Goodbye, Princess.

Film, Opinion

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This reflection, by virtue of it’s subject, cannot be original or unique in any way. Carrie Fisher was loved and adored by millions, if not billions around the globe, and not just for her legendary performance as Princess Leia in the Star Wars Saga, but for her compassion, wit, and honesty.

Like many others, my first exposure to her work was George Lucas’s original Star Wars (1977) film. Princess Leia Organa was unlike any other heroine of her time – she was headstrong, fiery, and dominated the room whenever she talked. And underneath this thorny surface, lied a great compassion and love for her friends and family. Leia wasn’t an object that men battled for control over, and whilst the original film might’ve implied early on that the men needed to “rescue the Princess”, as soon as Leia met her cohorts it was clear that was never going to be the case.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the original trilogy now – in the hundreds, for sure. First on VHS, then on DVD, and now on blu-ray. I can’t even remember my life without Star Wars. And those original six heroes of the Rebellion – Ben Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and of course Leia – fought for good and beat evil many times not only on the television screen,  but in my dreams too. And whilst I was happy to see Han and Chewbacca once more in 2016’s The Force Awakens, it was Fisher’s re-introduction in that film that made me weep. Luke may have been the guiding force of the trilogy, Han the wild-card, but Leia was it’s beating, emotive heart.

I recall Yoda’s thoughts on death in Return of the Jedi at this moment.

Yoda: Soon will I rest. Yes. Forever sleep. Earned it I have.

Luke: Master Yoda, you can’t die!

Yoda: Strong am I with the Force, but not that strong. Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force.

However cruel and unjust Carrie Fisher’s passing might be, I think we can derive some comfort from the fact that in some way, Princess Leia has returned to the Force. Even saying that, I am genuinely heartbroken and devastated. I think for the first time, I feel like part of my childhood has died; the band of heroes broken; that the light has indeed gone out. I won’t be able to watch those films in the same way again, for now they truly did happen a long time ago, and in a galaxy far, far away.

Goodbye, Princess. Thanks for everything.

Film Review: Star Wars – The Force Awakens (2015) (Spoiler-Free)

Film

The Force Awakens Poster

So here we are. 32 years after the release of The Return of the Jedi (1983), we finally have the next vital chapter in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens (2015). How does it measure up to the quality of the original films? Thankfully, both long-time fans and newcomers will find lots to love in this new thrilling episode of the Star Wars franchise.

Finn, a Stormtrooper, decides to flee the First Order and goes to the planet Jakku. There he meets Rey, and together they traverse the galaxy, meeting old heroes such as Han Solo, Chewbacca, and General Leia, and new ones such as ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. They will also have to face Kylo Ren, a villain who is powerful with the dark side and as mysterious as he is deadly.

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Finn, Rey, Poe, and the droid BB-8, the new heroes of the Star Wars franchise.

I can’t really give a specific review without going into spoiler zone so I’ll keep this as simple as possible. Rey and Finn are a great pair of lead heroes. Daisy Ridley’s Rey in particular proves to be versatile and more than capable of taking care of herself. Having such a great female character become the new face of the franchise is particularly compelling. Likewise, John Boyega’s Finn is a humorous and charismatic action hero. My particular favourite was Poe Dameron, portrayed by Oscar Isaac, who was everything I wanted him to be.

Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is perhaps the great discovery of this film. Gone are the two-dimensional villains of the prequel trilogy; we finally have a villain in Kylo Ren who can live up to the shadow that Darth Vader has cast across the series. He is so much more than a villain wearing a black mask and holding a lightsaber. He has genuine complexities and remains perhaps the film’s most interesting character.

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Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is the greatest of the new additions to the Star Wars mythos.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew and Mark Hamill all return in their signature roles. Ford picks up Han Solo’s character effortlessly. This isn’t Ford doing Ford on screen for two hours – this is legitimately Han Solo, with a complex history behind him that may have changed some aspects of his character but still leaves him as the rugged space-pirate come Rebellion general that we all know him for. Carrie Fisher’s General Leia commands the room whenever she is on screen. I genuinely choked up at her appearance. Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca gets his best scenes yet, as Chewbacca emerges from simply being Han Solo’s buddy to being his own character. And Mark Hamill… I wont say anything, but I’ll let you know that his first appearance is easily one of the best moments of the film. He has all the gravitas that you would expect the legendary Jedi to have.

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Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford return to the franchise that launched them to superstardom as Chewbacca and Han Solo.

The greatest virtue of The Force Awakens is that it is a single story- unlike the prequel trilogy, this film stands well as it’s own adventure whilst having the connective tissue that will allow the story to bridge into the upcoming sequels. Many questions are answered about what has happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but there are so many more questions that will provide for lots of debate among fans until the debut of the next episode. The Force Awakens left me even more excited for what is to come next.

9/10