Two Sisters Review… Star Wars, The Force Awakens

Two Sisters Review… Star Wars, The Force Awakens December 27, 2015

Youngest sister is back! This is the third installment in our little series of movie review/interviews. We go see a movie, then I type up a loose outline of questions, hit record, and transcribe our discussion. Click here for our review of the Christian family film Beyond the Mask, and click here for our review of Pixar’s Inside Out

Me: Okay, so, I am here with my little sister…
Little Sister: Ahem.
Me: And we are…
LS: I am NOT…
Me: We are here to discuss Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
LS: Yes, they know that.
Me: Shhhhh. And this, take note, this will be a spoiler-free discussion.
LS: I thought you said we were gonna be able to discuss spoilers because most people seeing it will have seen it already.
Me: Well actually, I don’t know about that, there are still a lot of people who still have to see it.
LS: Well then, we won’t be able to discuss much. This will be a rather short interview.
Me: No, that’s not true. There are plenty of interesting questions we can talk about.
LS: Dang it. The spoilers are most interesting!
Me: Well, I’ll tell you what. I have a lot of interesting questions still. And then I’ll sort of ask you a spoilerish question, but we’ll try to dance around it.
LS: That sounds boring. But anyway…
Me: It won’t be boring. Anyway…

The theater was pretty crowded today, and we walked past a long, long line for the next showing. What was your impression of the demographic?
LS: The what?
Me: Okay, what I mean by that is the kinds of people who were showing up. Did they seem to be more one type than another? So, like young people, families, couples, little kids?
LS: I’d say it was a mixed bag. I’d say there were a lot of kids that were my age, or maybe like 12 or 13. Those were the majority, but I also saw some older people and a lot of little kids. So, it was pretty mixed.
Me: That was my impression too. Okay, so before we get into discussing character and story and stuff like that… J. J. Abrams (that’s the director) said he wanted to use as many “practical effects” for this movie as possible, meaning he wanted to do as much as he could without computer graphics. (Like shooting in a real desert, working with physical puppets, using real explosions, that kind of thing.) Could you tell the difference, or do you not really care?
LS: Well, I don’t really care as long as it looks good, but I could tell the difference.
Me: Yeah, I could really tell the difference.
LS: I could tell they weren’t just putting together a fake scene with props and stuff. It was real. Especially the parts in the snowy… I mean you could tell that was real snow. I don’t know where they went, but you could tell that was real snow. It wasn’t just the fake stuff they put on ski slopes.
Me: Now that, honestly, I couldn’t tell.
LS: Well I mean, just think about, like, the characters are getting snowed on. It’s wet, it’s not just dry and flaky.
Me: Well that’s true, but they could create that effect. I was thinking more like the desert is real. Like they actually went to a place in the Middle East and shot in the desert.
LS: Right.
Me: And you can also tell that there are guys inside some of the costumes. Those aren’t just computer graphics.
LS: Yeah, I hope there are. But most of the large critters are ugly anyway, so it’s just like “Good riddance!”
Me: Okay, so people are comparing this movie to the original trilogy, especially A New Hope. But you told me you might actually like it even better. Why is that?
LS: Well, I don’t know, it could just be that I saw it in the theater with surround sound. But I’d say it was a little longer. There was a lot more… I guess it was more violent, but I almost like that better, because it’s more dramatic.  It isn’t just one very concentrated explosion in this one little part, I mean, there’s actually a bunch of…
Me: More action.
LS: Yeah.
Me: Now, when you say violent, do you still think this is something parents could take their kids to see?
LS: Now, I don’t mean violent as in, like, brutal, I’m just saying that there’s a lot more action. Some people might consider it violent. I don’t particularly consider it violent. That’s your decision, but whatever it is, I like the movie better because there’s way more of that stuff.
Me: Yes, for what it’s worth, I didn’t think it was too violent, I think you could definitely take kids as young as nine or ten.
LS: I mean, for the really, REALLY little kids, like, I wouldn’t take my five-year-old.
Me: Yeah, five-year-old might be a little scared.
LS: ‘Cuz there’s just a lot of action, and an older kid would be like, “Oooooh, this is so cool” (I mean, I know I felt like that) but a little kid might be like “This is really scary.”
