Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should run away from this post as fast as you can.
I’m NOT kidding.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: I really, really liked The Force Awakens. Really.
But, boy, do I hate it. The last time I had a reaction like this, it was Million Dollar Baby. That’s a great film, but it pissed me off because it had the audacity to not be a happy feel good story of a scrappy underdog who makes it big.
TFA pulled a similar stunt the moment Han Solo
dies is murdered by his own son. I literally cried out in my seat. It was awful.
But, it was necessary, and for the life of me, I accept that it happened and how it happened because it created an opportunity for the filmmakers to make the next movie great. Like, possibly better than Empire. I know, I know…heresy, but I truly feel they can do it with what was set in motion by J.J. Abrams. Sure, TFA suffers from a few too many coincidences and a breathtaking pace that doesn’t allow you to pause and collect your thoughts beyond the primal. Which, can be fun, but not when you don’t give enough space to mourn the best character in the series(so far).
That is it’s biggest flaw: speed, or, taking narrative shortcuts and assuming that the audience will just “turn off their brain” and ride along or something. J.J. Abrams always seems to be directing these “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” projects. This movie such a big deal and has SOOOOOO much money on the line, that I’m sure the entire process was trying. And he and his team got it 90% of the way to great. Unfortunately, some characters(Captain Phasma) have little, to no impact on this story and I wish there had been someone tell J.J. it’s perfectly o.k. to pay homage to something without rubbing our noses in little easter eggs, pilfering scenes wholesale and making endless callbacks to A New Hope. It was a little distracting. We get it.
So, enough with the “bad” stuff, what’s so great about this story? I’ll tell you what, J.J. Abrams knows how to cast his films and he outdid himself with this. John Boyega is very strong as rogue Storm Trooper, Finn. He had many of the funniest lines. I appreciate that there is actual humor derived from situations in this film instead of manufactured laughs due to bumbling droids. His journey is far from over and his immediate bro-down with Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, while too fast of a friendship in my mind, was still infectious to watch. They’re having a blast and as such, we have a blast watching them.
Daisy Ridley is electrifying as Rey, the orphan scavenger who realizes a small part of her potential in this film. Her training in the Force is imminent and necessary, if she is to fight the Dark Side again. There is no doubt she’s a Solo or Skywalker. The hints all add up to it, but we don’t get the luxury of someone flat out saying it like we do with Kylo Ren.
This guy is the crux of the movie. The strained relationship with his parents has led him down a dark path that seemingly comes to fruition when he strikes down his father. But, you really get a sense of the struggle within him. This is the Anakin we wanted out of the prequels. And his pain is played beautifully by Adam Driver. He is strong but untrained and if he is to be the “big bad” going forward, he’ll need to get some of his grandfather’s ice running though those veins of his. It’s an enigma to have him tortured by the light side. I like it. I think he learned a little bit about where he’s going with his fight with Rey. I can’t wait to see them square off again.
So, all in all, Uncle George was right when he said that fans will like this movie. It may not hit the highs of the original trilogy, but it’s lows are well above the most of the highs of the prequels. I’m glad to be living in a time when we’ll be getting new Star Wars movies every couple years(not to mention all the “A Star Wars Story” films in between.I personally liked it better when it was “Star Wars Anthology,” but whatever. I don’t get paid to name stuff for a billion dollar franchise).
We’re headed to a very interesting Star Wars future.
May the Force be with you.