Return to the Basics
By all accounts The Force Awakens has the making of the beginning of another beautiful trilogy. J.J. Abrams masterpiece is not only a hit with the critics but with die-hard Star Wars fans as well. I must admit that I pity Abrams as the task of creating an awe inspiring return to the originals was never going to live up to expectations. Even if it was one of the most memorable movies of this generation many fans would still clamor that it didn't live up to expectations. As the last scene faded and the end credits began to roll, I too found myself doing just that. Nitpicking everything I hated to an obsessive degree, while ignoring what made it fun and entertaining. I suppose many Star Wars fans do the same thing if they will admit it to themselves. After all, if this wasn't a Star Wars movie I would have left the theater believing that my price for admission was well worth it but we are not just talking about any other movie. We are talking about Star Wars Episode VII. So did it live up to expectations?
Let me start off by saying that after seeing the trailers I was on the fence about John Boyega's character Finn but after watching the movie I have to say that Finn was the role he was meant to play. He was the perfect combination of funny and heroic, something that you want from a main character. In fact, I would go so far as to say he would be this trilogy's version of Han Solo if not for Han Solo being in the movie. If not for his strong performance this movie would have been a bust. That is just how fantastic he was.
Speaking of Han Solo, Harrison Ford picked up where he left off as one of the more memorable and entertaining Star Wars characters. The magic he showed in the originals was not lost with age as his wit and charm will inspire a younger following who may not have watched the classic Star Wars films. With this movie being centered around more unknown characters it was nice to see a familiar face in the old smuggler. Sadly, too many of his lines were centered around giving hints about the main plot secret which was evident without him even having to say a word.
Adam Driver who played Kylo Ren also had a few moments that made me go wow maybe he has potential but almost as soon as the thought crossed my mind he began to throw a tantrum like Hayden Christensen's Vader and I soon retracted everything good I had previously thought about him. However, I do believe that there is a good possibility that Kylo Ren will grow on me as his character evolves into a main antagonist in the upcoming movies.
Visually the movie is stunning and will not disappoint. The actions scenes were captivating and left me wanting more. Some of the more memorable moments involving the Millennium Falcon left me feeling as though I had just got off a roller coaster as my eyes had to adjust from all the twists and turns. The light saber fights while entertaining could use some work as I wasn't totally impressed by the choreography of some of the scenes.
The entire movie is basically just a rehash of the original movies. Not to say that, that is a bad thing but to say The Force Awakens was original in any way would be almost laughable after watching the entirety of the movie. Ten minutes in and I pretty much knew the entire plot as they gave hints in almost every scene.
I could almost forgive Abrams for copying the plot of some of the most memorable movies of all time but if you are going to be unoriginal you at least have to present the audience with the same likable characters as the original. This is where Daisy Ridley really let me down. Her performance was lackluster to say the least and at times, I almost forgot that she was there. Her scenes with Finn just felt forced as she had just met him but had already grown this strong bond that really wasn't justified in any way. I won't give away spoilers but the last scene of the movie that involves her was just awkward as she just had this blank stare that just made a scene that I had been anxiously anticipating the whole movie just feel wrong and out of place.
Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia was by far the dullest character of them all. Her performance was just horrendous. There just isn't a word in the English language that could describe just how awful she was. As great as Harrison Ford was in this movie even he couldn't save the scenes between him and Fisher. She reminded me of someone who just wandered into the movie rather than someone who was supposed to be one of the more memorable characters of the franchise. She showed no believable emotion whatsoever and each scene she was in couldn't be over fast enough. The very fact that there is a chance she will be in the eighth installment of this franchise kills any anticipation I have for seeing it.
One thing that kept standing out to me was all the less than subtle hints of information about what had transpired after Palpatine's death but none of the hints were ever expounded upon. It left me wondering why they even bothered bringing some things up in the first place if no further information was going to be given. The vagueness didn't leave me wondering, instead it left me confused and slightly irritated.
Last but not least, I couldn't help but feel that Kylo Ren was given the Darth Maul treatment. His backstory was never explained and his powers were never fully tested. Where one was supposed to see a tortured misguided soul, instead, all one could see was an interesting character who never lived up to his potential. This was in no way Adam Driver's fault as his performance was adequate but, instead the fault was squarely upon the writers and director who never let his character flourish in what few scenes he had.
The Force Awakens was not bad but it wasn't particularly great either. I know I am probably in the minority when I say this but there was nothing in this movie that left me wanting more. If it was slightly more original, then I might have a different opinion of it but the story just wasn't fulfilling as I had already seen the same premise before. Cartoon Network's The Clone Wars and Disney's Star Wars Rebels has more entertaining plots than what I saw in the theater tonight and that is a real shame. I suppose what summed up my feeling about The Force Awakens the best was as we were returning home my pregnant wife asked if I was disappointed that my unborn son didn't get to see the movie with us. I paused for a second only to respond by saying that I was actually rather relieved as if that was his first Star Wars experience I doubt he would love Star Wars as much as I do.