Me: What was it like seeing it with an audience?
LS: Yeah, you did get a lot of the laughs and stuff.
Me: Was that fun?
LS: Yeah, I think that showed what they thought of it. And if you’re just at home, it’s just what you think of it, but it’s almost like you’re with a family of your own.
Me: It’s a shared experience. And I have to say, the moment when we first saw the Millennium Falcon, people broke into applause. Because they’re like, “Oho, I know what this is! Awesooome!”
LS: Yeah, and you think about how many people that must have not seen the movie before. Which is pretty cool!
Me: Of course! A lot of them were seeing it for the first time, and they were loving it. I heard people around me really getting into it.
Okay so, we saw some familiar faces from the original trilogy. Have they aged well?
LS: Yeah, I mean Carrie kind of… her voice was a little shredded. But I mean, those same sarcastic eyebrows. You KNEW it was her, even though she’s older.
Me: Yeah.
LS: And that’s what I like about Han and Leia. They’re… he has the same lop-sided grin, and they’re the same even though they’re older.
Me: Yeah, Han’s looking pretty good.
[insert mutual fan-girl giggling here] And he’s still getting into those action scenes. Like that one where he’s going around and shooting with his blaster, and then he points the blaster behind him, and he’s not even LOOKING, he’s just like, “Pew!”
LS: It’s like he’s showing off. It’s great!
Me: Sort of, yeah. Like how did he DO that? Anyway [clears throat] we’re getting sidetracked.
LS: Okay. [more giggles] Me: Which NEW character is your favorite?
LS: I like BB-8. He’s really cute, and he has a lot of personality for a droid. Also (is this technically a spoiler?) I kind of like Maz.
Me: No, that’s not a spoiler.
LS: She’s the alien oracle thing. I mean, it’s almost like she looks like an alien, but the way she moves and stuff, you can tell that she’s a human.
Me: Well she’s not a human, she is an alien, but…
LS: Well, she is an alien, but she’s just a very humanized alien.
Me: Right, and her voice—it’s funny, but it’s very cultured, even though she runs this scummy watering hole.
LS: [giggles] Scummy watering hole. I like that.
Me: Well it is! It’s like Tatooine [meant to say Mos Eiseley] 2.0, right?
LS: Yeah, it’s a little worse even, maybe.
Me: Maybe, it’s more crowded. It’s bigger. But yes, I liked her character very much.
LS: Yeah, is the idea that she dies when [spoiler]?
Me: I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out.
LS: Hope so.
Me: So, how does BB-8 compare with R2-D2?
LS: You know, I liked R2, but I think BB-8 was capable of showing more, partly because he rolls around more, and he can, you know, explain…
Me: He turns his head more, he has more expression.
LS: And he’s got this entirely jointed, like multi-jointed…
Me: Yep, and he even has a way to give you a thumbs up, which we won’t spoil for people who haven’t seen it…
LS: That was cute!
Me: It’s very cute.
LS: That was funny.
Me: Now, a lot of people are very excited that this movie has a female protagonist, especially since the main characters of other Star Wars movies have been all men (except Leia, of course). As a young girl who likes Star Wars, do you think this is especially significant?
LS: You know, I really like Rey. She’s fun, she’s good with weapons, she’s chill, but I don’t really think it’s important that her little plastic figure is not sold at Walmart. You know? That just doesn’t really interest me, and if people want to get themselves in a tizzy over that, then just let them do that.
Me: But do you think that it’s like, “Oh wow, this is such an exciting breakthrough for Star Wars, that they have a female protagonist at the center of a Star Wars movie”?
LS: I mean, I like her, but I wouldn’t… I mean the only reason that I’m really okay with that is that she’s fun, she’s funny…
Me: She’s a good character.
LS: Yeah, I mean, if they had some total sap and flake, I would just be like, “Oh, that’s a female character. Heh. This is, uh, hm.  Yes, I see. Total flake.” But she’s a good actress.
Me: Yeah, that’s my thing too. I thought she was a very good actress, and they did interesting things with her character, not all of which we can talk about, because this is spoiler-free.
LS: Dang. Maybe we can do a separate spoiler thing.
Me: Ha! Maybe that would be overkill.
