Annlyel reveals the individual scenes in The Force Awakens featuring Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, BB-8, and Poe Dameron that made her an immediate fan of the characters.
What is it that makes a great movie? Awesome special effects? Awe-inspiring action? Riveting dialogue? An unforgettable score? All of these aspects are what can help make a film better than good, but at the heart of a fantastic movie are the characters. Have you ever watched a really, really good movie where you don’t remember or didn’t care about the characters, good or bad? If the characters aren’t well-written (or well cast) then the movie is doomed before it starts.
Star Wars hasn’t been faced with this problem. Yes, there are characters that are lamer than others and yeah, there are even characters (like Jar Jar Binks) that have garnered outright despisal but overall we remember (and love) these movies because the characters are so interesting. The Original Trilogy wouldn’t be as popular as it ended up becoming if it weren’t for characters like the fascinating droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, the brave Princess Leia, the cocky but extremely lovable smuggler, Han Solo, the cute but fierce Chewbacca, the intimidating Darth Vader, and the heroic Luke Skywalker. These characters carried the Original Trilogy on their shoulders. It was them that inspired a generation of Star Wars fans and still, to this day, they are making young children fans of this incredible franchise.
For me, I grew up with the Prequel Trilogy whose main characters were nowhere on the same par as lovable–well, besides Obi-Wan Kenobi–as the OT characters. When I finally did watch the OT I was appalled by how utterly incredible the films were. I already loved Star Wars but the OT made me LOVE Star Wars. I would watch Return of the Jedi and every time the movie reached its end I would wish that there was a seventh episode that could continue the story.
In comes Disney to make that wish come true. In 2012 George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney and it wasn’t long before news of a brand new Star Wars movie came into fruition. I couldn’t have been more excited. Especially when it was announced that the film would indeed involve every single OT character (besides Lando who will finally make his long-awaited return in Episode IX.) My excitement was through the roof.
Fast forward to three years ago, December 18, 2015. As I sat in that theater watching The Force Awakens themed commercials and waiting for the movie trailers to start I can still remember the sheer glee that I felt. It was a day I’ll never forget. The excitement in that theater was palpable, my heart was racing, my stomach was filled with butterflies, and all I could do was wait. When the trailers finally came to an end, the IMAX countdown stopped and the iconic Lucasfilm intro finally began I couldn’t believe it was really happening. I was about to see a Star Wars movie for the first time in the theaters and it was a BRAND NEW Star Wars movie at that. I could’ve combusted with excitement.
There was also a side of me, however, that was nervous as well. What if this Star Wars movie that I had been waiting so long for was a serious disappointment? What if Disney had thoroughly ruined the Star Wars franchise forever? Thankfully that did not happen.
For a little over two hours, I sat in a crowded theater utterly riveted by an incredible display of moviemaking. J.J Abrams had done it. He had revived the Star Wars franchise with a bang. It wasn’t long before I went right back in that same theater and ended up watching the film five times, which is the most times I’ve ever gone to watch a single movie while it’s still in theaters. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier is second with four viewings.)
But what was it that made the movie so special? What was it that kept me coming back for more? There are a lot of answers to that question but the main reason is the characters. Especially the new characters. They dazzled me with their interesting storylines and they were PERFECTLY cast which only helped the movie that much more. But, with each new hero (or villain) in The Force Awakens, there was a specific moment that made the character shine. A moment that converted me to not just liking the character but loving them.
So, with this five-part series called “Unforgettable Moments”, I’m focusing on the individual scenes in The Force Awakens featuring Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, BB-8, and Poe Dameron that made me an immediate fan of these characters.
Rey: Escaping Jakku
Rey has many shining moments in The Force Awakens, whether they’re more personal scenes like her unwillingness to trade BB-8 to Unkar Plutt for sixty rations or grander moments like when she defeated Kylo Ren in that epic lightsaber duel. The moment, however, that struck me the most when I was sitting in that movie theater watching The Force Awakens for the first time was when Rey had to escape Jakku with Finn.
At that time much about her character was still unknown but we, the viewer, were slowly being introduced to her personality and her inspiring resourcefulness more and more. When she meets Finn it’s a hilarious interaction between the two characters and it is soon obvious how different the state of the galaxy is in when they speak of Luke’s absence. Finn, who Rey doesn’t know is on the run for deserting the First Order, is spotted by a pair of stormtroopers. He takes her hand and begins to pull her after him through the sandy alleys of Niima Outpost but unlike most female characters her first response isn’t terror. It is instead sheer indignation that he would have the nerve to hold her hand like she can’t take care of herself.
Watching her wriggle out of his tight grasp was one of the coolest and most powerful moments I’ve ever seen from a heroine in any movie. She immediately established that she would not be a damsel in distress and as she sped past him, running across the sand with relative ease and leaving him in the literal dust I could only mentally applaud her awesomeness. It was at that moment that I became a Rey fan. Yeah, she flies the Millennium Falcon like a pro. Yeah, she may be the last Jedi. Those are all remarkable achievements but it is this small but impactful moment in The Force Awakens that makes her one of the greatest heroines of all time.
Be sure not to miss the second part to this series where I will share with you the moment with Finn that made me unfalteringly love his character.
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Annlyel James is a Senior Correspondent of The Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter where she channels the Force frequently!