Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Star Wars The Force Awakens
The new Star Wars movie is here and as expected it's big on excitement. For the first time in many years- a new Star Wars film. But is it a good movie? Well that depends on what you're looking for. I've seen it and honestly, I was disappointed. I went in with my expectations firmly in check and I was still disappointed. It felt like Star Wars in a way, but it's also hard to recapture that lightning in a bottle. It's fine, I suppose, but the plot holes are pretty big and it feels... forced. They tried so hard to make this feel like Star Wars, and for me it only marginally worked.
First the good news. There's lots of action, humor and character moments and the new leads do a great job. The franchise seems in good hands with them at the helm (and let's face it, as nice as it was to see the Big three again, they're not getting any younger). It's time to pass the torch... and I think that was done. The pace is frenetic with a ton of action scenes, and lots of call-outs to the original trilogy (maybe too many?). It's a fine line between nostalgia and blazing a new trail in an established and much loved world- and that leads me to my problem with the film.
This movie is set thirty years after Return of the Jedi, and it just seems like the status quo is the same as it was thirty years ago. Leia is still fighting (a general now instead of a princess) and instead of a rebellion we have a Resistance. What happened in the intervening years? We don't get any information on that.
Not only that, but this film is just like the original movie. Same story beats. Loner living on a desert planet, finds droid with secret info, flees bad guys, goes to good guys, fights super weapon. It's Star Wars (1977) all over again. There's nothing new. I was excited to hear that J.J. Abrams and Larry Kasdan were collaborating on the script- Kasdan after all wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi- it was in good hands right? Well it's basically a remix/ mash-up of the original three movies. Many reviews have noted this but I was shocked how derivative it really is.
It's a little shocking to me that they couldn't come up with anything better, more original. But didn't Abrams do the same thing with Star Trek? He rebooted that franchise with younger actors but revisited many original series points (Khan anyone?). I was skeptical of Abrams taking on Star Wars for that very reason, but in interviews he said The Force Awakens was not a nostalgia trip. Well, considering how similar it is to Star Wars I'm not sure I agree. It feels like Star Wars 2.0.
The other problem I have is the Big Three. I think it's outrageous, frankly, that Luke Skywalker doesn't show up until the end. I was afraid of this, as that story point has been leaked months ago, but I was hoping it was wrong. Nope. Star Wars is the story of the Skywalker family, primarily Luke- he defeated the Emperor and redeemed his father, after all- and it would be nice to see Luke again. Instead he is introduced at the last minute and we have to wait for the next movie. I still can't believe they did that. Is it staged effectively? Sure- cool scene. But I hate that story choice.
Lastly, Han and Leia. One can be forgiven for assuming that they would be together after Return of the Jedi, right? And apparently they were, for a time. But seriously- Han has been gone all this time? Harrison Ford was fine I guess but he just seemed crotchety, for want of a better term. Again it just feels forced. And Leia has nothing to do here. Threepio and Artoo are hardly in the movie, and BB8- while cute- is obviously the droid of the hour, relegating the other two to basically cameo roles. I think it's interesting that when Threepio speaks for the first time the crowd cheered- too bad he's hardly there.
So this movie could have been so much more. It could have had a better story, frankly. All my concerns proved justified, based on the leaks, and I was so hoping to be wrong. My fears about Abrams taking over the franchise came true. So disappointing... now we move on to Rian Johnson, a director I don't know much about, and Episode VIII. Hopefully that movie will be somewhat original based on what Abrams did here.
Star Wars The Force Awakens is a welcome return to the galaxy far, far away but it could have been so, so much more.
I've seen all the Star Wars movies, and enjoyed the original trilogy, and the last one in the second set that came out. I will see this eventually, just am not as excited as everyone else. I've heard both good and bad reviews. I figure I'll go to see it just so I can keep up with the whole story. Good review!ReplyDelete
Yeah it's a mixed bag, but definitely see it to make up your own mind. And it is Star Wars- not very original, but still worth seeing on the big screen!Delete
Well written review and I am in complete agreement. The leads are great, but there's just a certain element that is lacking the new movie. It seemed like just another average dystopia flick to me and I really wonder if Hollywood has really ran out of ideas.ReplyDelete
Thank you! I thought the same thing- after all the hype, this is what we get? LOL. I felt like I'd see this movie before- a few times! I will say though, for the most part I like the new leads. :)Delete
Ohh I'm sorry you were so disappointed! :( I saw the movie and actually liked it a lot. I saw all the previous movies but not recently, so the feeling you got about things being too derivative never really occurred to me - I just liked the fact that it had this "old" feel to it, that it was similar to the original films. But I also liked the fact that it didn't take itself too seriously (e.g. that there were funny moments in the movie!).ReplyDelete
I didn't know Episode VIII will have a different director! I kind of like J.J., I don't know - I also liked the Star Trek films but I never watched the old series so it was all new to me! I completely understand that if you're a fan of the whole franchise, along with non-movie stuff, you'd be angry if people started reusing old things instead of creating new content, but for a newcomer like me, it IS new. (Does this make sense?)