Okay, by the same token, did you really notice or care one way or the other that one of our new characters is black?
LS: I mean, he’s also a good actor, and it doesn’t really matter to me.
Me: Yes, I think so too.
LS: You could tell they were trying to appeal to the people who care about that sort of thing, by having, “Look, we have a woman and a black person!”  But, I don’t really care about that stuff. I mean, they’re good characters.
Me: You like them as characters, and you’re happy.
LS: Yeah.
Me: Yeah, me too. Okay, now… (ominous drum roll) what did you think of the new villain?
LS: I hate him. He’s annoying. He’s not even very scary. He’s pasty-faced, curly-haired. Uh, no. Forget him. [cups hands] I’M SORRY HE DIDN’T DIE!
[laughing] Me: All right! There you have it, folks.
All right, now, good characters need good dialogue, so what did you think about the writing?
LS: It was really funny. It was well-timed. Did you notice they have… it’s almost those things that you would assume to be accidental if you did them in real life, but they planned them very well.
Me: It’s natural. It feels like naturalistic dialogue. Yeah, I thought it was very snappy, it had some crackle and spark to it, unlike the prequels, which little sister has mercifully been spared…
LS: (Little!)
Me: …I have seen one of them, and I can tell you right now, these ARE the screenplay moments that you’re looking for.
Okay, so, without giving anything away about the story…
LS: Sigh.
Me: …Did any of the plot twists take you by surprise?
LS: Well, I’ll try to use “Person A” and “Person B.”
Me: Okay! We’ll see how that works!
LS: Okay, so Person A is the good-guy, Person B is the bad-guy. Person A walks up to Person B. Person A is not prepared to defend himself. Person A is way too gullible. And I wouldn’t have done what Person A did if I were in Person A’s shoes. So there.
Me: Well okay, but did the relationship between Person A and Person B take you by surprise?
LS: I thought it was, well, not to give anything away, a little re-used. Just sort of well… [spoilerish word redacted!] Me: Okay, a little too close for comfort there! Okay, so did you have any criticisms of the movie? Besides the fact that you didn’t think the villain was really scary?
LS: Well, I think that… well, number one, how did they tap into the sun’s energy anyway? Well, oh wait, that’s a spoiler isn’t it?
Me: No, not really.
LS: The death-destroying machine…
Me: Thing.
LS: …that they take the energy… that’s not really science.
Me: But everything else is totally real.
LS: Yeah. And also, another thing I liked was that you could almost feel that these characters were almost more realistic, because they had never been in this kind of wild situation. And I know that’s basically what happened with the other movies too.
Me: That’s true for Luke Skywalker.
LS: Yeah, but you could tell that they were all kind of taken aback by all the turns. And they handled the disasters very well, I think. Like, consider what you would do in a crazy situation. I think, under the circumstances they were very prepared for that. But it was also realistic. They weren’t just like, “I know EXACTLY what I’m supposed to do, and I’m going to stroll casually over to do it.”
Me: Yeah. Well now of course, this question began with “Do you have any criticisms?” But this goes to show you how much we liked this movie, that we have trouble talking about criticisms for too long, we moved to saying something we liked about it. But I was going to say, going together with you said there, I think Rey does a good job of conveying genuine fear in many situations she finds herself in.
LS: Even though she’s a very prepared person, normally.
Me: She’s very courageous and very strong.
LS: And very resourceful.
Me: Right, and very resourceful. But she’s still human, she’s still flesh and blood. And she can still be legitimately frightened, so I liked that.
LS: And even in Return of the Jedi, I mean Luke is almost too prepared for that, because he’s a Jedi. And he seems sort of not afraid.
Me: Well that’s true, but you can’t really compare, it’s not really fair to compare Luke in Return of the Jedi to Rey here, because Rey is just beginning. I would compare her more to Luke in A New Hope. And you remember, Luke is kind of freaking out at some places in A New Hope.
LS: But she was afraid without freaking out, which I actually kinda liked.
Me: I do like that.
LS: Also, she’s supposed to be older than he was.
Me: Really? I think they’re supposed to be about the same age.
LS: She looks older.
Me: I’ll have to look up the respective ages of the actors. Anyway, okay, soooo… okay, gonna try to dance around this next question…
LS: [evilly] Heh, heh, heh!
