Ten Thousand Bytes of Cinematic Critique
When I heard about a new, JJ Abrams-helmed Star Wars picture, I expected we’d get a solid but unremarkable action movie. What I didn’t anticipate was how much better than “solid but unremarkable” an action movie is when it takes place in the Star Wars universe. Laser blasts, beeping droids, starfighters, lightsabers, and villains in dark capes are just tons of fun when you have some real characters to care about. I loved watching all the new, young, attractive people do exciting things. I especially liked Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who I am very excited to spend more time with in future celestial conflicts (the characters on the screen weren’t the only ones experiencing an awakening, if you know what I mean).Of course, the movie isn’t perfect. There are a couple full CG characters that fall flat (and are made conspicuous by the renewed reliance on real locations and practical effects). The plot elements are rushed and underdeveloped (hello, death star, goodbye, death star), but you know what? I'm basically fine with that. After the prequels’ meticulous emphasis on the galaxy’s political machinations, I’m fine with seeing similar details shunted to the side. In 99 of 100 cases plot is the least interesting thing about a movie anyway.The Force Awakens won’t crack my top three movies of the year, but will it make the Top Ten? You betcha. I'm excited about Star Wars again!
I think it is very easy to nitpick this movie. From the unshakable feeling that this is A New Hope: Remix to the sensation that none of the old cast seems to have evolved from when we last saw them, The Force Awakens is not a flawless movie by any means. However, and I say this as a high form of praise, this is a fun movie. It's a SUPER fun movie. The young cast of new characters carries the plot and makes it seem exciting, while the return to practical effects grounds the whole thing in reality, even as we fly away in the stars and visit alien worlds. This is the first film that has made me strongly consider seeing it in 3D. I am not a fan of big dumb action movies (think Michael Bay), but I do apparently enjoy J.J. Abram's big dumb action movies (think Star Trek). To go back to my earlier thought, I believe a lot of it has to do with the great casts that carry these Abrams' films. Of course, it IS Star Wars. The entire Star Wars universe boils down to robots, laser swords and space fights. When you let that stuff come through and breathe, it's exciting. The prequels were bogged down with too much mind numbing dialog and silly plot, and the CGI made everything feel extra fake, whereas here, the CGI is there merely to enhance (except for a few areas where it went too far), and the plot is merely a vehicle to get these great people in this galaxy to interact with each other. I agree entirely that there is no way this cracks my top three, but it is very likely going to be in my top ten. Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars? Disney is the undisputed king of blockbuster movies.
This movie is a great return to form for the franchise. It may be true that ANYthing would have been better than the prequels, but this was a pretty solid flick! It was good to see such a fun space opera movie, full of heartfelt emotions and tense battles. The worst part is probably just that I have to wait again, now, until the next installment arrives. I might have preferred a story that doesn't depend on that so heavily, but... it's hard to say! It can't matter that much, because I liked it even more on a repeat viewing. It's probably gonna hold up on its own.There's a lot going on in this that I really liked (The new faces! The old faces! Excitement! Comedy! Equality!), but the movie is absolutely not free of mildly-disappointing (Or even downright bizarre) aspects. I can't talk about that without going heavy into nitpicking and spoilers, so maybe we should have a Skype discussion that's entirely devoted to a spoiler-heavy Star Wars conversation!
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