MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by J. J. Abrams. Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
What can I say about the new Stars War movie that hasn’t already been said before?
And – let’s cut to the chase – there is really nothing in this episode in the science fiction series that hasn’t been shown on screen before, specifically in the very first Star Wars film from 1977.
Star Wars told the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), a farm boy and orphan, living on a small planet (and a self-trained mechanic who could fix just about anything) called to fight against the evil Empire. The Force Awakens tells the story of Rey (Ridley), a girl without parents, living on a small planet (and a scavenger who could fix just about anything) called to fight against the evil New Order.
Wait a minute! Didn’t the rebels defeat the Empire in 1983’s Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi? Indeed they did, but it’s been about thirty years since that victory and the dark side of the force is at work again. Without giving away any spoilers, let me simply say that it is still possible for a person to start out with good intentions and then move over to the Dark Side (just as Anakin Skywalker did in the prequel trilogy from 1999-2005).
Director – co-writer J. J. Abrams (who also created the excellent Star Trek reboot) is well aware that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and that fans of the Star Wars franchise are happy to get a chapter in the saga that replays the beloved tropes of a familiar story. Abrams keeps the action moving with a light and playful spirit that is only set aside when the story demands a shocking tragedy of two to set up things for the next movie. The other new characters in addition to Rey are ex-Stormtrooper Finn (Boyega), a conscientious objector to the violence of war; Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), an X-Wing pilot; Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who takes the Darth Vader role; and BB-8, this year’s new robot/toy who continues the mechanical legacy begun by R2D2 and C3PO. And, yes, some of the original characters from the very first film are along for the ride.
Disney has already announced that the next two films in this trilogy will be directed by Rian Johnson (Looper) and Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), so Star Wars is not going away anytime soon.
I appreciate the fact that the Star Wars story clearly agrees with John’s gospel that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). This is a welcome change from the dark world of recent superhero and dystopian future films. I also like the straight pathway of the Star Wars stories in comparison to the headache-inducing nerdom of the Marvel Universe interconnected films/comics/network series/streaming series.
This movie is colorful, loud, bright, and a lot of fun, accompanied by another rousing John Williams score. I had a great time watching The Force Awakens and your family should, as well.
Three halos: A derivative but totally entertaining chapter in the Star Wars franchise.
Two pitchforks: Bad people do bad things, including blowing stuff up at a planetary level.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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