Thursday, December 17, 2015

Spoiler-Free Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

What can be said about the Star Wars series that hasn't already been said. In a nutshell: the original trilogy is made up of cinema classics, the prequel trilogy ... not so much. So where does this J.J. Abrams helmed feature film fit in? In the first or the second bunch? The answer is a resounding FIRST BUNCH!

If you are fan of what made the Episodes IV-V-VI the special treat that they are, then this movie will not let you down. There is high adventure. There are lovable characters. There are old themes of good and evil revisited. There is comedy. And most importantly, it has a heart. JJ Abrams treated Star Wars with the love that only a true fan could.  Was it as great as “The Empire Strikes Back”? No. I doubt any future Star Wars can ever match that movie. But was it in the same league as “A New Hope,” and perhaps even better than “Return of the Jedi”? I wouldn't fault someone for making an argument for either.

I only have a few criticism. The first is with the pacing, the film has 30 years of catching up to do and it does rush through a few bits to get the story moving forward. Let's compare it to“A New Hope,” which despite being is a movie that also starts the story midstream gives us a sense of dread with Darth Vader. In a few short minutes we are able to understand the severity of the rebel war with the Empire without the need of a backstory: Lucas made sure to fill us in on the boring details later in three very long movies. This movie couldn't quite capture that feeling in it's first act. Even the famous opening crawl was a bit dull. It served simply as a “catch us up”, and “this is where we are now,” device instead of making me feel like I was in the middle of a story that had never stopped.

The second criticism is on how much the opening act of the movie relies on fortunate coincidences, and a good dose of “awakening” at the proper time to bring the story together. Again, returning to “A New Hope”. It also relies on the sheer luck of the droids landing on Tatooine to get the plot moving, but the movie then leaves most of the rest to the characters decision, rather than simply being at the right place at the right time. There was simply too much chance in the first act of “The Force Awakens” to make it feel natural. Perhaps there are no “coincidences” when the force is strong, but as a viewer it does seem like a cheap way to get everyone together for the mission at hand. The characters were also much too eager to go off into the adventure, compared to a Han Solo who had to be bribed, or a Lando who changed his mind about Darth Vader after he saw that he was going to lose control of his city, or even Luke who only went with Obi Wan after his whole family was killed. I will give J.J. Abrams credit for at least making some attempts at showing second thoughts, but they were a bit rushed and contrived.

The final criticism, and it's not one that bothered me a lot, but it did stand out, is how the movie rehashes some key plot elements - primarily from Star Wars episode IV and V. New fans may not notice, but old fans will. Again, it wasn't so bothersome because it blended into the story well, and it was like a nod to the old series, but I felt it kept the story from digging into new territory. Say what you will about the prequels, but at least they attempted to create a world very much removed from the original trilogy. Again I will give J.J. credit for managing to keep this movie from going into “Star Trek Into Darkness”/”Wrath of Khan” complete rehash mode.

But these are minor squabbles about a movie that caught enough of my attention at the start, had me settled in by the middle, and by the last act had me hoping it wouldn't end. Star Wars fans fear not, this is the Star Wars movie you have been waiting for for a very long time. Everything down to some of the camera angles, the colour schemes, the characters, is reminiscent of the Star Wars you love. The audience in the theatre even clapped at the end. This was film entertainment the way it should be, light enough to enjoy with the kids but engaging enough to hold your attention as an adult.

Next up, one can only hope that the story takes a darker turn. There are some secrets yet to be uncovered about some of the major characters, and some more evil to be unleashed by an antagonist who seems to only be getting started. But for now, I am excited to watch this movie again.

Post by P. Ray December 17 2015

Fangirl Review Editor’s Thoughts: 

Spoilers Ahead! Stop Reading!

I have now had the chance to check out the latest Star Wars movie and wanted to add a few things. This movie does very well in bringing you back into the franchise. I will be honest the best actor of the movie is the droid BB8. This droid makes the movie and frankly you are invested in him. You are happy when he is and sad when he is sad. He truly makes the film great and gives thumbs up to Fin and participates in his lie. Frankly I did not care to see Leia, Han, and everyone else once they made me fall in love with this droid. 

The movie has predictable moments and too long staring moments, especially between Rey and Luke at the end. I did not like the set-up of Kylo Ren and it felt rushed in his reveal and then was predictable in killing Han. As soon as you saw Han walk over to Ren you knew he was not walking away, especially once you saw Rey and Fin arrive and watch the confrontation. Overall I am not sure if we should have found Luke in the first movie. I think it should have ended with Rey leaving to find him, it felt like a rushed ending. 

The ultimate fight sequence at the end felt like it was stolen from New Hope. Frankly there was too much from this movie that felt like it was stolen from 4,5,6. Overall the movie was good and I am interested in seeing where they go from here. It was a strong beginning and hopefully they will correct some things going into the next one.

Plus I need to know if Fin is Lando’s son. - Vikki 


  1. Once I see the movie myself I'll look out for your 3 criticisms. M. Christine Nieves

    1. awesome! Let me know your thoughts after you see it.

    2. Hi M. Christine please let us know what you think. As is the nature of a review, the analysis can be a little nitpicky, but, like I said, these criticism are from coming anywhere close to ruining this movie. It is a lot of great fun. If you are a fan of the original trilogy, this movie will fit like an old glove. I cannot wait to see it again. :) Phil

  2. When I watch the movie I'll post my comments to see if I agree with the 3 criticism.

  3. When I watch the movie I'll post my comments to see if I agree with the 3 criticism.