Reviews: The Force Awakens
A triumphant new film, with some minor problems.
So, the characters. Poe Dameron is an X-Wing pilot for the Resistance, and while he gets some good moments, he's not very prominent in this film. Finn is interesting in that he's a Stormtrooper for the First Order who defects. He adds a human element to the brainwashed soldiers, and his pessimistic desire to run away is nicely overcome by his new friendships. He gets some great moments that remind us what Star Wars is really like, but it's not annoyingly self-aware. Rey is a scavenger hoping for something more, but her life has taught her about technology and self-defense. She has a similar background to Luke, but she wants to stay home even after leaving because she hopes her parents will return. Mary Sue? Not to me. I wonder if there would be the same complaints if she was a man. Luke was never questioned for his skills. Neither Rey nor Finn is given dominant screentime, interestingly, so they both serve as the main characters. BB-8 is a comical sidekick done right, and Han Solo is back in full stride. Kylo Ren is a fascinating villain. While he looks like a Darth Vader Clone, it's really about how he fails to live up to that presence and power. He's almost psychotic in his raw, brutal, unhinged power, but he's also divided, having committed to darkness but being pulled by the light. He's really just as significant as the heroes. He's an unstable person who always makes the wrong choices and feels trapped to make them even though it hurts him, but his choices are despicable despite his sympathetic elements. The story is a bit repetitive, sure. But there's enough done to distance it from Episode IV, and some SW conventions like the family twist are played with. The parallels are also partially intentional: Ren wants to succeed at Vader's failures, so his regime is very similar in tech and order. There are some great moments of depth that the originals didn't aim for and the prequels usually couldn't pull off, and one particular spoiler scene is so excellent and powerful that it never fails to shake me to my core. But the film can do bold and huge things properly, so it doesn't feel wrong. Some shots felt confusing, and Snoke isn't very interesting. The blatant Nazi parallels in the First Order were too much. I'd like to note the representation. Women and people of color, or women of color are all given major and background roles, but these demographics never come up in the story and it lets these people just be people without preaching. It helps to make the universe more diverse on the human side, and the subtle approach is great. I just wish this trilogy wasn't afraid to let the minority roles die without some grand sacrifice, because that is the only inequality I saw. Overall, the same action, humor, and heart has been achieved, with emotional complexity never done so well in the series and some seriously impactful moments. I loved this film, and I recommend it to any doubters.
So scared of trying anything new, they made something perfectly forgettable
Star Wars TFA is a decent film. It's enjoyable. But there's nothing great about it and very little that's original. It's obviously much better than the prequels. That's not a huge achievement, though. But they were clearly scared that an original story like the prequels would flop, so they went back and re-did Star Wars. Most people will argue that the original Star Wars wasn't completely unique either - after all, it's a classic Hero's Journey tale, where the plucky young hero learns of his destiny to vanquish the evil that is threatening the kingdom. But the classic Hero's Journey doesn't say that you have to have our protagonist from a desert planet destroy a large, spherical planet-destroying weapon by helping a squadron of fighters blow up that one particular weakness via a trench run. There is far, far more room to be original, and they obviously didn't want to. They made it just different enough so that they don't have to say they made a direct copy, yet were too afraid to stray from the formula. People complain about Marvel movies being formulaic, but they've made over a dozen films. This movie is formulaic from the start. So, with that being said, formula isn't bad, if it's executed well. And this movie is executed well. It's what you've seen before, but more polished and with a higher budget. It's enjoyable. It's also just forgettable too. So you can have fun while it's playing in front of you, but it's nothing worth talking about - we've already talked about A New Hope for almost 40 years now, anyway. There are few notably bad things about this film. Captain Phasma is a wasted character, and Rey is borderline Mary Sue. Aside from that, most of the film has nothing oustanding about it, good or bad. You put in the formula Star Wars + Disney Budget = exactly what you expect.
A Return to the Force Awakens: Second Opinions
I wrote my first review long ago after the movie had come out, I was excited and ready to praise it. This was unfair and I should be more objective looking at this movie. From a technical standpoint it is a solid film, great visual effects using practical and CGI only when needed keep the movie immersive. The cinematography works to display the feeling and emotions. A lack of Lens Flare from JJ also helped to keep me from going blind. From a story standpoint the movie is... okay. It is a solid overarching story that has issues here and there, some quite noticeable such as Starkiller Base and how it goes down. The movie introduces us to its characters and easily makes them likeable, I do enjoy them even the more base-breaking characters but there is one problem. They are not properly given enough context and history, making some choices seem rather out of left field. This comes to my biggest issue with the Force Awakens, the writing and nostalgia. The movie's greatest strength is also it's biggest flaw, it's return to nostalgia and it's promise of making Star Wars good fun of a grand galactic adventure. It does this by giving us a evil empire with a planet destroying weapon that is taken out by a group of X-Wing Fighters striking a vital point while a force user from a desert planet is faced with the dark helmeted dragon of said evil empire. I get that the crew wanted to remind people of why we loved Star Wars in the first place, but I feel it could have been done without Starkiller Base, which is underwhelming, can destroy 3 planets from another solar system faster than the speed of light and gets taken out by 8 X-Wing fighters. It doesn't ruin my enjoyment of the film, it just makes it a bit harder to view it as a truly outstanding entry. The movie is still above average and I look forward to Episode 8. In total numbering? 7/10 - Could have stuck out more.
Star Wars: Faster and more Intense
Yep, George Lucas has in the past asked it of his cast and crew as a form of "direction", but it seems what he really needed was someone like J.J. Abrams. While viewers have always been somewhat divided on the material he's been behind, it really can't be denied that Abrams is a guy with a knack for finding the heart and soul within some harrowing suspense, mindless action, and intriguing weirdness. As he revitalized Star Trek's popularity in the mainstream, he was a logical choice to kickstart the Star Wars film franchise which, honestly, had become a laughing stock after the widespread negative reception of the original creator's long-awaited prequel trilogy. It wasn't only logical. It was wonderful. After the stuffy, tedious, and poorly conceived galactic costume dramas that were the last three films, this was a breath of fresh air. As a kid, I remember the Star Wars movies, the original three, as exciting and compelling adventure movies, not hokey political thrillers. So the fact that this was more in the spirit of the old pleased me to no end. The use of practical effects against CGI is very well-done, Abrams continuing to display his Spielberg/Lucas influences. The world is brought to life in a visceral way, especially the scenes on Jakku. I like that the original ensemble never really overshadows the new characters, yet their significance is never lost either. I won't even go into how awesome I find Rey, Kylo, Finn, Poe, or BB-8, or why. It's all been said. But back to my point, I really like the fact that The Force Awakens, while following a lot of the same beats as the previous films (albeit in unique ways), was faster and more intense than any other kind of Star Wars I've seen. The heaviness doesn't wiegh down the journey, though. The action is really exciting. The comedy is actually funny. The drama feels organic. When the credits wiped across the screen, I just wanted more. I didn't want the movie to stop. That's usually the mark of a good movie, in my eyes. I have to commend Abrams and Rian Johnson and the others for taking on such an idealized piece of pop culture and launching it into a new generation. Is this the most original movie in the world? No. But let's not kid ourselves, Star Wars was never exactly original to begin with. It's a good time. An exciting adventure. A fun experience.
