It goes without saying – and yet here we are, actually saying it! – that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been, quite possibly, the most anticipated premiere of the year.
Well, we went.
We have stuff to say. Watch out for spoilers!
First off, I love you, JJ, for your sheer talent and epic nerdiness that have brought us Star Trek, and now Star Wars. I salute you.
So where do I begin? Let me just preface the upcoming “rant” by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed the film and I thought it was a wonderful addition to the Star Wars saga. It really doesn’t get any more Star Wars-y than this movie right here, but that’s about where the train stops for me.
The entire film felt out of its time. I’m not referring to the special effects or the production itself, because that shit was on par. A large part of why the old Star Wars films did so well was because we literally had nothing to compare it against. It was the best, because it was the best. Now almost 40 years have passed, and we’ve seen droves and droves of space-centric science fiction films with incredible storylines and expansive universes. So much so that the story The Force Awakens tells and shows feels almost juvenile and tiny in scale.
However, the new cast is undeniably talented, and brought a fresh breath of life into a movie that would’ve struggled without it. John Boyega’s “traitorous” ex-Stormtrooper, Finn a.k.a FN-2187, and Oscar Isaac’s clever pilot, Poe, may have shared one of the most adorable bromances in recent memory. Daisy Ridley put on a fantastic performance as Rey, and won me over pretty quickly with her tenacity and spirit, even though we saw less of her backstory than I would’ve liked. And Kylo Ren. Phew, that conflicted piece of work with the signature Star Wars daddy issues. Loved him. I thought the similarities to Anakin Skywalker were a little annoying (again, daddy issues), but Adam Driver makes up for it with his performance. That shit was powerful.
As much as it hurts me to say it, Han and Leia were the weakest link in the chain. I truly enjoyed seeing them on the big screen again, and I really did understand the direction that they were headed and I can see why it would be needed considering their connection to Kylo Ren, but I honestly believe that the film would’ve been stronger without them having such a pronounced role. I don’t know if it’s a completely fair comparison, but I deeply preferred Leonard Nimoy’s role as Alternate Spock in the 2009 Star Trek movie. His role was so cleverly written into the story that it felt like it was of vital importance to the plot. However, Star Trek’s advantage was that the rebooted films took place in an alternate universe, and didn’t have the ties to its past like VII has ties to all the previous episodes. Thus, not a completely fair comparison, but it’s incredibly hard not to compare the two films, as they do share the same director and similar pomp and circumstance of coming back to the big screen. Back to my previous point, I really felt like the second half should not have hinged itself on Han’s presence, and instead should have focused on the newbies as it would’ve made for a story that was more than just bad guy “has daddy issues” and good guy has “son issues”.
The story itself is nothing out of the ordinary. Let’s zip around the universe dodging obstacles and meeting wise old aliens that seem to have the most convenient advice to give (oh and they also happen to have THE lightsaber because why the fuck not). They built a bigger and better Death Star. Oh no, the bad guys destroyed a bunch of planets. We need to come up with a really elaborate plan! Nevermind, they only need to shoot at that one specific spot a lot of times and DAY SAVED. Lightsaber duel with the bad guy! Wait, he gets away! Leaving plenty of bad guy for the next installment! They literally gouged story elements from the past films and jumbled it all together into a brand “new” movie. Even though the new characters brought a hint of freshness, the rest of the film felt like a solid blast from the past. And not necessarily in a good way.
Undeniably, VII starts out incredibly strong. With Finn, Poe, and Rey taking the reins, it felt like they were guiding us into a new era of Star Wars. However, when Han and Chewie arrive, it almost feels like they’re cast aside and it becomes Han Solo: The Movie (featuring his newly found sidekicks Finn, Poe, and Rey). I wish I could say that I loved it, and to a certain degree, I did. The references made me giggle, the lightsaber duels had me foaming at the mouth, and seeing Harrison Ford kicking ass in his old Han Solo outfit warmed the cockles of my heart. It was truly a Star Wars film. I suppose to the diehard fans of Star Wars, this was more than they could ever ask for. But for a lukewarm fan like I am who was really looking forward to a fresh approach to a dated story, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.
Every time I hear someone say that films with a female protagonist are doomed because no one would want to see them, I want to start throwing punches. And one day I probably will, seeing as how this ridiculous notion never seems to go away. In 2015 alone, films like Spy, Pitch Perfect 2, The Hunger Games, Mad Max: Fury Road and Jurassic World – all focused primarily on the female characters – were a major success while Pan, The Fantastic Four, and Blackhat tanked in the box office. What is the truth? Can we have the Black Window movie now?
I do, however, hope that Star Wars being FREAKING STAR WARS will help us in acknowledging the fact that female heroes rock!
Because guess what? The Force Awakens went and made a female character the main protagonist of the new chapter of the saga. Can you believe it? [insert sarcasm]
It probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that The Force Awakens was the most anticipated film of 2015, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. And coming from me, a person not too closely familiar with the franchise, it probably says something. Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it was just too awesome for anyone ever to think otherwise.
In a nutshell, The Force Awakens is a story of a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who befriends the most adorable droid in the galaxy named BB-8 and, together with a rogue Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), sets on a mission to help him/her/it deliver a piece of missing map that allegedly leads to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker to the Resistance under the command of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). All the usual stuff, you know. Featuring: Chewbacca, lightsabers, Solo’s missing starship and Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd as one of the extras.
