(Warning: Spoilers below.)
"The Force Awakens" wasn't perfect.
And yet it was perfect.
That's the only way I can sum up the first "Star Wars" movie in 10 years.
Even that description doesn't do "The Force Awakens" justice, though. It feels like the first "Star Wars" movie in more than 30 years, since "Return of the Jedi." That's not only because it picks up after the first trilogy narratively, but more importantly, because it recaptures those movies spiritually. It wipes the stilted, plasticky prequels all but completely from memory. Midi-chlorians? What even are those?
Anyways, with "The Force Awakens" only having been released Friday, and with its details under more security than Death Star schematics, I haven't shared my thoughts on social media.
And I have a lot.
So, below, I've dumped those thoughts — some long, some short, some deep, some glib. I'll be updating them as I think of more, too.
(Again: Spoilers below!)
• Just to establish up front: I loved it. I'm waiting to say whether it's better than "Return of the Jedi" or even "A New Hope," but it's in the conversation. As I watch it again and absorb it (read: its weaknesses) more fully, I expect it'll settle somewhere close to them. However, I can already say with plenty of confidence that it's significantly better than any of the prequels.
• The masterstroke of "The Force Awakens" may be its balance between nostalgia and its making a new generation of heroes. What's more, the heroes don't fit the molds you think they will. It's not as simple as John Boyega's Finn as the new Luke Skywalker, Daisy Riddley's Rey as the new Princess Leia and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron as the new Han Solo. Each has their own stories, their own paths. About that ...
• ... What a brilliant bait-and-switch with Finn and Rey, which sees her not only pick up the blue Skywalker lightsaber he holds in the marketing material, but use it to defeat Adam Driver's Kylo Ren. It was brilliant and overdue: We finally have a top-billed woman Jedi in a "Star Wars" film. Speaking of which ...
• ... The lightsaber's ultimate destination in the movie — outstretched in Rey's hand toward Luke Skywalker — is such a beautiful scene. There may have been no better way to end "The Force Awakens" than the sight of Mark Hamill in the same flowing whites and browns as Sir Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan Kenobi, atop Skellig Michael standing in for some ocean planet.
• With Rey becoming Luke's apprentice, and her absentee parents such a big part of her character, many have theorized that the last of the Jedi is also her father. I hope not. With the revelation that Ren is Ben Solo, son of Han and Gen. Leia, it'd be a bit much to stuff Rey into the family as Ren's cousin. However, the Skywalker name — the name at the center of all six "Star Wars" movies — would die otherwise.
• The twist of Ren's parentage was a shocker at first, but soon showed itself to be a smart idea. We've seen the struggle to resist the dark side. Vader's sudden babyface turn aside, we've never seen the opposite — until Ren. I know Driver is divisive. (If you've never seen him on "Girls," don't.) But, without the mask, he has the right presence to retain Ren's fearsomeness while giving the character just enough vulnerability and fearfulness, too. I'm looking forward to his arc as much as I am Rey's.
• I take it Andy Serkis' Supreme Leader Snoke was projected to three times his size in that Starkiller Base chamber? Because if fissure face really is that big, I think Abrams spilled some "Lord of the Rings" in my "Star Wars."
• Yes, Starkiller Base is another Death Star. Yes, they blow it up again. But without the rehash, "The Force Awakens" would lose half of its references, which were just too fun — especially since most came from the never not charming Harrison Ford.
• So, yeah. Han Solo is dead. I can't say I was surprised: Ford seemed a little too happy on the "Force Awakens" press tour, and now we know why. The predictability made the scene less memorable than seeing Obi-Wan disintegrate, but it was still well-done as a poignant sendoff and, maybe, a point of no return for Ren.
• The dialogue was perfectly modern. Boyega and Isaac, in particular, seem so at home with the hyper, fratty rhythm of their exchanges. Never once was it too much, either. (I'm looking at you, Joss Whedon's Ultron.)
• BB-8 is, obviously, adorable. More impressively, it's adorable without a single moment of being annoying, as Lucas' most child-friendly creations have always been. Still, that tether gag on the Falcon was really silly.
• The Christopher Nolan effect — pacing action movies in as vacuum-sealed a manner as "The Dark Knight" — is felt in "The Force Awakens." It would have benefited from another 15 minutes of deep breaths, and for that reason I expect the inevitable extended cut will prove the definitive way to watch it.
• A more specific beneficiary of that cut would probably be Gwendoline Christie's Capt. Phasma, who's by far the movie's most disappointing character. Kept to two major scenes, she's a 7-foot HR rep in one and an easy hostage in the other.