It’s 1am. I’ve just got home. I’ve got work in the morning, but hell – if I don’t do this now, I never will. There will be stars, there may be wars, and if you haven’t seen the movie yet there WILL be spoilers…
In case you’ve been living under a rock for a few years, there’s a new Star Wars movie. It’s called The Force Awakens, and it’s pretty fucking great! Combining a young new cast with the classic characters everybody loves, it’s set 20 years after Return of the Jedi and has space battles, lightsabers and a legitimately awesome female lead. Go watch it! I’ll just leave this here…
There has been an awakening…
About a month ago, a few buddies and myself started from the beginning. We watched Jar Jar Binks destroy the franchise, we watched Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader, and we watched Ewan McGregor try his hardest to use a terrible script as a young Obi Wan. Once the prequels were out of the way, we started the good stuff.
Watching Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope just a week apart made me realise just how terrible the dialogue was in the prequels, and how genuinely great EVERYTHING was in the original movie. What happened next? Uhh. Well, we forgot to watch Episodes 5 and 6. But we all know what happens, right? Good. Because The Force Awakens is – and I’m going to get some stick for this – the perfect follow up to the original trilogy.
I’m going to get this out of the way early, because this is what you want to know. JJ Abrams has really pulled it off, and against all odds. The lack of George Lucas’ ridiculous writing and over-reaching ambition has turned out to be an incredible benefit to the movie, and though certain Abrams-isms are still present, The Force Awakens is a bold, confident new entry to a universe which has started to feel boring and dull.
Rather than writing 2,000 words here, I’m going to break the rest of the review down into some short points and observations as to what really stood out, and also what didn’t quite work in the movie. This’ll be fun, right? Let’s go…
My Favourite Things
- This is Star Wars. There is absolutely no doubt about what this is. After the movie, a friend mentioned it felt derivative. Like it was too scared to move on. To me, it captured the best of Star Wars WITHOUT feeling derivative. You had the old guys (Harrison Ford absolutely steals the show, and I really can’t wait to see more of General Leia Organa next time around) and the young, new cast. These are kids who have grown up watching the movie, and you can tell from every frame that they’re giving their all. Every shot is lovingly, beautifully created, and the use of practical props and effects brings it into the real world like the prequels never could.
- BB8. Yes, Threepio and Artoo are back, but BB-8 is the droid of the hour. A real, rolling, chirping, cute, funny and awesome little guy, I want one. The bravest little droid in the galaxy, and hopefully one we’ll see rolling around in future instalments!
- REY! Oh god, Rey. I have the biggest crush on Daisy Ridley right now. She’s strong, she can fight, she has a history we’ve barely lifted the curtains on and she’s just generally fucking epic. Rey and Finn (the ex stormtrooper turned rebel played by a fantastic John Boyega) have a real chemistry on-screen, and Abrams has pretty much given all of the best scenes to her. Brilliant casting with the relatively-unknown Ridley!
- Chewie, we’re home. Harrison Ford falls right back into Han Solo, but isn’t afraid of softening him up a little. He’s still a bastard, but we still love him for it. His scenes with Carrie Fisher’s Leia are genuinely heartwarming, as we finally find out if they lived happily ever after (spoiler: they didn’t) and if they had any epic little Solo-Organa children (spoiler: they did – but more on that later).
- X-Wings! Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a damned good pilot. We’ve all wanted to fly an X-Wing, and this movie has some incredible aerial dogfighting scenes. I’d watch 2 hours of that if I could! The speed and intensity of the dogfighting has made me want Rogue One to come out tomorrow. TOMORROW!
- Luke has a beard! Old Jedi Luke Skywalker. With a beard. It just works.
But It Wasn’t Perfect…
- This is Star Wars. As good as the movie was, it’s still very much star wars. There’s a little ham here, a little bit of unnecessary exposition there. A certain scene between C-3PO and BB-8 in the resistance’s base is especially hard to watch, as Threepio explains Artoo’s forced coma-like state in a very stilted way. It’s like “Oh, hey guys. This will definitely come up later!” and it does. And it’s not exactly satisfying.
- Snoke is a stupid name I mean, Poe Dameron and Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi are also pretty stupid names, but come on. Also I want to say that I feel they blew their load a little early with revealing Snoke. Oh, so he’s big? No.. That’s a hologram. But he’s freaky looking! In a blue humanoid alien way. It’ll be interesting to see if they make this big bad scarier as the movies progress. Maybe he’s actually tiny and BB-8 rolls over him. And a tiny little Snoke is stuck to the ball droid like a bug. And Rey’s like LOL – Oh Rey. *Swoons*
- Speaking of blowing their load… I’d like to think they know what they’re doing and have a pretty good idea of where the series is going after this, but man, a lot of things happened which I didn’t think would happen. Mainly, we find out who bad guy Kylo Ren is – and we find out pretty early! The masked mad man played by Adam Driver is a great character to watch, but we were never given enough reason to care about him, or to really understand (other than him being nuts and turned to the dark side by our cute little friend Snoke) when THAT THING HAPPENS. OH GOD THAT THING THAT HAPPENS 🙁
- Something happened to somebody we love, and I’m pretty upset. In a post Game of Thrones world, nobody should be that surprised when beloved and well-known characters are killed off, but this is something that happens in The Force Awakens. It’s incredibly sad, and shocking, made worse because of what I just said in the point above.
- It’d be nice to at least reference SOME of the prequel shit. I’m not saying it should be anything too crazy, but it’s still canon, right? The movies have become infamous for being awful, but after rewatching them they really set the groundwork for what was to come in the original trilogy. They don’t even name the planet that “The Republic” and “The Senate” are based from in The Force Awakens – isn’t it Coruscant? or did they move? Did the lease expire on the senate building, or after Yoda and Sidious’ showdown in RotS did they just give up and move out? We see glimpses of a city planet, but it doesn’t last long enough to make me give a shit about what happens to it. I know I’m asking too much here, so I’ll let it go.
- Not enough Phasma Guys, you’ve got Brienne of Tarth right there. Get her to fuck some shit up! She’s even wearing an awesome chrome Stormtrooper uniform. COME ON!
I know I’ve gone on for a long time now and barely scratched the surface, so I’ll shut up. Let me be clear: I love this movie. I will undoubtedly go back and see it again (and pay for the privilege), and will eagerly anticipate the next Star Wars movie – Rogue One, set to open almost exactly a year after TFA on Dec 16, 2016.
Casting was spot on, pacing was fantastic and the thing looked goddamn gorgeous. If you’ve made it through this review and haven’t seen it yet, go see it. OK? Good.