After the much anticipated follow up to George Lucas’ greatest opus, now owned by the folks of Disney, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the 7th chapter of the highly successful series that coined the term “Space Opera”. However, was The Force Awakens, a force to be reckoned with or like an alarm clock that should awaken those who may fall asleep on this JJ Abrams- directed sequel (or more like “sequoot”)?
Before delving into this “Fair and Balanced” review, I have to let you know upfront that there are spoilers! So if you haven’t seen Episode 7 as of yet, turn away or as Obi one would say- “Run Luke run!”
At the start of the film we are treated to a very familiar theme as well as the infamous text crawl which covers a new resurgence of the Sith but this time they are known as the 1st order lead by a dark cloaked Sith-esque warrior called Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver of HBO’s Girls. Yeah, that series…
Their sole purpose is to bring order to the galaxy but first, they must locate and kill Luke Skywalker who has gone missing after a certain student from his “Jedi Academy” had destroyed his foundation. But who dares to stand in the Order’s path of destruction and tyranny, why, it’s the Resistance of course! (Many will compare as the new Rebel Alliance since it’s actually the goddamn same thing!)
Anyways, while on the planet Jakku, Poe Dameron (Played by Oscar Issac) the pilot of the resistance has retrieved a totem-like device that will give details of Luke’s whereabouts however, the order’s newly outfitted Stormtroopers have captured the pilot and massacred the nearby inhabitants.
Now everything was going great until the plot had taken a sudden nosedive when one of the Stormtroopers, FN-2187…
… or as Poe would refer to him as “Finn”, becomes this sort of conscientious objector and refuses to fire upon the citizens of Jakku. However, this noble act does not go unnoticed as Kylo Ren gives Finn that “Oh no he didn’t” look.
Normally for failing to comply with a superiors orders, one would be court martialed but in the Empire’s… I mean, First Order’s case, he was summoned to have his weapon checked and resume his duties as a hardened Stormtrooper. Big mistake!
Finn decides to free the captured Poe and informs the Resistance pilot that he’s going to help him escape. Instead of questioning the Stormtrooper’s motives, Poe is more than happy and embraces Finn like some fucking college fraternity brother.
Although many would justify the familiar scenarios based from A New Hope as a means of introducing the up and coming generation to Star Wars, there’s still enough potential left in my opinion that would make TFA stand apart as its own film when it comes to originality just like the forgettable Phantom Menace. That being said, its not my kind of Star Wars and feels more commercialized and lacking the magic from the original trilogy.
TFA’s saving grace besides the fantastic aerial combat sequences would be newcomer actress Daisy Ridley who plays the semi-stoic scavenger Rey who is revealed to have certain “traits” that can help turn the tide in the Resistance’s favor.
Jon Boyega comes off a bit too much like Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller from 1996’s Independence Day, thanks to the silly bravado and banter. I for one don’t mind a black character as a co-lead in a Star Wars film but you got to at least make him as cool as Lando Calrissian or the enigmatic as Mace Windu, Finn comes off like some buffoon in certain ways. “Whoooo”? Fuck you!
There’s actually a scene in which he tells Poe that he’s really a sanitation guy but sometime afterwards, Finn holds his own against Kylo Ren (A former student of Luke Skywalker !!) via a grueling saber battle. Finn is a garbage man yet he nearly wiped the floor with Kylo’s ass?!?
Now unless Luke’s lightsaber is akin to Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, I’m calling bullshit on that scene. It was more feasible for Rey to overcome Ren since she was not only savvy with her spear, but of course later on during the film, she discovers that the Force is strong with her.
There are many of us, who are left wondering if she’s an offspring of the great Skywalker who she actually found at the end of the film. What is the correlation?
I found Rey’s long overdrawn pause with her handing the saber over to Luke unintentionally comical if not pretentious and it’s funny how Luke just happens to stand there atop a mountain while starring in the sky all this time.
Kylo Ren’s arc was more focused on “family squabbles” as opposed to his explanation of how he joined the First Order and his master Snoke is a third rate Palpatine. Nothing really menacing about him. Also Han being killed off in such a melodramatic fashion seemed as if it was thrown in for shock value, but it was handled somewhat efficiently, especially compared to Captain Kirk’s demise from that wretched Star Trek: Generations movie.
What’s sad is how Poe has taken a backseat to the other protagonists-Finn and Rey. I thought Isaac would share a considerate amount of screen time and despite that silly escape scene, he was likable and could’ve easily led alongside the aforementioned protagonists. It should have been a trio instead of what was presented here.
Speaking of wasted characters, I really had high hopes for Captain Phasma, the Stormtrooper’s field commander. I dig the actress Gwendoline Christie who played her (“Brienne” in Game of Thrones) and I love the chrome armor. Phasma looks totally badass just like Boba Fett. And like Fett, she was much underused and came off like some flunky for the first order.
I was hoping she would put up a fight when confronted by the Resistance group, but instead she “helps” Solo and the group via lowering the Starkiller shield and in doing so thwarts the Order’s grand scheme. What good is the First Order if your subordinates can’t follow direct orders? Even the major villains’ from G.I.Joe: Rise of Cobra were more established via back stories and that movie sucked ass as big as Kim K’s!
Aside from these gripes, I was impressed with the special effects and action cinematography.
The Tie fighters with the sunset as a backdrop stands out and especially the dogfight inside Starkiller base is one of the film’s greatest assets.
“Starkiller base” looks awfully familiar, hmmm now where have I seen that before?
Overall, The Force Awakens is a decent effort that with enough adjustments could’ve been worthy of all the hyperbole it has received. It’s heavily flawed due to its paint-by-the numbers method as in “been there, seen that” and lack of story depth and character development regarding “Captain Phasma”. However, there may still be enough left to enjoy.
The hardcore fans will eat it up and in my opinion, it’s somewhat superior to Lucas’ first two prequels which ain’t really saying much.