Let me preface this post by saying that the nostalgia this movie ignited within me was so palpable, that I had a full grin on my face from ear to ear for at least the first thirty minutes of the film. It had finally arrived. All the hype, and the anticipation, it was all finally over because the real thing was before us, unfolding on the big screen.
So what did I think of the biggest movie premiere of the year? Was the Star Wars franchise rejuvenated or did it flounder like the prequels? What elements of the film didn’t quite work?
The Force Awakens is a fast-paced family drama that fans new and old can appreciate and love. There is a lot of great things this movie does. This movie feels like a Star Wars film. There are strong plot themes that could be recognizable in Episode IV and VI. There is a strong presence of Han Solo and Chewbacca in this movie. And of course what is Star Wars without epic lightsaber duels and thrilling sequences involving Tie fighters and X-Wings. The Force Awakens returns the franchise to the feel of the classic trilogy. Even the plot has obvious elements of both episode IV and VI.
So of course the factor that I enjoyed this film has already been revealed. So from this point, I’ll detail some of the things I really enjoyed about The Force Awakens. Then, I’ll explain why certain parts of the movie were disappointing. Granted, the execution of this film was great and there was so much good about this movie that when it comes to the negatives, is mostly me extremely critical as a superfan of the franchise. So take my negatives with a grain of salt.
I found that the budding friendship between Finn and Poe worked really well. The on-screen chemistry between Oscar Issacs and Boyega was excellent. The scenes the two actors share were short-lived but impactful. In fact, most of the character interactions worked really well. This cast was stellar in its performance.
The humor of the movie was definitely a callback to the original trilogy. In fact, this entire movie was a callback to the original films. Of course Han was always a character that injected comedic relief in the original films. This film gets more of the main characters involved. There is definitely a J. J. touch to this movie. I found Finn charming and humorous throughout as he struggled with running for his life and being heroic. Poe Dameron adds humor in the form of cockiness. Even the new villain Kylo Ren has a couple of chuckle worthy moments.
This best part of this movie was that the magic was back. It was palpable in the theater as the ending credits flashed onto the screen. The Star Wars we all love is back, and it’s the fantasy western version, not the political drama version.
However, there were some aspects of the movie, mainly story elements, that I found upsetting. For one, the pacing of the film didn’t leave much room to catch the audience up on events from the past thirty years. I understand we have comicbooks and books for that. Not everyone is willing to invest the time to read those other mediums.
There was several planets showcased in the film, yet we know the name of only one, Jakku. Due to some events that occur in the film, the inclusion of several unknown planets made the consequences of the First Order’s actions seem disconnected. They were afterthoughts simply there to drive the plot. A few words here explaining where they were traveling, or some exposition there to explain a couple of planets and some locations would have resolved this. It’s such an easy fix.
Actually, most of the events in the middle of the film were a bit of a disappointment. I realize this was a long film and J.J. Abrams had to fit a lot into a finite amount of time, but some events seemed just a bit rushed. The awakening of the force in a certain character, could have been far more plausible if the force-sensitive Maz Kanata would have had given a bit of a lesson other than simply explaining what the force was.
Ultimately, The Force Awakens is an amazingly fun thrill ride that all ages can enjoy. You don’t have to be caught up on the Star Wars movies to view and enjoy this film. In fact, the lack of naming the systems and planets they explore seems to cater to the causal movie-goer audience who may just be checking out the movie to see what all the hype is about. I’ll definitely be adding this film to my Blu-Ray collection and will be seeing it multiple times in theaters despite the few glaring flaws I found in the film. Yes it really is that good!