STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I’ll preface this post with the same preface I give whenever I talk about Star Wars, especially the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I’m a casual Star Wars fan. By that I mean I’ve seen all the movies, loved the original three, thought the prequels were okay, and I don’t really know more about this franchise than any other that I’ve seen. I prefer to look at the Star Wars movies as just that: movies.

The more Star Wars movies they make, the more important I think it is that the movies stand alone. The first time I saw the original three, those were the only Star Wars movies that existed. With those, you went into it knowing it was a trilogy, so I thought the three should be viewed more as a whole, rather than three individual movies. But now there are three prequels that come before it. And now one sequel that comes after with apparently more to come. So it’s not a trilogy anymore, but an open-ended film series that is closer to the James Bond franchise than something like The Lord of the Rings. So at this point, if any Star Wars movie is unable to stand on its own, I tend to think it’s more of a failure than a success.

Based on that, I would say Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a failure. Every defense I’ve heard of the movie is centered around the idea that it’s a “set up” movie for future Star Wars movies. That would make sense if Star Wars: The Force Awakens was not the seventh goddamn Star Wars movie. But it is, so I thoroughly disagree with that bullshit argument.

But there were many things I didn’t like about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My immediate complaint was from the beginning, I thought it was insanely boring. I fought to stay awake for the entire first hour. It moved so fast that it didn’t let you get a feel for really anything or anyone in that first hour (and it doesn’t get that much better after that). After that, it was the tone I had a huge problem with. It was way too cheeky, way too self-referential. Even aside from the character of Finn (John Boyega), a reformed stormtrooper, the movie seemed to go to great lengths to humanize stormtroopers. It was funny, yes, when two stormtroopers turned away and walked in the other direction to avoid Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)’s hissy fit. But who cares about stormtroopers being funny? Was stormtrooper humor something that was really missing from previous Star Wars movies? That, plus a mind-numbingly high number of Han Solo smirks and things like a thinly-veiled reference to the modern phrase “nigga please,” made me cringe so hard I felt like this movie was an old person’s attempt to attract teenagers – which I’m guessing is exactly what it is.

Another big problem I had: Adam Driver as the son of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Now, do I think all actors who play the son of other actors need to look like each other? No, of course not. But when you have goddamn Harrison fucking Ford say “I know you see him when you look at me,” the “him” at least better be good looking. Instead we got:

Actor Adam Driver attends the Season 2 premiere of the television series "Girls" in New York January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT) - RTR3C9GF

Who is somehow supposed to remind Leia of:

star-wars-han-solo-harrison-ford

Gonna have to call bullshit on that one.

Speaking of, with as little I had invested into the Star Wars universe I still managed to feel betrayed by Ben Solo/Kylo Ren murdering Han Solo. The first time I saw the original trilogy, I was in love with Han Solo and the biggest stressor in all three movies was not knowing if Han Solo was going to live or not. We all made it through that, only for Han to get murdered 2/3 of the way through Star Wars: The Force Awakens? NO THANK YOU.

I had all kinds of other issues with this movie. Like everyone literally saying “Remember the Death Star? Now we have this other thing to deal with, that’s the Death Star but bigger,” and Han Solo suggesting the plan that blew up the original Death Star with “It worked before.” Yes, we know it worked before because we’ve seen the goddamn movie and yet, we get to sit through it again. And R2D2 acting as the absolute definition of a deus ex machina. And Finn being the most happy go-lucky guy after going rogue from a Nazi-like party that stemmed from battlefield trauma. And Leia looking like she got a Brazil facelift.

This is the kind of movie where I don’t think individual opinions even matter at this point. If you want to see it, you should see it and you’re going to see it. If you don’t want to see it, you’re not missing anything.

Christopher

I did not grow up loving Star Wars. My dad watched Star Trek and ever since I was a child that has been my favorite of the two. In high school and college I definitely got into the habit of trying to shit talk Star Wars just because so many people love it. So knowing that, I did not go into Star Wars hoping to relive some vivid childhood memories. However, I was hoping for a good movie. And unfortunately I don’t think I got that.

The issue I have with this movie is how boring it ended up. They briefly touch on so much but we don’t learn about any of it. It is very similar to the older movie but that’s not even what I disliked the most about it. What I really didn’t like it how it ends with no real direction for the next film. At this point it seems like it could go so many directions. Because of this, I really don’t care when the next part of the trilogy comes out. I will watch it, but I did not leave the theater anxious to see any of the characters again

I really wish the film had been focused more on Rey. I wish the whole story line with Kylo Ren had more behind it before the whole catwalk scene. Overall I just felt like the movie was for everyone so it was kind of for no one? If that makes sense. I really hope the next two in the trilogy are good. Either way, I don’t think I have a big interest in seeing The Force Awakens again.

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2 thoughts on “STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

  1. So relieved you guys had this reaction to it. The praise and accolades are just seem to be getting more and more out of control. The early talk, of course, being that it really delivered, and that grew to mutterings of a Best Picture nom, to it being the best movie in the series. I posted a comment on my Twitter and FB feed that “Much as I would never have expected to feel this way, would like to have Pauline Kael back for one day to bring the Force back into something resembling balance.”

    There some fun moments, but the much larger balance of the picture was just poor filmmaking. Even ROTJ was a better movie than this. You guys just scratched the surface — which is plenty for a review — but you pointed out some of its major flaws, from its overly self-referentialness to its too-obvious modern-culture touches, which bad movies (and TV) love to do.

    And from a more basic storytelling perspective, so many characters and choices were weakly sketched and supported. Too much plot movement and character development didn’t make enough sense, and there wasn’t enough in relationships or individual characters that made them compelling or even coherent.

    And from a technical standpoint, I’d been hearing how Abrams understood the whole *physical* effects vs. CGI, but that didn’t pan out either.

    I enjoyed seeing some of the classic ships in action — the Falcon, X-Wings, TIEs. I liked the *look* of the steel Stormtrooper (who, I guess, was supposed to be some kind of important character), and some of the landscapes. I had fitful moments of liking Finn (and Boyega’s performance). There wasn’t actually much I really liked about it, which was not at all what I was expecting. I think they’re better then the prequels, but I don’t think they structurally can compare to the originals. We could entertain maybe a comparison to ROTJ, but by no means the first two.

    Anyway, really relieved to hear you guys didn’t like it. A feel a little less crazy now.

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