Movie Write-Up: Star Wars, the Force Awakens (and the Previews)

We went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Saturday.  Here are some of my reactions to the movie, and to some of the previews that came before it.  This blog post will contain spoilers.

A.  I don’t want to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  The new Independence Day movie looks like a rehash of the first Independence Day movie.  The X-Men Apocalypse movie looks offensive and disturbing from a religious point-of-view: the villain is Yahweh, the God of the Bible!  Still, I want to see it.  The preview about sloths working at the DMV was cute and funny, and it lightened the mood after a series of loud, intense, yet rather bland previews.

B.  How did I feel after watching this Star Wars movie?  How does that compare to how I felt after watching the previous Star Wars movies?  The original movies often leave me with an emotional high, a feeling of “Wow!”  The prequels did not do this as much as the originals.  I was disappointed with The Phantom Menace.  I liked Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, even though Hayden Christiansen’s acting was bad.  My emotional reaction to The Force Awakens is somewhere in between my reaction to the originals and my reaction to Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

C.  The action scenes in the movie bored me.  Of the characters in the original who were in the Force Awakens, Han Solo was the best, since there was life in his character.  Leah just seemed to me to be making a cameo appearance.  The movie also was trying to establish some bonds between the characters, and its attempts were coming across to me as superficial.  Rey saw Han Solo as a father figure, for example, even though she did not know him that long.  I would say the same about the bond between Rey and Finn.

D.  From a religious perspective, the movie’s depiction of the Force is noteworthy.  Han Solo said that the Force holds good and evil in balance.  Does that mean that evil is necessary, in some sense?  The Star Wars movies are often about the triumph of good over evil.  The granny Jedi with the big goggles was telling Rey that the light is out there, but Rey has to acknowledge it and be open to it.  That overlaps with Christian things that I have read and heard, including in church: God is already present, but we need to be open to God.

E.  I should also say something about C3PO’s religion.  Something good happened for the Resistance, and C3PO said “Thank the Maker!”  Does C3PO believe in God?  When he said “Thank the Maker” in A New Hope, I thought he was talking about the person who made him: C3PO was about to have an oil-bath, and he was thankful that his maker made him with the ability to enjoy it.  And didn’t C3PO call Anakin Skywalker (who made him) “the Maker” in Attack of the Clones?

F.  There were powerful scenes.  Finn leaving the Stormtroopers because of their brutality was one of them, as well as the villain Kylo Ren’s sense that Finn had moral objections to what the Stormtroopers were doing.  The encounter between Han Solo and Kylo Ren, Solo’s son Ben, was also noteworthy: Han did not understand what Ben was feeling, but he would do anything to help.  And the ending scene, in which Rey handed Luke his lightsaber, was a powerful ending, and the brooding-then-triumphant Star Wars music definitely enhanced it.

G.  The actors who played Rey and Finn were unknowns, but they were good.  I like Rey, someone who was alone and sold garbage to earn a living, which was not particularly lucrative.  Finn was funny, and his role as a reluctant hero was endearing.

H.  BB-8 was cute.  He reminded us of one of our cats, Dante.

 

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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