This is a non-spoilery review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, this is safe for you to read. I promise.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, based on the characters created by George Lucas
Stars: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Max von Sydow, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill
Many of mine and UberApe’s friends are not going to see TFA for another few days. So when we went to see it last night, all our friends asked is that we give them a general thumbs up or thumbs down. UberApe put it best when he said “Big thumbs up. It is more fun than it is good, and it is really good.” To me that is the best way to describe TFA without giving away any spoilers.
There are a few things one can complain about, but really it is small things. UberApe’s biggest complaint is the same one he has for all of the Star Wars movies, there are too many coincidences that drive the plot. Of course I always argue that it is the Force tapping people on the shoulder and making things happen as a way of keeping the balance. There are a lot of coincidences in this movie and there are a couple of plot holes that are very quickly glossed over. Some may get explained away in Episode VIII, some are just meant to be taken at face value. There is one kinda bothersome plot hole to me that I will talk more about when I do the spoilery review on Tuesday. Another small complaint is TFA is very quick with the exposition and doesn’t leave you too much time to process everything before the next battle or fight happens. One can argue that Abrams, Kasdan, and Arndt are trying to cram over 30 years (yes 30 freaking years, Return of the Jedi is over 30 years old) of story in just under 2 1/2 hours, so pacing has to be quick. Really those are the biggest faults I can find.
The best thing about TFA is the new characters that are coming in and taking up the torch. Rey (Ridley), Finn (Boyega), and Poe (Isaac) make a perfect new Luke (Hamilton), Han (Ford), and Leia (Fisher) type characters in that they are the new heroes you can identify with and root for. I could go on for pages about how much I LOVE BB-8 and wish he was real so I could have him. The same child-like wonder that existed in RD-D2 is displayed in the adorable BB-8. Kylo Ren (Driver) is a very thought-provoking antagonist in that he is not like Darth Vader and just plain evil until he is not. There is more going behind that mask and Driver just sells it perfectly. Ren is as thrilling as a bad guy for me as Vader ever was, not as badass, but just as exciting.
Everyone has great chemistry with one another and you don’t feel like it is the young pups coming in and stealing the show from the established characters we all have wanted to see for a long time. All of the characters work well in telling this new chapter of the story together. Nothing feels shoehorned in (looking at you prequels) for the sake of nostalgia. Though there are a few nostalgia moments in there, but several of them are blink and you miss them.
The action is almost constant. There are a few lulls here and there, but it is the movie taking a break to explain what is going on then back to the action. I very much enjoyed this when I was in the theater watching because it made me feel like a kid again. There were so many explosions, blaster fighting, “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE” moments. Abrams kept the movie’s kinetic energy high like he was trying to tell us the audience “there will be no boring ass Senate hearings or Trade Federation talks in MY Star Wars movie.”
There is a lot of humor in TFA as well, more than you would expect and from characters you wouldn’t presume to be the comedic relief. It is a welcome surprise. There are some jokey moments thrown in there for the little ones, but it isn’t condescending and low brow as the humor in the prequels. For example, (this is totally non-spoilery so please don’t flip out) Finn gives a thumbs up to BB-8 and the droid holds out a tiny little torch like he was mimicking Finn’s thumbs up. It was adorable and had me giggling. UberApe kinda shook his head a bit and rolled his eyes at the goofiness of it. Little things like that had me feeling like a kid again.
I was worried (especially after seeing him in interviews) that Harrison Ford was going to be grumpy old man Han Solo reminiscent of his grumpy old man Indiana Jones in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Have no fear, charming scoundrel Han Solo is back in full force and he has more depth this time as a man who has seen and done many heart breaking things since we last saw him in Return of the Jedi.
There are a lot of surprises in the movie as well. And I’m not talking plot twists. If you are like me and tried not to pay attention to more than just the trailers and commercials on TV, you will be pleasantly surprised by several character reveals. Marketing intentionally made us think certain things about various characters, but it was a bit of a bait and switch. I found it so refreshing because it is becoming harder and harder to be genuinely surprised by movies anymore. Whoever was in charge of marketing TFA, you are a genius and I salute you. Just be very careful about where you go on the internet. Trolls on both Reddit and YouTube have been posting spoilers in random areas, not just Star Wars related stuff. A friend of mine was reading an article posted on Reddit about Ethan Couch and someone placed a MAJOR SPOILER in the middle of the article.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens leaves a lot of room for sequels, spinoffs, and fan theories (more on those come Tuesday) which will be fun for all of us to debate until Episode VIII premiers on May 26, 2017. In the end what makes this a great movie in the realm of the original trilogy is it was a good ol’ fashion space adventure. It is simple in the plot, but heavy with the character depth. Not every good or even great science fiction movie needs to be Inception or 2001: A Space Odyssey to be appreciated as great storytelling. Those movies have a place in the film world, but they are not the reason why going to the movies is a spectacular treat. The Force Awakens, and others like it, makes movie going fun again and it is as significant as making an important film.
For those of you who have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, tell me what you thought about it WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS! Like we did for our friends, just give me a thumbs up or thumbs down like comment. For those who have not seen TFA yet, I will do my best to police the comments section and remove anything I deem too spoilery. Hope to see you back here on Tuesday to debate theories with me!