It has been two months since The Force Awakens came out. I have spent a ton of time reading online reading reviews, acclaims, criticisms, gripes, predictions, and speculations revolving around it. I knew I wanted to do a review, but I didn’t want to just talk about how much I love Star Wars. This is something I am doing twenty four seven already.
I also don’t want to trash it just to get a rise out of fans. Now that I have seen it three times and let all that I’ve read really sink in, I think I’m ready to do an objective, fact only review. I’ve decided to review it like a video game. The thing I hate about critics is that they generally try to portray opinions as facts. In video game reviews, there are certain aspects that can be reviewed separately. I always like video game reviews because of this. A game could have an amazing story, but bad play control. It could look terrible, but have fun action. This allows the reader to see how elements play out individually to give the work of art, what I think, an honest review. Will I accomplish this? Let’s see.
STORY: There can be no denying that the general structure of the plot mirror the original film. It also mirrors The Phantom Menace. The film revolves around a droid caring hidden secrets, there is a young desert dwelling protagonist with an orphan like background, an old warrior dies, and a menacing station was destroyed. This was done on purpose. Since the beginning, Star Wars has focused on resonance when it comes to the story telling. The original was intended to be an amalgam of fantastic storytelling, from Greek myths to Japanese culture; from Flash Gordon to Dune. It is a product of resonating historical and cultural events as told through a fantastical venue. It only makes sense that all three trilogies would have parallel elements and stories through three generations. Using a great template makes for a well structured film. I believe the film accomplished this.
LOOK: The original trilogy was meant to look “Lived-in.” Things look a little run down. In The Force Awakens, the galaxy looks dead and rotting. The Falcon was exceptionally old and rundown looking. This is, of course, with the exception of the crisp looking First Order, new villains on the block. Unlike in the prequels, environments looked more like Earth than mythical and epic. A planet was a desert. There was a castle in a lake in a forest. There was a snowy forested planet… well, that was also a massive star killing machine. Everything that hearken back to the original films looks classic and new all at the same time. Trooper armor, Ties, X-Wings, even Han and the gang all looked like they belonged in this strange new world. Also unlike with the prequels, every new alien, droid, vehicle, and monster were all new. There were no repeat aliens from the other films that weren’t repeat characters. No Jawas, Ewoks, Ugnauts, or Pit Droids. It should be noted that pretty much everything in this film was real. Very few, but some, CGI effects were used. These stick out, but not as much as all the real practical effects looked great. When droid puppet moved their mouths, they were really articulated. The Visual effects for Supreme Leader Snoke were not as good as it could have been. Pirate queen Maz, was better, but still obviously CGI. I did not think the 3D version was essential. The film is visually impressive on its own.
SOUND: The soundtrack to this film is like the rest of the film, classic and new all at the same time. It is sadder than other Star Wars soundtracks, but manages to retain that John Williams charm. The sound effects were strong and natural, like they should be. That sound of Ren’s saber is exquisite. Chewie’s bowcaster, explosive. The Falcon sounds like the Falcon.
REPLAY VALUE: This film left audiences with more questions than they had going in. I’ve seen it three times, and I still feel like there is more I missed. Whether it is spotting Daniel Craig, listening for Obi-Wan and Yoda’s voice in Rey’s flashback, or trying to figure out whose kid is who’s, there is a lot to go back for. These films aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We will have answers
FUN FACTOR: This movie is FUN! BB-8 is adorable. Rey and Finn are endearing. The classic characters are classic. Poe is my new hero. It is so easy to hate Bratty Ren. And then finally seeing grizzled Luke at the end was satisfying. The action is well-paced and impressive. The story moves along in three episodic acts, just like the originals. This film is funny. Like, real funny. I took my mom to see it, and it was her first Star Wars. She was surprised because she didn’t know the films were funny.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Very few people are not satisfied with The Force Awakens. Critics have generally liked it, which was nice to hear for a change. It is breaking records every other day, and it has taken over theaters. No matter what you thought about The Force Awakens, it has clearly regained at least some of the magic of the original release. Now we wait a year and a half for some answers, but we get a lot in the meantime. Marvel is bringing out loads of comic. There are more games, books, and cartoons coming out too. And of course, Death Star Plan heist film, Rouge One is set to come out next December. Hopefully the success of The Force Awakens will be will them as well.
May the force be with you…