Because the internet didn't have quite enough opinions and think pieces about the latest Star Wars film, I sat down with Rob Mitchelson to give you an hour long review of it. As always I'm much more efficient at speaking than writing so this one off podcast episode was the best way to get all the ideas out.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
We were raised by Star Wars. Many of us were also raised by parents, but to our recollection, it was Star Wars first and foremost. You’re probably a lot like us. Maybe you are part of our generation, young enough to approach the films without any cynicism. You were obliged (forced) to improvise a lightsaber to duel with, making your own sounds- The best one we ever came up with was made of a flashlight and some cellophane. You reenacted scenes, you role-played the characters in your backyard before that was a thing you were allowed to do at conventions. You might have even been blown away by finally seeing the letter-boxed editions of the tapes, catching that frog-lizard dude just on the left of the frame on the way to Jabba’s palace.
Tyler can’t remember first watching Star wars, only the feeling of having watched it for the 20th time, over and over on those VHS tapes. Imagine Tyler as a child, still somehow a beardy photographer, tucked away in a cozy cabin in the woods, staring at a tiny department store-brand television, preparing himself to be a Jedi.
Rob had some dubs- Illegal Beta dubs, or maybe taped off the TV? Movies took decades to hit the small screen, as far as he remembers. Rob did catch Return of the Jedi in the theatre, already so very familiar with the Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, but too young to realize what was waiting for him on the big screen. Despite graduating film school, and being a supposed cynical artist, Return of the Jedi remains one of his favourite films, a narrative and visual aha moment.
For people like us particularly, but for all ages of unabashed fans of the Galaxy Far, Far Away, the news a sequel to Star Wars was coming was secretly what we’d been hoping for all along. The theatrical rerelease of the original trilogy was fun (Technically Han didn’t shoot first, because Greedo never shot, so, Han just shot. Bad Han!), and the news of the prequel films was exciting (Rob was not auditioned for Anakin), but not exactly what you’d been wishing for. You’d probably made some foray into the extended universe, role playing games that quantified the speed of the Millennium Falcon and the size of Star Destroyers, endless comics about what Han was doing on a Thursday night between New Hope and Empire (being awesome with Chewie), and trawling the early internet for blog posts about a guy who knew a guy.
With huge expectations on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making the movie would have been daunting. We imagine JJ Abrams pooping his pants a little, as we all collectively, metaphorically, folded our arms and said “Oh yeah?”. This is a movie which was required, in some respects, to win back our trust from “those prequels”, but at the same time fit in with them. We needed to meet old friends, but also meet new heroes to cheer for, and new bad guys to boo at. We wanted to return home, and yet be surprised. The Force Awakens seemed to walk that line.
In this podcast, we’ll discuss our new heroes, and how quickly we got to like them (pretty quickly). We’ll discuss our new villains, and particularly Kylo Ren and all of his fun-to-watch internal conflict, as well as how he compares to Darth Vader. We spend some time talking about potential character development, potential character backgrounds, and possible secrets- as well as which fan theories don’t matter (Rob even asserts we don’t care if Rey is related to another important Jedi). We break down the mirrored storyline form A New Hope, and its hits and occasional misses (Yeah, okay, it’s MUCH bigger than the Death Star, we’ll allow it.), as well as the characters in their new roles as echoes of the original trilogy.
If you don’t have an hour, We’re both very satisfied with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It has a familiar feel, both narratively and visually to the original trilogy, it seems to have heart and yet not take itself too dangerously seriously.
Tune in, and stay, if you like, for another 30 minutes of meta-narrative discussion too. We’re doing that 2 fingered Jedi-Mind-Trick wave to get you to listen.