Things most people don’t admit they like about Star Wars
When it comes to Star Wars, there’s very little about the franchise not to like. Even still, it may be even better than you think. Yes, some of the saga’s flaws are certainly hard to overlook (hi, Jar-Jar!), but others weren’t quite as bad as we make them out to be:
Anakin and Padme’s awkward love is kind of sweet
The Phantom Menace began one of the galaxy’s most uncomfortable (and apparently, only) romances. Preteen pod-racing dynamo Anakin “don’t call me Ani” Skywalker helped teen Queen Padme Amidala re-ascend to the stars after her ridiculously shiny silver ship broke down on galactic bright spot Tatooine. During their time together, the ruler of Naboo—who isn’t old enough to get a driver’s license on Earth, but is trusted to run an entire planet—and the sand-hating wunderkind grew fond of each other, much like a babysitter and her ingratiating ward.
Ten years later, during Attack of the Clones, their May-July romance “blossoms” after they run away from their problems, disobey a very specific Jedi mandate about hooking up, and whittle through a forests’ worth of George Lucas’ wooden dialogue. The film closed with their illicit marriage, hand in robot hand, setting up the Force prodigy’s inevitable fall in Revenge of the Sith. The trilogy-ender somewhat glossed over their relationship, turning Padme into more of a plot contrivance that drove her husband’s turn from whiny Jedi into James Earl Jones (eventually).
The weird thing was, despite their wooden relationship (and Padme’s footnote role in Episode III), their relationship somehow wound up surprisingly sweet. Perhaps it was our suspension of disbelief—or perhaps, only at the end, did Natalie Portman finally get to show off a modicum of her acting skill—but the decaying relationship of the Galactic Republic’s power couple actually gives their characters more depth, salvaging much of what came before. Their downward spiral is actually somewhat heart-wrenching. Of course, the true irony is that Anakin’s fall from grace, and almost killing the woman he flipped the evil switch for, actually gave the final act some depth.
The Force Awakens is a major homage to A New Hope
The Force Awakens was the event of 2015, as the first Star Wars movie in over 10 fanboy-tears stained years. The only problem was that many of us experienced strong feelings of déjà vu while watching J.J. Abrams’ tour de Force: a desert planet, a mystically endowed orphan, a plucky band of freedom fighters, a masked menace, a giant planet-killing machine … you get the picture. At the same time, many of us forgive you for the redux, Lucasfilm.
Force Awakens may have walked in a lot of the same footprints of A New Hope, but the film sort of needed to revisit past formulas, to catch on to the rhythm of the franchise. More than anything else, Abrams’ strategy worked. Sure, there were a few plot holes and flaws in the seventh movie, but that’s a Star Wars tradition too. TFA still packed enough original material into the homage to excite minor fans and neophytes, baiting the hook for the cosmic franchise’s future. In the long run, Star Wars is all about space operatics, laser samurai sword fights, and bringing new hope to a fresh generation. The original trilogy was also heavily influenced by classical movies, serials, and literary tropes, so a little pastiche is nothing new for Star Wars.
Not to mention that, for the thousands of cranky forty-somethings bemoaning the “soft reboot” on comment threads and message boards across the web, there are millions of younglings just discovering the wonders of the far-away galaxy. That, in and of itself, is magical.