Star Wars: The Force Awakens is at the end of its box office run. As its monetary intake slows to a trickle, J.J. Abrams' long-awaited sequel to the most popular movie trilogy of all time is the highest grossing film in the history of the domestic box office and number three on the international charts. The reviews from critics were mostly positive and the vast majority of normal people seemed to enjoy the film. Meanwhile, the internet continues to nitpick and poke at the film, trying to find answers for various queries and searching outside material to help plug up plot holes.
Even as it prepares to leave theaters, The Force Awakens is still very much alive.
You can see it in the fan art created by professionals and amateurs alike. You can see it in the tumblrs devoted to whether or not Finn and Poe Dameron have the hots for each other.
There is a big difference between a film that makes money because it's a spectacle and a movie that taps into something deeper, that actually connects with people on a special level. We saw it earlier in 2015 with Mad Max: Fury Road. We saw it in 2012 with The Avengers. And now, we're seeing it here.
The fact that I'm still writing about The Force Awakens over two months after it opened speaks volumes. The fact that it's still hanging out in the box office top 10 and still playing in plenty of theaters says even more. When I went and saw the film again on a Tuesday night screening, I was surprised by how many people showed up. What kind of movie draws a couple dozen people on a weekday night after it's been in theaters for nine weeks and has already grossed a couple billion dollars? I should add that the crowd was all ages, all races, and more than a few people were wearing Star Wars shirts.
And yet, a repeat viewing doesn't do the film any favors and I still cannot understand those who saw the film several times in its opening weekend. Like so many other Abrams films, The Force Awakens is brilliantly crafted, beautifully cast, and incredibly entertaining nonsense. Too much of the story falls apart the moment you dwell on it. The plot holes (presumably filled in by comics and novels that can be bought at a store elsewhere) would be unforgivable in another movie. It's sloppy storytelling, told by a man whose enthusiasm and pacing skills do a fine job of masking the fact that so many things don't make sense. It's Star Trek '09 all over again.
But Like Star Trek '09, I'm high on The Force Awakens despite its flaws.
I take issue with the story, but I do not take issue with the characters and the actors playing them. I love Finn and Rey. I think Poe Dameron is just about the coolest guy ever. Kylo Ren is a fascinating villain and a bad guy worthy of following Darth Vader (in more than one way). The Force Awakens is a mixed bag of a movie -- as a narrative, it only hangs together while you're watching it and caught up in the moment. It's more than just a movie, though. It's a mission statement, a reminder that the Star Wars universe is vast and fun and crazy and filled with infinite possibilities.
I forgive The Force Awakens for its flaws, which have truly sunk in over the past few months, because the movie is so giddy. "Remember when Star Wars was fun?" it asks. Then it delivers. It's not a homerun, but it's a damn fine play.
Leaving the theater, I wasn't excited to see The Force Awakens again. However, I was excited to see more Star Wars. This isn't a perfect movie (and you're crazy if you think it is), but it's a perfect reminder of what Star Wars can be. Bring on the next one, please.