With a second viewing finally under my belt I am excited to announce that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be my inaugural film review. I have done my best to keep my child-like fanfare to a minimum but OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE HOW AWESOME THE MILLENNIUM FALCON LOOKED?!
**BEFORE YOU CONTINUE, BE WARNED THAT THERE ARE TONS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!! If you haven’t seen this film by now, what the heck is wrong with you. Keep reading and have it spoiled as punishment!**
When it was first announced that J.J. Abrams would be at the helm of Disney’s first Star Wars film I could not have been happier. The work he did in reviving the Star Trek series gave me hope that my favorite space opera would have everything that I found lacking in the prequels. Ten minutes into the film, I knew that Mr. Abrams had delivered.
While there was some not-undeserved criticism that The Force Awakens was a scene-by-scene remake of A New Hope, I felt that the return to the tried and true exploration of the hero’s journey was exactly what this franchise needed. Lawrence Kasdan – co-writer The Empire Strikes Back – did an excellent job mixing the perfect blend of new characters built upon and beautifully intertwined with the lore and presence of the original characters and story. The casting of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, and Adam Driver (more on Adam later) and their performances elevated an already good script. Add the typical Abrams sci-fi editing to an operatic scope that seems both grandiose and focused at the same time and it is easy to see why this film is shattering every film record known to man.
It was nice to see a return to character development and interest rather than an all-out display of every special effect that can possibly be done now. (Prequels, I’m looking at you here.) That is not to say that the special effects side of the film were not spectacular. If one thing J.J. Abrams has shown is that he knows to to tastefully mix special and practical effects in a manner that is complementary to both character and plot development. Here, again, Abrams has help from Kasdan’s script which, in my opinion, did more for this reboot film than Roberto Orci (see Transformers series) and Alex Krutzman’s (Transformers, Watchmen) script did for the 2009 Star Trek. Overall I would give Star Wars: The Force Awakens 4.5/5 stars.
Now that we have the obligatory semi-serious film commentary and necessary picking on the prequels out of the way. Let’s get more of the fun stuff and take a look at my three best and worst moments from The Force Awakens:
Three Best Moments:
- The Finn/Poe Bromance: One of the more delightful surprises in TFA was how genuinely funny it was at times. Of course we can always count on Han Solo to elbow some sarcastic and curmudgeonly one-liners. But even more special than that was the relationship between the rebel ace fighter jockey and the former stormtrooper. The internet immediately jumped all over this one.
- Han and Kylo on the StarKiller Catwalks: For the first time in nearly a decade Harrison Ford reminded us that he has some serious acting chops. The debate on Adam Driver’s overall performance has been up for debate but nearly all agree that Driver stood toe-to-toe with Ford in this scene’s performance. In the big “shocker” moment when Kylo runs Han through with his lightsaber both characters watch a torrent of emotions play out on each other’s faces. We got disappointment, to betrayal, to resignation from Han and anger, regret, confusion, self-doubt and a subtle touch of fear from Kylo. For me this definitely takes the cake from the most touching scene in the Star Wars series.
- Rey force-grabbing Luke’s lightsaber: In what could possibly be the awakening we get an injured but winning Kylo Ren reaching out with the force to retrieve the lightsaber lying in the snow only to have it shoot past his own hand and into that of the shocked but newly empowered Rey. The best part of this scene was the fact instead of using the main theme for the backing score, Williams and Abrams opted instead for the “Burning Homestead Theme” from A New Hope. (Theorists jump all over this song selection – more on that below!) As the theme swelled into my chest I all but screamed “ATTACK!!!!” as Rey thumbed the familiar blue blade back into humming existence.
Three Worst Moments:
- The StarKiller Base destroying the New Republic (I think?) planets: In what seemed like an incredibly rushed scene, the first display of the StarKiller’s capabilities I found myself utterly confused as to the importance – if any – of the planets that were destroyed. I had to look it up on Wookieepedia to find out that it was the Hosnian System which housed the New Republic’s capital and its main fleet. I cannot imagine that the destruction of the New Republic’s fleet will not be an important component in the upcoming films, so I really wish they had done a better job of explaining that, and the current political climate of the galaxy in general.
- Egregious abuse of the Millennium Falcon: I could almost forgive Rey’s rampant abuse of my favorite ship of all time in the beginning of the film and chalk it up to the fact that she’s never flown a ship like that before. But Han, ol’ buddy, come on! I understand that a landing approach at lightspeed isn’t an easy trick to pull off but don’t belly-flop my baby onto a snowy planet before piledriving it through a hundred acres of forest! Props to the old bucket of bolts for unbelievable surviving and being able to carry Rey and company to safety before StarKiller’s supernova.
- Lack of quality scenes with Captain Phasma: Gwendoline Christie stomping around intimidatingly in freaking chrome stormtrooper armor had me so stoked to see what special kind of badass Captain Phasma was going to be. My utter disappointment of Phasma’s under-utilization was the thing that stuck with me the most leaving the theatre for the first time. I did not want to believe that they would have dangled Phasma out there like a nerdy carrot on a string only to have minor impact in the actual film, but apparently that is exactly what they did. The only saving grace is that IMDb (always to be taken with a grain of salt) says that Phasma must have escaped from StarKiller base before its destruction and will be coming back for Finn with a vengeance! The vengeance part is my own supposition – but so help me god if I’m wrong.
Finally we get to the crux of The Force Awakens and that is largely what is not shown. We are left with only a glimpse of Luke at the very end, more questions about Rey and Finn’s background than we have answers for, a galaxy seemingly once again in political upheaval, a mysterious new villain poised to make a move, and practically no sense of what direction Episode VIII will be taking us in.
I do my best to go into each new film as clean as a newborn baby, but I have compiled a few links on some of the theorizing that is happening out there on the internet. While I have only provided one link per topic, I’m sure you’ll be able to navigate your way to the wormhole that is the interwebs.
- Who are Rey’s parents?
- How did Maz get Luke’s lightsaber?
- Is Finn force-sensitive?
- State of the Galaxy
- Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?
Thanks for joining me for my very first film review on Wanna-Be Writer. Keep an eye out for my first book review on Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens where I desperately searched for the answers to the questions TFA left me with. In the meantime, if you have any movies that you would like me to review, or you would like to offer your own input on this film, this review, or this blog in general be sure to drop a comment below. I love hearing from readers!
May the Force be with you,