Review: _Star Wars: The Force Awakens_ I will not be popular for my view of this film.
I have been careful in avoiding spoilers or reviews of the current Star Wars film. Being that I watched the first film, A New Hope, with great delight, and really loved the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, with little to deter me from seeing the rest. That was a poor choice for me -- I didn't like the third film at all, and actively hated the so-called prequels. So it was a mix of trepidation and eagerness that I settled into my seat last night, and put on my three-d glasses and to watch the latest offerings in this saga.
The Force Awakens picks up the story started more than thirty years earlier. A new menace to peace and decent living, the One Order, has moved into the place that was once occupied by the Empire, and they're getting ready to smash the new Republic. One of the top pilots in the Republic is tracking down a clue on a remote planet. That clue will help to find the missing Luke Skywalker, the very last Jedi. But Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has been followed, and in a desperate attempt to save the clue, he entrusts it to his trusty droid, BB-8. Poe gets captured by the One Order, and BB-8 slips into the desert.
Soon enough, BB-8 is found by a young scavanger, Rey (Daisy Ridley), who is at first tempted to sell him, but then realizes that she needs to keep him. She doesn't care about the bigger issues of the oncoming fight, but instead, is hoping that her family will come back to Jakku and take her in.
Aboard the ship circling overhead, a Stormtrooper, Finn (John Boyega) is having some serious doubts about himself and the world that he is in. Is he really doing the right thing. He does know one thing, he needs to rescue Poe, and does just that, crash landing on Jakku, but Poe is killed in the crash. Eventually he meets up with Rey, and together they manage to elude the Emp-- I meant the Order, and in a battered frieghter, they run into the legendary Han Solo (Harrison Ford)...
Alright, I have to say that the money is up there on the screen. There's all sorts of action, panoramic scenes and fights, the return of the earlier cast, and lots of potential. But there are problems, serious problems at that.
Both Finn and Rey are very appealing characters, but I had a very hard time feeling much for them. There's tiny glimpses of their backstories, but not enough to make us want to know what is going to happen next.
We also get to see Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han, and the two droids, C-3P0 and R2-D2. We know that they had a child together, and that they've separated, with Han going back to his old trade, and Leia fighting for the Republic. That's fine too. I can live with that storyline.
But later on the story, the film falls apart. In short, my loves, this is a recycled plot from an earlier film in the series. Of which film I won't tell you, but rabid fans will pick out the absurd plot devices. It's bigger, it's better, I've been here before! And it was that which ruined the film for me. Not to mention a character death that really, really pissed me off.
The good parts -- the excellent art direction and special effects. Two new characters to the mix. Keeping the heroes of the earlier films there and letting them age, with baggage.
The bad parts -- the plot. With the exact same resolutions to the previous story. The writers, JJ Abrams (who also directed) and Lawrence Kasdan, should have known better. I sat there, thinking, this? I've been waiting more than thirty years for this regurgitated dreck? It's simply too much, and I left the cinema feeling like I was tricked.
Finally, there's the villain. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is well, a bore. He wants to be the biggest, baddest boy on the block and just when we think there's going to be a nasty going on, he gets wishy-washy. Sigh. You turn to the Dark side, you're out there eating babies and raping virgins. Not questioning your decisions. And Supreme Leader Snoke? Who came up with that name? When you make a sound somewhere between a snort and a laugh, that's a snoke. Half of the fun with the original trilogy was that Vader was big, imposing and had a damn scary voice, not to mention that you never knew what he looked like or who he was until the very end. That worked. Ren taking his headgear off all the time ruins the mystery -- and the menace.
Some are going to love this film. That's ok. Some are going to hate it. On the whole, this gets three and a half stars out of five. This was a decent film, but not a great one. Fans of the franchise will love it, and it's already breaking the previous holders for money made. Will I be watching it again? No, I doubt it. I'm interested in the two films to follow, but there's simply not enough there to make me part with either my time or money to watch it again.