“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) is the seventh Star Wars film, the first one made in ten years, and, arguably, the best one made in over 30 years. J.J. Abrams directs, not George Lucas, which is probably for the better.
Box office: It made a billion dollars in just 12 days, a record. It cost $200 million to make.
Star Wars films to date:
- 1977: Star Wars
- 1980: The Empire Strikes Back
- 1983: Return of the Jedi
- 1999: The Phantom Menace
- 2002: Attack of the Clones
- 2005: Revenge of the Sith
- 2015: The Force Awakens
New ones are set to come out in 2017 and 2019.
The plot is pretty much like the first Star Wars film, more than you would expect, but the special effects are better and the cast is a bit more diverse. The two main heroes are not the usual White men: Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a White woman and Finn (John Boyega) is a Black man.
Two other new characters: BB-8, a droid, and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the main bad guy. He is the wayward son of Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Because the action takes place just 30 years after the first three films, tons of old favourites appear: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia (now a general), R2-D2, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker and even that piece of junk, the Millennium Falcon.
Race: At the start of the film, Finn was, in effect, a janitor. Groan. But he goes on to save the galaxy. While he is at it, he avoids at least four racist tropes:
- Black Dude Dies First – even though I knew, from People magazine, that he was one of the heroes, I was still afraid he was going to die 20 minutes into the film. Hollywood has me that conditioned. But, amazingly, after he crashes onto the desert world of Jakku, he walks away from the spacecraft alive, but not the White guy he was with!
- Black Best Friend – he does not become Rey’s sidekick, nor does she become his.
- Mock Ebonics – Thank God!
- Noble but Boring Negro – He does not have an actual love life or family life, but he does show moral complexity, being torn between good and evil, between looking out for himself and saving others.
But the film falls into a fifth trope, common in Hollywood and science fiction:
- Humans are White – Finn is a token: all the other main human characters are White!!! (Reminder: only one human in six is White.) The film, therefore, fails the Bechdel Test for Race big-time.
Maz Kanata, an alien who runs a cantina in an old castle on Takodana, sounded like a Black woman to me. Since there are not many Black women in Hollywood, I tried to place her accent. It turned out to be Lupita Nyong’o!
I saw it in 3D, not IMAX. The 3D was good for battle scenes and the 3D maps, but otherwise it drew too much attention to itself.
On the whole, the film was enjoyable but came off as a remix of the first one.
– Abagond, 2016.
- Lupita Nyong’o
- Hollywood whitewashing
- Mock Ebonics
- Bechdel Test for Race
- How to tell if a character is a stereotype
- What if there were a Black Default?