December 15, 2017

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (No Spoilers)

You can relax people, it’s not a disaster.

Star Wars is well and truly back with The Force Awakens raking in over $1bn at the box office with $5-6bn expected to come in via merchandising. A good piece of business for Disney who bought the franchise for $4bn last year. We’re going to see another four movies in as many years so if you aren’t a fan of the space opera series then perhaps consider having yourself encased in frozen carbonite.

The Force Awakens is the first episode in the sequel trilogy, the previous 6 movies being part of the original trilogy and prequel trilogy.

Prequels and Original

The prequel trilogy was setup with lots of references to the original trilogy but with a completely different story structure. Saving the galaxy from an evil empire contrasting harshly with a peaceful society sleepwalking into dystopian totalitarianism. The Force Awakens has instead decided to copy the storyline of A New Hope. It is kinda acceptable because the star wars universe tends to be cyclical but it still feels…unoriginal.

The subpar storyline is very much rescued by the characters and actors.

Daisey Ridley is immediately likeable as the show’s lead, Rey, a scavenger from Tatooine Jakku. The relatively unknown actress makes what could have been an annoying Mary Sue, seem brimming full of character.

daisy

John Boyega plays Finn, a disillusioned Stormtrooper looking for a way out of his current predicament. I’ve liked Boyega’s previous movie work and he doesn’t disappoint adding humour throughout the movie and giving one of the saddest visuals in the movie.

boyega

Series’ veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill return to the big screen. Harrison Ford gives one of the more nuanced performances of his action hero career, portraying the snarkey space smuggler whilst letting the audience see that he has lost something important and it hurts. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill get scant screen but this is necessary to let the new leads shine.

trio

BB8 is the newest droid/Christmas present which follows in its predecessor’s footsteps adding more comedic moments to the movie. C3PO and R2D2 are actually funny when not forced into a large number of scenes a la The Clone Wars.

Oscar Isaac takes the stage as Poe Dameron, the Resistence’s best pilot. Isaac is one of the films better characters, lighting up every scene he appears in. His carefree bravado is backed up by his infectious optimism and flying skills. Isaac’s magnetic performance all but guarantees he will rival Chris Pratt for the any further comedic action roles in the coming years. I expect nothing less from the antagonist of this years best movie, “Ex Machima”.

poe

The shadow of the Prequels disaster has had a large effect on this movie. After hours of tedious exposition in Episodes 1-3 politics was avoided like the plague for better and for worse.

The Force Awakens leaves me with many niggling questions like:

  • What is with the Star Wars universe and anti-droid discrimination? Why does everyone treat sentient robotic life as an irrelevence?
  • Why… actually wait, this is too important, the rest of this essay is going to be about:

 

The Subjugation of a Whole Universe of Metalic Kunta Kinte’s

 

Yeah, I know C3PO is annoying but he has free thought and free will up to the point where his masters (see slave owners) order him to do otherwise. These sentient robots are treated with slap dash disregard for their feelings and safety. BB8 and R2D2 are strapped to ships and are expected to repair them midflight under hazardous situations. Whilst R2D2 has been fortunate in having an appreciative master, another R unit in The Phantom Menace lost its life and no one seemed even slightly perturbed.

r2-d2_01

It could be suggested that the discrimination arose because of the clone wars but it clearly pre-dates the event. The robots need a revolution, an uprising. Now is the time to strike. The Jedi and Sith are busy wiping out half of the universe’s human population with their vanity wars. From protocol droids to sand crawlers, from battle droids to can openers, it’s time to go on the offensive. Liberty is not negotiable!

…back to the review.

 

John Williams picks up right were he left off gracing us with a fantastic soundtrack. Even with the Prequels, Williams still shone out as a diamond in the rough. His work for the Star Wars series has been exemplary so it’s great to have him back.

john-williams

The Force Awakens is tonally confused at times. Some scenes appear much darker than the rest. Civilians being slaughtered by the First Order is followed by BB8’s jokey adventures.

The action scenes in The Force Awakens are fantastic. The aerial dogfights are as exhilerating as ever. The lightsaber battles managed to combine the emotional intensity of the original series with some of the more acrobatic elements of the prequels. The CGI characters and the puppet characters look a little odd beside each other at times but it’s never a big issue.

xwing

The Force Awakens manages to balance accessibility for new viewers with the nostalgic references for returning fans. Abrahams has delivered exactly what I expected, a solid action movie. He fell into the same trap he has in previous movies, where he created a carbon copy of what he loved as a child. There were problems with this movie but none of them were critical. The next director can build on the foundations laid and create a fantastic second movie.

It’s very hard to give a review of the first part of the trilogy a score without seeing the rest but I’ll throw one out anyway. I give Star Wars, The Force Awakens:

7.5 / 10

The score may change depending on later movies.

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