I was quite taken with my former student Jack McKinney’s Facebook post about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So taken with it (and I agree with all points except #4 – good pacing and a good length do not lead me to wish for a longer movie!) that I asked his permission to share his take on my blog before my own assessment of the film.

Star Wars

From Jack:

Six spoiler-free things you should know about the new Star Wars movie:

  1. Unlike three films which I won’t mention, it 100% feels like a Star Wars movie from the opening crawl to the final circular wipe.
  2. While there are many, many nods to previous films in the series, the movie stands fully on its own and can absolutely be enjoyed by a newcomer to the series (in case distant relatives are dragging their feet about accompanying you to the theater over the holidays).
  3. Somehow none of the aforementioned nods are cringe-worthy. That is perhaps the most remarkable accomplishment of the film.
  4. While I realize that 2 hours 15 minutes seems like a long movie, I assure you that it isn’t. In fact, you’re going to want it to be longer. Don’t be surprised when you consider just staying in your seat in the hopes that they will show it to you again.
  5. Despite decades of build-up and seemingly insurmountable expectations, this movie suggests that making an excellent new Star Wars film is, in fact, quite easy. You just throw in a diverse ensemble of talented actors, give them funny, clever dialogue to say, combine all that with assured direction and a perfect mix of practical and cg effects, and it really just makes itself.
  6. It really is as good as you’re hoping it might be. Get yourself to a theater.

I especially admire how well the film stands on its own merits (Jack’s point #2). While I have seen each of the Star Wars films, I’ve not seen most of them multiple times and did not bring recent viewing experiences of any of them into the screening room with me.

It would be hard for me to do a better job articulating how much I admire the feminist slant of the new film than Megan Garger does in “Star Wars: The Feminism Awakens.” She is on point throughout.

Not only does Daisy Ridley rock as Rey, the character that demonstrates the compatibility of feminism and the force, but the film casts the First Order as an old-style, patriarchal way of life, one in which a sharply hierarchical, competitive, forceful (and evil) ethos dominates, against the contrasting culture of the Resistence where feminine and masculine energy are more balanced. This new culture charts a progressive and hopeful path for the future; it is no accident that this new way of being is charted by General Leia, once known as Princess, and that it is racially diverse in a way that feels natural not forced.

Throughout the film, I found myself thinking occasionally of Rey as a natural culmination of characters like Katniss and Tris and, more frequently, of how Maleficent (also brilliantly) reflects this contrast between the failures of cultures based on masculine energy as the dominant form instead of finding a balance between the feminine and the masculine.

The force awakens…indeed…


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