The following Star Wars: The Force Awakens is full of spoilers and should not be read if you have not yet seen the film.
With the phenomenal. record-breaking opening weekend behind us, with multiple viewings under our belts, it is time to reflect upon some of the favorite moments of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The new characters, Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo are worthy successors to the legends of the original trilogy, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and Darth Vader. Even R2-D2 & C-3PO, the Emperor and Grand Moff Tarken get new surrogates with BB8, Supreme Leader Snoke and General Hux. J.J. Abrams film contains a bevy touching nods to the original stories and characters and is full of new moments and traits that makes it a marvelous transition from Return of the Jedi to the new world of Star Wars.
From the opening moments, Abrams confidently ensures us that we are in for a treat as a Star Destroyer eclipses the moon over Jakku so Kylo and Captain Phasma can lead a squad of Storm Troopers to search for Poe Dameron who has the map to Luke Skywalker. The shot of the Troopers waiting inside the freighters as they land is exhilarating and ominous. From there we are treated with impressive visual after visual and strong, powerful character moments along with lovingly crafted integration of the much-loved characters into the mix. What follows are 10 moments that are particularly marvelous and worth noting.
10) Hux’s Big Speech
The Empire of Return of the Jedi has been replaced in The Force Awakens with The First Order. Supreme Leader Snoke is quicky established as the new Emperor-type character who has placed Kylo Ren as his Sith-like surrogate. Domhnall Gleeson is in charge of the fleet as General Hux. As they prepare to fire their new, improved Death Star weapon now called Star Killer Base, Hux addresses the First Order. In front of an impressive span of commanders and Storm Troopers, Hux delivers his speech with flair and exuberance providing fans with best Imperial since Grand Moff Tarkin.
9) Where’s My Boyfriend
Having finally reacquiring the Falcon after untold years, Han Solo stops at Maz Kanata’s outpost to secure passage for Finn, Rey and B88 to the Resistance base. Han, Finn and Rey enter the bar – full of aliens and droids of all sorts, much like the Mos Eisley Catina scene in A New Hope – hoping to remain unnoticed until Maz herself recognizes Han announcing “Han Solo” capturing the entire bar’s attention. As she approaches the trio, her first question is “Where is my boyfriend?” addressing our favorite Wookie. It is an interesting and amusing thought, Chewie having a girlfriend, especially one of contrasting stature as Maz.
8) It’s Han Solo (C3PO)
Mid-way through Star Wars: The Force Awakens, shortly after the Resistance fends off a First Order attack on our heroes, General Leia and a squad of ground troops land near Han, Chewie and Finn. Leia and Han quietly facing off is a powerful and emotional reunion where the characters say so much more with their eyes than any words could. Then, enters, for the first time in the film, C3PO. Threepio continues with his usual banter, stating the obvious and ensuring that Han recognizes him despite having a red arm. Then he realizes what he is doing and gracefully exists. It is a fun scene that reminds us what we loved about C3PO. The scene continues as Chewie steps in for a great big hug.
7) BB8 Thumbs Up
Competing against the pop culture iconography of C3PO and R2-D2 is a monumental task; however, against all odds, BB8 manages to do so in the most delightful, entertaining and satisfactory way possible. Its simple design masks a brilliant, expressive creation, bringing smiles and excitement in many keys scenes. The way BB8 connects with Rey and Finn is actually far better than the way Artoo first worked alongside Luke in A New Hope (prior to meeting Ben Kenobi). It is when Finn and Fey are on the Millennium Falcon determining how to transport the droid to the Resistance Base where BB8 gets some of its best scenes. Finn pleads for BB8 to side with him and trust Rey with the secrets he holds. Upon his reluctant compliance after his head blips nervously back and forth, Finn expresses his gratitude with an enthusiastic thumbs up to which BB8 responds the best he can with a mechanical lighter. Brilliant.
6) Chewie, We’re Home
The “Chewie, We’re Home” dialog was a special moment in an early teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, providing the first connection between all the new images and the favorites from the original trilogy. Han Solo strides into view with Chewbacca at his side proclaiming the now famous line. It strikes a cord with fans and officially begins the frenzy of fans anticipating the blockbuster event. In context, the line retains its impact and relevance as Han and Chewie race into the Millennium Falcon, a ship we learn they have not seen by the smuggles and wookie in some time – much like us, the audience. While the original trilogy’s familiar faces and the new film’s characters and story are drawing closer and closer, it is at this moment they become unified and one. It is an incredibly satisfying scene.