It is surprising to me that this movie should receive such universal acclaim when it is, by any reasonable standards, a mediocre film at best. While it does have the sweeping score and a similar look to the original Star Wars movies, it lacks much of the heart that the original three, and even the prequels - with all their flaws - had. Probably the biggest flaw is in the characters. None of them are properly introduced or given any discernible motivation. For example, Rei is a starving scavenger living in a desert. She literally works all day in inhuman conditions for tiny amounts of food. She then meets a droid, and after knowing the droid for a few hours, she refuses more food than she's ever seen to protect it. Why? Was she suspicious at the large amount that was being offered for the droid? Did the droid give her some indication of a higher purpose for protecting it? No, she's just a good person, and despite being a single person against the only person on the planet from whom she can acquire resources, she decides to spite him. No character motivation, nothing deep, nothing personal, nothing interesting. Finn is a stormtrooper for the new Galactic Empire. He was kidnapped as a child, and decides to run away. Are we given a flashback to explain this, or any indication of what life is like as a stormtrooper that would make him resist his indoctrination and attempt to flee? No, he gives a passing comment on it. That's it. Instantly, he disregards an entire lifetime of indoctrination to join the good guys. Again, no character development, nothing deep, *nothing* interesting. And it just keeps on going. Why did Han leave Leia? No reason, move along. Why did Ben rebel against Luke? Passing comment about a bad guy, move along. Why did Luke run away? Passing comment, move along. AND IT NEVER STOPS. How does Rei, who ostensibly has lived in squalor on a desert planet her entire life, know how to fly a custom corellian freighter? No explanation, move along. How does she know how to fight with a lightsaber against a guy who has actually built his own, and therefore must be at least equivalent to a padawan like Obi Wan in episode 1? Um...the force, maybe? Ignore that, move along. How does the Janitor know the key weakness on the massive secret superweapon? Don't be silly, he works there, of course he knows! It's not like it's a machine the size of a planet that no single engineer could possibly comprehend, let alone understand. It's plot hole after plot hole, each one brushing over the next in a relentless series of falling dominoes. Throw in a few pointless action scenes(tentacle monsters suddenly drop from the ceiling!), a few meaningless flashbacks(you suddenly have a vision of something vaguely disturbing but with no discernible meaning!) and a final brooding stare and you have Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the Wrong Side of the Bed. — It's not a TERRIBLE movie. It could be far worse. But it could also be far better. 4/10
So Okay It\'s Just Below Average
If this movie didn't have Star Wars name on it, nobody would even remember it in less than a year. Well, maybe we would remember the creators getting sued for plagiarism, but the movie itself IMO is ridiculously unremarkable. To get the obvious out of the way, yes it's a remake pretending to be a sequel. It redoes New Hope with new characters taking the roles of the old ones. It doesn't have the guts to stray from the path in any significant way, and that makes it boring and predictable. If you've seen New Hope, you're up for no surprises whatsoever. Other than that, everything about the movie screams generic. Everything, from it's heroes (female Luke and defector stormtrooper with lots of wasted potential) to it's villains. Take Emperor Palpatine, smash him together with Voldemort and Azog the Whatshisface, and you receive Supreme Leader Silly Name. His design is as unoriginal as it could be, and his lines don't help either. Kylo Ren is criticized for being whiny, but I couldn't even get annoyed with him, that's how little impression he made. This movie would need a Joker class villain to pull it's head above the sea of blandness, and instead it gave us these two. Dialog, story, and character development take a backseat to the near constant action scenes. What little plot there is seems squeezed to fit the (too) fast pace. It's not a bad movie per say. It's just a very, very mediocre one that seems to lack ambition to be anything more. It has nothing at all to distinguish it from dozens of similar blockbusters. Even John Williams seemed to understand that. His soundtrack suits the averageness of the movie perfectly, not giving us a single memorable track, which is really below his usual level. This film made me miss the underrated prequels. Yes, they had their share of problems, but at least they prioritized the plot over explosions and presented some new ideas.
It\'s damn good, and that\'s more than we could have hoped for.
The Star Wars universe will never live down the prequel trilogy for one simple reason: not only were they terrible Star Wars movies, they were terrible movies on their own merits. The Force Awakens knew that in order to be a good Star Wars movie, it first had to be a good movie, and it hit the target brilliantly. The movie is fun, it's exciting, it's thrilling, emotional, tense, gripping and funny. It can never perfectly recapture the mythic spirit of the original trilogy, but it still feels like the Star Wars my generation (and the one before it) grew up with rather than the ponderous, self-important bloat of the prequels. Rather than just leaning on the originals by presenting "the further adventures of Luke Skywalker and company" it has the courage to start with a completely new set of characters with (apparently) no connection to the original cast whatsoever- and it works. Finn and Rey are a great pairing, the rogue Stormtrooper and the abandoned scavenger girl setting out on an adventure to save the galaxy. I particularly loved John Boyega's Finn, hilariously Adorkable, you get the feeling he would have been a natural-born hero if he hadn't been raised as an indoctrinated Stormtrooper, so in his attempt to struggle free he has to scratch and claw his way into heroism. Of course, the film isn't perfect. I wasn't bothered so much by the film being a supposed step-by-step retread of A New Hope because there were still plenty of big differences there, but there were some story issues. The main thrust of the story being "where is Luke Skywalker?" felt a bit too low-stakes compared to the originals- it didn't really feel like there was a war going on. The First Order's Starkiller Base felt almost tacked on just so the end of the movie could have an assault on another Imperial superweapon, without the build-up the Death Star got, despite being ludicrously more powerful than it. Captain Phasma really didn't get enough to do, a shameful waste of an actress of Gwendolen Christie's caliber, especially when she's not only the first female Stormtrooper but the first female major Imperial commander. And there was a bit too much stuff clearly being saved for the sequels, like the deal on what Supreme Leader Snoke's deal is. Is he a Sith? Who knows. Also the cliffhanger ending was a bad idea; should have opened the 2nd film with that. But there was also so much good stuff. I like Kylo Ren; sure he's no Darth Vader, but a) that's the entire point, and b) Darth Vader isn't the villain he used to be after the prequels. The action scenes and special effects are the best they've ever been. And despite the big climactic twist being predictable, it still hit right in the gut. In short, this is not the best Star Wars film, but it IS a Star Wars film, make no mistake. The legend has truly returned.
Delivers what it needs to
Is this the best movie of all time? No. Is this the best Star Wars movie of all time? Again, no. That's probably always going to be The Empire Strikes Back Are claims that its story is derivative of previous films in the franchise unfounded? Nope. There's definitely some very obvious repetition of the events of the previous films. Is the story, as presented, overly simplistic? Yeah, it kinda is. There's obviously good guys and obviously bad guys and the former have to give the latter a damn good thumping before the latter commit some unspeakable atrocity that will cement their power forever. Doesn't get much simpler than that. Does the film have other problems? Yes. Rey is a generally likeable character but she strays dangerously close to Mary Sue territory at times. There's another character whose name I can't remember (which shows what kind of impact he had on the plot!) who is set up to be the Han Solo-esque Ace Pilot who basically vanishes from the story late in the first act and is absent until near the end of the film. The post-Empire political situation we're prevented with makes literally no sense (There's a republic that's considered to be the legitimate government, but the New Order dominates, aforementioned government can't or won't do anything to oppose them and a new rebel alliance is needed to offer any kind of meaningful resistance? What?). The villain is from the school of super-gifted whiny teens that's worked so well for the series in the past, and Han Solo's death could and should have been handled a hell of a lot better than it was. You could see it coming a mile off and it did not have the impact it should have. And now the big one. Did any of that prevent me from having a huge grin on my face for the majority of the movie? Hell, no! This movie needed to repair a lot of damage caused to the once mighty Star Wars franchise by the almost universally unloved prequel films. It therefore did its best to avoid the pitfalls those efforts made and for the most part it succeeds. The political situation is never allowed to make much sense because honestly, you don't really need it to. It's backdrop at most, and who wants more endless senate scenes where cow-headed aliens debate the finer points of intergalactic law? The movie is morally black and white because the attempt to add grey areas in the prequels fell horribly flat. Our new Chosen One isn't sickeningly sweet, she's a fairly typical human being with an optimistic outlook but also a fair share of flaws that make her feel relatable, aforementioned Mary Sue tendencies aside. For Star Wars to survive, this film needed to make people excited about it again and to love it again. It does exactly that. If you've had your heart broken by Jar Jar Binks, then this might just be the salve you need.
