Spoil-Free Reviews: The Force Awakens
I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens; I waited to see it with my family because I can’t say I really care about Star Wars and there was just other movies I’d rather spend my $10 on. And during holiday time, the family pays for tickets. If you’re reading this, it’s basically a 90% chance you saw Star Wars already but even still Spoil-Free is in the name for more than one reason. In 1999 George Lucas essentially single handedly shit on everything Star Wars fans love. He took what was a brilliant, fun, space opera about the triumph of good over evil and turned it into a tale of bureaucracy and the space version of the IRS. The writing was horrendous and the plot was even worse. Sixteen years later George Lucas has been pushed out of his company with a plow carrying billions of dollars, Disney has taken the reigns, and a whole new team has been brought in to make The Force Awakens. The unspoken goal of The Force Awakens and its newly assembled production team was simply to make a film that wasn’t as bad as the completely unbearable prequels. The secret of that unspoken goal though—that was essentially an impossibility—there was zero chance this movie was going to be even half as bad as the best of the prequel trilogy. It just would have been nice if it also was a good movie.
There has been a lot of praise for The Force Awakens: yesterday it became the fastest movie to make $1 billion dollars and it currently sits at the staggering rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Just for reference that is a higher rating than The Wolf of Wall Street, The Departed, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Reservoir Dogs, and last year’s best picture winner Birdman. It is in no way even slightly a better movie than any of those. A lot of the hype has to do with the relief that people are feeling that this is not a terrible addition to the Star Wars series. I can sympathize with that but the fact of the matter is as well done as the special effects are, The Force Awakens is much less a movie than it is fan service.
The biggest issue with J.J. Abrams’ addition to the Star Wars canon is that it takes zero risks. It makes sense considering how important this IP is to a lot of people, but it is a real detriment to a filmmaker to be so worried about getting run out of town like George Lucas was that you quite literally only stick to the things you know work. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that The Force Awakens is two hours and 16 minutes of all of your favorite things from the other six Star Wars movies. If you’ve seen the other films as much as it is clear Abrams wants you to have coming into the theater you will recognize everything you see on the screen. Even the big moment of the film takes place in a setting that looks eerily similar to the place where we found out just who was Luke’s father.
As you can probably tell by now I’ve only seen the Star Wars movies once, as nerdy as I am I would not classify myself as a Star Wars fan at all so I got the amount of enjoyment out of this the average person was meant to. As someone coming into The Force Awakens looking for a film you will be disappointed. Episode VII lacks character development completely actually the only moments of character interest come in the form of one-off lines sometimes spoken to inanimate objects so we can get some semblance of backstory. There isn’t a moment of original story telling in the whole film, it resembles almost down to the plot point another very popular Star Wars film and the film structure is even the same. They realized that people really liked Han Solo, so not only did they bring Harrison Ford back they added two more Han Solos.
I don’t only have bad things to say about Star Wars: The Force Awakens though, the acting in general was impressive even for a big blockbuster. I was only really excited for John Boyega because to this day Attack the Block is still one of my favorite movies of all time and Boyega’s performance in Imperial Dreams is completely underrated. All the hype around the cast has been mostly directed to Daisy Ridley who even though she is the main character doesn’t get much room to work on screen but the few times she does get to do some work on screen she is captivating. The whole cast is fairly fantastic except for weirdly enough the only American addition Adam Driver who gives a pretty disappointing performance as Darth Vader light.
It is especially hard to write about The Force Awakens without spoilers because there isn’t much filmmaking to be talked about, even Abrams sheds his technical style and adapts George Lucas’s, down to the wipe transitions and successive establishing shots. The writing is improved by leaps and bounds but is still really just C+ science fiction film writing; there is nothing even nearly as bad as the infamous “not the younglings,” but if you’re a fan of shitty writing boy have I got the shirt for you. The Force Awakens neither disappoints, nor impresses, I didn’t hate it but I am also likely to forget it in a few weeks’ time. If you bleed Star Wars and still somehow haven’t seen it then I would rush to your nearest multiplex; if you just like movies there are thousands of other better uses of your time.
Must-See Rating: 2.5/5 If this is you’re you need to see the return to space opera on the big screen, if it’s not really your jam you can wait on HBO.
Great Special Effects
All of the fan service
John Boyega. John Boyega! John Boyega!!!