That’s right, I’m attempting to write a completely spoiler-free review of the latest installment in the Star Wars saga. To do this I’ll have to structure this review a little differently. I won’t mention what actually happens and I won’t spoil any of the big secrets that the film contains. Instead I will simply be telling you what I liked and what I didn’t like. So don’t worry if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you’re safe to read on and get an idea of my feelings for the movie. Are you all ready? OK, hit it Chewie!
What I liked
Yes the casting people have definitely earned their money and will be able to buy a new couch to replace that filthy one that I keep hearing about. Daisey Ridley is likable and heroic as Rey conveying a lust for adventure with just a single look. John Boyega is fantastic as Finn, and shows that he has deft comic timing and great chemistry with Ridley. Special mention also goes to Oscar Isaacs and Adam Driver who have pivotal roles. The nicest surprise however is that the oldies from the original trilogy slip into their roles as if they played them yesterday. Harrison Ford is excellent as the wise cracking space smuggler Han Solo and Carrie Fisher’s Leia is steely and determined yet warm and caring. All round it’s a fantastic cast.
This leads us on to the characters in The Force Awakens. One of the disasters from the prequels was that there were no likeable or relatable characters for us to root for. The Force Awakens does not have the same problem. A lot of this is due to the cast and the dialogue. Unlike the prequels there’s humour in this and new additions like Fin and Rey have cool back stories and exciting future character arcs. Kylo Ren is creepy and has a very important and interesting story. And of course there’s Han and Chewie, who haven’t changed a bit and are always fun together on-screen.
The production design in The Force Awakens was the first exciting thing I noticed from the first trailer and thankfully this applies to the whole movie. The new Storm Troopers look like they’ve been designed by that other evil empire, Apple, with their shiny, sleek, white armour giving them a high-tech, futuristic, aesthetic. Also looking fantastic are the spaceships, with the designers choosing to make subtle updates to X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Another problem I had with the prequels was that the technology bore completely no resemblance to the classic trilogy, making me feel that these were really designed with toy sales in mind. Also great are the interiors of the bad guys’ bases and the cool planets the characters head to.
What I didn’t like
Brace yourselves for this next part, I’m going to commit all kinds of blasphemy by telling you what I didn’t like. I’m writing this from a constantly moving, offshore, battleship so don’t try to find me. OK, here are the faults I found in the Star Wars um, Force Awakens.
What was your favourite aspect of the original trilogy? If you said the Ewoks then you’re automatically disqualified from the rest of this review. No, what I was thinking of was the bad guys. Darth Vader was terrifying, the Emperor was incredibly creepy, and Boba Fett? Well Boba Fett falls into a hole so he might not be the best example. In contrast the villains in The Force Awakens aren’t very scary. Kylo Ren starts well with his kick-ass mask, and big red lightsaber but he just doesn’t have that sense of danger that dark side Annakin Skywalker had. That means the stakes don’t feel as high as they should to have you sitting on the edge of your seat. There’s also another big bad, who I won’t detail, who is has to be said is pretty crappy. On the bright side though, the Stormtroopers still can’t shoot for shit. Star Wars needs threatening villains as essentially it’s the simple story of good versus evil and sadly the evil just isn’t that, er, evil. Lastly, and this might seem harsh, none of the baddies are as cool or as memorable as Darth Maul from The Phantom Menace. Ouch!
Yes I’m sorry to say this as it’s the biggest disappointment for me. When I first heard about J.J. Abrams was directing I guessed the plot would take one of two course. It could either be a movie that took Star Wars and completely flipped it, introducing new themes, new mythology, and missing the essence of what we all love about the saga. The other direction would be a lazy retread of the old movies, designed without any bravery and pandering to fans of old who thought the prequels didn’t feel like Star Wars. Well I can reveal that Abrams has gone for option two and he goes for it shamelessly. I won’t tell you what happens but if this wasn’t officially part of the Star Wars story, George Lucas would have a very good case for suing the producers. Each character is directly inspired by one from the originals, which makes them likable but with a ‘seen it all before’ vibe. The plot is so unoriginal it’s ridiculously predictable with only a couple of surprises to shake you out of your ambivalence. In terms of Abrams movies, this is the Star Trek Into Darkness of the franchise.
Should you go see it?
This is a stupid question as of course you’ll be going to see it. It doesn’t matter what I say but in case you only choose your entertainment if it has my approval, then I can say The Force Awakens is worth going to see. That’s because it’s fun, loud, colourful, and tickles you in your nostalgia spot. The special effects are amazing, the space battles are exhilarating, and the script is full of lovely lines. On the other hand The Force Awakens is a safe, unoriginal, underwhelming, addition to the saga. Although if Abrams and the writers can quit their pandering to old fans and create a sequel that tries something new and takes the mythology in a different direction, the next movie could potentially be great. The Force Awakens is good when it should be great and may disappoint those who are expecting it to recapture that old Jedi magic.
Have you seen The Force Awakens yet? If not, you’ll be seeing it soon. Do you agree or disagree with this review? What were you expecting from the film? Do you know why Stormtroopers can shoot straight? Let me know in the comments below.
Screenkicker Quality Index (SQI)