A Return To Form For Star Wars
At first glance, The Force Awakens is highly reminiscent of the original Star Wars- once again, "the Jedi are all but extinct," because of the actions of a traitor, and an astromech droid is the "only hope" for the galaxy against an evil empire. How much you find this a rehash of the original will determine how much you enjoy the film, as I've seen in other reviews here. In many ways, though, the film is overall darker and more realistic than the original series, a result it achieves more successfully than the prequels. The war didn't fully end with the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of the Emperor, but continues on decades later; even after the Republic re-established itself a power as great as the Empire does not simply vanish after being defeated. The returning characters have suffered great hardship and bear the scars from it, reacting and developing in a believable manner. There are quite a few emotional moments, including one particularly surprising one I won't spoil here, and they all hit the right notes. In spite of being fairly dark, the film's not completely hopeless, as the more idealistic characters still tend to rub off on their more cynical companions, and there's a good amount of humor, particularly references to previous films, to leaven the mood. The newcomers to the franchise are fairly interesting, and those returning are used well. They develop a fair amount over the course of the story, and the groundwork is laid for potential future development. The action is what one might expect from Star Wars, and the special effects have come a long way in the decades since the franchise's beginning. The staples of the franchise's action- shootouts, dogfights and lightsaber duels- are all present and done quite well. As might be expected, the film ends with one side winning a significant but not decisive victory (and not without casualties), but the war going on, and with it, some characters' personal struggles. It's an ending that's appropriately open-ended for the first installment of a new series, and I'm looking forward to more. Perhaps The Force Awakens is reminiscent of A New Hope, but at least in my opinion, that's a good thing, and the film is quite promising for what lies in store for Star Wars in the future.
I went to see this film with pretty low expectatives. I had stopped caring about Star Wars a loooooooong time ago, and the switch to J. J. Abrams never had looked to me like the before-and-after which hipsters and vulture fans had made it to be. But I was curious, and after all, it was the first Star Wars film in so many years. And well, I could have predicted how it was going to be if I had not insisted myself on keeping my mind open. With an utterly uncompromised plot which traces A New Hope almost point for point, a villain who is literally a complete loser, a bigger villain with one of the worst names ever ("Snoke"? Seriously?) and a bunch of questionable future plotlines, I have to say that, while the ticket's money has been more or less worthy thanks to the fast pace, this film has not broken any metaphorical barrier neither out nor inside my mind. I don't hate it like I hate, say, Terminator Genisys or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but I don't think The Force Awakens will be in my Star Wars pantheon. So, Mr. Abrams, if you are reading it, ponte las pilas. And I cannot end this opinion without mentioning how utterly terrible is that two masters choreographers like Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian have ended playing two mobsters with about half a minute of screentime instead of the Darkside-assassins/badass-Rebel-commandos/cool-guys I had pictured for them. I only hope that Donnie Yen knows well where has he get into for his role in Rogue One... Summarizing: go to see the film, you have to watch it, but don't expect an Earth trembler.
It's a reboot, not a sequel - spoilers ahead
I kept my expectations low and almost - almost!! - went into this completely spoiler free So very close. That said, I was right about one thing... this is a J. J. Abrams movie. And that in itself isn't bad; the fight around the downed Star Destroyer is truly epic and the film itself looked much more natural. There were even actual Muppets(!!) which I am truly grateful for. Also if you have any motion sickness issues at all be forewarned. Some of the rotating camera shots are just terrible - it's rare to have a genuinely still shot for more than a few seconds. The downside? As others have said, it's a significantly weaker A New Hope. Same Empire with even more Nazi overtones, same Death Star (well, Death Planet), same battle to take down the Death Star bundled with the same small-scale invasion of the base as seen as Return of the Jedi. Ultimately though this film's main problem is its main characters. Kylo Ren is a poor (very poor) man's Darth Vader with even less justification for his need to be on the Dark Side. And Rey, the female protagonist, is the best qualities of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in one... and this isn't a good thing. She can pilot! She's an ace mechanic! She can speak multiple languages! She can use the Force without any training! She can wield a lightsaber! Her only flaw is her fear, which I expect will be dealt with in the sequel. Props for the other deuteragonist though - Finn's backstory sets him up to be a perfect POV character and his arc from naive, scared stormtrooper to genuine hero is really fun and rewarding. As for the presence of the characters from the original trilogy... it's clear that they were included just to please already-existing fans and to set up Tragic Backstory for the new group. Their actions pre-movie are shaky at best and Downer Ending done terribly badly at worst. I know it sounds like I hated this movie but honestly? It's still better than a lot that's come out recently. The action is fun and there is some genuine comedy and really fun characters. It's just not one I'd plan to see more than once, or one that truly feels connected to the previous trilogy. But for around $8 and a bag of popcorn... I got my money's worth. We'll see how well things shape up once the next movie comes out.
I liked this movie better when it was called Star Wars (or Episode IV, or A New Hope)
This movie is Star Wars all over again. It's almost astonishing the effort they made to hit exactly all of the same beats, only having them spread around different characters (and sometimes even by the same characters, or their expies). And, just like The Hobbit movies in comparison with The Lord of the Rings movies, the similarities don't make Episode IV more resonant; they just take away from its impact. That said, I wouldn't call it a bad movie outright. I have liked more Star Wars movies than I have disliked so, even if I went into this one with low expectations, the odds were still in its favor. It mostly delivered; for all the self-plagiarism, A New Hope is an entertaining movie, so this one was bound to not drag on either. The obvious advances in technology also make for an all around sleeker and more visually arresting movie. Not to mention that Abrams is a better director than Lucas ever was, that helps. One thing I can definitely praise this movie on its own right is the lead performances. Both Ridley and Boyega are talented and will probably go far. Driver was decent and I wish I could've seen more of Isaac, but he already has several awesome movies under his belt to soften the blow. Anyways, all in all it's a serviceable movie I'm sure I could've enjoyed a lot more had I not seen all of the others so I assume it does a great job of introducing new people into the series, which was probably the real goal anyway. I'd lump it together with Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, behind Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. Now I can only hope Episode VIII doesn't end up being "The First Order Strikes Back" because Episode V is the only Star Wars movie I have in my personal list of "greatest movies", it'd be somewhat of a shame to just remake it.
