Star Wars: The Force Awakens has finally landed, and I've seen it twice now, so I feel ready to talk about it. Also, it has been out for long enough that it seems more okay to talk spoilers, and I can't really review this film with out them. So be warned, this article contains ALL of the spoilers. Another thing, this isn't a review per-say, because you can find about a million reviews online talking about why this movie is amazing, so I thought I'd bring a little something different to the table and let you know why it really, really isn't a masterpiece by any stretch.
*Spoilers ahead, turn back if you have a bad feeling about them*
I won't lie, the absolutely amazing reception received by this film has kinda ticked me off a little bit, especially when you consider what this film is: a shameless attempt to appease fans of the originals. That's not to say there's nothing more to it (its strength lies in the subtle details and the characters) but watching this is akin to seeing a "Star Wars: Greatest" Hits compilation mixed with a fan film remake of episode IV (that's four for all you who don't get roman numerals). So come with me on this journey where I'll tear down a thing that a lot of people all over the world already love.
If there's one thing that straight up doesn't work about the film, it's the Starkiller base, or to give it its proper title, Death Star 3.0. Yeah, I noticed it's bigger, Poe Dameron, but that doesn't change what it is. Naturally, what we get from this thing is some X-Wings dogfighting TIE fighters, rebel pilots dodging turret blasts, and taking down the shields so that a fighter can fly inside and take the thing out. Hum along if you know the tune. It's especially irritating when you realize that the thing serves no purpose in terms of plot. We've already seen the X-Wings and TIEs fight, and our main characters converge because Rey has been kidnapped anyway, so all it does is pay homage to A New Hope, and by "pay homage" I mean blatantly rip off. I'd bring up how the rest of the plot is all very familiar as well, but it plays out organically enough, and with different enough characters, to get a pass on that front.
However, that isn't to say that all of the main characters are fantastic. The weak link is actually Daisy Ridley's Rey. Don't get me wrong, she's likeable, engaging and Ridley puts in a really solid performance, but I'm just not sure what her character is meant to be overcoming in this film. She seems to be fine with leaving Jakku, but then she says she has to go back, and then she has some crazy vision of some things that happened, and she seems scared of them, but then she seems fine and I just didn't really follow how she developed over the film. There's also the matter of the climactic lightsaber battle.
Look, the prequels had poor characters, and thus the duels felt boring due to the lack of investment. On the other hand, the originals didn't have the most beautiful sword-fights, but the character battles were engaging on an unbelievable level, with the stakes escalating every match-up. This movie... lands on neither side for the most part. The brief scuffle between Kylo Ren and Finn is great, because it's the climax of Finn's journey to shake off the chains of the First Order's grip of fear over him. But everything interesting about Kylo Ren in this film is over by the time he goes up against Finn. Then the duel with Rey just has no real weight to it whatsoever. Like I said, Rey doesn't have much of a cohesive story, and there isn't exactly any beef between her and Ben. Throw into the mix a shaky, rapidly edited fight, along with a lot of snow and trees getting in the way, and what you have is an uninteresting climax both in terms of visuals and character. I'm being harsh here, because our villain is human and tragic, and I'm rooting for our two main characters. But there really isn't anything more to it than that.
I get the feeling that it'll be retroactively interesting once we've seen where the story goes and we find out that Luke is Rey's father (stop and think about it, it's fairly obvious) and we see a rivalry develop between her and Ben. But that doesn't justify it here, and I just ended up bored of it by the end, especially when I look at it and think: "there's no way Daisy Ridley is any good with that lightsaber". She just doesn't look natural when she's using it, especially compared to Finn and Kylo Ren. That's a very minor thing, and I get that the film is trying to sell her as some kind of force prodigy, but it's kinda out of left field and not established all too well.
Look, The Force Awakens is a pretty darn enjoyable film, and it's also fairly well put together in terms of narrative, character and story. But please God just shut up about how it's the second coming of Star Wars. It's basically engineered in a lab to make you feel nostalgic for the originals, and shamelessly panders to fans of that trilogy, who just happen to make up 99% of all the critics out there. So it's good, but I'm significantly more interested to see where Episode VIII goes, considering it will have our trust by then, and can actually tell something a little different. If you liked this article though, please do check out the website it's from over at Fixing Hollywood.