the movie, write about how it was way too similar to A New Hope, and all the other things it got so very wrong.

But then a strange thing happened – I actually liked it a lot better this second time around!

I could still see a few bummers along the way, but this time I accepted a lot of the stuff I found wanting in the first viewing. Most of it actually turned out okay, and there’s so much to like as well. I think one of the problems of watching it the first time was not only the steep hype that no movie could possibly hope to meet, but also that most of us have had our own ideas about what happened in the many years between episode 6 and 7. And I’m not talking about the extended universe here as I’ve barely read anything there. I was never comfortable with fans coming up with their own stuff and tried to keep my distance.

Nevertheless I couldn’t help but get exposed to some of it through Star Wars video games. I did like the idea that Luke went on to become a master, teaching a new school of young jedis. But I also had my own ideas about what could have happened all those years. That Luke found some other love interest. What children they all had. Leia learning the force. The many adventures they continued to have. And I think that’s precisely one of the reasons why some of us were inevitably displeased with episode 7.

Luke failed something and went into hiding? That’s not a tragedy I had envisioned for him! Han and Leia are no longer together? Why? I imagined they lived happily together all those years! They had a son that turned to the dark side of the force? But that’s not…

You could argue for starting episode 7 in a peaceful situation where everyone is happy together and things start getting bad from there. However, now that I have watched the movie the second time around, I can’t blame J.J. Abrams & Co. for creating the situation that they did. Many years have passed and it sets up a much more interesting backstory that things didn’t plan out perfectly in those years. There have been problems along the way, just as we all have in real life. Then you can certainly debate whether the choices the writers made were the right ones for Han, Leia and Luke, but I decided to find peace with this. They needed to set up the backstory right in order to write an interesting new episode, and starting from an utopian moment would probably have sounded too good to be true.

But even so, there are still questionable things in this movie. Too many things mimics episode 4, but that’s not the only problem. I’ll try to get into all of those I found while watching it again for the second time.

And yes, there will be spoilers.