A Great Launching Point
The best thing that I can say about The Force Awakens is that it felt like the Star Wars that I grew up loving. The setting, the characters, the visuals, and the epic scale all felt so familiar, like an old friend come home. The film's greatest strength, and the one thing that it can hold over the head of even The Empire Strikes back, is the quality of the acting. Gone is the wooden, expository dialogue and awkward, verbal emoting that plagued the Prequels and was a weakness of the Original Trilogy. In its place is emotion that is shown on the characters faces rather than hollowly described. This also allows for a depth and complexity of character that is almost entirely absent from previous Star Wars films. In fact I can't remember the last time that I watched a movie where I cared as much about the characters and was as curious about what was going to happen to them next. My main critiques are that the film was a bit too similar in part to A New Hope, although that didnt' seem as noticable on my second and third viewing, and A New Hope wasn't exactly an original plot to begin with. Another issue is that, as good as the acting and the characters are here, there are a few too many of them for the amount of screentime. Finally, and this is my biggest concern, there is an awful lot of explanation left off for Episode VIII. That does succeed in creating suspense, and if the payoff is good it will mitigate most of this concern, but looking at TFA as a standalone movie, it is a problem. Ultimately, JJ Abrams did a wonderful job of 're-establishing' the Star Wars universe, introducing new characters and a new story, and giving the Sequel Trilogy a great jumping off point, which is exactly what he needed to do. I look forward to spending many years to come enjoying the adventures of not only old favorites, but the wonderful new characters that I have just been introduced to.
Best. Movie. EVAH! (Written from Biased Perspective)
I'm happy to say that this movie not only met my expectations, but surpassed them, and is now my new favourite movie. Then again, I may be biased, since Star Wars is my favourite franchise right now — I even like the prequels. Each major character shows significant development throughout the narrative, the special effects are spectacular, the emotions are just right, and most importantly, the story is amazing. Yes, it does tread most of the same territory as A New Hope, but that's perfectly fine, as each generation of Star Wars films is meant to be a mirror of the original trilogy in some way (the prequels were meant to mirror the originals). That's not to say the movie is perfect, of course — there are slip-ups here and there. Most of my complaints are minor — some moments feel contrived; there's a Big-lipped Alligator Moment at the beginning; some characterization is delivered via exposition rather than showing it to us, but those can be excused (coincidences happen all the time in real life, as do BLAMS; the film is already over 2 hours long). My only major complaint is Captain Phasma, although again, I'm rather biased since I don't like Gwendoline Christie. Thankfully, she gets 30 about seconds of screentime and six lines, and is used as the punchline to a Brick Joke (you'll know it when you see it), but even then, she's supposed to come back for Episode 8, where she'll play a larger role :( If they had chosen literally any other actress to play her, I wouldn't have a problem. (There is another moment that counts as Narm, even though it should be really emotional, but I won't go into detail.) I don't know if I can really choose a favourite moment or character. There are just so many great people and jaw-dropping moments throughout. I won't reveal anything since I want to keep spoilers to a minimum, but just know that I loved pretty much everything about this movie (except, again, for the stuff I listed above). Everything just...works. They knew they had to get everything just right — and they nailed it. Take my words for what they're worth — no more, no less. It's entirely possible you'll think this movie was just okay, or even horrible. However, know that J.J. Abrams and co. put in every last drop of talent and effort they could muster for it. And — IT'S STAR WARS!!
The Force Awakens is a Giant Love Letter to, and Development Gag of, The Original Trilogy... And That's a Good Thing.
A common complaint of The Force Awakens is that it's a rehash of the Original Trilogy - that it's presses the Nostalgia button too hard. Those making that complaint are completely missing the point of the film. The similarities aren't just a matter of winning back the audience; rather, it's a central theme of the entire franchise: the cyclicality of life, time, and The Force. The conflict between Choice and Destiny is an old one in Star Wars, and the cyclical nature of reality is a constant. As Mav says, she's seen the same eyes over and over. Characters having mirrors from the past is as old as the franchise itself. Luke from the Original Trilogy is similar to but different than his father Anakin, and potentially walking the same path is a major element of both Empire and Return. Leia in the Original was similar to but different than Padme in her direct involvement in the Rebellion, whereas Padme tried to fight corruption through politics and diplomacy. Han, interestingly, is similar to Obi-Wan, in being an aged mentor; but whereas Obi-Wan was spiritual and worldly, Han is, and has always been, catty and streetwise, albeit he's now far more open-minded and reserved than he used to be. The parallels and differences between Vader and Ren is even a pivotal aspect of both the film and of Ren's character. Finn, Rey, and Poe are also mirrors of, and yet opposite to, the original heroes - Finn for Han, Rey for Luke, and Poe for Leia of all people. Finn, who always runs like Han, overtly shows concern for his new friends, unlike Han of old. Rey, who yearns for something more, especially family, like Luke, is actually terrified to leave her home, even if it's a wasteland, whereas Luke couldn't wait to leave. Poe, who fights for freedom like Leia, doesn't bother with a passive command-station role like her, instead fighting right on the front lines. The Force Awakens carries on with the tradition of cyclicality in Star Wars. Similarities are abound, and even discarded development elements from previous films found their way into The Force Awakens. But within the narrative, these similarities are thematic and intentional. If you find yourself complaining about the similarities, you don't understand the film's message.
Better than the prequels but doesn't (yet) hold up to the originals
If this had been the first Star Wars film instead of the seventh, it would be a contender for the film of the decade. Don't get me wrong, it's very well put together with well cast roles and good performances, good effects work (that feels REAL unlike Lucas' overuse of CGI) and is very entertaining to watch. The dialogue is light years ahead of the prequels as well. (George, people just don't talk like that, not even a long time ago in a galaxy far far away). However it's a long way from perfect. Three main points JJ: 1 - There's a difference between acknowledging the past, putting in nods and getting the feel of the universe consistent with the previous work and pretty much remaking the first film - it's so derivative it actually breaks your willing suspension on disbelief. You could probably cut the two films together and make a coherent film with a reasonable effort (and I've no doubt a mashup will surface on Youtube once it's released on DVD) 2 - Yes yes, we know the prequels were overly talky and there was too much politics in them but you've gone too far the other way - there are gaping holes in the back story with no real attempt to fill them - what happened in the last thirty years? How did the first order rise? Why is the Republic not fighting them in full strength? Who the hell was that old guy Kylo Ren killed? If he was a Jedi why didn't he fight? (And don't say to look at supplementary materials - a film should be able to stand on it's own) 3 - Solo's death was so ridiculously telegraphed a blind man could've seen it coming a mile off. Insulting your audience's intelligence isn't good film making. In summary JJ has rescued the franchise from Lucas' attempt to drown it in a sea of cliched dialogue, boring talky political crap and CGI crapfests but he's not yet managed to make a film that holds up to the original trilogy. At this point he has a lot of goodwill, but now he needs to make the next two films their own story, not rehash Empire & Jedi. Edit: Skimming some other reviews I find myself in agreement that the new characters were all too eager to work together - Poe Dameron was way too trusting of an Imperial Stormtrooper - he didn't suspect it was a trap to find his base?
An overly respectful remake that takes no risk
This is a rehash of the original trilogy, updated to current social norms. The protagonist cast is racially diverse, with a strong woman protagonist. There was a lot of ado about this... because here's the sole innovation by The Force Awakens. The main protagonists have no backstory. They're both loners who grew up without a family. Strangely, they're both extremely able socially: trusting, flirty and able to bond immediately. They both walk on the edge of blandness. You can see John Boyega struggling, to give Finn some depth, against the bonds of a character so generic. Rey straddles the line of Canon Sue. (As a thought experiment, swap around Rey and Finn's genders...) The original trilogy used well constant quipping between characters. It served to establish differences in motivations and outlook, then growing trust and bonding. The prequel trilogy did OK with that: Ewan McGregor salvaged all that could be on that front. Here, the pressure to jump from one action scene to the next leaves no room for character development. Protagonist starting motivations are understandable. It's difficult to guess why they trust and care for each other so rapidly. Only supporting characters grow, resolving some issue: Han, Leia and Kylo Ren. Leia and Han have the only non action scenes with emotional depth. Kylo Ren is one good element. As Christensen proved, this archetype, a conflicted, not all-controlling, not larger-than-life villain is difficult to render without looking flat or whinny. Competing against the icon of Vader being impossible, scenarists did the best they could: making Vader an unreachable icon in context. The film goes out of its way to spell out Kylo is not Vader. While the storytelling expedient of Kylo's mask (wearing it when acting tough like granpa, removing it when vulnerable) lacks subtlety, it is subverted once to show which side he's growing towards. Kylo is Anakin done right, nothing new. It's still a good movie. It'll please fans wanting a Star Wars of better quality. The movie wasted enormous potential: while Empire and Jedi brought new and exciting things to the formula, while Clones and Sith tried playing with it, Awakens recycles ingredients that made its predecessors great. Like Kylo afraid of being himself, Awakens is afraid of being its own movie, preferring to be a copy over the risk of failing as an original piece.
