I know – a new post on this blog? Shocking. Won’t get into (not now) the reasons why I stopped blogging. But today, the start of a new year, I felt like posting.
I really enjoy going to see movies with my now-14 year old son, because he really gets into film analysis. When we saw the new Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, he treated me to an in-depth breakdown of the film’s strengths and weaknesses almost as soon as the credits started rolling. I said, offhandedly, “Why don’t you write a review?” To my surprise, he did. So here it is.
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Roughly 10 years after the 2005 release of Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, on December 18th, 2015, Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens hit theatres and shattered box office records, earning $1.228 billion dollars worldwide in just 12 days after its release. With all these record breaking accomplishments, there’s no doubt that The Force Awakens was a good movie, but just how good is it? Despite all this success and popularity that this movie has received, it only got an 8.6 out of 10 on IMDb and an 81% on Metacritic – and for good reason.
The Force Awakens starts off in traditional Star Wars fashion by first displaying the episode number then having an awfully long blurb that fans have to read to catch up on the basic premise and backstory of the movie. That in particular is not much of a problem to many moviegoers because it’s expected and doesn’t take much away from the movie itself. The problem with it, however, is that it’s really the only part of the movie that talks about the backstory of the movie. There are only a few other scenes where they talk about the 30 year timeskip and those scenes barely tell us anything. Not to mention the movie’s pacing. The pacing of this movie wasn’t very well done. They barely spent any time on character backstory and barely fleshed out any of the characters. Honestly this movie could have (and probably should have) stopped at the midway point and people would like it regardless.
The Force Awakens appeals to newer fans of the series and for good reason. A large number of the people who have and will be watching this movie are new fans to the Star Wars franchise. But the movie focuses too much on the newer fans and only gives a few nostalgic references and homages to the old Star Wars movies before it. One of the main antagonists of the movie, Kylo Ren, is pretty much a copy paste Darth Vader with the only big difference being he’s Leia and Han’s son. Another copy paste that the movie did was the fact that the main weapon of The First Order is just a bigger Death Star that gets destroyed almost the exact same way as the first. The Force Awakens focuses too much on the action scenes and spends very little time on the actual plot on the pretense that Episode 8 will go over all of Episode 7’s gaping plot holes – and the main heart wrenching moment is so predictable that it’s somewhat hard to be sad when it happens.
The ending of the movie was good but it just wasn’t what we wanted. The main goal of this movie is to find this map and find Luke and so they do, but there’s no heart-touching reunion between Luke and Leia, there’s no sadness of Luke being informed of Han’s death. All we have is a dramatic reveal that everybody saw coming and no words. The camera just revolves around Luke and Rey as Rey hands Luke his old lightsaber, Luke doesn’t say a word this entire movie and is only there for about a minute at the end.
All in all Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens was a flawed movie but still worth your time. It had its setbacks but it also had its merits. Also the filmmakers are gambling that they can get away with having awful exposition and no backstory because we know a sequel is coming to hopefully answer all of our questions. And what Star Wars does right, it does right. The action scenes are amazing and so are the character interactions. Is The Force Awakens perfect? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Is it still enjoyable? Yes, yes it is.