In three years, Disney’s given us three Star Wars films-two installments of the sequel trilogy, and “Rogue One” of course. While they have been a bit polarizing among groups of fandom (mainly due to claims of unoriginality, or going too much into the OT sandbox of Rebellion vs. Empire instead of new story directions), they’ve gotten good critical reviews, and have definetly revived the brand as a major box office force (heh). Here’s my thoughts on a few notable scenes from the first Disney film, “The Force Awakens”.
Rey The Scavenger
While the first few scenes of the film sort of showed off the “new toys”-the upgraded Stormtroopers, the fancy new (and ill-fated) X-wing with a Millenium Falconesque dorsal canon, Kylo Ren, and the new Star Destroyer etc, we get a lot of the old, first shown us via Rey’s goggles, which are crafted from a Stormtrooper helmets, with Rey taking some component out of some massive vessel….which we soon learn, from the outside, is very familiar-an old Star Destroyer (with an X-wing nearby)-the remnants of the Battle of Jaaku, a post-Endor battle-one that pretty much broke the Empire even further than Endor (While also planting the seeds of the First Order) that’s been retold in a good chunk of Disney media since TFA’s release (The novel Lost Stars, the novel Aftermath, both Battlefront games etc.).
After Rey drops off some the scrap and get her rations for the day, we get even more interesting callbacks to the OT-Rey’s home, in particular, is that of a toppled AT-AT….and her helmet she seems to put on possibly out of boredom, that of a Rebel pilot.
It’s worth noting that this was one of the early things we saw emerge from the filming….the foot of the said Walker.
It’s a sort of reflective scene, somewhat akin to Luke’s “binary sunset” moment, and with a similar narrative function as it’s soon followed by her adventure starting to move forward a bit when she hears BB8 (although at this point, Luke already had plenty of dialogue and had seen part of the Leia hologram, while Rey actually hasn’t spoken in the film at all yet!).
It sort of demonstrates, to a degree, the balancing act of the sequel trilogy; trying to mix the old with the new.
The Garbage will do!
The Millenium Falcon makes it’s debut in the sequel trilogy (and it’s first real appearence since ROTJ, apart from some PT “hidden” cameos) in this thrilling scene, which of course hearkens back to Luke’s assesment of the ship when the audience first saw it (Well, before the reveal was kind of spoiled by the Special Edition version introducing it a scene earlier).
But of course we get to see what this “piece of junk” can do, once again, in a scene that evokes the classic Star Wars trope of “obstacle course” chase scenes (The trench from A New Hope, the Asteroid Chase from ESB, the speeder bike chase and the Death Star shaft from ROTJ, TPM’s pod race, AOTC’s airspeeder chase and ROTJ’s opening space battle).
We also get a look at a crashed Super star destroyer, once again confirming Vader’s ship wasn’t unique, and of course the shot of the TIE fighter pilot similar to the angle used in the other films (Some interesting trivia-the shot of the TIE pilot briefly seen in ROTJ is actually the same footage from ANH with a different backdrop-one of the rare examples of stock footage in the series.)
We also get a “I can do this! I can do this” moment. I’m not sure if this is an Abrams cliche-outside of the Star Trek films and this I’ve seen relatively little of his work, but the line kind of reminds me of that moment in the 2009 Star trek reboot, although Chechov in the film *knew* he could do it, while in TFA Rey and Finn are pretty much trying to reassure themselves.
And we also get the return of the Falcon’s gunner stations, which film-wise haven’t been seen on screen since “A new Hope”
(Although a scene was filmed for ROTJ, it ended up getting deleted from the final film-the other Rebel guys in the ship weren’t totally useless it seems!).
The good ol’ shoot out with Stormtroopers, and Han Solo indulging in said favorite pasttime, with a series of shots, including a third one where he’s not even looking at the target…
And of course there’s the running gag of Han using Chewie’s bowcaster.
But we also get a scene a bit unlike what we’ve seen in other Star Wars films-a fight with a Stormtrooper using melee weapons. While some of the Battle droids in the prequels-in particular the “Magnaguards” from Revenge of the Sith-had weapons that could block a lightsaber, this is pretty much the first time we’ve seen something similar in the films.
Although the concept goes back to the early Star Wars days, with a Stormtrooper possessing a lightsaber in concept art. (Certainly, many aspects of the Force Awakens-and arguably the Disney Star Wars as a whole-owe a great debt to Star Wars concept art, which I might explore in a future article).
Although Han, Finn and co. are quickly overwhelmed, we’re treated to the arrival of Poe’s resistance squadron, with some pretty cool X-wing moves that wouldn’t really have been quite as possible with the OT’s 80’s SFX (although they certainly tried). Particuarly cool is Poe’s skill as a pilot here; with his pretty epic takedown of several TIE fighters causing Finn-unaware that his friend is piloting the X-wing, exclaiming:
While “The Force Awakens” was filming at Pinewood studios, so was another installment in a long-running franchise, likewise due for late 2015: Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, and the fourth to star Daniel Craig-and like TFA, it brought back some of the long-unusued elements of the franchise; in this case, the criminal organization known as SPECTRE, not seen since the late 60’s.
Craig decided to make a short cameo in TFA filming close by, as the Stormtrooper that keeps an eye on Rey, but falls victim to her Jedi mind tricks, with an “And I’ll drop my weapon” as almost an afterthought. Some of fandom’s issues with how Rey could possibly know the Jedi mind trick despite not being trained at all aside, it’s a funny scene, and Craig’s voice is pretty much unmistakable. Although it’s certainly hard to imagine any James Bond ever really leaving his weapon behind-this is the guy who keeps his gun under his pillow when he sleeps.