Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a 2015 fantasy science fiction film directed by J. J. Abrams and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Harrison Ford. It is quite a good, but very flawed movie.

The story itself is problematic because it is obviously incredibly derivative and quite unoriginal in many respects. This film wants so hard to be an homage to the original movies, but in the process ends up being a rip-off instead. There are many plot points here that are directly taken from ‘A New Hope‘, from the protagonist’s journey that is literally the same to that of Luke Skywalker’s to the family drama to some sequences that directly copy the original with the most obvious one being the confrontation between Han Solo and Kylo Ren.

However, the plot still has its strengths and there are many good things to be had here. First of all, it is admittedly very entertaining and an engaging, even charming experience. The second half had so many problems, but the first is really good with many superb moments. I liked the beginning, the character interactions and the ending, although disappointing to the rest, still has some cool action scenes and is well wrapped up and a great start for this new trilogy. And the final scene is well realized and quite intriguing, making you excited for the next chapter.

The character development is mostly quite good here and even stupendous for some characters. Rey is such a strong female character that is sympathetic and you root for her, but she still possesses those same annoying qualities that almost every protagonist has in these big blockbusters –  she is overly strong, she does not make any mistake, she becomes very powerful near the end, her backstory is typical and she is just not such a well written character compared to the rest here. Yes, she is strong, but still unrealistically so and sometimes the approach with her character was aggressively feminist and that frustrated me.

But Finn is absolutely great and one of the best characters here. He is very likable, realistic and has such a great sense of humor and is very funny at times. He is a great new character who was unfortunately quite underused in the end product. I was never a fan of Han Solo, but I liked how they dealt with his character here and he has some really good moments. Leia is also very well handled and the two share a couple of truly great moments. Now, Kylo Ren I thought is a rip-off of Darth Vader at first, but I realized later on that that was the point and that he wants to be the next Vader which means that this development is quite intriguing. His character was so menacing in the first half and had such a great presence, but once he removed his mask, he lost some of that momentum and the family drama with him is a bit annoying, but more on that later. Poe Dameron is not as present, but is a pretty good inclusion and the relationship between him and Finn is really well established. That is one of the best things about The Force Awakens – every character interaction and every relationship is very well handled and the actors share a great chemistry together.

Maz Kanata is an intriguing character and Snoke is okay, but I disliked the use of robots. Yes, BB-8 is cute, but aggressively so and I always felt that these robots in the Star Wars movies are just a ploy to sell toys and are just there to appeal to women and especially children. The story never has as much need for them as it should and they are just there for the cutesy factor. The same goes for Chewbacca whose appeal I never understood whatsoever. These characters were always too childish too begin with and I myself am not a fan of them.

The acting is quite good and, as I said before, the chemistry is noticeable. Adam Driver is fine, but Daisy Ridley and John Boyega steal the show and they are so great together. Harrison Ford did a good job in one of his most iconic roles, but Carrie Fisher wasn’t as good. And Oscar Isaac did such a good job and this was his most likable role yet.

I did like the action sequences in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The flight scenes did annoy me as they were overlong, but the lighsaber fights were so well utilized. The force elements were contrived, but still had momentum as some scenes were quite memorable. The score is quite good and sometimes very moving. The film is also visually terrific with such good special effects and great imagery. The cinematography is superb, but the scenery is so memorable and I liked the aerial as well as the sand and snow scenes. The film is quite visually appealing. The film also has a solid running time and the pacing is mostly really good as most of the scenes are not rushed and the film movies at a brisk, but engaging pace. It is predictable at times, but still has its surprising moments. Also, the film is emotional and although too much family drama is in there, the emotion is still mostly realistic and never too emphasized or maudlin. But I did find the family drama annoying as it was only a proof of how Star Wars is shrinking instead of expanding the universe. And on that note, I expected more of an epic feel to it, but it never explored other planets and just stayed on a couple of locations.

However, the world building is still quite good as I liked the use of those locations quite a bit and all were memorable and well utilized. The dialogue is also solid and the humor is very good with a couple of really funny lines. This is the probably the most light-hearted and humorous entry yet and that is not a bad thing as it worked in its favor and lead to a more charming and likable movie. The tone is well handled overall, but the directing is weak from Abrams as he never introduces anything particularly new or unique here. The film relies too much on the established SW formula which is a choice done for better and for worse as it will satisfy fans, but others will find its derivative nature too problematic. But I liked the newly introduced characters overall and the film tied everything up with the previous installments rather well. This is better than the prequels, but I would say that all three of the original movies are better overall.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens transcends its derivative nature, an overly childish approach and some annoying characters with mostly likable characters, a charming feel to it, great relationships and interactions between the characters, excellent visuals and some excellent and quite memorable scenes. It is a very flawed movie, but as blockbusters go, it is pretty good and even stupendous in some respects.

My Rating – 4

Posted in 2010s, 2015, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Science Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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