. An Unstoppable Force?

A Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
by Michael Shaughnessy

Epic Heroes
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is full of magnificent themes: good and evil, faith, fatherhood, and herosim. If you see the movie, get the most from it: discuss it well!

The Star Wars franchise has not been a culture changer but it continues as a cultural carrier. It has followed the lines of the epic myths: the hero receives a call in a desolate (or desert) time or place – like a prophet called in the wilderness. He leaves his home in response and gets trained by a mentor to do what he must. He faces severe trials, and in the end, he emerges triumphant. That story-line is a compelling one, whether it is the story of Hercules, Moses, King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings, or countless sports movies. These stories live because they inspire dedication.

But who is the epic hero of The Force Awakens? Rey doesn’t vanquish her foe. Finn is only a half-hearted convert. Leia Organa does nothing more heroic than admitting she didn’t handle her son or his father very well. Poe, the pilot, finishes the destruction of the Starkiller, but is was a job Chewbacca and Han began. Han Solo, the reluctant, spontaneous, brash, lucky, funny, sardonic hero – Harrison Ford playing Harrison Ford – is the hero who dies in battle. But maybe Han had to die before the next hero could rise.

The Nature of Evil
In The Force Awakens, the evil of the dark side mainly gets conveyed superficially: deep bass voices, Dracula capes, and the Nazi based themes of storm troopers, red and black color schemes, and a massive staged rally. The main goal of the First Order is simply that it wants order.

The film passes over a great chance to display the nature of evil when Finn merely reports that all storm troopers were kidnapped and indoctrinated as children. Imagine that horror depicted.

Kylo Ren has the potential to be a master villain. He is a Darth-Vader-wannabe with an anger problem, but his pure choice for evil through killing his father begs us to ask for the deeper cause to be revealed.
He will need iconic music like Vader’s Imperial March before he will be deeply, impressively, truly evil.

An Unstoppable Force?
The Force remains a mystery of faith. Only the select believe. Most people in the film are agnostic.
Periodically the Force goes out of balance toward the dark side. Fortunately, the good guys always show up with spontaneity and panache to bring balance back to the force. This is when all can see that the Force is the real power. Other weapons, powers, and technologies ultimately fail against it.

Interestingly, those who exercise the Force are all “orphans”: Anakin, Luke, Leia, Rey, and Kylo Ren.

The “Snide-Side” of the Force
(The Kairos staff poke some fun about the movie.)

Snoke, the Supreme Leader, is a cross between the Wizard of Oz and Gollum.

Carrie Fischer is better as a princess than a general.

So, how does Rey instantly master the force with no experience of it, no mentor for it, no training in it, and no understanding of it?

Rey has a Jedi distaste for hand holding, but like Anakin she might not master the romantic side of the Force…

R2D2 remains the most intriguing Star Wars character and C3PO is an all-time great sidekick. BB8 is an orange and white beach-ball with a bug-eyed fruit bowl on top and the person-ality of a child.

This was Mark Hamill’s best performance so far.

Michael Shaughnessy is the Kairos director for the Sword of the Spirit both in North America and Internationally. He is the editor of the Kairos Youth Culture Newsletter. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.
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