Star Wars: The Fan[dom] Awakens

I know this review is coming quite late in the game, particularly since Star Wars: The Force Awakens released on December 18, 2015. But it is only now, nine days shy of a month since its release, that I won’t feel as bad if I accidentally (I promise it would never be on purpose) spoil anyone on minor details.

Also, the last time I watched any Star Wars film was probably around early 2006, when Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith released on DVD at Blockbuster, so bear with me, Star Wars enthusiasts.

I stepped into the theater to watch Episode VII completely unspoiled. (The only fact of which I was 100% certain was that BB-8 had been voiced by Ben Schwartz, aka Jean-Ralphio Saperstein from Parks and Rec, which — trust me — only made the film even funnier.) Even though I hadn’t bothered to avoid particular sites or corners of the internet, everyone had been very kind and didn’t leak any crucial details online.

I really must thank everyone for that kindness, because this highly-anticipated film was hands down, without a doubt fantastic.

It’s been about 12 years since I watched the original trilogy, so my recollection of it may be a bit rusty — and uneducated, considering I was a 2nd grader at the time — but The Force Awakens felt like a far more complete film, and even a potential stand-alone film, than any of the original three did.

Of course, everyone and their droid dog knows that Episode VII isn’t going to be a stand-alone, thereby allowing the completion of the film to serve as a testament of the narrative’s construction and arc. While the original trilogy developed the structure of the hero’s journey across three films, The Force Awakens maps out the hero’s journey of a couple (a few?) leading characters while simultaneously supporting a large secondary cast in one, single film.

Photo Courtesy of The Independent
Photo Courtesy of The Independent

I’ve always been a reader, viewer, and writer with an eye for characters’ backstories. The fact that The Force Awakens could still sell me on the complexity of its leading characters though only providing limited details on their personal histories (with one major exception, I grant) drew me in hook, line, and sinker.

Fan theories, head canons, and wide speculation about these characters, their pasts, and their futures have now found their way onto the internet — and frankly, I support these endeavors. This isn’t to say that I vouch for people to die upon the hills of their theories, but rather, to suggest that the characters in this film are made up of undeniable substance and depth.

With the new leading cast in The Force Awakens, Abrams has established a fine balance between elements of the old Star Wars themes and the new perspectives brought by the younger generation. This balance in the Force will inevitably serve as a strong foundation for the success of the following two films.

Photo Courtesy of Disney
Photo Courtesy of Disney

But I really must ask: If George Lucas was the original writer of the entire Star Wars universe, and J.J. Abrams has become the new pilot of the same, old Millenium Falcon characters and settings — does that make this…fan fiction?

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