Revisitation Review: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (2015)
I will not give in to the Dark Side..........of emotion, that is. I will close my eyes, breathe slowly and deeply, wait for that classic musical score to pipe in ever so gently, & write a critical review of a movie that we waited a literal lifetime for.
There are times when hype can be too big. The buildup is too long and sustained, ya' dig? Star Wars is different things to different people, but it's THE Great American Franchise. Those of you who came up on the prequels (in other words those of you between your mid-teens and mid-twenties) do not understand the significance of Star Wars (unless you had fantastic parents/family/friends). The prequels had their good and bad points, but they were there to fill in backstory and keep us barely satiated until such time as George Lucas pulled his head out of his incredibly rich asshole and pumped out some new shit. We needed to know what happened next, not what happened before.
Lo and behold, the franchise is sold to Disney for a whopping $4 billion and hope is renewed (A New Hope, get it?). You knew you were going to get a serious restart to the franchise- a new trilogy, stand alone movies, cartoons, new toys. You also knew that Disney could fuck this up very badly. Disney is not synonymous with quality action and science fiction, after all.
Luckily, J.J. Abrams took the reigns on the first installment of the new trilogy. I have a lot of respect for J.J. He gave us my personal favorite TV show of all time, "Lost". He breathed new life (and a lot of fun) into "Star Trek". As a producer he has given us the criminally underrated "10 Cloverfield Lane" and "Fringe". He's opened the doors on HBO's newest hit, "Westworld", which I am already thoroughly invested in. In short, I am a fan of J.J. Abrams' work.
So, how did he fare with the new Star Wars entry? On the whole he did very well. The criticism I have is mainly the shit that you have already heard. They drove hard and fast without any real character development on the new kids on the block, which is a shame. The casting is pretty good. I like Daisy Ridley as the mysterious Rey; she's got that "it" factor. John Boyega as Finn is a little lukewarm for me, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. Adam Driver as Ben Solo/Kylo Ren is very raw. I mean that in the best possible way. I like his look of wild temper and inexperience. Sure, Hayden Christiansen as Anakin Skywalker was as dull as drying paste but you can't say that about this unhinged bastard. I've heard him shit on for being "whiny and petulant" like a spoiled kid, but playing off of your darkest and easiest emotions is what the Dark Side of the Force is all about. Quit your bitching.
The biggest gripe is, of course, that they basically made a remake of Episode IV. And that is a legit gripe. A ragtag group of heroes needs to get a droid with valuable info to the Resistance in order to destroy a giant weapon and save the day. Holy shit!! It's the same film!! However, it is smartly made. It plays on the nostalgia of returning characters like Han Solo, Leia, & Chewbacca with aplomb. Well done.
Still, Episode VIII director Rian Johnson (who made a hidden gem in 2012 with Looper) needs to clean up the simplicity of Abrams' film and take advantage of the opportunities that were left on the table. You can't retread the same waters as the original trilogy; it's lazy. Throw us a twist with Supreme Leader Snoke (I PRAY TO GOD IT'S REALLY JAR-JAR). Stop letting untrained idiots like Finn hold their own in a lightsaber duel with a wild, young badass like Kylo Ren....that was a mistake. Some of the plotting elements will have to get better for this next installment.
The Force Awakens is (I'm hoping) merely the setup film for this trilogy and one that we look back at and say "yeah, but you had to have __________ to setup ____________". It's a gorgeous film in terms of the look and the score, don't get me wrong. It looks fucking amazing, but that is not enough nowadays. Hollywood tech in this day and age allows you to polish a turd, but we (as fans) are still going to swallow that turd and realize it tastes like shit. I'm gonna call this Strike One by way of foul ball down the right field line. They made solid contact, but it was way behind a serious heater. I give it a 5/10.
I started off talking about staying away from the Dark Side of emotion earlier because Star Wars is ridiculously important to millions and millions of people. It's as much a part of American culture as football and fake boobs. You have to ultimately get that right or you won't just piss people off.
You'll find them at your front doorstep blasting the shit out of you with some hate-baby Force lightning because the Dark Side of the Force will be strong in all of us if you fuck it up twice. The retaliation against that bitch from Frozen will be epic. No pressure, Disney.