Friday, July 1, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The top grossing film of 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  It's probably fitting that I would start this blog at a point when this would be the first movie on the list.  For those that don't know, Star Wars is a very large portion of my life.  I've tried to go beyond being a total Fanboy about anything, but Star Wars is the hardest one for me to crack.  From LEGO Sets to games, from books to comics, and from TV Shows to the original movies I've probably forgotten more about Star Wars than your average person ever knew in the first place.  But with that piece of background in place, lets get on with a review.  And in case this won't be obvious, spoilers ahead.

Set 30 years after the events in Return of the Jedi we come to a world that is both new and familiar.  With a cast of new young faces being the lead characters, and yet the old characters get the top billing.  We're introduced to places and things that look so familiar but have new names, then we're introduced to old names that have new appearances.  This dichotomy is both what made this movie such a success, but at the same time kept it from being the pinnacle of what it could be.  Yes despite my love of all things Star Wars and the fact that I saw this 4 times in theaters and several more in home release, I don't find this movie perfect.

There are elements that are perfect, but there are enough annoyances to keep the whole from being so.  There are several explanations for the negatives out in the continued lore, but I'll try to keep my opinions to the movie itself.

Another quick aside about me.  When you watch enough movies you understand structure that most movies must follow.  This leads to things that most people would consider minor spoilers to be much more revealing when you can more easily piece together small pieces into the whole.  This lead me to several years ago to stop watching trailers.  I extended that much further for the release of The Force Awakens, actively avoiding any information possible in the hopes of being truly surprised at the content of the movie.  To that I succeeded, possibly to my detriment on my biggest complaint of the movie.

Starkiller Base.  I had no concept of it's existence going into the film on opening night.  So beyond a general disappointment at a rehash of yet another "Death Star", it's reveal almost took me out of the movie in disappointment.  But I sat back for a second and said to myself that the story had still been good to this point, and I focused back and continued to enjoy myself.  It's still a sticking point for me, but it only brings it down a bit.

I could go on to nitpick small things, like the occasional call back that goes on too long, but these are just beats in the story and not a detriment to the whole.  We were introduced to a host of interesting and nuanced characters, and we said good bye to a old friend or two.  We went for a thrill ride that many people had been waiting many years for, and we're well set for many adventures to come.

Final score: 9/10


  1. This movie, and a few others like it, changed how I "review" movies a little bit. I used to try to judge against a mythical perfect movie. Trying to find all the little wrong bits. And of course, compliment and rate all the little right bits.

    This movie chrystalized a feeling like I've had for a long time. And now, instead of trying to pick movies apart and have a judgement of good/bad right/wrong with every little bit, I'm much more concerned with how much I enjoyed the movie as a whole, how I felt walking out the door, how memorable was the movie, and would I watch it again when it is available for viewing in my home.

    If I was "Critical" I'd be all over TFA for lots of clunkiness and some poorly constructed scenes and plotting. Or how the story is all setup and no payoff. But the reality is I enjoyed the movie, its energy, its actors, the visuals, and I want to see more of this Universe and its characters.

    And something I didn't realize until now. I like how it even treats conflict/war in the same vein as the originals. It is adventure, there will be fights, but it is still deadly, serious and some of it is downright horrific. It doesnt' dwell on this, as the original did not, but it is present in all of the movies, making the end of ROTJ have its punch.

    1. All true, and hopefully I haven't picked it apart and dug for flaws. I think everything I brought up was actual feelings at the time of my initial watch. I don't try to do this in general. I tend to come out of movies enjoying them more than the average review I read/see/hear. Not that I don't enjoy those reviews, but I realise tht they are viewing things on a "professional" level, where I'm normally trying to go to them with enjoyment in mind.

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