Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review
By now most of you should have seen the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise. For those of you who haven't, I'm going to be getting into some spoilery bits in this amateur review of mine so be warned.
The Force Awakens was a disappointment. That said, I did enjoy a lot about this movie; but mostly from an artistic standpoint, not a storytelling one. The most emotional parts of the movie for me were when the title came up before the crawling prologue and when the Millennium Falcon appears for the first time. Other than that, there wasn't much about the movie that pulled at me. In fact, the one part of the movie that was supposed to be a gut-punch to the heartstrings fell entirely flat for me. That's the way I feel about the movie as a whole. The plot, Harrison Ford's performance, and the musical score all felt half-hearted to me.
I'm afraid you'll think that I absolutely hated this movie. I didn't. I was disappointed, but not enough to curse JJ's name and swear to never again trust him as a director. I like JJ. I absolutely love what he did with Star Trek. I was hoping that he would treat Star Wars in the same way: with a fresh perspective. I'm not sure what the factors are that contributed to it, but this movie was anything but fresh to me. I understand the need to pay homage to what's been done in the past and the desire to bring back old characters for cameos, but there's nothing in this movie that felt original to me.
Beyond that, the story itself is crap. Sorry to put it so indelicately, but I really think it is. What is the point of this movie? The only character who goes through any significant change is Finn, who decides to try to rescue his friend instead of running away. And that transformation occurs instantly, without any apparent internal conflict. We're supposed to believe that Kylo Ren is struggling with his conversion to the dark side, but he never once demonstrates a proclivity for choosing the light. Beyond that, there's nothing about Kylo Ren's character in the film to suggest that he's even remotely threatening. We only ever see him give a couple of characters headaches and then get a lucky shot at the end against a stormtrooper. He just spends his time whining about things not going his way and has a weird conversation with a melted helmet that might have some leftover bits of his granddad inside. And then he gets sabered into pieces by someone who has no apparent training and hasn't used a lightsaber ever before in her life.
Somehow we're supposed to believe that Han Solo is torn up inside about his son being the "big bad" in the film, but Harrison Ford's performance is so half-hearted, and the script devotes such little time to the issue that I felt absolutely nothing when Han Solo is stabbed through the chest by his own son with a light saber. I was relieved to see him go rather than have to watch him limp his way through another performance in the next movie.
I've also had enough of the surprise parentage reveals in Star Wars. Yes, when Vader told Luke that they were family it was a surprise. And that moment has gone on to become one of the most famous moments in movie history. But it's been done so many times since then that it's become cliche. It's a tired device that nobody's ever surprised at anymore. I know it isn't very likely, but I want nothing more from the next film than to find out that Rey's lineage is completely ordinary.
There are a number of other problems with the movie in my opinion, but let me talk about some of the things I liked about it before I lose all my friends. I absolutely love the two new heroes. Finn and Rey are a breath of fresh air to the Star Wars franchise and I'm excited to see what happens with them in the future. Finn is the man. He probably had my favorite lines of the entire film. He and Rey felt genuine to me mostly because of the stellar performances of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. The chemistry and relationship between those two characters are what I'm most anxious to see play out in the rest of the trilogy. BB-8 was adorable. That pretty much sums up how I feel about that character.
The blend of practical and visual effects in this movie is amazing. I absolutely loved seeing so many physically sculpted characters and hand made costumes in a movie again. It was refreshing to see CG used as a tool rather than a crutch and I hope they continue to do that with the future films.
I'm glad that the movie is doing so well. I love the idea of Star Wars and I really am looking forward to what they have in store. I just wish this first movie was taken a little more seriously as a standalone film rather than an homage to what's been done and a prelude for what's to come.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. Feel free to ignore them or disagree with them. I just wanted to spill my guts to the internet because the internet always listens.