Me: There is a major moment in this movie that involves the fate of one of our characters. Answering as vaguely as you can, do you think this scene connected on an emotional level?
LS: I’m not sure what you’re…
Me: You know. The FATE of one of our characters. Big, emotional, major scene.
LS: Flashback?
Me: No, not the flashback… okay, I’ll redact this for the interview. The scene where [pointed spoilerific reminder].
LS: Yes, well… yeah, didn’t we already discuss this with the As and the Bs?
Me: Oh yes, that’s true. So, basically, what you’re trying to tell me is not really, because it was hard to believe that Person A would have allowed it to happen?
LS: Person A is usually… I mean, I think Person A was trying to [clears throat] COPY what a certain other Person A has done in a certain other movie. But, I think that he should have known that it shouldn’t have always worked out that way. And uh-oh, I said “he”!
Me: It’s okay.
LS: [giggles] Okay, doesn’t always work out that way in the same situations, because Person B might not be like the Person B in the other movie. So, he was just way too gullible, I think. And he was also doing it for the wishes of Person C, which isn’t always wise, because he should have known better than Person C. And Person C should also have known better. Sooo…
Me: Yes. So, for that reason, it didn’t quite hit you in the feels like you might have thought.
LS: Not REALLY. Although…
Me: Person D’s reaction really got me.
LS: Yeah. And also E and F.
Me: Yeah, but especially D. Oh MAN, when Person D let out that cry, I just… my heart cried.
LS: [barely keeping it together over the proliferation of alphabet letters] Me: Anyway, anyway, okay, moving on, I think we kept that sufficiently vague.
LS: But it was boring. I mean, no-one will know what we’re talking about!
Me: No, it’s not boring! It’ll only pique people’s curiosity. All right, moving on… Almost all the fans and critics are giving this movie a thumbs up, but there are some people who are disappointed, because the plot is so similar to A New Hope.
LS: I don’t think it’s all that similar.
Me: Well, I mean, if you think about it, there’s a droid in the desert who has important information, there’s a young loner living on the desert planet who gets caught up in an adventure, there’s a massive Death Star (I mean, excuse me, destroying planet-killer thing). And they need to disable the shields, knock out the reactor, destroy the planet. I mean, this is really not very spoilery stuff because you’ve seen it all before. And there’s a climactic light-saber battle at the end (and that’s not giving anything away, ‘cuz that’s in the trailer). I mean, it really recycles a lot of elements.
LS: You know, I think that it had enough fresh new stuff.
Me: I thought so.
LS: Fresh new dialogue, fresh new characters, and other twists in the plot. They were good enough for me. I didn’t really mind the fact that they were re-using some stuff.
Me: Yep. And by the way, I read somewhere that the whole cast is coming back for the next one.
LS: Cool!
Me: I want to see more of Poe Dameron.
LS: I know. [giggles] I think he’s cute. I don’t know if they deliberately did makeup to make him look like he never gets enough sleep, but he’s cute anyway.
Me: His eyes look a little tired, don’t they?
LS: Yeah. “I’ve been, like, SO awake for the past few nights.”
[giggles] Me: But so yeah, a few people are reviewing it negatively because they wanted it to be more original.
LS: You know, I think it was original enough. I didn’t mind.
Me: Yeah, I thought there was a good balance. I acknowledge that it’s very similar, but I didn’t mind that, I liked it. I WANTED to be reminded of the original trilogy. And I thought it was a smart move, because this is the movie fans have been waiting for.
Okay, so, in closing, do you think people should go see this in a theater or wait for the DVD?
LS: If you have young children and you can’t find a sitter, wait for the DVD. But if there’s any POSSIBLE way to leave your young children at home, please come. Or if you have older kids, which is okay.
Me: Bring your kids with you.
LS: Yeah, I mean, I’d say that even if I was several years younger, like three or four years younger, I maybe wouldn’t have liked it as much. ‘Cuz y’know, there is a lot of stuff flaming and people getting killed. But if you’re, I’d say maybe 10 and up, or 11 and up, I don’t think it’s too bad.
Me: Me neither.
LS: And besides, all the supposed torture scenes, I didn’t really consider them to be torture, it was more mind-reading.