This is the Star Wars we were looking for
Without getting too deep into details, this is what it means to be Star Wars. Not just the return to Practical Effects and smarter/more limited use of CGI. We actually have a cast we care about. The acting was superb; the best in any Star Wars film. Rey, Finn, and Poe are very easy to like, they are reasonably flawed, you care about what happens to them, and you want them to succeed. In one hour, it accomplishes what the prequels failed. Even the humor was on point, because it was character-driven (like Empire). Kylo Ren is a worthy successor to Darth Vader, by acknowledging that he will never be Vader and rolling with it. Even BB-8 was endearing and not shoehorned. The Stormtroopers are humanized as well, which makes them easier to root for. Of course, the best part is when the new bridges with the old (once Han Solo and Chewie return, the good movie becomes great, because that chemistry is very well done and endearing). The dialogue is probably the best you'll see in a Star Wars film. It uses exposition when it needs, it knows when to be funny without taking away from a scene, its action scenes were grounded and violent (but not too flashy), and it knows when to be serious without being grimdark or overbearing. Perhaps most importantly, it utilizes a lot of visual storytelling, where the body language of the characters and actors tell the story for you (like Finn, with a Stormtrooper helmet, perfectly conveys his horror of war without needing a single line of dialogue). It is very similar to A New Hope, and sometimes too much so, but it mostly works well with what it has, and it does add some variety to what was done before. Some of its major characters were underutilized, some things weren't answered (and probably will be in later films), and one can argue it played too safe. Definite flaws, but not too much where it kills the viewing experience overall (just like the originals). I'd argue it... modernized Star Wars for film goers, and it brought back the look, feel, and heart that was missing for so long. I say it's the best since Empire, but that's my preference.
Well made, but not original
The Force Awakens had good casting, good acting, great special effects, and was true to the spirit of the original trilogy. What it didn't have was anything really new. Practically every major plot point was obviously derived from something from the original trilogy. Nothing was really new. We have a masked Dragon. We have a planet destroying superweapon that has to be killed by X-Wings targeting a specific weak point. We have a droid carrying secret files of galaxy-changing significance. We have a mentor of the heroes who gets murdered by the Dragon. We have a cantina scene. We have lightsaber duels. The only thing I saw that appeared to be truly original was Han Solo's method of getting to Starkiller Base - which was a blatant violation of hyperspace physics as explained in the EU novels. Whether or not this will ultimately be remembered as the start of a new classic film trilogy or just a rewrite of Episode IV depends rests entirely on Episode VIII and whether or not it can add some original concepts to the mix instead of just repackaging the existing formula.
It ain't perfect, but I like it. (Some spoilers)
That basically sums it up. The movie is far from perfect, but I found it pretty enjoyable. The characters were generally likable and the dialogue is generally funny, though some jokes feel awkwardly inserted for the sake of jokes. Inspite of being an obvious retread of A New Hope, the greatest failing of the movie is honestly it's INCREDIBLY weak villain, Kylo Ren. When he removes his mask, any potential intimidation factor is immediatley sucked out of him. Not only does he look like an Emo Andy Sandberg, he sounds like he's on the verge of tears at all times. In addition, His entire character can summed up with "Shut up dad! You just don't understand!" The other villains were basically living props, giving the First Order a very underwhelming presence aside from a few select scenes such as Their introduction. The main characters aren't developed very much, but they lay the potential for future character arcs in the film. Finn is particularly enjoyable. Rey is... Well, basically every Star Wars protagonist: bland, powerful, but mostly harmless instead of outright annoying. Poe doesn't have much screen time, but is one of the funniest characters in the movie. Early on the story tends to skip around too quickly for you to get a real feel for a particular scene, but this flaw irons out as the movie goes on. Though this only makes the recycling of A New Hope even more obvious. There are some superfluous sequences that honestly don't add very much, such as the entire encounter with the Rathters. In closing, I definitely wouldn't say this is one of the best movies ever, but it's a good way to spend an afternoon.
Just rewatch A New Hope instead (spoilers)
So it turns out that Episode VII is basically a remixed version of Episode IV— most of the same points are hit, but in a different order, and the characters don't line up quite the same way While being a retread is hardly great, most of the new stuff is kind of subpar. The way the plot is set up results in everything dragging once they hit not-the-cantina. Not helped by having really long scenes when it's trying to be dramatic. Emphasis on "trying". Han's death was way too telegraphed to have the intended effect, and was Luke being at Luke's coordinate's supposed to be a surprise? Finn is an interesting idea that wasn't capitalized on at all. His past as an indoctrinated stormtrooper means that... he's particularly afraid of the Order. He's not ignorant of what's going on, not racist, social skills only slightly subpar. And it's not like their trying to humanize the enemy soldiers, either, given how their deaths are brushed aside Rey is waiting for someone, practically perfect in every way, probably Han's bastard daughter, and that's it. Luke wasn't the most interesting of leads, but this is a bit much Kylo Ren is kind of a good idea— a major villain that actually feels human and has a character arc. In practice he comes off as a melodramatic twat with the charisma of a wet dishrag. At least his temper tantrums are amusing Snoke is the emperor with a slightly better design and a silly name. The similarities are strong enough that I'd actually kind of prefer it if he turns out to literally be the emperor. Which is saying something given how bland he was in the original trilogy Poe Dameron was easily my favourite character. He barely appears after the first few scenes The OT characters had a strong presence but didn't really need to— Leia was fine, but C-3PO was annoying, R2-D2 a Deus ex Machina, and Han got more focus than I felt his role in the plot quite warranted On the plus side the action scenes were good, even if tonfa stormtrooper was kind of baffling Overall I'd rate this somewhere around Attack of the Clones— Decently entertaining, but not what it might have been
As Spoiler Free as Possible
AKA it's a Good Film. I watched this movie with my friends, I tried to not be too hyped for it otherwise I would have probably been disappointed. But the movie is good, it feels like a return to the classic movies, all the good is there, a lot of show, a lot of wonder and mysticism. The force is once again a magical mystic mystery again! And that's good! The characters have interesting dynamics, I really do like them all! Even the new sith villain even as he is REDACTED FOR SPOILERS and everything! But the film is not without it's faults, while I do like the movie I will admit the Decoy Protagonist thing is a bit annoying, and there is little of the character's backstories to go on. I am even a little confused as to how the First Order even got into power in the first place, the Emperor was dead, their superweapon gone and all forms of structure and order within their government broken. It raises more questions than anything. But in the end, it's still a return to what made Star Wars good, fun characters, interesting moments, good looking effects, new Memes and Memetic Badass characters, Old School Dogfights, and I do like how they passed the torch to the new generation, even my most cynical friend liked it. But in the end, all I can say is see it and try not to let too many people influence you. You must watch it yourself and decide. That being said; SEE IT!