5) Emo Vader
Adam Driver brings a brooding, complex Kylo Ren who is both ruthless and cold as well as conflicted and complex. We learn his heritage quickly once Han Solo re-enters the scene and again when he reveals he is in possession of Darth Vader’s melted mask – and possibly his ashes. He confesses to the Sith Lord his idolizes that the Light side is trying to seduce him again looking to Vader to show him the power of the Dark Side. His obsession and his turmoil is further exposed when Rey discovers that he is afraid he will not be as powerful as Vader. It all comes to a head when he faces off against Han Solo where he must finally choose to follow the Light Side or the Dark Side.
4) FN-2187 (Finn) and the Blood Smear
Early in the film, I get a clear indication of the attention to detail and passion J.J. Abrams has for the franchise, the Star Wars universe and storytelling in general. We meet Finn known as FN-2187, a Storm Trooper, participating on the raid on Jakku in search of the map that holds the location of the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker. He is very unlike the other troopers despite being one of dozens of identical troopers storming the desert. His body language is hesitant and questioning and he is drawn to a fallen comrade instead of firing his blaster. The dying trooper reaches up smearing his own blood on FN-2187’s helmet. The symbolism is instant providing a graphic image mirroring his own emotion hidden by the faceless mask. He no longer blends in, no longer blindly following the First Order, in that instant he is no longer the same character he was moments ago.
3) The Galaxy is depending on you
As Finn, Han Solo and Chewbacca reach the Starkiller base, Finn reveals he knows far less than he led on and his sole intent is to rescue Rey from the clutches of the First Order. It is Han’s reaction that is priceless, “People are counting on you. The galaxy is counting on you.” His expressions, while remaining 100% Han Solo, reflects that of a far more mature hero than he will ever let on. Thirty years ago, it could easily have been Han in the role of Finn looking to save those close to him, ignoring the larger galaxy-spanning complexities woven into the larger story around him. As I wonder if Han realizes how much of what he was is reflected in who Finn is, the scene continues with great lines about “The force doesn’t work that way” and “you’re cold?”
2) Kylo punks Han
As the battle to destroy the Starkiller Base rages overhead, Han, Chewie, Finn and Rey look to aid the heroes by blowing a hole into the ventilation unit the Resistance fighters seeks to destroy. When the First Order storm in, Han sees and confronts Kylo Ren. Kylo uses Han’s desperation to stall their plans as he distracts the entire group’s efforts until his emotions get the best of him. Everyone is focused on the pair as Han reaches out to Kylo. The sun is going dark, the First Order is poised to strike out at the Resistance’s home planet is mere seconds. Just a few moments longer and the First Order will succeed, but…
1) That Ship is Garbage
Finn and Rey are on the run from First Order Stormtroopers who are in turn searching for the one-of-a-kind BB-8 unit they are guarding. We have not yet seen any of the familiar faces of the Star Wars universe. Yes, we have Tie-Fighters, Storm Troopers, a familiar Tatooine-esque Jakku but no Han, Leia or Chewbacca. At this point our curiosity is confined to only hearing the name Luke Skywalker. Finn, Rey and BB-8 race toward escape as Rey chooses a land ship over another unseen freighter that Finn points to off camera. “What about that one?” Finn asks. “That one is garbage.” Rey replies just as her preferred craft explodes. “The garbage will do,” Rey sighs in desperation as their focus shift toward the other craft…The Millennium Falcon. Fans cheer, eyes water and grins grow three times larger.
The list could go on and on with a variety and seemingly never-ending series of great shots and marvelous moments. Some that deserve mention are the “Apocalypse Awakens” shot of the Tie-fighters approaching Maz Kanata’s base with the sun behind them, Han referencing the garbage chutes and trash compactor from A New Hope, the incredible Lightsaber Duel between Kylo Ren and Finn & Rey and the call back to the “These are not the droids you are looking for” Jedi mind trick as Rey tries to convince a Trooper to release her – the trooper replies “I will tighten those restraints, scavenger scum.” What are your favorite moments from Star Wars: The Force Awakens?