Movie preview: The Force Awakens

In the Fall of 2015, Christian publication, Faith & Friends commissioned me to write a preview for the seventh film in the Star Wars saga. The full-length submission is below, the published article is found here. Thanks for reading.

There has been an awakening, have you felt it? That low rumbling you’re hearing is the sound of millions of fan boys and girls shuffling their feet as theatre lineups take shape. Right about now a multitude of forty-somethings are dusting off their action figures and packing their Star Wars lunch boxes to prepare for a long wait in line.

I don’t mean to tease, I was brought up on Star Wars and have the paraphernalia to prove it: bed sheets, board games, toys and books. Imperials and bounty hunters are tattooed on my arm. I count myself among the throng of fans who have been worked into a frenzy since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012. At first sceptical, most of us have since been swayed by Episode VII director JJ Abram’s insistence that he is keeping to traditional filmmaking. The magazine spreads, behind the scenes photos and subsequent movie trailers deliver X-wing fighters and creatures that show little sign of CGI enhancement. So far so good, and not a Gungan to be seen.

We can only speculate what Abrams and company have in store for this franchise. But for the traditionalists, the diehards who long to experience the magic of Episodes IV through V all over again, The Force Awakens is our new hope.

At its core, Star Wars is a redemption story that reminds us that we have the ability to return to the light, no matter how far we’ve strayed from the path of righteousness.

Little is known of the latest film’s plot. What we’ve gleaned from the trailers and rumour sites is that heroes Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron of the Resistance are aided by stalwarts Han Solo, Princess Leia in the fight against new baddies Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and a legion of stormtroopers that comprise the First Order. Somewhere in the nether regions of the galaxy lurks the recluse Luke Skywalker, poised once again to bring balance to the Force.

The balance between good and evil, dark and light, is central to the Star Wars saga. Follow the tale of Anakin Skywalker and you’ll see he’s not much different from the rest of us (Albeit he has mad Jedi skills and wields a lightsaber). Even though God knows what’s in store for us (our destiny), we have been given the freedom to choose our own paths.

At its core, Star Wars is a redemption story that reminds us that we have the ability to return to the light, no matter how far we’ve strayed from the path of righteousness. Perhaps that’s why Star Wars has had a lasting impact on my life. I have characters from the evil Empire tattooed on my arm to remind me that the angels and devils on my shoulder are very real. This is my reminder that I am not infallible and the choice to sin is mine alone.

I’m excited for the future of the Star Wars franchise and I’m glad that I have been able to share my love of the saga with my children, even if that meant I had to endure the prequel trilogy. I’m hopeful that I can use my love of Star Wars as a way to speak my faith into their lives, and into the lives of others.

Photo by Krause, Johansen - © LucasFilm.Ltd

The Rundown

Episode I: The Phantom Menace
George Luca introduces us to cute and cuddly Anakin Skywalker, the mysterious Midi-chlorians, and Jar Jar Binks. If this were the first film of the saga to be released, it would most certainly have been the last as well.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Less Jar Jar, more teen angst. Young Anakin Skywalker struggles with his place in the Jedi order, and we finally get a glimpse of the clone wars we’d all heard about. Little did we know we’d be inundated with 6 seasons of animated episodes, and a ton Lego sets we never needed.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Anakin reaches a tipping point. Conflicted between good and evil, and an inability to accept things he cannot change, he is swayed by the smooth-talking Darth Sidious, and dons the black cloak. A fiery duel with former BFF Obi Wan Kenobi ensues and the rest is history.

Episode IV: A New Hope
A band of unlikely heroes save a princess, join a rebellion and blow up a super space station. Everyone goes home happy except Darth Vader, who is left spinning into the abyss in his custom Tie Fighter. If you haven’t yet seen a Star Wars film, start here.

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
A cult favourite and arguably the best film of the franchise. Luke Skywalker is hung out to freeze by on the planet Hoth, bails on his buddies and goes to Dagobah to be trained as a Jedi by Kermit the Frog. Darth and the gang get back at the Rebellion by crashing a party on the cloudy city of Bespin, freezing Han Solo in carbon and dropping the biggest bombshell in cinematic history on young Luke Skywalker.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
“It’s a Trap!” Action ensues as Jedi Luke Skywalker executes a plan to save Han Solo from the clutches of slimy gangster Jabba the Hutt. The Skywalkers face off in the final battle between good and evil and the Rebels take to the skies and the forests of Endor—where with the help of some furry little friends—they quash the Empire once and for all. Or so we thought.