I haven’t written a movie review in a while. I haven’t written anything in a while for that matter. But this epic pop culture event could not be ignored even if I tried. This review will be lacking spoilers as best as I possibly can but I warn you just in case.
When I first saw the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens I was much less enthusiastic than many of my counter parts. The hype was not hitting me. Even though Abrams is a competent director, I felt his flare for shiny and bright visuals did not, in opinion, fit the franchise. Then there was the over bombardment of advertising and product endorsements that seemed to be over compensating for something. It is Star Wars, just give people a date and they will show up. But a week before the movie came out I, on a whim, decided to check if I could get tickets to see the movie early. I would be damned if someone would ruin any aspect of the film before I got to see it. I wanted to be surprised, I wanted the story to freely unfold before me, and I wanted to be able to form my own opinion. Luckily I got tickets for the late show on Dec 17.
I bought a t-shirt for the event. I got a really cool one from Old Navy on sale (I rarely pay full price for anything, except going to the movies). It is a black shirt that says “REBELLIOUS” in bold white letters across the top. Then as you go down the shirt there is a dotting of stars and an awesome X-Wing fighter. Last night I donned my new tee, did some wicked Princess Leia buns, and as I headed out the door, that is when I got excited.
I got to the theatre necessarily early. I didn’t get a showing with assigned seating so to ensure I got a good seat I had to stand in line for just about an hour. That was actually substantially shorter than I was expecting. We all piled into the theatre and as show time got closer the anticipation in the air got dense. They still did TimePlay (came in 2nd, W00T!), they played a ridiculous amount of commercials (people kept yelling at the screen), and only 4 trailers (all of which I had seen before, I was so disappointed).
Then the Lucas Arts logo came on screen, There was some clapping and a few hoots and hollers. Then the music started as the Star Wars logo hit the screen. There was a full on cheering and an uproar of applause. It died almost as quickly as it stared as the scroll began. There was a hush in the theatre as the story that started a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away continued.
The opening scene was very Abrams. It was big, loud, and bright in its own way. My fears were realized. But as the movie continued, Abrams managed to balance scenes between purely his style of film making and sticking closer to the original series. I think it works for the most part even though some scenes seemed jarringly out of place. Those scenes quickly pulled me out of the story being told but I was soon pulled back in.
Unlike the prequels the movie was well cast. I liked the new characters that were introduced and it was great seeing some familiar faces. Even the new animated character wasn’t ridiculous. Yes it was different and quirky but didn’t come across as stupid or insulting to the audience.
Also the balance of practical effects with a well placed digital effects makes this a beautiful movie to watch. This makes the world more real, tangible, that is what was one of the biggest problems with the prequel trilogy. The dependence on digital everything made it hard to care about anything that was going on, ugly, and aged them very quickly. These new movies will look great for a long time.
The story itself is good. The movie is a direct continuation of the original films but quite some time has passed. This movie greatly parallels A New Hope but this “new” world where this story takes place is filled with new problems, complications, and characters. There are many holes purposefully not filled in that will be (I’m assuming) in the next 2 movies. But I did see a few issues that don’t ruin the whole story but leaves me with questions.
One of my biggest problems with the movie, even though it is a small thing, is Kylo Ren’s stupid sword. I don’t care if people think it is cool, or think I am being picky, it is stupid. The light on the sword hilt would mean he would cut off hit own hands. This is a clear problem during a scene in the movie. There is also a lack of use of a character that people made a big deal about. I was very disappointed. This opinion might change in the next film but we will have to see. Also the last scene of the movie was comical. It was supposed to be grand, epic, intense, but the faces just didn’t work. It was something out of an old kung fu movie. I audibly laughed as the the music crescendoed over the hushed audience. I just couldn’t hold it in.
Overall I think Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a good movie. No you can’t please all fan boys but they will be immensely happy it is a great improvement on the prequels but they will find something to bitch about. Also I am not on the “I LOVE IT!” band wagon. I have realized I have to see the movie again as I’d be concentrating less on not being disappointed and more on just enjoying the film. One thing for sure, it was not a disappointment.