Me: Not really. And then the one scene, well, not to give much away.
LS: Person… wait, what letter did we give, F?
Me: Well, let’s not try. But I can say it is more a battle of wills than torture. It’s actually an exciting scene. It is not one-sided.
LS: Yeah, and… [brief spoilerish scene discussion] Me: Okay, so, are you excited about Episode VIII?
LS: We’ll have to see what Episode VIII is! I mean, I really like this one, but you never know, some other director could ruin Episode VIII.
Me: But this is a good sign, I saw an interview with J. J. Abrams where…
LS: He says he’s gonna direct it too?
Me: Nope, he’s not.
LS: Awww!
Me: It’s gonna be directed by a guy named Rian Johnson. But Abrams said he was looking at the script for the next one, and he said it was so good, he wishes he was directing it.
LS: Ooookay, as long as they don’t make any major modifications, it sounds like it will be okay.
Me: Don’t mess with the formula is what I say. So, yeah, I’m really looking forward to getting to know these new characters better. The movie definitely leaves you with unanswered questions.
LS: Not to give anything away.
Me: Not to give anything away, but we still really don’t know where some of our main characters came from.
LS: Or what they’re gonna do. You know, after all this stuff happens, it’s like “Okay, great, so I learned to fly a cool ship, had some great times, now, uh, what do I do? Unfortunately, the main crew of our enemies is destroyed, so there’s no fighting to be done…”
Me: No, that’s not true. There’s still the Supreme Leader and Kylo Ren.
LS: [contemptuously] Kylo, the pasty-faced.
Me: Yes. You know, presumably there’s still an army out there in some other star system for them to go and train.
LS: Or capture and train. So, let’s just wait twenty years.
Me: So it’s definitely not over. There are definitely gonna be more battles to fight. So, I definitely plan to go see it, I think it’s summer 2017 that it’s slated to come out.
LS: Boy, that’s fast to throw together one of those. How long did it take them to throw this together?
Me: From concept to completion, maybe three years?
LS: Yeah, but I was just thinking, this is a really good movie, don’t rush it guys!
Me: You know, you make an interesting point, because I’ve seen other people say they’re kind of churning these out too quickly and they need a little more time to marinate.
LS: I mean I don’t want them to wait for FIVE years.
Me: No, that would be torture.
LS: Yeah, it would be.
[giggles] Me: But yeah, 1.5 years seems a bit fast to crank it out.
LS: But still, we’ll see how it is.
Me: It’s gonna be a new trilogy. Of course there’ll be an Episode IX.
LS: We’ll have to see how it works out. Empire (oh, this is a controversial topic), Empire wasn’t as good as the two others, or so I’ve heard from you. But hopefully all of these will be good.
Me: Yeah, maybe we can watch Empire some time and just skip the torture scenes and see what you think. I think they’re a little too intense. They’re more intense than this one.
LS: Yeah, I think this is a good level of intense. I think most of the violence is just basically sad, you know? Also, another thing I think is sad is that Kylo Ren genuinely thinks that the dark side is good. It’s like the reverse: Dark side is light side. And I think that’s sad, because really, he’s not like, “I’m the dark side, and I’m so evil.” He genuinely believes, he’s been brought up to believe that this is the right way.
Me: Weeeell, but he wasn’t brought up…
LS: Well not brought up…
Me: He was turned.
LS: Trained to believe this stuff. And I just think that’s actually really sad. I mean, I don’t want him to become good, because he’s so annoying. But I think it’s still pretty sad that he just believes the light side is really bad.
Me: Yeah, I agree, there are some sad things in this movie.
LS: I didn’t cry.
Me: Actually, true. I didn’t cry. I cried way more over Inside Out.
LS: Me too!
Me: But anyway, so I will definitely plan to see Episode VIII in the theater. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s fair to say Star Wars is back, after what feels like, oh…
LS: 35-40 years?
Me: Yep, approximately 35-year hiatus, besides the prequels, which don’t exist.
LS: They don’t count.
Me: As far as I’m concerned, they don’t count. So, props to J. J. Abrams, props to the cast and crew for making Star Wars fun again. Go see it.
This concludes our interview! Hope you enjoyed it!
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