Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Two nights ago I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and after mulling it over, I'm ready to weigh in with my two cents.

The movie gets good almost immediately. It doesn't hurt that hearing the open music score brings me back to being 10 years old and sitting in my Aunt and Uncle's house watching Star Wars on Laser Disc. Nearly everything seems spot on: the characters are great, the banter is top notch and the clever references to the previous episodes are brilliant.

I'm loving the Rey character. When she says I know how to run without you holding my hand, she's not just being quippy, she's showing that the writers have been paying attention. We live in the age of the Self Rescuing Princess, and Rey embodies these principles.

And seeing Han and Chewy together? C'mon, who couldn't be moved by that?

I was even OK with the fact the story arc of the movie seemed a pretty near match to Episode IV, the very first Star Wars movie. After the flop of latest set of movies, who could blame the writers for sticking with what works? Besides, the movie was fun. Why shouldn't we get a modern take on classic scenes like the Star Wars Cantina. Heck, they even dressed Rey like the original Luke:

The visuals are amazing, too. To see the various ships interact with snow, sand and water, is really quite remarkable. The killing was also quite a bit more realistic; I don't recall nearly this much gore in the original set of movies. But I suppose that's just a sign of the times.

But—you had to know there was a but coming—at some point in the movie all this recreating of the original Star Wars movie lost its charm for me. The moment: when we get the big reveal of the final mission. What does our band of rebels have to accomplish? Well, destroy the Death Star. Oh wait, they don't call it a Death Star. They call it, and I'm not making this up, a Star Killer. You're telling me that a 200 *million* dollar budget gets you "Star Killer?" And it gets worse from there: what does our team of rebels need to? Well, only exactly what they did in the first Star Wars movie, down to the need to lower the shields and do a trench attack of the one flaw the Death Star Star Killer designer's seemed to have neglected to address (will these engineers never learn!). And with only one snarky comment from Han Solo, that's exactly how the movie proceeds.

At some point imitation stops being the sincerest form of flattery, and just becomes imitation. I mean, was it laziness that caused the writers to bother coming up with anything unique in some of the most climatic scenes in the movie? Or was just fear that they'd mess it up. Better to go with a tried and true plot line than risk a Jar Jar Binks scenario. I'm not sure, but you can tell, it really bothered me. It just made the movie feel a bit tedious at that point, like they were just going through the motions.

OK, so there's my big criticism. Otherwise the movie was rock solid. And for the younger audience who may have never seen the original Star Wars, the whole Star Killer critique won't even mean anything. It's a fun movie and shows that modern day Star Wars films can be created. The big question is this: can Episode 8 be more than just another clone?


  1. Thanks for the review. I think Lily is feeling the force, so I will be taking her on a date to see it today or tomorrow... The other choice was the Martian (gotta get our space sci Fi on) but this is spouse's pick, plus I would like to read the Martian book first.

  2. I'm trying to hold off on seeing the Martian until I've read the book. Shira read the book and said it's custom made for me, so I'm going to try avoid ruining it with the movie.