“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Review (with spoilers)

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Review (with spoilers)

VexarDave – 12/18/15


Before we get into the details, despite any criticisms, I really liked “The Force Awakens”. It’s Star Wars, and even bad Star Wars (I’m looking at you “Attack of The Clones”.) is always entertaining. I liken “The Force Awakens” to going home for Christmas dinner. You look forward to it. You see some of the same people you haven’t seen since the last time. You find out what they’ve been up to. You may meet new family members and get to know them. You have the same foods and play the same games. And even though you’ve done it all before, it’s a little different than last time and you still enjoy it.

That being said, I personally would have preferred not so many plot points from “A New Hope” used. I would have liked to have seen more of a risk taken. J.J.Abrams/Disney played it safe. And I understand that. From a business stand point, that was the way to go. After the disappointment of the Prequels, you have to play the nostalgia factor to get the old fans back which will also bring in new fans.

The Good:
The acting/actors
Daisy-Ridley-as-Rey-in-The-Force-AwakensDaisy Ridley as Rey is the clear standout. For a new actress to take on such a huge role her first time out and deliver, she’s going to have a great career ahead of her. She worked great no matter what other actor she was opposite.

The-Force-Awakens-Kylo-renAdam Driver as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo did an awesome job of playing intimidating and vulnerable at the same time. This is how Anakin Skywalker should have been portrayed in the prequels.

HanSoloTrailerHarrison Ford as Han Solo did a great job. You could tell he was having fun in the role again and not just phoning it in for a paycheck. He does a great job of conveying the correct emotions, like regret, over losing his son and leaving Leia, without even saying a word. This is probably the best I’ve seen Harrison Ford act, and not just be Harrison Ford, since “Regarding Henry”.

The scene with Han and Leia discussing losing their son and past regrets, and the scene with Han and Ben were the most touching heartfelt scenes in the movie.

The script/dialogue
All the conversations flowed well. No more of that awkward/clunky Lucas dialog from the Prequels.

The sets/locations
Real sets & real locations! No CGI! If they were fighting on a pile of rubble, it was a pile of rubble. Not green chunks that would be CGI’ed into stones. If they were in a forest, they were in a forest. Not a sound stage with a green screen and a few fake trees.

The special effects
Mostly practical effects except where CGI was necessary.

The wardrobe/costumes
Everybody looked natural in what they were wearing. The updated Stormtroopers looked great! Kylo Ren looked great! Captain Phasma looked great! The original cast’s wardrobe looked like a natural update to what they wore in the past.

The characters
chewieChewbacca is the heart of Star Wars. He’s everybody’s loyal best friend. And finally he was used for more than just standing behind Han Solo.

Luke Skywalker looked badass!

The Bad:

This first one isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just going to take some getting used too. The look of the movie distracted me. I’m not saying it looked bad. In fact, it looked great! It just didn’t look like a Star Wars movie. That’s because the Original Trilogy looks like the era it was filmed in. The Prequel Trilogy was too heavily CGI’ed. And “The Force Awakens” was filmed in today’s clear HD quality. Like I said, it’s just going to take getting used to seeing Star Wars in this way.

J.J.Abrams relied too heavily on the nostalgia factor with blatant reveals.
Hey, kids! Look!It’s the Millennium Falcon!
Hey, kids! Look! It’s Han Solo and Chewbacca!
Hey, kids!Look! It’s Princess Leia!
Hey, kids! Look! It’s R2-D2!
Rey knows about the Kessel Run!
Han said trash compactor!

Too similar to “A New Hope” (& parts of “Empire” & “Jedi” as well), but, hey, that’s what J.J.Abrams does. (I’m looking at you “Star Trek: Into Darkness”.)
A young orphan (Luke/Rey) on a desert planet (Tatooine/Jakuu) comes across a droid (R2-D2/BB-8) with a secret (Death Star Plans/Map to Luke Skywalker). And because of their involvement with the droid, they are led to a wise mentor (Obi-Wan Kenobi/Han Solo) who leads them on their journey to find their destiny. On the way, they stop in a seedy saloon (Mos Eisley/Maz Kanata’s castle) filled with smugglers, aliens, and even a band.

They have to get the droid back to the good guys (Rebels/Resistance) and rescue a captive (Princess Leia/Rey), but before they escape, the wise mentor (Obi-Wan Kenobi/Han Solo) is slain by the bad guy (Darth Vader/Kylo Ren). Finally, the good guys strike from a hidden base (Yavin/D’Qar) and destroy the bad guys super weapon (Death Star/Starkiller Base). There’s even a trench run!

In some places it seemed a little rushed. I know this was Abrams one shot at a Star Wars movie and he wanted to get in as much as possible, but there were a few areas I would have liked to have seen more detail or a little more exposition.

