So I’ve written a spoiler free review of the Force Awakens, a post about why its better than the prequels and why its a step forward for women in sci-fi. But there is one scene I want to talk about but which demands particular care with regards to spoilers. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know which one. So before reading any further please be clear that:
- This post contains spoilers for the Force Awakens.
- If you read this post before seeing the Force Awakens you will learn plot points that will reduce your enjoyment of the film.
- The kind of things I will be revealing about this film are the kind people tend to be disappointed to learn in advance.
- I would advise not reading this post unless you have seen the Force Awakens.
- And just to repeat, this post will contain spoilers.
I expect that the most divisive scene will be Kylo Ren killing Han Solo. There’s probably no popular way to write out the most loved character in the franchise. However, it was probably necessary. The elder cast members will naturally move aside over time and the biggest star of them all is the most liable to outshine the new cast. It also wouldn’t surprise me if given Ford’s long standing antipathy to the series he may well have made it a condition of his return. I’ve seen some criticism that the scene was abrupt. On the contrary I would suggest it was four films in the making. His character has always been marked by a tension between rougish instincts telling him to run and a noble core calling him to greatness. He’s not called ‘Solo’ for nothing but he also can’t quite shake a connection to something bigger than himself.
In his death scene his noble side decisively wins out as he sacrifices himself to try and save someone else. And fitting also that it should be the family he has started with Leia that takes him to that place.
Oh and I think it provides the best illustration of well this new instalment fits with the rest of the cannon. Because of course Han and Leia would have named their son after Obi Wan Kenobi.
The Force Awakens is also a fitting valedictory lap for Han. It feels like Abrams has one won Ford over to Star Wars. And one can see why that might be. The man who reputedly told Lucas “George, you can type this shit, but you sure has hell can’t say it“ is given the kind of sharp dialogue that Lucas wasn’t interested in but which Abrams clearly see the value of. And Ford seems more enthused in this role than he’s been in anything for a decade at least.
While we are doing spoilery stuff:
I like that Abrams managed to sneak Obi-Wan and Frank Oz in. Apparently when you Rey picks up Luke’s lightsabre you hear Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz and even Alec Guinness. That seems a good way to deal with the prequels: acknowledge the through threads that link it to the original trilogy and the new films like Yoda, Obi Wan and that sabre, but don’t remind us of things best left forgotten.