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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As I’ve mentioned before, I am wary of the seductive power of nostalgia. The original Star Wars trilogy loomed so large in my generation’s childhood that any meaningful attempt to revive it was going to be met with uncritical optimism. So as I cheered along with a packed theater on the opening night of The Force Awakens, I remembered that I had done much the same thing sixteen years earlier for The Phantom Menace, which, not long after, hindsight revealed to be a pretty poor film. The Force Awakens seems less likely to deteriorate on repeat viewings, but its appeal is built almost entirely upon fan service, to the extent that its plot is nearly identical to that of A New Hope. As my rating reflects, I won’t deny that I had a ball welcoming back the old cast and seeing its steps retraced by the new one. But tracing only gets you so far. If this new Star Wars revival – which is apparently scheduled to continue in perpetuity – is going to be worthwhile, it will need to be less about recreating what was, and more about building something new from it.