You may not be aware, but there’s this new movie that came out recently called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ok, but in all seriousness, if you’ve managed to miss the merchandising and advertisements that started back in July – please tell me your secret to living a life of perfect peace and harmony stealthily avoiding the mass media push.
Anyway, after viewing the movie, I have a few rules to ensure that you enjoy the movie to its fullest potential. So here we go:
- Take off your nostalgia glasses at the door. No, really. Do not, I repeat, do not go into this as an adult expecting to have the same awe-stricken response as you did when you were a kid. Yes, it’s a fun action-sci-fi romp in a well-established franchise, but just see it as what it is… a sci-fi series born because the original creator couldn’t get the rights to Buck Rogers. (No, really, look it up.) There is camp, cheese, but also some heavy symbolism, witty dialogue, and great camera shots. (And Abrams even toned down the lens flares on this one!) It’s a well-written script that, for good reasons, echoes the original trilogy in order to tell a unique new story.
- Bring a kid. Please, make sure it is your kid or you have permission… otherwise, that’s kidnapping and punishable by law. As an adult, you may not get the awe-stricken jaw drop of a child, but bring a 9-10 year old to this, and watch it happen the first time a lightsaber appears on screen. (Priceless!) The story is clear-cut, with an obvious bad side and good side complete with black/white color scheme to make sure it’s as apparent as possible. The characters are lovable, but flawed; humorous, but well-rounded; and there are some clear moments of virtue strewn about.
- Watch the original trilogy – or don’t. This movie does not require you to have seen any other Star Wars movies to enjoy it. There are a couple of ponderous exposition scenes, but they are spaced out enough to be informative and not detrimental to the experience. But, if you do watch the original trilogy, there are little echoes, cameos, and jokes hidden throughout the movie. They’re quick, precise, and designed to make aficionados say, “I caught that reference,” and newcomers say, “Huh… that was neat.”
- Have fun. After all, this movie is supposed to be entertainment. Analyze it too much and it becomes a chore and a job, though some nerds do enjoy over analyzing things. (Why do you think I have a blog but to over analyze things?) The jokes are well timed, the action is well paced, the bad guys are intense, the good guys relate-able. Overall, I enjoyed watching the movie and think you might, too. (But if Star Wars isn’t your thing, we won’t judge you.)
Lastly, from a Christian point of view, I have to speak to some of the religious elements of the movie. There is a semi-mystical Force that pervades the series which has some similarities with Buddhism and Taoism. But, the dark side is never hailed as something to aspire to. The dark side members often are prone to fits of rage, violence, and oppression. Meanwhile, the light side members tend to err on the side of mercy, self-sacrifice, and protection of others. Yes, there are spiritual elements, but at its core, The Force Awakens contains a very clear moral code that indicates who’s good and who’s bad. There are even elements of forgiveness and sacrifice in the pursuit of offering forgiveness.
So as a last rule:
5. Talk with your kids about movies and entertainment. This is less a Star Wars rule and more a rule for life. Think your kids may be wrestling with content? Ask some questions. “What did you think about _________?” “If you were ____________ how would you have acted?” “Why do you think ______________ was wrong?” Simple questions can open up some great conversations.
So, may the force be with you. God bless you and your family this Christmas season.