Has one main flaw... that might not be so bad after all.
Let's get it out of the way: Episode VII borrows a lot of elements from previous SW films. There are tons of parallels to the previous movies (especially the original trilogy) and you don't have to be a die-hard SW fan to look at some of the characters and plot points and go "Hey, that's really similar to [previous movie]". Like 90% of the complaints you'll see about VII is that it borrows too much from the original trilogy. And to a point, it's entirely accurate. Jakku is basically Tatooine II, the First Order is The Empire II, BB-8 is R2-D2 II, etc. The movie also follows the same "heroes escort droid with important information and then have to attack a planet-busting superweapon with a tiny weak point" plot as ANH. And it's probably the weakest aspect of the film. However, I don't think that it's as bad a problem as it looks, for two reasons. 1. The comparison of past and future events and characters is a major theme of the work. The protagonists are obviously meant to parallel the Luke/Han/Leia Power Trio of the original trilogy, but their personalities bear a very different dynamic. Kylo Ren wants to be like Darth Vader, but his role and characterization are very different. Luke's (minimal) role is almost Yoda-like (going into self-imposed exile after everything falls apart), but his actions won't be the same as Yoda's. The entire movie is designed around the theme of "how does the new generation live up to the old?" Finn, Rey, and Poe want to live up to Han, Luke, and Leia's legacy. Kylo wants to live up to Vader's legacy. Luke wants to measure up to Obi-Wan and Yoda. The similarities are deliberate to emphasize that comparison. To me, the movie felt less like a rehash and more like setting up a similar situation as a jump-off point for the new cast to take over. 2. Everything else is spot-on. The Used Future aesthetic is back, the new characters are strong and interact well with the old guard, the music is great and used effectively, the action scenes are well-choreographed and look amazing, and nearly every character is well-acted. In short, this movie did with the prequels didn't: it nailed the feeling of the originals. Yeah, there are a few issues, but they're all drowned out by holy crap the Millennium Falcon is fighting TIE Fighters again!
A New Hope 2.0 (warning: spoilers ahead)
Let's put the fact straight: TFA is a rehash of A New Hope. If you're looking for a fresh argument this is not the movie for you. That said, its execution is pretty good. Unlike Adams' Trek, where those of us who grow with Kirk & Co. find somewhat awkward to see the way the alternate timeline Kirk & Co behave, the new cast fuses quite well with the old one and those new characters are quite likable. I liked very much Finn and the way he's introduced having a BSOD and humanizing the Stormtroopers, even if it's hard to think a captured Resistance ace would become friends so fastly with him. The same goes for the way it's introduced Kylo Ren, using the Force to freeze that blaster shot, it keeping going on after he departs. Both characters, especially the latter shows a lot of potential and remains to be seen after the messy way Kylo ended in the movie if he'll not become a Darth Vader Clone in the physical sense too. Rey goes on the same lines and I'd like Finn had the Character Development she had -the same goes for Hux, Phasma, and especially Snoke since he looks like the Big Bad- (but see below). Kylo killing his father Han Solo is the whammiest thing of the movie, showing how he has crossed the horizon and being more than a shock for those of us who loved good ol' Solo. Special effects are very good too. CGI and Practical Effects mix very well, and the Used Future look we loved so much comes back with a vengeance after the shiny prequels. The very few new (not so new in some cases as the Resistance X-Wings) ship classes look cool as well as BB-8 and the new Stormtrooper armor. However I'd prefer to have seen a different design for that Special Forces TIE Fighter (Legends has many designs to choose from). The movie is filled with ShoutOuts and references to the old Star Wars movies, that blend well too and help to the transition to this new saga. On the negative side, this movie is (understarably) a textbook example of All There in the Manual since it's there were to learn more about what's going on in the Galaxy and about the background of the new characters. It also shows how the First Order seems to use the same engineers who built the Death Stars (Starkiller's Base weak point, the shield issue...) and Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale again (but this is Star Wars, after all, so no problem with it.) Highly recommended.
A disappointing rehash
Wow, J.J sure played things safe. This movie takes no risks, attempts nothing new, and has nothing original to say. It's pretty much a remake of A New Hope, and that's that. The story follows Finn, a stormtrooper who abandons his post after being told to participate in a massacre, Rey, a scavenger that Finn runs into, and (kinda) Poe, a Resistance member imprisoned by Finn's superiors, whose help Finn recruits to escape, and finally Han Solo and Chewbacca, who run into Rey and Finn in the most convenient way possible. Everybody is very, VERY quick to trust each for no damn reason (Poe doesn't even stop to wonder if this stormtrooper is trying to lead the First Order to the Resistance by pretending to help, he just babbles away top secret info to him literally minutes after they meet) and all the characters get thrown together into what we're just supposed accept is True Companions status when they should be trying to shoot each other in the back out of pure suspicion. The original film showed the lack of trust and bickering the trio went through before coming together - here, there's no such thing and everyone's quickly motivated by their shiny halos. In fact, Finn is the only one who shows any sense, trying to get away from his former superiors at all costs and wanting nothing to do with the fighting. Unfortunately, his character conflict is thrown aside as we enter the second half, in which a giant planet destroying weapon is revealed, which has only a single tiny flaw, which a small squadron of X-Wings assault to make it blow up, led by an Ace Pilot - hang on, did I walk into the wrong movie here? There is some good stuff: the cast both old and new give great performances, the lightsaber fights are well choreographed, the effects are great and so is the soundtrack. The bad unfortunately sometimes overshadows this. There is some contrived humor that runs non stop, a "larger than life" Big Bad that is both underused and doesn't impress in the screentime he's given, and the new Vader, who gets a few great moments but by the end of the movie gets bitchslapped by an Instant Expert newbie and loses his Vader status already. Oh and apparently technology in the galaxy has not seen ANY significant change in thirty years. Not even stormtrooper armor, which is still useless. Overall 7/10; Meh.
STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE SEARCH FOR THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY (Warning: spoilers up the wazoo)
(I've got a more in-depth review here, for the record.) So, Episode VII. As far as Episode IV rip-offs go, it's better than it had any right to be. I was expecting something terrible from the promo stuff, but when the reviews started coming in I revised my prediction to "probably just mediocre" shortly before I actually dragged a troper buddy with me to see it. It slightly exceeded my expectations, being actually pretty decent, pretty much on par with, ah, Phantom Menace or Revenge of the Sith. It's bogged down by its unoriginal plot and obvious OT fanboying subtext and suffers for it- apart from Chewbacca, I found the OT characters the dullest part of the film- but has some genuinely good fight scenes and effects and cool new toys for the First Order. Pacing has major issues, going way too fast in the beginning before slowing to a crawl for the rest of the film. Acting was all over the place. Kylo Ren is a whiny tantrum-prone Vader fanboy, and the rest of the First Order is just around to be around, but Poe Dameron and Finn and BB-8 are fun as hell to watch (Rey, less so- she could stand to be a bit less yelpy). I loved the TIE Fighter hijacking and the flight through the wrecked Star Destroyer, as well as each of Finn's lightsaber duels. Dialogue was a mix of vintage prequel Lucas writing and more modern action movie lines, and they didn't quite mesh very well. Some parts felt needlessly dark- in particular, Luke's academy getting trashed by Han and Leia's kid just so everyone has a reason to angst. In general, this film felt very good for what it was, but what it was, turned out to be derivative fanfiction. Decent, but I wanted better from Star Wars.
