Written By: Mike Agostinelli
I’ll admit it: I really don’t get the obsession with Star Wars. When I was a kid I enjoyed it. You could even say I immersed myself in it for a long time, especially when the Special Editions and the prequels were rolling out. But the fact of the matter is simply this: most of these movies are not particularly good. They scratch that nostalgia itch more than the quality movie itch. So I went into Episode 7 with no real expectations, just simply looking for some blockbuster entertainment. Does it deliver? Yes. And no. And maybe so.
At this point I usually go into some sort of a plot synopsis, but since you people seem to be particularly sensitive to spoilers when it comes to this movie, I will refrain from that. What I will say is there isn’t even much of a plot to begin with. Its more of a “we need to get this item, and so do the bad guys, so lets run from place to place and desperately try to get it while running into characters from the earlier films” kind of movie. Sure, there are interesting connections between characters and emotional twists and turns, but none of it equates to anything other than a video game-type layout. Director JJ Abrams tends to do that with his plots, favoring an abundance of mystery and the search for some type of object as his central story hooks as opposed to letting events unfold in a more tempered manner. Sometimes it works (Mission:Impossible 3), and other times not so much (Lost). Here I can’t say that it totally does. What he does have going for him is a frenetic pace and a host of new fresh faces.
These new characters are the films secret weapon, lead by Daisy Ridley as the mysterious Rey. She’s a strong center to hang the movie on, providing a relatable and interesting female character in a franchise which really hasn’t treated women all that well. John Boyega is also enjoyable as Finn, a runaway storm trooper who is having second thoughts about his profession. He tends to scream a lot and yell 90% of his lines, but you can tell he is loving every second of being in this movie. Oscar Isaac is my personal favorite as Poe Dameron, a hotshot Rebel pilot. His charm and badassery elevates what is a thinly drawn role. The only real new character who provides an issue is the films villain Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver. While incredibly imposing and sinister in his mask, once it comes off we are met with an awkward and whiney little hipster douche who loses all of his cred instantly. Why build your villain up only to tear him down? I was expecting a scar or some type of makeup, not a dude who I can run into on the street.
Our old characters are…well, our old characters. Harrison Ford is his usual magnetic self as Han Solo and Mark Hamill kills as Luke Skywalker in his brief appearence. When Carrie Fisher pops in as General Leia (formerly Princess Leia) things get a bit weird though. Her face has clearly been given a CGI sheen to gloss over here trailer trash looks (sorry but it’s true), and her voice sounds like that of a Dennys waitress at 2am. To say it took me out of the movie would be an understatement. We even get forced-in appearances from old droids and alien characters as fan service. To someone like me, it makes you wish for more fresh stuff. And the layout of this film is anything but fresh. It feels too much like Episode 4: A New Hope. There’s a new Death Star type weapon, way too much time spent on a barren desert landscape, and a third act which is nearly identical to that original film. The whole thing reeks a bit too much of a Star Wars Greatest Hits collection. Even the score from John Williams sounds too much like all the other ones.
All this being said, it’s new Star Wars. This is something I was fairly certain we would never see. And it has moments of sheer wonder and brilliance. If I were 11 seeing this for the first time my reaction would likely be much different. But unfortunately, I’m a jaded 28 year old man who has seen way too many movies for his own good. And while there were stretches of this movie where I was rooted to my seat, there were also stretches where I was shifting in my seat, dangerously hinging on being bored. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. But I’ll take a mixed bag Star Wars movie over another Hunger Games or Divergent movie anyday. So I say keep it up. And give me something a bit fresher with Episode 8. Or next years first spin-off film, Rogue One.
I give Star Wars The Force Awakens a 7 out of 10.
I’ll be back next week with a review of the Point Break remake. Yeah bro. Catch those waves.