Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Movie Review( Yes,Spoiler Free): A Fan’s Review for Non-Fan’s

Well… It’s better than the prequels.
Everyone is going to be talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens for a few weeks. I’m adding my voice and review to the ever growing madness of the internet. I really enjoyed The Force Awakens. Is it my favorite, no, but I don’t think anything will every top the originals because of, well, nostalgia. I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw Star Wars. I don’t remember how old I was when I saw Empire Strikes Back. I have memories of going to see Return of the Jedi in the theaters, but I don’t even think that was the initial release. I have lived on Star Wars for almost my entire life.
To watch The Force Awakens I bought marathon tickets. All six previous movies starting at 1:00 in the morning and ending with The Force Awakens. I wasn’t as dedicated or crazy as some of my other friends who went at one in the morning. I decided to get a good night’s sleep and make episode three and on. You know, the prequel you can actually stomach to watch, and the three good movies. I didn’t want to lose sleep watching episode 1 and 2. I’m glad George made the movies he set out to make, but I don’t have to lose sleep to watch them, even for this.
What I’m getting at, is I’m a nut for Star Wars. I consume almost everything produced by Lucasfilm. The question is for all you casual Star Wars fans or just regular movie goers, is this movie worth your time, money and effort to see? The short answer from a fan’s perspective is, yes. It’s a very good movie and it is well worth seeing in the theaters. Is the movie groundbreaking like the first initial Star Wars? No it’s not, but it didn’t have to be.
What this Star Wars movie had to do was sell the current fan base on new heroes while paying homage to the old. At the same time introduce a new generation to the franchise. If you not a massive fan of the movies all you’re looking for is to be entertained by a compelling story. This movie had that. It is very much a hero’s journey retold. It has elements of A New Hope splashed throughout, but it is very much its own movie.
The action in the movie is stunning and non-stop. You feel like you are riding in the Millennium Falcon, X-Wing or Tie Fighter. Abrams did an amazing job of capturing action sequences. He is a phenomenal director of action. The ground fights are equally fun and the lightsaber battles unique for the new trilogy. Are you going to care if you not a Star Wars fan? I think the action will have you on the edge of your seat regardless of if you’re a fan or not.
Along with the action are compelling new characters. My personal favorite after seeing the movie is Rey, but that’s not surprising since she is very much the Luke of the new movie, and he is my favorite from the original trilogy. Daisy Ridley is amazing in the role. For an unknown actress to come into this franchise and knock it out of the park is fantastic. Just knowing she has never been in any other movie and being thrust into one of the biggest and most anticipated movies of all time is astounding. It’s amazing what an unknown actor can do when they have good direction. The other cast, old and new, do good jobs. Boyega is great as Finn. Harrison Ford does not mail in his performance. He is Han Solo again, and is superb in his portrayal of the Smuggler.  Fisher is good as Leia, though she might be the weakest link of the old cast.  Adam Driver plays a complex new villain. He is not a Darth Vader clone. I have mixed feelings on the character, and I think that was by design.
Can someone who does not like the force, lightsabers and the historical lore of the universe still enjoy these performances? I think so. The story told with these characters is going to keep people engaged regardless of the amount of the fandom. You don’t need to know the entire backstory of the Star Wars universe to enjoy this movie. It helps, but it’s not necessary. What I liked most personally about the movie is how the story told opens up more of the universe to be explored. The casual fan isn’t going to care about how many other books and comic can be created from this story. They don’t need to care to enjoy just this story and to be excited for what happens next.
Not everything works in the movie however. There is some clunky dialogue. Don’t worry, no were near prequel levels.  A few times the interaction between Han and Leia just didn’t seem natural. It only happens a few times, were the interaction didn’t ring true. The majority of the time is hits all the right emotional notes. The other villain playing opposite Kylo Ren, General Hux, was cartoonish to me. Gleeson who plays the character is a great actor and I feel his range is wasted here. He is very one note, and I think he could have been more. He might be more developed in later movies.
Which is another minor complaint. There are characters who I wanted focused on more, but there just wasn’t enough time unless JJ wanted to make a three and half hour long movie. As a casual fan I don’t think you are going to care if one character or another doesn’t get focused on. The overall story is fun and the main characters are relatable, and easy to root for.
The story does have few elements which left me scratching my head. Just the time frame in which things seem to happen didn’t add up to me. This is probably me nitpicking, and a person going to the movie to have a fun time isn’t going to mind this about the story. As a fan it did bug me a bit, but didn’t take too much away from the overall movie. The main threat of the movie also seems tacked on. Starkiller base didn’t feel me with dread and terror the way the Death Star did in the original trilogy. They try to make it seem deadly, but again there is so much going on in the movie not enough time is focused to give it the appropriate weight.
These negatives aside, I really enjoyed the movie. I want to say I loved it, but I don’t want to “Phantom Menace” myself. Telling myself something was good just because I was so excited for new Star Wars movieq. I don’t think that is the case and even non-super fans should enjoy The Force Awakens. So this movie is, of course, well worth seeing. For me it’s worth seeing multiple times in the theaters. Before it even came out I had three tickets. For the normal movie goer one time will be enough, but it’s worth buying on blu-ray, and watching at home on Television anytime it comes on. It will usher in a new generation of nerds and geeks and make Disney’s four billion dollar investment well worth the price. This movie is a fantastic way to kick off the new trilogy.
If you not a huge Star Wars fan when do you plan on seeing Star Wars? Are you going to let the crowds die down before seeing it? If you have seen it what do you think? Did it meet your lofty expectations if you’re a major fan? If you not a major fan and have seen it what did you think? Comment and let me know. We are now living in a post release Star Wars: The Force Awakens world. Time to start hyping Rouge One and Episode Eight. 

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