Anyway, I hope Ep VIII will be more to your liking! :)
I'm glad you liked it! A lot of people did, so you're not alone. :) I hate to be nitpicky, but it just seemed too familiar- too much like the originals. I was hoping for a more original story this time out. But... I see your point. I'm coming at it from someone who's seen 'em a bunch of times, and you're right if you're fairly new to it that wouldn't even be a problem. Good point. It has to appeals to everyone, and that's a tough thing. :)Delete
At the end of the day it is Star Wars, and a good excuse to eat popcorn and have fun. :) And I did like Rey- she is agreat new lead for the franchise, I think.
Honestly, I'm not surprised that it was underwhelming for you Greg - I can't see the series benefiting from the Disney takeover to be honest and considering how the prequel trilogy palled in comparison to the original trilogy, it's hard to imagine that things would get better. I still haven't seen it but I'm planning to do so very soon and like you, I'll try my best to have my expectations in check...and hope for the best! Thanks for the lovely review and Merry Christmas to you and yours!! :)ReplyDelete
Yeah I was afraid I'd be disappointed, but then I indulged in spoilers so I knew what was coming. I was just hoping the spoilers were wrong! Didn't like their story choices, but in fairness a lot of people ARE liking it- and I hope you do too!Delete
Merry Christmas to you too! And enjoy the show when you see it!
I felt mostly the same way about the movie - they're handing you EXACTLY what you asked for, another Star Wars movie like the originals. My nephew sure loved it, though.ReplyDelete
I kind of loved it but I'm not deeply immersed in the Star Wars world and didn't really expect anything specifically happening other than me enjoying it. It felt like a reboot with new characters. There are some things about Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben that I have my theories on. I'm really curious to see what happens in the next movies and how my theories transform. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it that much but hopefully the next movie surprises you in a good way (:ReplyDelete
I have not seen it yet, hope to remedy that this week. It has a lot to live up too and I was disappointed that people are already digging in to the plot holes in it in the British papers. I think the best way to view is as great fun and that is what I intend to do soon before I accidentally come across a spoiler!ReplyDelete
I'm sorry it was disappointing for you. I really liked it though it obviously doesn't live up to the original trilogy. I didn't mind the similarities to the original trilogy though I was sad that things are bad in the galaxy again. I suppose if they weren't, we would have a pretty boring movie where not much happens! I do hope that we get some backstory of where things went wrong (it is hinted at in the novelization). I do love the new characters and it was fun to see original characters back. Maybe Leia will have more to do in the next movie but as you said it is a "passing the torch" kind of thing. I'm sure Luke will be a central character for the next one.ReplyDelete
I liked the movie, but I agree with some of your points. I was never a die hard fan, but I watched all the other movies and TFA did feel A LOT like they're just telling the same story again. It's one of my major issues with the movie, BUT on the other hand I also kind of see it like a retelling of it to start off the franchise again for a new generation? And to be honest, if I see it like that I like it better than the other movies. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Finn, because I find his origin story a lot more interesting (even though it makes me wonder was there never a Storm Trooper who went through all that before?!) and even though it's slightly disappointing to the well hidden romantic in me, I thought it was fairly realistic that Leia and Han weren't together anymore but still loved each other a lot. I also think the movie did a really good job at passing down the torch, because there were so many nods to the original series (maybe too many as you said), but they also had the new generation take over (and literally kill the old one). I don't mind it not being the Skywalkers' story that much, because the world is big enough for other people to tell their story (though there IS the possibility that Rey is a Skywalker, but I almost hope not because it would be too predictable). And lastly, I feel like this movie was the funniest of them all and a good mix of action and humor always has me sold. I hope you'll like the next one more!ReplyDelete
We just finished watching the first three movies and introduced our kids to Star Wars. This is a generation who grew up with X-Men and Fantastic 4 so the 1970s and 80s cinematography took some time to get used to but eventually grew on them. We plan to watch this latest release this week. We'll see how we all like it. :-)ReplyDelete