Basically, The Force Awakens is what happens when J,J. Abrams actually likes the project he’s working on. It’s action-packed, fast-paced, efficient, and entertaining enough to keep you on the edge of your sit, biting your nails (don’t bite you nails though, it’s not cool). I’m starting to believe that Star Wars will be the Doctor Who of films – they’ll keep bringing in new characters and coming up with new stories for maybe 50 more years without fail, thus allowing our grandchildren to enjoy it as much as we do now.
The new cast so far proved being extremely talented, their on-screen chemistry working the best possible way. I do, however, agree with Rachel – Han Solo and Princess Leia’s story was the least needed part of it. The nod to the previous films was greatly appreciated, of course, but The Force Awakens wouldn’t have suffered if it was cut short. Daisy Ridley was a perfect choice for the role of Rey and I really enjoyed the performance of both John Boyega and Oscar Isaacs (however brief it was). And my life will not be complete until I have my own BB-8, but who wouldn’t say that?
All in all, it was fun. It’s still not entirely my cup of tea, but I have to admit that I enjoyed it far more than I expected I would, and I’m looking forward to the next one!
To hear the boyfriend and I discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you’d think we didn’t like the movie. Really, it’s a solid 8 out of 10 and it genuinely felt like Star Wars is back. Although, I play The Old Republic and Battlefront, so I guess Star Wars was never really gone from my life. But, finally, a good film and it’s reinvigorating the Star Wars machine. The hype and merchandise are everywhere. And Star Wars is back because TFA felt just like one of the original trilogy films. Because it is almost beat for beat A New Hope. It is so frustratingly similar that the biggest reveals and surprises become expected moments that you can predict completely. All of this set up could pay off in the next films if they execute them well, and not just reusing the story arc of the earlier episodes. Maybe this is all to bring us back into the galaxy far, far away and then we can go on a new adventure.
My biggest problem with TFA was Rey’s sudden mastery of laser swordfighting. That’s ridiculous, even if Kylo Ren is also kind of shitty. She could have lasted long enough for the divide to split them without an evenly matched duel. Other problems, why does R2 wake up? Because Luke used the force? Space magic can’t always be the easy answer out, guys! Kylo Ren doesn’t look anything like Han or Leia, which also can’t be solely due to evil space magic. Too many sand planets. It’s an entire galaxy of crazy planets, get creative people. And why does Rey park at the bottom of the cliff? Stairs are just the worst. More things I liked? All of our new heroes are great, BB-8 is the bees knees, and Captain Phasma intrigues me.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a fine piece of work. I know this is going to come off as a somewhat lackluster response to the most-awaited movie of the year, but I don’t mean anything bad by it. I had fun from beginning to end and enjoyed the ride fully with my hands up in the air – except my arms were on the armrests because I’m nice and want you to enjoy the movie as well. In fact, I really want you to embark with Rey and Finn on their journey to escape the First Order and get the map to Luke Skywalker safely in the hand of the Resistance.
Huh. That does sound pretty familiar, doesn’t it? See, I side with Roz on this: TFA brought back Star Wars because it is almost literally the original Star Wars. They did make their own version of it, mind you, and the inclusion of a pretty diverse cast and gorgeous visuals make for an even cooler version of New Hope (with Empire Strickes Back chips), but as much as I love a movie that pokes my nostalgia center and does it well, it made the movie entirely predictable and even dated in some aspects. I don’t doubt that the actual nazis were evil and that using nazi imagery immediately marks the villains as such but I’m a 21st century nerd. The pure good versus evil battle that it announces and that worked so well 40 years ago has me rolling my eyes to the back of my skull.
There is more to Star Wars and the Jedi and the Force than a childish argument about who’s doing it wrong and who’s doing it right. I know it, you know it, and if I can believe what I saw in TFA, I’m pretty damn sure that our man J.J, despite all his clinging to the old Star Wars scripts, knows it as well. Yes, I know he’s not going to be directing Star Wars VIII. Good. Maybe the next Star Wars writer/director will do something else than hide stuff in a droid on Tatooine and blow up a gigantic spherical weapon while some guy reveals his father issues on a super dangerous space catwalk. Okay, now I sound like I hate the movie again. I don’t. I really like this movie and I am excited to see Star Wars VIII, I promise. I just can’t help but feeling that TFA, despite all the good will that went into its making, took the easy way out. That and Rey is just a bit too good with the Force – almost like it’s a Crutch Ex Machina out of bad situations. Once again, easy.
Despite all that, there’s some really high points to the movie. The cast completely won me over and I just know I’m going to have a blast watching these guys do their thing. Rey and Finn are a refreshing duo that should definitely open the door for even more diverse characters to throw their awesomeness at us, Finn and Poe win the title of Bromance of the Year, and BB-8 is the most adorable thing to have ever rolled around the galaxy. I’m not so sure about Kylo Ren, though. I do understand what they’re going for -a hopefully less annoying Anakin complex, but I keep getting thrown off by his absolute lack of ressemblance to any of his parents. The guy’s hair couldn’t be darker if he had poured a jar of Manic Panic ™ Raven on it. Genetically speaking that doesn’t make much sense because everybody in his friggin’ family has light-ish hair and light eyes. How the hell did he end up looking like teenage Severus Snape? Anyway.
Seeing Han, Luke, and Leia be all old and ready to pass the torch wasn’t as painful as I thought it was going to be. TFA may still rely on old tropes, but if I believe its script and message, it’s ready to let the Star Wars franchise move on. We’ll see if Star Wars VIII rises up to the challenge.
Meanwhile, I believe it is time for us fans to do what we do best. To the Theory Lab!