I haven't done a movie review in a while, but how could I pass up Star Wars? Let me say up front that this is a SPOILER-FREE review. I don't know if I could live with myself if I told you that everyone died in the first 10 minutes, and the following 2 hours was an introspective soliloquy by Jar-Jar Binks.
First and foremost, this film should be praised for doing something that has proved apparently difficult to do--making Star Wars fun. Looking back at the prequels, the only crutch they really had were the lightsaber duels. Whenever someone argues that the prequels weren't all bad, they usually say something like "At least the Darth Maul fight scene was cool," or "Hey, that Anakin vs. Obi-Wan lightsaber match was pretty sick, yo." The Force Awakens would be an amazing Star Wars movie even if it didn't feature lightsabers. George Lucas didn't pick up on the fact that people love Star Wars because of the characters, and their interesting arcs. He tried to bank on colorful flashing lights, and we ended up with 3 movies that didn't really accomplish anything.
J. J. Abrams introduced our new cast of heroes, and it couldn't be more satisfying. Oscar Isaac takes the role of Poe Dameron, the wise cracking pilot of The Resistance. John Boyega plays Finn, a Stormtrooper with an internal struggle about being apart of The First Order. And last, but certainly not least, Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a frustrated young woman that is torn between her past and her destiny. Memorize these names, because soon enough these young actors will be household names. The chemistry between these people was remarkable. I was cheering for them, and fearing for their lives. One would have to be nearly heartless to not fall in love with these characters.
However, the heroes didn't hog all of the limelight. Adam Driver dominated the story as Kylo Ren. His arc is one of the more interesting in this film, and he gave a lot of depth to a character that is behind a mask for a large portion of the film.
It's 2015. I'm not sure if it's even a necessity to explain how awesome this movie looks. In short, this film is mesmerizing. The CGI is virtually flawless, and the practical effects are convincing and much welcomed back to the production of these films. The only match visually to this film would probably be Mad Max: Fury Road, but none of that takes place in space, so it's really a different animal.
I could praise this film for hours. I could talk about how the humor felt very natural, and was well implemented, or about how this is the return to form for Star Wars movies. But with a film like this, that's the easy way out. The pros of this movie are so huge that it has earned a 9.3/10 in my book. But it isn't perfect.
In one sense, it is great that Abrams is drawing more inspiration from the original trilogy than anywhere else. But perhaps he drew a little too much from there? The Force Awakens feels an awful lot like our new cast following in the footsteps of the old cast in A New Hope. This isn't a spoiler really, but if you absolutely can't bare to read any information about this new movie, click away friend. One of the main goals of this film is to destroy a death star-esque weapon. Abrams made it work, and this experience was still an awesome one, but we need more ambition when it comes to these films. It never stepped out of it's comfort zone. In the next few films, they need to kick their creativity into gear and come up with a new gimmick, or some new angle to come at, otherwise they're going to lose the faith we all have in this new team of filmmakers.
This next bit may not even be any of the filmmaker's faults, but somebody definitely messed up. I bought my share of Star Wars merchandise, and one character I was ready to hop on board with was Captain Phasma. She had an awesome costume, and I was totally ready to see what badassery she had in store for me. Unfortunately, she really didn't do anything. Her role was either cut, or the merchandising team thought she looked cool enough that they should slap her on every poster they made. It's frustrating to now say I own the toy of one of the smallest roles of this film.
Another issue I had was with the structure of the story. It seemed that they didn't spend enough time wrapping up the ending. The third act of the movie focuses it's purpose on one goal, and kind of sidelines what the major motivation for the entire conflict of the movie is. It's a little difficult to talk about without spoiling anything, but after you see the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about. The last 5 minutes seem like the filmmakers rushed to get to the climax, leaving it's audience slightly less than satisfied.
All in all, going to the cinema was a magical experience. The crowd cheered all throughout the movie, and I had a smile plastered to my face for almost the entire duration. I had a couple issues structurally with the film, and I hope in the future that Star Wars dares to dream a little bigger and create something nobody was expecting, but everyone loves. Thank you for reading, and may the force be with you my friends.