Harrison Ford finally got his wish. He wanted Lucas to kill off Han Solo in the Original Trilogy, but Lucas knew he couldn’t sell Dead Han Solo toys. Lucasfilm/Disney also owns the Indiana Jones franchise, and Ford has always enjoyed playing Indy over Han. I’d be willing to bet Ford agreed to come back as Solo for another shot at Indy.
The scene was done well, but c’mon! It’s Han Solo! He could have stuck around for the whole trilogy. Old bastard…
I would have liked to have seen Chewbacca go a little more monkeys#!t after Han was killed like in “Empire” when Han was about to be frozen in carbonite.

John Boyega’s acting
I’m not saying Boyega is a bad actor. He just needed to dial it back from 11 to around 8. His behavior was a little too “Earth” as well. If that makes any sense.

finnpoeThe Poe Dameron/Finn relationship seemed a little forced.
Finn helps Poe escape because he needs a pilot to help him escape. They spend all of, let’s say, 30 minutes together? As soon as they steal the TIE fighter, they start bromancing out and telling each other secrets?

Not enough Poe Dameron!
Even though his helmet always looked loose and crooked and that got on my nerves, I still liked the character and would have liked to see more of him.

BB-8 is the Scrappy Doo of the Star Wars universe!
Not really. I actually liked BB-8. I just would have rather had more R2-D2.

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-ChrometrooperNot enough Captain Phasma!
The first female Star Wars on-screen bad guy, and she does absolutely nothing impressive. Maybe we’ll see more of Phasma in the next movie.

It makes no sense for Han and Leia’s son to be named Ben. I understand it’s after Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Leia never knew Obi-Wan. All she knew is Obi-Wan was the guy her adopted father Bail Organa sent her to pick up on Tatooine. But she was captured by Darth Vader before she got to Obi-Wan, and Vader killed Obi-Wan as they were escaping the Death Star before she met him.
Han only knew Obi-Wan for a short time and didn’t care for the “old man”. It makes no sense for either to want to honor his memory by naming their child after him. It would make sense for them to name their child Bail after Leia’s adopted father.
It would make since for Luke to name his child Ben which he did in the now Legends classified Expanded Universe.

It made no sense for C-3PO to slip and call Leia “Princess”. He’s been with her this whole time and should have already gotten used to calling her General. Besides, Threepio is a PROTOCOL droid. And PROTOCOL dictates he address Leia by her proper title. He’s a droid and it’s his job! It would have been funnier and in character for Han to be the one to call her Princess, and on purpose.

Maz Kanata’s castle
I know it’s a big galaxy, but I would have preferred a few already established aliens in there. Throw in a Rodian, an Aqualish, a Duros! Anything!

The Resistance Trooper wardrobe/costume
The only costume I didn’t like. It looked a little simplistic and generic. I would have preferred them to look more like an updated Endor Rebel Soldier.

Too many unanswered questions – I would assume all the questions left unanswered will be answered in the next installments of this trilogy, but some don’t seem like they needed to wait.
Who is Max Von Sydow’s character? Is he somebody we’ve seen before or a throw away character? I wouldn’t think they would use an actor of Von Sydow’s caliber for a throw away character. And I do think he’ll be revealed with Rey’s history, but I don’t think it would have hurt for us to know who he is.

Why in the hell, if Luke didn’t want to be found, make a damn map to where he was? R2 had the whole map except for the one part. Couldn’t somebody put that map up against another map and figure, “Luke’s somewhere in this area. Let’s go!”
Take Leia and let her search out with the Force like a human metal detector.

SW-TFA-Aug-HR-08What’s up with C-3PO’s red arm? Is it important? Apparently it is, because Threepio made a point to mention his red arm!

Who are Rey’s parents? It seemed with her skills she was definitely a Solo, but Han sure didn’t act like he knew her. Is she Luke’s daughter? Luke’s lightsaber gave her a Force vision. Was it because she was related to Luke or just because she was a Jedi? If she is Luke’s daughter, who is her mother?

R2-D2 shut down? Why? because he’s sad? He’s a droid! Go turn him back on! And why did R2 suddenly wake up at the right time?

And the Black guy ended up being the janitor…

I will say this, the absence of George Lucas was felt. After the Prequels, most will say that’s a good thing, but there’s a certain sprinkling of cheese that Lucas adds to make it feel more like Star Wars. Unfortunately, in the Prequels it was too much cheese and we all became lactose intolerant. “The Force Awakens” needed just a little bit of Lucas in it.

1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. A New Hope
3. Return of The Jedi
4. The Force Awakens
5. Revenge of The Sith
6. The Phantom Menace
7. Attack of The Clones

After all that, which are really minor nitpicks, I really did enjoy “The Force Awakens” and think everybody else will as well. At the end of the day, this was a refresh and setup movie for the continuation of the Star Wars franchise. I’m looking forward where Episode VIII writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper) takes it from here, and also looking forward to the Anthology standalone movies in between.


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