The Bored Critic Reviews: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
The continuation of the legendary Star Wars series, The Force Awakens focuses on a new cast of characters trying to deal with the disappearance of a hero and a dangerous new organization devoted to conquering the galaxy. This (predominately) spoiler-free review intends to find out if the movie is a suitable successor to a franchise that has had many ups and downs over the years.
For a spoiler heavy discussion on the movie, follow this link to my long ranting blog post on the movie. But be warned, there is much anger in this one:
Actual link coming to a galaxy near you ASAP. In the meantime, enjoy Star Wars cuteness.
To watch or not to watch:
If you’re a Star Wars fan then this should be a simple answer. For the rest of you, it’s an exciting, non-stop, blockbuster action movie that is likely to be greatly enjoyed.
*SPOILERS of sorts* (Taken from the movie’s title crawl)
Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.
With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.
Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts…
Obviously the title crawl isn’t exactly a spoiler unless you want to be completely new to every last piece of information about the movie, which honestly, if you’ve managed to avoid every last detail till now I’m quite impressed. Due to trying to remain highly spoiler free, however, I can’t talk about much more than that. I can provide my opinion on the events therein in broad terms on the other hand. Honestly I found the story to be decent. Outstanding? No. But decent? Absolutely. The plot points throughout the movie are too familiar to past movies in the series, which is as close as I can get to what I actually mean without ruining the movie for some poor sod. Truthfully the movie continues over and over to remind you of past movie(s) in a way that irritates rather than satisfies. Time and again, what should have been a reference becomes a stolen plot point and the result is dissatisfyingly similar. I dearly hope that this is an attempt to draw fans in with familiar territory only to blow them away with never even considered possibilities.
The acting was highly hit and miss, mainly due to some of the choices for actors. The stars of the movie poster, Finn and Rey (played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley) were excellent, with Finn being the perfect “every man” that everyone in the audience can relate to. Both Finn and Rey respond naturally to events, which must of course require a nod to the scriptwriter(s), but also the actors, who were able to play the scenes in a convincingly human way. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were of course, well, Han Solo and Leia Solo/Organa. (I can’t really say I’m sorry if that one classifies as a spoiler for any of you, by the way) They were exactly as you’d expect them to be and just what we wanted. Likewise, Chewie was Chewie and the brief moments we received with other classic characters were well-done, albeit brief. Even some minor characters from the original trilogy were shown, though it was never confirmed if these were actually them or merely look-a-likes. Adam Driver’s character (who will remain unnamed for the sake of spoilers) was highly disappointing, however. What could have been an incredible character with a great deal of depth and appeal was instead little more than a petulant child. Overall the heroes were well cast and did as one would expect despite feeling like lesser versions of past characters in some aspects. The villains, however, were not overall as effective at conveying their roles and characters. I feel they lacked some of the gravitas and imperiousness (no pun intended) that one would expect.
It sounded like Star Wars. Honestly the audio was one of the greatest aspects of the movie. The music, while not particularly grand, sounded just like it should. The sound effects were perfect with lightsabers, blasters, and ships sounding just how you’d expect. The dialogue was usually perfect, being clear and understandable throughout. The one exception to that being the masked villain, who was occasionally hard to understand, even causing me to misinterpret something he said early on. Amusingly, this was commented on by Poe Dameron for humour’s sake during an early scene, but it was unfortunately somewhat true. Apart from one or two lines that I found somewhat challenging, even that dialogue was perfectly clear, however. All in all the audio was practically perfect and really helped you feel like you were watching Star Wars.
Exactly as they should have been. Everything looked and felt just like how you think they should. The lightsabers seemed faintly off to me, but I mainly attribute that to my own over-analysis. Explosions went boom delightfully but were not Michael Bay-esque, J.J. Abram’s infamous lens flare was rarely (if ever) seen, and ship battles were epic and fast-paced. Like the audio, it was just what you’d expect out of Star Wars.
As usual, it all boils down to a matter of enjoyment, and in a lot of ways the answer is simple. Yes, this is an enjoyable, fast paced, heart-pumping movie that is action from beginning to end. Is that all we want from a Star Wars film, though? A New Hope was mind-bogglingly excellent, mashing together multiple genres to create something never before seen, and ever since the credits rolled at the end of Return of the Jedi, we’ve been chasing after that dream of seeing something as incredible as those first three films. For all their failures, the prequel trilogy at least tried something new instead of riding on the coattails of past success, and I feel like that was the issue with this movie. It went past making respectful nods and references to the original trilogy and began to copy far too many elements. Was it enjoyable? Yes. But was it enjoyable for the same reasons as the original trilogy? I’m not so sure.
- Believable and likable main characters
- Excellent special effects
- Fitting and nostalgia inducing music
- Many nostalgic moments
- Humour doesn’t intrude, but still shows.
- Nostalgia quickly becomes stolen plot points
- Non-stop action leaves little room for development of characters
- Critically weak and unlikable main character
- Predictable plot points result in an unsurprising conclusion
It is okay. Is this the episode VII we all want? No. At least not all of us. Many many people have been giving this movie glowing reviews and high praise, but from an exceedingly familiar plot, to characters that feel like children playing “grown-up” with their parent’s clothes, to an endless stream of action leaving you feeling breathless in a bad way, I found the movie lacking and frankly disappointing. Could it be a set-up for an incredible pair of sequels? Absolutely. But I worry for the series’ future. That said, with a pair (I hope a trio) of strong leads, a plot that has the ability to go practically anywhere, and a solidified fan base, this series can continue on a very positive path for the next few years. And you’ll notice, despite all my negativity, my bullet point quick fire strong and weak points have more good to say than bad. With all that in mind, I give this movie…