Directed by: J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek, Super 8, M:I-III)
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill), J.J. Abrams (Armageddon), and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3)
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm CEO)
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Domnhall Gleeson, and Mark Hamill
Plot: Rebel Pilot Poe Dameron is requested to retrieve a piece of map that contains the location to Luke Skywalker, the last remaining Jedi-knight. In his pursuit a rebel storm trooper is swept up and involves a lonely scavenger named ‘Rey’ who battle ‘The First Order’ a vestige of the evil empire.
Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens is the second-best Star Wars film. Had franchise table-setting not been in place it would make for the best picture of the year. It still is one of the best, however since it also hews so close to the original Star Wars (1977) structurally it lends itself to predictability. I can tell you with J.J. Abrams expanding the Star Wars mythos while focusing on the Skywalker legacy he delivers his best film; a wild ride across the galaxy with fun and interesting characters, well-written and placed humour mixed with great special effects.
If there are snafus other than the aforementioned, some of the older actors like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher who have the most difficult task of updating 38 year old characters don’t quite convince, however their mere presence and gameness is enough to make up for it. The new cast is the strongest aspect of the movie with heroes Rey and Finn anchoring the film with nice banter, charisma and character interaction. Oscar Isaac as Poe the rebel fighter pilot opens the film well but gets sidelined after a while and then re-appears out of nowhere due to pacing reasons. It would have been nice to see more of him but what can you do, I’m happy with what I got.
The difficulty of creating the seventh entry in a franchise is finding a new place to go and I found the movie couldn’t help but cheat its own universe logic several times over in order to make a compelling movie, what makes this difficult to review is that I can’t do so without spoiling the film so I’ll try and find other reasons.
I am a casual fan of star wars, but unlike most critics on the internet was introduced to the series alongside the prequel trilogy (1999-2005) rather than the original (1977-1983) so I do have an appreciation for ‘Revenge of the Sith’. As I’ve grown up and understood movies better from a making-of perspective I will say all the reasons J.J. Abrams wasn’t my first choice to direct are validated in this film. He knows his stuff when it comes to filmmaking no doubt and has his own aesthetic that modernizes old star wars, but creatively he doesn’t give us much. It’s all appropriately inspired, pristine and very-well presented but there is nothing new or game changing here. It’s that troubling philosophy of “We’re not worthy!” where those involved are too afraid to mess with the formula so like J.J. does with many of his films is copy rather than take chances. This is what holds us back from the true power of the force. I recognized the third act twist coming and whispered it to my dad beforehand and he wasn’t surprised just as we weren’t when it actually happened. John Williams score for the film is a good example of this. The music is well sorted and placed, very effective but a tad too familiar, how are we supposed to escape and get lost in the magic of cinema if we know exactly where we are going?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a well filmed, well-paced, mostly well acted Sci-Fi tale that reawakens the franchise and places it back on a high shelf trophy case where many fans think it deserves. I for one would still rather love to take the figures out and play with them a little.
What got me to the theatre: