For the past few years I have had the privilege of seeing some kick ass movies right before or right after christmas. For the last two years it was the Hobbit movies but this year marked the return of my all time favorite franchise Star Wars with episode VII the Force Awakens. Now I have to admit being such a huge fans of the Star Wars series and the Expanded Universe books I went into this movie with a lot of trepidation as to what Disney and JJ Abrams were going to end up doing to this beloved franchise. In some ways I needn’t have worried as much as I did and in some ways it seems I was entirely justified in my fears as well so I ended up coming out of this movie just as conflicted as I went into it. This is one of the few times I want to say that I wish I did not love Star Wars as much as I do because if I didn’t know Star Wars at all then I would most likely give this movie a 4 and a half out of 5 star rating. HOWEVER….
My biggest complaint in this movie is that of the main characters we really don’t know a damned thing after over two hours of watching their story! We know the one guy is a black stormtrooper that was taken and trained as a kid and that he wusses out when it comes to taking lives but by the end of the movie that’s all we know about Finn. Then we find Rey and we know she lives on a Tatooine like planet and that she is waiting for her family and she scrounges junk for a living and she has a link to the force somehow and that’s that. We Find out who Kylo Ren is but not why he is what he is. We see Captain Phasma who could be cool as a female leading storm troopers but you never see her face and she has a whole 3 minutes air time if that. General Hux is there kinda in a Moff Tarken like role but he seems pitted against Kylo in many ways. Does he not get along with Kylo? Does he not trust the force? I mean really what’s up with him? Poe Dameron is in the movie and looks like he may have a huge part to play but honestly any hotshot with an x-wing could have sufficed in the part. There are just no distinguishing factors and traits to set these guys apart from any other normal character in the movie.
In many ways I think Abrams made a mistake by paying homage to the other movies too much. In many ways to me it felt like a repeat of the original trilogy. I mean let’s see You have a hero basically stranded for some reason by family on a desert planet (Luke to help his family and Rey waiting for hers). You have a guy who’s just too small to be a Stormtrooper (Luke and Finn). You have a girl who needs to be rescued by Han Solo in some way (Leia and Rey) You have a garbage compactor (seen in New Hope, mentioned in this one). You have an Ice Planet (Hoth in Empire Strikes Back and then some of the scenes in this one are in a cold unyielding place). You have trench runs on super weapons (New Hope and Force Awakens). Speaking of trench runs you have the Falcon sliding through very cramped spaces with other fighters after it (Return of the Jedi in the Death Star and in the exhaust of a star destroyer on Jakku). You have a group who lives off of scavenging (the Jawa’s in New Hope and basically everyone on Jakku that you see). You have shock family ties revealed (nope not going to tell you…you guess who is related to who). You have Jedi going into hermitage (Luke is hiding out just like Obi-Wan and Yoda did before him). You have a surprise twist death scene (reminiscent of the Spock/Kirk trade from Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness and no I’m not telling you who). There are also Cantina scenes, Podracers and many more things like this I could point out but I don’t want to get too redundant…we’ll save that for a later blog.
The Film itself was very lovely but in some ways I think this was a huge downside to the film as well. There was a certain filming style used in the original movies that made them as good as they were and gave them a certain feel. When Lucas did the prequel movies even though he had all digital equipment and green screen tech and a lot of other things he didn’t have originally it still FELT like Star Wars. This film did not feel like Star Wars to me..it was too crisp and bright in its HD filming. It felt more like some new Starship Troopers or just some brand new space opera but not Star Wars. The only real way it felt like Star Wars to me is the fact that a lot of equipment hasn’t changed much in 30 years for them…the X-wings look similar to what they always did…the Tie-Fighters got a paint job but the tech itself not too much better than it was (except for some of the new Stormtrooper gear which was awesome!). So why all the time and effort to redesign the tech if there were no real reasons for doing so? If they spent the time designing new armor and ships and weapons then why not just put in a little more time and effort and actually make something new for us to enjoy? It just does not make sense how much seems to have been left hanging with this movie.
All in all this film was pretty, it was entertaining and I’m glad I went to watch it…but so far to me it was one of the weaker showings for Star Wars. For me I already knew what happened 30 years later when Jacen goes to the darkside and Jaina has to hunt him down in the EU and so far that story was infinitely better than the one we ended up with this year
I have to give this film a 3 out of 5 simply because it was enjoyable and could have been brilliant if it had been the first film in it’s own franchise…but as part of the bigger Star Wars universe it just failed to meet expectations.
Have you seen the movie yet? What are your thoughts? And remember, please give spoiler warnings for your comments as some of our readers might not have seen this movie yet!