Star Wars: The Force Shrivels; OR, A Tired Omen
It's done—there exists a Star Wars movie that surpasses even the worst parts of Attack of the Clones in banality. As a preface for the actual review, don't take my harsh impressions of the film as a total condemnation: in spite of its unoriginality and illusory throwbacks to the previous films, The Force Awakens is still an enjoyable film. If you enter expecting a nice popcorn movie, you're in for a treat. With something as fascinating as the Star Wars universe, it's exceedingly hard to mess up the latent appeal to anything in the franchise. This film is no Holidays Special. To begin with the review in proper, I want to ask you a question: have you seen A New Hope? Did you answer yes? If so, you've already seen everything this film has to offer to the table, but done better in nearly all aspects while working with a more restricted budget. Nearly every story beat and every character archetype from A New Hope is shamelessly retooled and renamed for the Force Awakens, and quite frankly the changes that have been done to differentiate this film from its clear influence weakens rather than ameliorates it. This is no more evident than when comparing the protagonist trio with the antagonist duo of this film: where Luke's potential was tempered by his inexperience and complemented by Han and Leia's command, Rey's all-encompassing talents only serve to highlight how useless Finn and the other character (whose name I have already forgotten) are; while Darth Vader's mysterious power and menace found a channel to express itself through Tarkin's terrifyingly mundane malevolence, Kylo Ren's incompetency and repeated failures only made me yearn back for the days when Star Wars antagonists actually proved themselves to be a believable threat, and as such I had to accept Hux as the only actual antagonist of the film. All of this would not be too grating if the film did not present itself in a strangely gritty light. With the originals, there was always an air of light-heartedness and adventure inherent to the simplistic nature of the films. The prequels's darker tone was warranted given its unique look into the politics and mire that would birth the do-or-die stakes of the originals. Here? I have to wonder why I'm watching a grittier New Hope that doesn't seem to know that it's a grittier New Hope; because, ultimately, that's all the film is.
Nothing New Under the Suns
While the film promised to take the franchise in a bold, new direction, the end result was anything but. It plays out like a shot for shot remake of the first film with a few scenes lifted from Empire Strikes Back and a climax that is identical to Return of the Jedi, complete with yet another Death Star and an exploding shield generator. What's more is that it feels lifeless in many parts. When the "Death Star" blows up an entire system, the characters gasp in horror, then it's business as usual. JJ Abrams wants us to remember the Alderaan scene in A New Hope, but doesn't want us to dwell on those emotions for too long because he wants to get to the next action scene. We are supposed to be scared of the villain, but the character tries too hard to be Darth Vader (even in universe), that it is hard to take him seriously. Round it out with a flawless, invincible hero who can master the Force and lightsaber without a single minute of training (something that took Luke Skywalker three films to do) and you get a soul-less retread of a great franchise.
Competent, but underwhelming
There is not much to say that has not already been done to death since the movie got released. It looks and sounds like SW 4, it is fast paced yet not frenetic, the actors are good, like the special effects and the coregraphies. It is competent. But, and I write it down as someone who has been hyped in no way whatsoever, it is underwhelming, mostly because of an excellent beginning that fails to deliver. Things started greatly, the adventures of rookie heroes Finn, Rey and BB 8 were good fun, and it could have been a delight to witness with them the changes of the galaxy after 32 years. Sadly, Han Solo arrives to play the exact same role than he did before, steals the spotlight, railroads the plot, and from that point, the magic falls flat. The Loads and Loads of Characters trope ruins the character piece the saga is known for. Events happen way too fast, to the point it is becoming really hard to care about the characters and what is happening to them. Revelations keep coming and suddenly, it is the big fight, only scaled up compared to SW 4. That's probably part of the problem. It is way too much like its ancestor, aping up his strong points without the novelty or the performance from back then, only with more ambition. Bumbling jedi, cute droid, dark deep-voiced villain, mysterious leader, resistance/rebellion, death star, self-sacrificing mentor, reclusive master, even not!Tatooine and the freakin' Millennium Falcon, it's all there. The pinnacle of imagination. All in all, it is not going to be idolized like the first trilogy, but it is now allowing people to have a good time. Sadly, it also means the love this movie will get will only decrease over time. P.S: Kylo Ren is a stupid name, goddamn. I just couldn't take the guy seriously. How about "Pound Rill" next time?
The good movie...it's calling to you. Just let it in. (Slight Spoilers)
Oh my god, THIS MOVIE WAS GARBAGE! . . Oh sorry, I was watching Attack of the Clones. THIS is a good film. So here's the deal: Star Wars Episode VII IS A New Hope but honestly, I am fine with that. Because for the way they rip off most of the plot of A New Hope, they add some new twists and turns and new depths. Now, this movie has flaws and I will address those shortly but honestly, this movie makes up for it in so many ways. Firstly, the visual upgrade is amazing. The mixture of practical effects and CGI is breathtaking and seamless, almost unnoticeable. It actually took me to my second watching to notice that most of the aliens were NOT CGI. The acting is fantastic with Daisy Ridley as Rey being probably the best new actor in the film. The new stars show the emotion, vulnerability and connections in 1 hour that the prequels couldn't do in 7 hours. The story is disturbing, heartbreaking and humorous simultaneously. The humour wasn't terrible prequel toilet humour but was the kind of humour the originals had, with a few exceptions. Most importantly of all: THIS FEELS LIKE A STAR WARS MOVIE! The most caustic problem the prequels had, in my opinion, was that, while the originals did their best to immerse you, the prequels constantly reminded you that you were watching a movie. Now that being said, this movie has its flaws. For instance, my biggest problem of the movie is the fact that Captain Phasma has about 2 minutes of screentime in the whole movie but apparently she will have a much bigger focus in Episode VIII so here is hoping that's true. Also while most of the nostalgia was a welcome sight, some of it was annoying such as Admiral Ackbar's COMPLETELY pointless cameo. And there is the occasional plothole: "Sir, we need to bomb the thermal oscillator of Starkiller Base. Should we bring in the Y-Wings bombers?" "No, we use X-Wings because nostalgia." Overall, this movie is entertaining, fun and a breath of fresh air. Does it have its problems? Sure. But so do the original trilogy so people bitching about the movie? Shut your trap and enjoy something for once. This movie gets my seal of approval, even if it doesn't beat The Empire Strikes Back or even A New Hope in my eyes. But god, it comes close. This was a great movie. Watch it and enjoy it. That is all.
(Spoiler Free) A Competent Pastiche of the Original Trilogy
You can breathe a sigh of relief. The Force Awakens is not a train wreck, and it is not in any way like the prequel movies. In fact the first thing you notice watching it is how it might be too much like the original, with a lot of the story beats recycled from A New Hope. It has enough to become its own thing though. Instead of a whining teenager for a protagonist, we get Ren, a diesel-punk, plummy tomboy, and Finn; gormless, sensitive and in-over-his-head. They are likable and relatable - the two chief qualities missing from the characters of the prequel movies. They do a good job of giving the movie a heart and humour. In terms of the story, Abrams is very good at keeping up the story momentum - far better than Lucas does in the orginal trilogy in fact. I am one of the few who argues that Empire Strikes Back is the worst of the originals, what with its most exciting action happening in the first half hour, and the rest of the movie consisting of the heroes hiding in one place or another. This movie manages keeps its characters moving ever onward, either running to or away from the next objective. One thing that has to be commended is the action and the effects. CGI and modern camera techniques have a presence, but they are used with moderation, and where possible there are a lot of old fashioned practical effects and costumes. Similarly, the lightsabre fights have a heft to them like the old movies, with the characters bashing away at each other; none of that fancy-pants, passionless fencing from I, II and III. It does have its missteps though. Some of the dramatic scenes are really cheesy and overwrought, largely as a consequence of our new villains. Our Darth Vader analogue isn't bad most of the time, but he looks especially dorky, with and without his helmet. There is also a surprising amount of screen time devoted to characters standing around with one arm outstretched and a constipated look spread across their face. Also there is a scene where Ren eats what is clearly half an apple with some broccoli in it. That seems weird to me. Over all, The Force Awakens does a good job of kickstarting the franchise, and I look forward to the next one. I predict it will benefit from not having to devote so much time to nostalgia coddling or placating some very cautious fans.
