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Our Impressions Fresh out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Not so long ago in several movie theaters relatively nearby ...


We’ve all (well, almost all) finally seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and you know what that means: We all have opinions about it.

With a movie we’ve been waiting this long to see, and with hype this massive, there’s a lot to be said about what we liked and what we didn’t, but we’ll keep these initial impressions as succinct and spoiler-free as possible. Without further delay, here’s what we thought of the nerd movie event of the decade:

Carolyn – A-

Jessica and I both saw TFA directly after watching the first six movies as part of AMC’s Marathon, and, by the time hour fourteen or so rolled around yesterday, I realized that I was expecting Force Awakens to be the last Star Wars movie I would ever see that felt pure of intention. From now on, it’s just new Star Wars movies until we die, and a curmudgeonly part of me worries that, by capitalizing on the many Star Wars dollars that are to be made, Disney will somehow undermine the special place the original trilogy holds in my heart. I worried that making Star Wars ubiquitous would also make it less special, but, at least in my own The Force Awakens experience, that was definitely not the case.

I expected, at the end of TFA, to feel satisfied about seeing the continuation of Luke, Leia, and Han’s story, but I didn’t expect to be so invested in the new characters. I thought I wouldn’t be impatient for the next installments in the franchise, but man, am I ever. I want to watch Episode VIII right now! That, I think, was the only test TFA really needed to pass for me: did it make Star Wars feel more exciting and special and important, or less? For me, it was more. Way more.

Dan – B+

I really enjoyed The Force Awakens, and I thought it was good, but I don’t think it was “really good” or “great” as some reviewers have said, and that’s OK. “Good” was the only bar the movie absolutely had to clear in my mind, and it did.

I’m glad they got some quality lampshading in on a piece of the plot that more closely mirrors past Star Wars movies than any of the other nostalgic elements, but I also think complaints that this specific part was too derivative are overblown. The story was actually smaller than all that in its focus on being a new beginning for a new generation of heroes, with that MacGuffin as just a familiar background for the real meat of the plot.

That “real meat,” though, was where things faltered for me. Character motivations were present, and Rey got a particularly great moment towards the beginning on Jakku with a fellow scavenger that illustrated her character’s inner struggle really well. However, things got a bit murky from there, and the characters—both good and evil—seemed to be walking through plot points with only a bit of lip service paid to their reasoning. To me, that made the eventual payoffs for them feel less satisfying than they should have. Again, the character motivations were there, but I don’t think the movie took them quite far enough or made them matter enough to the overall plot.

However, I do think it was an enjoyable movie with heart and personality to it, which very much reminded me of the original trilogy and what the prequels had lacked in all their focus on the plot. Speaking of trilogies, it’s also a solid jumping off point for what’s to come that left me very excited to see where episode 8 will go, and I think 7 will be an even more enjoyable experience in context as the rest of the storyline unfolds. That might have a bit to do with 7 asking more questions than it answered, which was frustrating to me, but that’s my fault for my own expectations, not the movie’s. I’m looking forward to more of this new Star Wars, which is a feeling I’ve never actually had the joy of experiencing, and I love it.

Jessica – B+/A-

Sorry, I know I’m kind of cheating with picking two grades, but I find myself fluctuating between the two a lot. The difference is marginal, but I’m trying to compensate for opening weekend hype here, okay?

What gets me about this movie is something that Dan touched on above: it has a lot of direct parallels to A New Hope, which is something I think works in its favor. I won’t go into details about those scenes specifically, but generally speaking, The Force Awakens represents a renewed, refreshed interest in a movie franchise that a lot of people had given up on.

In a lot of ways, The Force Awakens represented a new hope for people who wanted to believe that a great movie could still be made in this universe.

The Force Awakens felt, at times, reverent of its source material. It was very self-aware about its fans and showed an incredibly strong understanding on Abrams’ part of how fans react to things like references and callbacks. It respected and showed reverence to the original trilogy while at the same time forged its own path forward by doing things that, frankly, were absolutely unexpected.

I thought it unthinkable that this movie could or would surprise me–oh, how wrong I was.

Carly – A-

I went into this film with a lot of emotions and feels and definitely came out of it with a lot of emotions and feels–most of them revolving around the main trio (Rey, Finn and Poe), but I also have to give a shoutout to the returning players. TFA did a good job of offering a fresh take on the franchise while providing the occasional acknowledging nod to the preceding narrative–and it never felt like too much of an infodump or not enough time spent on important characters. In fact, when the movie ended I was almost surprised by how much of the story I had absorbed in what seemed like a short period of time.

First and foremost, this movie was just a fun experience for me. After all of the gritty takes out of Hollywood and super intense sequels, it was nice to be able to watch something that was able to intertwine silly moments and inside jokes about the prequels with the more emotional stuff. There’s no grandstanding, no epic monologuing, no melodrama. This is a story about individual people who begin their journey the moment they decide to help one another, and it was a delight from start to finish.

Basically, The Force Awakens proved that the Star Wars franchise is a lot like the infamous Millennium Falcon: this baby’s got a few surprises left in her.

And those are just our initial, gut reactions! We look forward to talking about this movie in-depth over the coming … uh … forever(?) … with you! Head below in the comments to share your feelings, but keep in mind that some people still haven’t seen it yet.

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