Star Wars The Force Awakens Review: The Passing of the Lightsaber.
It kind of goes without saying that the 7th installment in the Star Wars franchise is by far one of the most anticipated films of the past 10 years. Ever since it was announced, Disney and Lucasfilm have done one of hell of a job promoting The Force Awakens while revealing very little about the film as a whole. The hype leading up the release of this film was truly unreal even for someone like myself that runs a film website, hosts a weekly film podcast, and watches a film every day of the week. Needless to say, fans are really hoping that the force is strong with this one.
If you consider yourself a die-hard Star Wars fan and love the feeling of nostalgia, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to make you very happy. It’s going to finally remove that bad taste that you had in your mouth for the past 10 years and make you feel like a little kid seeing your childhood shine once again on the big screen. Abrams clearly made the The Force Awakens for those who grew up watching Star Wars and loved the story and characters. With that being said, The Force Awakens offers plenty of fan servicing moments and throwbacks to the original trilogy that will undoubtably result in several audience applause outbursts throughout the film’s quick 140-minute runtime.
Without giving away too much of the plot, The Force Awakens could easily been retitled, Star Wars: The Search for Luke Skywalker. While there are other story elements and developments that take place throughout the film, the main goal for most of the characters is to track down good ole’ Luke Skywalker as the opening title sequence suggests.
Immediately after the opening credit crawl, we are introduced to Po (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), BB8, as well as the First Order and its leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). In under 30 minutes into the film, we are also introduced to various other characters such as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), and various others. Needless to say, there are plenty of new faces to get to know before the beloved cast members from the original trilogy show up and steal the show.With more than a handful of new characters introduced in the Force Awakens, I can safely say that the Star Wars Universe will be around for many more decades to come. However, by making that claim, it doesn’t mean that every single character worked nor would I even want to see some of these characters in the upcoming sequels or spin offs.
In my humble opinion, out of all the new characters introduced, Po and Rey are without a doubt the ones to keep an eye on. Ridley’s Rey was not only a great character but also one that held her own on-screen with the stars of the originals. She had the most character development and depth while showcasing the most promise out of all the new additions. Po, on the other hand, wasn’t really developed in this film but the way that Isaacs played the character left me wanting more. I can only hope that we will see this character developed further later in the series.
In terms of those that I could live without seeing ever again is a tie between Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Domhnall Gleeson as General Lux. While I liked Ren when he wore his helmet and played the role of Darth Vader lite, I cant help but admit that I never brought into Driver playing this character when the mask came off. Driver looks completely out of place and his performance reminded me of Hayden Christensen from the prequels. I honestly don’t see Driver as this menacing villain and just found the performance incredibly flat and unbelievable. I can’t even begin to comprehend how he was picked for this role or why JJ and the other producers thought he could and should play such an important character that obviously is going to be around for a while.
Also as part of the unlikable dark side is Domhnall Gleeson as General Lux. I am a huge fan of Gleeson in everything from About Time to The Revenant but holy hell is he just plain awful in this film. He just comes off as this evil Hitler like dictator who just screams randomly. Gleeson’s performance is so over the top and he really doesn’t fit the character at all. It all honesty, its really kind of painful to watch to him every moment he is on-screen which lucky for him was only about 15 minutes.In terms of John Boyega as Finn, I am kind of on the fence about his character. I like the introduction and sorta liked the chemistry between him and Han as well as Rey but something just felt off. I did like the energy and some of the comedy (some of it was a bit too much) that he brought to the film, but I had this uneasy feeling that he didn’t quite fit in as well as I was hoping for. He was like the kid in school who wanted to be liked so much but at the same time kind of stood out for trying to hard. I am not writing him off yet because I think he could really become something special if they develop him correctly.
I do have to give Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt credit for not only restoring the faith of Star Wars fans but also for the new characters for the next generation of fans. Those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s have Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and others that we have grown up with and love. With this new trilogy and a series of spin-offs, it is nice to see that these writers have created new characters that the old ones can pass the lightsaber off for a new generation to appreciate and love as well.
While I can’t honestly say that the film seamlessly throws in elements from the original trilogy, I will say that successfully introduces these new cast members before it starts beating the audience over the head with nostalgia.
Unlike say the Rocky spin-off Creed that was released a few weeks back, The Force Awakens at first seems to give the fans what they want by slowly introducing things like beloved characters i.e. Han Solo and Chewie into the film as well as some of the spaceships like the Falcon. However, after a while the subtlety is thrown out the window and you just get bombarded by things from the original trilogy being throw at you left and right. Its not necessarily a bad thing for those who love these films but it does lose some of its luster as the film progresses.I do realize that those fanboys and fangirls who are seeing The Force Awakens opening night will more than likely look past the film’s flaws and bask in the nostalgia. There is plenty to love about this film but there are several issues within the film as well. There is only so much one can say about the film without going into spoiler territory so I will leave it at that for now and repost this review with some added spoilers once the film is released on Thursday. I truly believe that the less one knows about this sequel, the more they will enjoy it so I don’t want to be the guy to ruin it.
As a rating for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I would give this film two ratings; one as a Star Wars fan and the other as a general film fan. The Star Wars fan rating is an 8 out of 10 while the overall film fan rating would be a 7 out of 10. There is a lot going for this series now that it is in better hands but at the same time there is plenty of room for improvement. I will let you be the judge of that and we can start a discussion below, if you so chose.
If you want to know more about what I liked or disliked in more detail, I will be happy to discuss it with you in private through email or you can read my spoiler review which I will post sometime on Friday.