In March 2016, after three months of careful consideration and impassioned forum activity, I finally gained the clarity to compose my thoughts on The Force Awakens.
It was hard to do. On the one hand I had enjoyed returning to the galaxy, loved the new characters, and thrilled at the lightsaber fights and moments of the score (the remainder of Williams’ work for the film has grown on me immeasurably since). On the other hand I was sorely disappointed with the failure that had befallen the OT cast.
As Han Solo was the focal OT character his failure was the most explicit; a deadbeat absent father who abandoned his duties and returned to a criminal lifestyle after his son turned to evil. It wasn’t subtle. At the time I was astounded by the reception that The Force Awakens received, at least from fans, but found myself firmly in the minority of the wider discussion. People loved Han Solo, people loved the film, and the more prominent criticisms of the story being a rehash of A New Hope (neither entirely accurate nor that big a problem) dominated any discussions about the films’ merits and flaws.
It’s not the subject of this blog article, but I just want to make the point: everything that happened to Han Solo is precisely why the outpouring of anti-The Last Jedi sentiment is so stupid. We already knew that the OT heroes had failed, it was explicit in The Force Awakens. Why people are upset that Luke Skywalker made a terrible mistake and struggled to live with the consequences now, two years after we were told just as much, only goes to show how little attention some actually pay to these films.
Anyway, moving on. As I read more spoilers for The Last Jedi and started to understand the themes at play a little more, I re-watched The Force Awakens in order to refresh my memory and to try and understand it within the new context. Did some moments still grate? Sure. But has The Last Jedi changed my overall opinion of Episode VII?
Absolutely. And here’s my reasoning why…