**The following is an in-depth commentary on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and does contain spoilers.**
At the time of this writing, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" holds a 95 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I have to admit, I'm in that bottom 5 percent.
I spent the weekend talking Star Wars all across the internet and social media, and I have come to the conclusion that there are three camps which this movie has created.
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
There is the camp who is going to absolutely love it, regardless of any faults, because it isn't the prequels; there's the camp of people who are discovering the franchise for the first time, so a lot of the film's failings don't apply to them; finally, there is the camp I'm in of fans who went into the film with high hopes and were let down because it fails as a movie on many levels.
The most common argument I hear from Camp One is that this film is the first in a trilogy and any plot holes should be accepted as things which will be explained in a future movie. There are many of these plot holes, and I'm sorry but that isn't a good argument for dismissing them. "The Force Awakens" is a movie, and it should be able to stand alone as a film in its own right. It doesn't. You leave the theater with more questions than answers, and that's a problem.
The film also fails to bring anything new or original to the franchise. Say what you will about the prequels, they did something fresh. They brought a dimension to the franchise we had never seen before. "The Force Awakens" is all fan service and none of it is fresh or new. You can literally cut together various scenes from the original trilogy and reconstruct this film exactly.
Image source: YouTube
Camp One is eager to dismiss these charges, although they can't refute them.
While talking with other fans I did, however, come across a unique perspective.
While hanging around in one Facebook group, I chatted with a man named Jim Robert. Despite being in his late 20s, Jim is in the second camp. In fact, it was he who made me aware that the second camp even existed, as I had not even considered that there was anyone over the age of 10 who would be discovering the franchise for the first time with this movie.
The "Star Wars" franchise has never interested him, but he loved "The Force Awakens." For someone who isn't intimately familiar with the franchise, he didn't see the retreads the film relies so heavily on. As with "Star Trek" before it, I think director J.J. Abrams was actually aiming for this crowd. By focusing on bringing in a new audience, Abrams would be able to essentially remake all the things he loved about the originals for a new generation, and that appears to be exactly what Abrams has done.
"I think I like the idea of where they're drawing the characters from," Jim told me when I asked him why this movie captured his imagination when the others hadn't. "There's too much mystery surrounding Rey and I think there's gonna be a big twist coming in one of the later movies that's going to be a shocker and I can't wait for that moment."
One thing that put Jim off to the older films is that he knew all the plot twists, because let's face it, they're common knowledge in pop culture. What 20 or 30 something did not say "Luke, I am your father" into a house fan before knowing what that even meant?
He liked being able to go into this movie and have it just unfold, and I think a lot of new fans will be able to identify with it the way Jim has.
While "The Force Awakens" was able to bring new fans into the fold - and generate new interest in seeing the older films - it has also been very divisive among current fans. To those in Camp One, if you don't like this movie you're just a prequel lover who hates seeing a "Star Wars" movie that actually has "Star Wars" in it. These are the same folks who tell anyone who actually does like the prequels that they aren't true fans. Behavior like this is unfortunate, as it is off-putting to new fans.
On the other side of that coin, there is a group of fans who were upset with the new film for various reasons and have taken to social media and other outlets with the express intention of posting major spoilers in hopes of ruining the film. Some of them post spoiler comments on general news articles that have nothing to do with Star Wars, and potential movie goers would have no reason to even think them "unsafe."
As a counter to this movement, a petition has been started to ask Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to consider intentionally malicious spoiler posts as spam and to sanction users posting such malicious comments accordingly. In the midst of such divisiveness, it is refreshing to see fans banding together to protect each other from such nonsense.
I love "Star Wars," and I really wanted this film to be fantastic. Unfortunately, it just comes off as derivitive and leaves you waiting for the next one, not because this one excites you, but because it leaves you unsatisfied.
In the end of it all, "The Force Awakens" is not the worst of the franchise by far, but it is less good than the best of the prequels.
I'll explain in an in-depth piece on Tuesday exactly what I thought was wrong with this film.
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