Rating: 4.5 out of 5
How does one properly review Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Better question, how does one review a new Star Wars film without any sort of bias? Luckily, my method of reviewing has nothing to do with middle-of-the-road, uninfluenced dribble. I am simply here to tell you what I recommend you watch and what I recommend you avoid like a date night with Bill Cosby. Put plainly, I highly recommend Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The story takes place three decades after Return of the Jedi and follows a new threat, The First Order, as it attempts to rule the galaxy.
Disclaimer: If you are not a fan of the Star Wars franchise, you will probably not enjoy this movie. In fact, you are probably the type of person that enjoys terrorism, Adam Sandler, and huffing squirrel farts. You are definitely not the type of person that has any appreciation or respect for science fiction royalty, and you were probably picked as “Most Likely To Pee On Old People” in middle school. You probably only watch three hour black and white movies where the main characters stare into each other’s nostrils and name various types of flowers as a way of showing the inhumane treatment of diamond workers in Africa. All in all, you are probably a living turd.
With that said, I fucking loved the new Star Wars movie. It had everything you would hope for in the continuation of the franchise, and I feel it will help fans forget about some of the wounds caused by the last three movies. (Side note: I actually like the last three movies besides the horrendous acting of Hayden Christensen). While watching The Force Awakens, I was very happy. Giddy almost, and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here.
The movie features fantastic action and battle sequences that take full advantage of the technology that filmmakers have at their disposal these days. The most important part of this was that it was done tastefully. It never looked like I was watching a sub-par video game, even when I was looking at bizarre alien creatures or intense fight scenes. Special effects are done poorly so often, I really appreciate when they are done well.
Let me focus on the creatures for a moment. The Star Wars franchise has always been known for its extremely creative, often humorous side characters. These characters always give the movies a greater likability and a more immersive experience. They are some of the most memorable characters (Cantina Band) and they bring the movies to a completely different level. This was just as present in The Force Awakens. Some of the strange creatures were so fascinating; I would have enjoyed watching an entire movie about them. It is one of those things that are so well done, you wish you could spend a lifetime exploring the universe further.
What can I say about the story and its characters? It was all wonderful. We reunited with old friends and met new icons that will live on for generations as the old ones have. The acting was great and the dialogue was littered with funny jokes and one-liners that always make for a splendid action movie experience these days. Daisy Ridley was a strong, refreshing female lead that kicked butt and will surely be the focal point of the coming movies. Oscar Isaac was entertaining as always, and I am glad he is getting high profile roles like this. He is a great actor. John Boyega did a great job of mixing humor with likability and made his character one that will shine throughout the films. Oh, yeah…he’s black. I forgot how that matters…
On the EEEEEEEVILLLL side, Domhnall Gleeson was terrific as the Hitler-esque General Hux, and Adam Driver used his engaging voice to make Kylo Ren a sinister force for the Dark Side. I would applaud everyone, but I’m typing.
Now that I’ve spent some time vomiting love onto the screen, I will address a couple things that I did not enjoy as much in this film (notice I said “as much”). Look, I love seeing the old beloved characters show up as much as anyone. It is like visiting old friends. However, it has become a trend in these sorts of movies where there is too much focus on their appearance and the clichés of their characters. It is never enough that they are in the movie. They have to have huge, overly-dramatic entrances so the entire theater can cheer, and they have to fill us to the brim with catch phrases and references to the old movies that we love. It’s great and everything…it just feels a little overboard at times. It makes me wonder how these moments will stand up to the test of time when children can simply watch all of the movies in one sitting instead of waiting decades to see these characters again.
Also, and this is just a personal preference, I want my Dark Side characters to be EVIL. I mean excessively evil. I had a problem with the bitchiness of Anakin (even though he did evil things, he was a bitch about it), and I have a similar problem with Kylo Ren. I thought his character was better, and the acting of Adam Driver was great, but his character just did not feel sinister enough to me. My hope is that the character is simply not fully devolved and will make me proud in the end, but only time will tell.
Finally, (I don’t want to spoil anything), but a certain character in the movie is way too advanced for not having any training whatsoever. Kylo Ren, highly trained in the Dark Side, should simply run through anyone who does not have the training that he does. I did not appreciate this little thing.
Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of my favorite films of the year. I admit that this is due in great part to my love for Star Wars as a franchise, but it is a fact nonetheless. It stands tall with the best of the series and makes up for some of the downfalls of the last few movies. There is action, humor, interesting characters, and a good story. It is great for die-hard fans as well as newcomers. I give it four and a half out of five.