I saw the new movie not once, but twice last week. I really enjoyed it, it was a fantastic space fantasy movie. You really could not ask for more from a movie like this, the first in what is effectively a ‘reboot’ of the franchise. It had call backs to what came before it. There was laughter, tragedy, action, and things that made you go hmm. I wanted to take a few minutes to go over the highlights, and some things that made me think. There will be spoilers, so if you have not yet seen the movie please do not go below the fold.
My biggest complaint
Is less about the movie than about a certain concept that is rapidly becoming the way of things in the Star Wars Universe. That is that the ability to be a Jedi is somehow inherited, and therefore only certain people will or could become Jedi.
This comes from the original trilogy, and then is continued in the new movie. This idea that only the child of Anakin Skywalker could become a Jedi. And then only the heirs of Anakin could be Jedi as well.
When I saw the previews, and I saw this mysterious figure, all garbed out in a neo-Vader look, and then another character who is clearly not an heir of Skywalker wielding a Light saber I had real hopes. Because if there was one thing that the prequels and then the Clone Wars show, as well as the books that came before and after, made clear, any race could be a Jedi, the Force does not discriminate.
And yet now that the only Jedi in the movies are apparently members of the Skywalker bloodline I am unhappy. Where are the alien Jedi? I am not happy that the protagonists of the new movie who could wield the Force were (or apparently are) heirs of Vader. And that is just boring.
And it makes the concept of role playing in the Star Wars universe a little boring. The latest Role playing game does allow and encourage Alien Jedi (or would be Jedi.) But without a character to model from it gets a little more difficult to work with.
My favorite Element
Clearly this film was created as a linchpin for an entire new Universe. There were a lot of characters, both good and bad. And you could clearly see how a number of films and plot threads could develop from this one movie. It is not just a single world focused on one character (or a small group.)
I liked this because that is a big deal in role playing. I want, and love movies where a group of characters works together instead of solitary heroes. The Magnificent Seven approach is the best when it comes to helping people deal with role playing. That it takes a team to defeat the bad guy(s). I think that is one reason the Fellowship of the Ring still resonates today, because everyone in that book had a role. And that is why the Star Wars movies have always been a better fuel, because (at least in the original trilogy and the new movie) it takes a team to accomplish a goal.
Surprise not a surprise
After the first time we saw the movie Kim turned to me and said she wasn’t surprised that a character died. And when my Mom saw it she said the same thing. I confess not being completely surprised at the action on the screen. And agreeing that what happened was clearly the best thing they could do for the Franchise.
And that ties into role playing to some extent. Characters die (except for Driz’zt.) And if we have learned anything from the Game of Thrones it is that dedication to a character is no longer necessary. The story and the campaign are the thing. They are what drives people to play. I think that more GM’s and players should embrace that idea, that characters can serve a purpose, but do not have to live forever.
Star Wars is not Science Fiction. It is space fantasy, Space Opera if you prefer. As such I have always felt that it was a better source of ideas for role playing than some other series. Because when it comes down to it we as role players are just trying to be a fantasy version of Han Solo or Luke Skywalker (or Chewbacca.)
And therefore I embrace the world of the movies. And I think the latest movie embodies all of the elements about the movies that I hold dear. It is fun, action packed, and heroic, and does not take itself too seriously. Which is what good role players and games do as well.