Star Wars returns to the big screen with much of the original cast returning as well as introducing a whole new set of characters about to begin their own journey in a galaxy far, far, away. How does it fare?
On the surface, it was an enjoyable ride that takes us back to the Star Wars universe and allows us to relive much of the nostalgia we have for the original trilogy and for those who have never seen the original trilogy (What is wrong with you?) it gives you a taste of how excellent and groundbreaking those movies were.
There are plenty of action scenes that are exciting. One in particular definitely gave me goose bumps as John Williams’ magnificent music queues our first sighting of The Resistance. The scene captured what is at the heart of Star Wars, the battle between good and evil. This theme is reinforced towards the end of the movie with J.J. Abrams’ use of visual imagery to depict both the light and dark sides of the force.
In typical Star Wars fashion, we also received some comedic relief from the droids. BB-8 filled the role of R2D2 with exceptional beeps and bloops. Director J.J. Abrams was also able to personify him and capture a range of emotions from distrust to inquisitiveness to exuberance.
The movie also added to the plethora of unique creatures and aliens while also giving us an interesting look at how food preparation is done on Jakku. It made you feel like you were in the Star Wars universe.
While the movie captured the essence of Star Wars, it sacrificed original, imaginative storytelling in favor of nostalgia. Writers J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt completely ripped off the plot of the original Star Wars. Not only did they rip off the plot, they failed to even deliver it as well as it was originally done. They focused much more on action sequences rather than character development. The movie darted from action sequence to action sequence.
The settings of the movie also displayed Abrams lack of imagination. Jakku is a poor man’s Tattoine, because it doesn’t even have the hive of villainy and scum known as Mos Eisley or the ruthless Jabba the Hutt. He also steals the Mos Eisley cantina scene, placing it on the planet of Takodana in the castle of the pirate Maz Kanata.
The lack of character development is probably the biggest black mark on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Instead of discovering and seeing how the characters act, Abrams replaces this with dialogue, telling us who they are and what they are supposed to be. I will say the one exception to this was the characterization of Kylo Ren. There are even cases where Abrams does actually show us some characterization outside of Kylo Ren, but upon making a moral decision the character completely forgets that moral decision just moments later. I’m looking at you Finn! Adding on to the characterization debacle is Abrams continued lack of imagination. Most of the characters, even the minor ones, were lite versions of the original trilogy with Kylo Ren being the exception.
While the individual characterization was done poorly, the relationships in the movie were actually worse. They seem utterly forced and unbelievable, especially given the apparent time frame of the movie. There really wasn’t any time for them to have the relationships the movie portrayed them having. I’d go on, but I intend on keeping this review as spoiler-free as possible.
Finally, the movie had a number of plot holes. Certain characters would disappear for a significant amount of time and then reappear for a heroic entrance. Ships were able to easily escape a certain planet despite a massive warship supposedly standing patrol outside the planet. Not to mention the surprising combat abilities of Rey and Finn, especially considering Finn’s occupation within the First Order. That even brings into question the entire character arc of Finn, beginning with the opening scene, but that might be getting too far into the weeds. I’ve got to save the real spoilery stuff for a whole different post!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is really a reboot of the original Star Wars movie with new characters. The plot while unimaginative is still enjoyable. There are some fun and exciting action sequences and the movie really does capture the essence of Star Wars. Unfortunately, it struggles with characterization, a number of plot holes, poor relationships, and an overall lack of imagination. I still recommend seeing it because it is Star Wars after all!
- Captures the essence of Star Wars
- The characterization of Kylo Ren
- BB-8's comedic relief role
- Lack of characterization
- Gaping plot holes
- Unbelievable relationships