Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
From the perspective of a non-fan (not to say anti-fan), Star Wars films are totems that contain a rich vein of mythology and philosophical nuance that offer enough food to feed the very large group of people who feel very deeply about both the films and the experience of the films. So much so that George Lucas had bars attached to his windows. Speaking for those of us who are casually familiar with the films but wouldn't actively seek them out, Star Wars has the power to make the casual film nerd feel like a complete outsider. This is to say nothing of the snooty film nerd who feels just as strongly about the films as does the strange person who pulls out the hideous "it raped my childhood" argument. Which isn't an argument: it's a terrible, terrible confession about values.
Since my values are, of course, wonderfully spotless and I didn't have a magical childhood that cannot afford aggressive retroactive molestation it's with some surprise that I found my childhood receiving a firm, non-sexual patting of the back by The Force Awakens. The film was successfully transporting and in the best possible way: the experience of watching it was very nearly like watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when I was nine. It had everything I would have wanted at that age and, apparently, still like to have once in a while. All that and a villain that doesn't seem incredibly pleased to be the villain. I get the feeling that those who love the films, those who had childhoods that were scarred by George Lucas's prequels, may discount my positive feelings for this film. They may say that, if I were more familiar with the stories (hell, I haven't seen Episode 6... I was jumping right into a sequel without the necessary information!), I would have seen the fraud. They may say that and, in one case, they did say that.
But you know what? Fuck that noise. I know little of the Star Warsniverse, I haven't seen a single second of an Ewok in motion, and I'm pretty sure I've seen the best summer movie to have come along in years.
I realize it was released in winter. One of the better 2015 releases and definitely the most breezily entertaining blockbuster movie I've seen in... man, a long long time. So good, in fact, that I was nearly convinced that I may have sold my film nerd soul. I guess it was bound to happen.