Star Wars: The Force Awakens review

 

The long anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally arrived with much fanfare and while the seventh installment of the series set new box office records it’s not without problems.  But first, let’s talk about what worked.  Since this is a sequel and not a prequel it has a much more familiar feel in the settings and characters.  It’s almost like you know what to expect from them and that can be both good thing and bad.  It was great to see the characters we know like Han Solo, Leia and C3PO and hear some of the old interactions come to life again but it would have been nice to see more development with the old characters instead of just the new ones.

Another positive aspect of the movie is the passion the characters have for their causes, which is something that seemed to be lacking in the prequels.  With the original trilogy the characters had purpose and they were constantly fighting and narrowly escaping death by the skin of their teeth.  They were determined to complete their missions and would go to the end of the galaxy in order to do that.  The Force Awakens has a similar feel but not quite as gripping as the originals.  It feels like the characters are not developed as well as previous movies

Ok, so that was the good now let’s switch gears and talk about what I think should have been done differently.  To start with I have to talk about the main antagonist, Kylo Ren.  The problem arises when he takes off his mask and we see what he looks like.  It was not at all what I was expecting and his performance seemed to be really lacking.  I understand that he is not a confident character and that was portrayed in the movie, but I would have liked that fact to have been delivered in a subtler way and better integrated into the story.  It seemed to be very abruptly and overstated and left nothing to the imagination.  There’s no questions as to why he became the way he is, no anticipation for the next installment

Another character that seemed out of place was Finn.  The only emotion I got from his performance is frantic anxiety and his dialog was not what I expected to hear from a galaxy far, far away and sounded more like slang I would hear in an everyday conversation.  If he really hates the First Order enough to go AWOL then he should be showing some anger and be a witch’s brew of emotions.  I’m hoping his character will be developed in a more suitable way in future sequels because as a character he has a lot of potential to add an interesting twist to the plots.

I also want to make a not about the special effects which were great.  But we have come to expect this level of CGI from a blockbuster Hollywood film and I didn’t see a lot of new groundbreaking imagery in the new movie.  With the original trilogy there were so many hurdles that had to be overcome in order to make it.  Everything had to be created and new techniques had to be developed.  That was part of the reason it was so successful, it was something no one had seen before and audiences were amazed at that and the depth of the story and characters.  Even the prequels had groundbreaking CGI with characters, landscapes and so on.  But visually, Episode VII was nothing new, we have seen it all before.  After the original trilogy was released everyone tried to copy what had been done because ti was so amazing.  Of course with the improvements in technology over time, the effects gradually became better and better.  The computer age ushered in a new era of effects and the second trilogy took full advantage of that, and again the state of the art in Hollywood CGI eventually became the norm as more and more people learned to create the same kind of digital effects.  So it that aspect it’s a victim of it’s own success.

One more thing, be it good or bad, the last half of the movie felt more like a reboot of the original trilogy.  Same plot, same action and so on just redone with modern storytelling elements and special effects.  Predictable to say the least, with even some of the same dialog from the old trilogy mixed in at certain points.  I’m sure it was setting up plot points for the next two movies with the redundancy but I am really hoping for more fresh content when I go to the theater to see Episode VIII.  While on the topic of plot, it seems like it was dumbed down from what it could/should have been.  I’m not sure if it was done that way so it’s easier for kids to understand and thus make more money on merchandising and what not, or if it was just the writers failing to add an appropriate amount of depth to the story.  But overall, it was a very entertaining movie and I’m sure I’ll go to the theater to watch it again if nothing more than to enjoy seeing it on the big screen one more time, and I would recommend anyone else to do the same.