It was great, but I wouldn't call it a masterpiece.
When I decided to see The Force Awakens, truth be told I wasn't really expecting anything special from it. Don't get me wrong, I've always liked the Star Wars movies and all of them as well including the prequels, but I was a bit skeptical about Force Awakens, probably because I'm not that much of a serious Star Wars fan or a fan in general. But when I finally managed to see it, it was much better than my first thoughts. I will be honest though, to me it reminded me an awful lot of A New Hope. Now I'm not saying that it copied it or anything but it was a bit similar to A New Hope at least to me. Another thing is that it used more humor than any of the other movies, and I think they overdid it with the humor. And other than the obvious ones, there were quite a few call backs to the original movies. But still, truth be told it was a great movie and I would recommend it to anyone. Again, calling it a masterpiece would be a bit of a stretch, but it was still a very good movie either way. Personally, I'd give it a 8.5/10
A Promising Awakening (Spoiler Free)
Let's go ahead and get the obvious questions out of the way first. Yes, it's better than the prequels, but no, it's not as good as the originals. What it is, however, is a promising start. The Force Awakens has the unenviable task of reintroducing audiences to a beloved cinematic universe over 32 years after its most chronologically recent entry was released both in- and out-of universe while simultaneously restoring confidence in the franchise after its last three cinematic releases critically bombed, and while Awakens mostly achieves these goals, it is not always graceful. The fanservice is seamfully integrated, moreso in the first half than the second, and the new heroes cannot help but feel like a fan's OCs when rubbing elbows with Han Solo, with the most egregious example being the event immediately after meeting him, which plays out like something straight out of fanfiction. That said, the new cast does stand up on its own, for the most part. There are a few nagging bits and pieces to them that hopefully will be further fleshed out in future installments, but for now they are likable and despicable as they are meant to be, work well off each other, and have a lot of promise for their future growth. A big part of this is the "in over our heads" approach taken by the two leads to their roles, which certainly feels truer to Star Wars than the Chosen One prodigy nonsense of the prequels. If nothing else, Awakening has certainly taken the lessons learned from the prequels to heart. Along with the hammered-in Chosen One plot, Awakening has jettisoned into the asteroid field the sleek, over-polished feeling of the prequels in favor of the franchise's Used Future roots, as well as the inhumanly over-choreographed lightsaber fights and constant walk'n'talk or couch-based exposition dumps. In fact, it almost goes too far in the other direction, leaving a little too much explanation for how the galaxy wound up in its current state after the happy ending promised by Return of the Jedi up in the air. In the end, Awakening is not the Second Coming of Jedi Christ. It is a little awkward, a little flabby, and a little unclear, but it is, at last, a film that feels like it belongs to the same universe as the originals, and promises greater things to come now that the table has been set with the new china. Here's hoping it delivers.
The Force "Awakens". Truly a fitting title.
It's difficult to talk about this movie without spoiling it. So I'll just say that J.J. Abrams... actually did it. Star Wars is back. Episode VII feels like an unique mixture of "sequel" and "reboot": it's truly the "A New Hope" of this trilogy and many plot-devices from the movie that started it all are re-used, with some twists and turns, but the Strictly Formula is there. The two new main leads, Rey and Finn, are surprisingly interesting and likeable characters. They both have a lot to offer and the movie purposely left a couple of questions about their past unanswered. Heck, the entire movie basically ends on a cliffhanger. The old-new villains are intimidating: Abrams treats them as a serious threat and, from a visual stand-point, the movie truly wants to show you how dangerous and evil those Empire "left-overs" can be; and it does very quickly, in the ominously beautiful opening scenes. There's a lot of stuff to talk about. It's a pretty darn good Star Wars movie. And while the magic of the original trilogy will always be unique, this new beginning, despite some flaws, is a clever, respectful addition to the greatest saga of all time.
Excellent This Movie Is!
A long time ago, on this very planet, a sci-fi trilogy the likes of which had never been seen before was unleashed upon the galaxy. Then, a little while later, a prequel trilogy was made, which sandblasted a lot of luster off the original. It seemed the whole franchise had fallen to the Dark Side. So, when a third trilogy was announced, a lot rode on that first film back. Could it redeem the series, or would it just be another pile of Sith? We shouldn't have worried. J.J. Abrams and company have awakened The Force with a vengeance, and hit all the right notes in the process. The callbacks to the original trilogy almost never miss a beat, while adding in plenty of new and fully worthy characters, planets, and creatures to the franchise. There's more humor than in any Star Wars film to date, and the jokes land consistently. That's not to say it's a perfect film, though. There's a surprise paternity reveal that feels like it's trying too hard to emulate the fabled "Luke, I am your father" moment, Poe Dameron is a horribly underused character, and the big lightsaber fight is a significant step down from the Obi-Wan v. Anakin duel of Revenge of the Sith. All that said, though, The Force Awakens clearly towers over any film in the series like a Wookie over a stormtrooper. Go see this one, folks. You will not be disappointed.
The Force is strrrrroooonnnng with you... a powerful trilogy you will become. Henceforth, you shall be known as Awesome.
I couldn't allow myself to get caught up in the hype machine again. Not after... the last time. Episode I was... okay... I guess. A huge letdown at premiere time but in hindsight entertaining enough. Episode II was so mind-numbingly boring I had to call my doctor to check if I was still alive. I was... but why? well, because Episode III was still in the cards, naturally. It needs not be said that it couldn't have redeemed the prequel trilogy even if it were the Citizen Kane of the 21st century, but I love that dumb, self-important piece of popcorn movie cheese to death. The damage was done: I thought I could never again be excited in earnest for a Star Wars movie. And then... there was an awakening. The Force Awakens has everything there is to love about Star Wars—likeable protagonists, strange alien worlds and creatures, awesome futuristic technology, and spaceship dogfights chief among them—and takes some risks as well to avoid feelings of repetitive staleness, most of them related to doing away with the more dated elements of the cinematography. At its best, Star Wars is about as good a time as can be had in a noisy room smelling of popcorn and sweaty people, and The Force Awakens lives up to that storied legacy and more. The whole thing is suffused with an energy—a "Force", if you will—that makes every moment on the screen pop and sizzle with fun, tension, and excitement. This is owed mostly to having free rein to be its own thing, not being dogmatically tied to future events that are already set in stone. And it wants to tell its own story, turning some cherished classic Star Wars plot elements (though thankfully, many were left alone and that just feels so right) on their head. Our new, untested leads prove themselves worthy of literally standing shoulder to shoulder with the iconic characters of the original trilogy. It all feels like a very natural progression of the original trilogy, with their characters traits taken heavily into account regarding what has happened to their lives in-between the films. The biggest singular point of praise I can give this film is that I instantly wanted to see the next one. I had my doubts about Abrams given the overly slick nature of his previous work, but he well and truly did the fans proud with this franchise rekindler.