Everyone was so worried and excited about the new Star Wars movie, especially the sort of people who can remember the names of the planets in all the other Star Wars movies. Thankfully, this latest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is just delightful, and has soothed even the most passionate Star Warriors, the ones who bring their light sabers to weddings. The movie is a careful salad of reboot, nostalgia and a long overdue, culturally diversified step forward; the two young leads prove that everyone, including women and African-Americans, is welcome in the Star Wars galacto-sphere, provided they’re spunky and earnest, like good kids on a field trip to outer space.
Daisy Ridley plays Rey, who collects interplanetary scrap on the planet Jakku. She’s stunningly beautiful and bone thin, and she runs like a supermodel, meaning, like someone who isn’t asked to run all that much. John Boyega plays Finn, a stormtrooper with a conscience, who’s originally seen wearing one of those white plastic uniforms, which are glossy and flimsy, as if they’ve been supplied by West Elm, and can be wiped clean with a spritz of Fantastik. The stormtroopers exist to serve as endless, faceless, identical killers; they’re Rockettes with phasers. In this new installment, the stormtroopers work for an evil army called the First Order, which sounds like a boy band, and they’re led by Kylo Ren, which is the perfect name for an outlying Kardashian. Luckily, after Kylo removes his Vader-ish face mask, he’s played by Adam Driver, whose goofball charisma is a relief, along with the sly studliness of Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, a swaggering good guy.
After awhile, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher show up, playing their original roles. They both look great and behave blessedly like adults; they share a certain weary splendor, which can only come from being merchandised for over thirty years. Harrison and Carrie have been immortalized as action figures, bobbleheads, beach towels, sleeping bags and Lord knows what else; they’ve seen their mini-mes being abused as dog toys, marital aids and BB gun targets. Like everyone else in the movie, Harrison and Carrie are only allowed to hug; Star Wars has never been an especially erotic franchise, although Harrison and Chewbacca have their moments. And is it just me, or does Chewie now share a hairstylist with Teresa Giudice, that Real Housewife who just got out of prison?
The movie’s plot consists mostly of giving all the characters excuses to run off to different locations, so they can re-team later. The Star Wars movies could not exist without the lines “Find him!” and, when a spaceship is under attack, “We’ve got company!” Harrison’s spacecraft, the battered Millenium Falcon, is hauled out of storage, along with the beloved robots R2D2 and C-3PO; Star Wars has become the great American attic.
I have to confess, while I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars saga, I’ve never spent any real time figuring it all out, like those boys who receive Star Wars chess sets for their bar mitzvahs. It’s like with Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey: I trust the diehard fans to outline the character relationships in tattoos across their backs. I’ve never totally understood the Force; whenever someone utilizes it onscreen, it resembles mild constipation crossed with a staring contest, if you ask me.