Alright, before i go on with this review i have to address something that i had stated in a previous post. That being that i “Was done with Star Wars”. I’m not retracting that statement, the fandom surrounding the film’s is still infuriating and it has soured my appreciation for the franchise. That doesn’t mean that i wasn’t curious about the new film, however it was my intention to view it in February or March when all the hype had died down. My cousin however wanted to see it with me, and i’m not that much of a neck beard to give him my bullshit as to why i wouldn’t go and see it with him so off i went, and here we are.
I suppose a disclaimer is needed upfront as to avoid any calls that i’m being purposefully contrarian for the purpose of generating views (ya. My highest view count for years has been 14, one more Star Wars review in the bucket isn’t going to raise that up), however my attitude on the series (particularly with A New Hope) is more negative than seemingly everyone else and that factors quite largely into this review.
I can’t talk about this film without spoiling some things in it.
In the aftermath of the Galactic Empire, The New Order has risen up from the ashes to threaten the galaxy once more. But with Luke Skywalker missing and the others too old to conceivably star in a new trilogy of action heavy movies it’s up to a new band of heroes to put an end to this threat.
The one thing about the teaser that stuck out for me was the new Storm Trooper uniforms. Particularly the helmets, they really nail that slick and sinister vibe that the original helmets were going for and are so good they make me wish they were in the other movies.
The good visual design is carried over to the rest of the production; while the film is still very CGI heavy the presence of actual sets and locations really nails home the fact that Episode II in particular is a bastard son of the trilogy in terms of visuals.
You know this film really had me going for a bit, with it’s interesting set pieces and improved visuals but slowly and surely lost it’s luster. I began to become more and more aware of plot points being taken from A New Hope, and began to wonder if the film was a remake. Now to be honest i’m not the biggest fan of A New Hope, and while i can’t say it’s a bad movie in any real sense to me it’s dated and boring. Populated with characters who eventually becoming likable and interesting, and special effects that eventually become timeless. So when a new movie (in the same series mind you) comes along and goes for broke in emulating A New Hope instead of doing something original it’s going to leave me for the most part quite cold. There’s even a new Death Star to save the princess from and blow up by the end of the movie.
I find much of the success of a large scale action film, and serialized franchise depends a lot on the strength of the main villain. To this i have to say Kylo Ren, is not a strong villain and is a poor man’s Darth Vader. He is neither as sinister (by design) nor as memorable (i had to look up his name a couple of times as i couldn’t remember it). This is mostly because he is motivated by his insecurities that stem not from a sense of loss, but from a sense of vanity. He wears his mask in imitation of his grandfather, and his obscure origins only encourage me to fill in the blanks with what i see to be as nothing more than pettiness. His outbursts are reminiscent of Vader’s in A New Hope and make him out to be a whiny baby, and the fact that he plays second fiddle to a commander of The New Order (again just like in A New Hope) both of which undermine his ability to intimidate me as an audience member. His theme is rather lame as well when compared to Vader’s. Worst of all, when he kills his father it impacts me as a viewer less as an act of tragedy and more of an act of supreme cowardliness. Where’s the good in this man that Leia speaks of?
Granted, it is just the first episode in at least 2 more movies so he may well turn into a better villain (i doubt it, as the duel at the end of the movie will only serve to fuel his sense of damaged ego). But i only have what i got in front of me at the moment, and it doesn’t look very good.
While it’s great that John Williams is still around (i hope he remains in good health for a long while yet) as i fear if he wasn’t, the series’ music would be given to someone like Hans Zimmer (shudder) to ruin. However the score provided isn’t as immediately memorable as his earlier scores, with the only new themes that i can recall is the lovely Rey’s Theme and Kylo’s is memorable only for being kinda cheesy.
I included a review on the duels of each of the other films so i might as well keep it up with the new one.
I have only seen this film once, and as a result there’s only so much of an impression left in my memory to draw on, but by and large i found the duel to be serviceable and a bit disappointing when compared to the recent duels in the prequels. All that can be forgiven however by the character’s current status as being young and unskilled.
The duel, would appear to function as the catalyst for
Luke Skywalker’s daughter Rey’s acceptance of the heroes journey after her previous refusal to do so. As she takes up the magic weapon in defense of someone she cares about, thus personalizing the metaphor of good versus evil (helping the helpless). I suspect it will also add more to Kylo Ren’s inferiority complex as he is scarred and ends the duel beaten and frightened that someone exists that is his cousin equal.
Over all its decent, certainly better than the one in A New Hope but i would rank it below Return of the Jedi in terms of entertainment.
The Force Awakens is review proof, much like The Phantom Menace was before it when it debuted in ’99. It’s already surpassed 1 billion world wide and will continue to climb up and up, and will conceivably threaten to topple Avatar off the top spot (in fact i consider that very likely). While it’s hailed by many as a return to form, i’m of the opinion that despite a minor hiccup Star Wars was doing just fine before.
So what do i have to say about this new film that rehashes with such enthusiasm that is honestly very confusing to me? Well, The Force Awakens is by no means a bad film but i don’t like it as much or more than my favorite movie of the series (Episode III) but it is at least more exciting that A New Hope. So i will have to say its a good one, and a decent start to a new trilogy.
OUT OF FIVE