**This is a spoiler-free zone. By “spoiler-free” I mean I will not be revealing any part of the plot, character development, or anything that would give away parts of the movie you haven’t already viewed in the movie trailers. However, I will be giving my impressions of the film in generalized, obscure ways that will reveal (a) if I liked or disliked it, (b) why I did or didn’t like it. If those two things count as spoilers for you, PLEASE DON’T READ THIS!**
I was one of the countless moviegoers who impatiently waited, fretted, and pre-planned their chance to go see the record breaking film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I’m not what you’d call a “hardcore fan” by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even particularly fond of the fantasy genre (e.g., didn’t care much for the LOTR trilogy, never saw Harry Potter). I think that may actually play to my advantage in giving this movie a more balanced review not biased by nostalgia or like emotional attachment for the series.
Yes, I have seen all the Star Wars films. And like I said, I was never big on the series. But I am a huge cinephile. I was excited about this movie mainly due to the trailer, internet buzz, and a basic inner apprehension (maybe the force?) telling me, “This movie can’t be worse than the prequels, Sincere. C’mon, it doesn’t have Hayden Christensen. It doesn’t have Jar Jar. Go see it. Give it a chance.”
And so I did…and I am so freaking glad I did! From the opening crawl credits to its conclusion, I experienced smart craftsmanship, layers, and “soul” that really sucked me into the Star Wars Universe and had me inwardly cheering at certain spots and caring about the two main protagonists.
Smart craftsmanship: The direction was excellent. J.J. Abrams incisively delivered a film that really didn’t have wasted beats, unlike so many littered within the prequels (IMO). Just a lot of smart decisions due to having Abrams at the helm. Also: Comedy. No, this movie wasn’t a comedy, but there were several spots throughout that were funny. Again, it was done tastefully. Not overdone.
Layers: I greatly appreciate the choices they made with most of the character choices and where they took them from beginning to end. I think the right choices were made with effectively telling backstories, both with what was and wasn’t revealed.
I went in thinking, “Yeah, we have a brother representing! Finally!” But it didn’t take long for me to decide my favorite character was Rey. I love her! I think she’s just what the franchise needs: A strong, intelligent, and self-determined protagonist who doesn’t fall into most of the tropes we’re used to seeing with female characters. Daisy Ridley is a superstar.
I enjoyed Finn. I liked that he wasn’t what I expected. What’s more, he wasn’t just there, he brought something to the story that was necessary. Strong performance from John Boyega.
Kylo Ren: I really, really enjoyed this character. Again, you saw depth. And I like (again, smart decision IMO) how they chose to not play to tropes that’s already been done with characters like him (referring to something specific here).
All the stars you remember from the original Star Wars played their parts well. Huge kudos to Ford to really pulling off the aged Han Solo. He really did a good job, I think.
“Soul”: I’m of course not referring to anything certain woo or religious beliefs imagine to exist. What I mean is this movie had an intangible quality…It had “the thing” that separates certain films from others. We remember movies like Taxi Driver, The Shawshank Redemption, E.T., and The Intouchables (if you’re into foreign films) for their magical essence that connects with us in a rare and memorable way. The Force Awakens had the “magic” that I believe enthralled moviegoers way back in 1977. I think it rekindled the splendor that first birthed the unique and gargantuan Star Wars fandom.
That was the good…here are some of the things I didn’t love.
Here’s something some may have a problem with but I certainly didn’t: The movie didn’t overdo it on backstory. I felt they gave you just enough, but some may see it as not enough. I thought it was a smart decision given the fact that the director’s trying to pack a 30 year gap of events into 2 hours. I’m confident that, whatever we’re not fully clear on now, we’ll get more of in the next installment(s).
I felt that there were some inconsistencies with a couple characters, one in particular. That was kind of annoying.
While I think Kylo Ren is an awesome character, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about everything they chose to do with him…
There were a couple deus ex machina’s, which is common in these kinds of films. Still, there was one or two spots where I thought it would’ve been more interesting had they found a way to avoid using this plot device.
That’s about it. It’s really hard to complain about this movie.
The performances were solid and the story worked for the most part for me. It had just enough nostalgia to make you smile, but not too much to make you go, “Okay, we get it.” If you haven’t yet gone to see this movie, I think you will be very entertained. At the same time, don’t go in with huge expectations of watching an impeccable film. If you do that, as it would be the case with most all films, you’ll come away disappointed.
That said, I was absolutely emotionally satisfied with this 7th installment. A very fun film that I may go back and see again.
For the spoilers version, please see Here’s The Thing About The Force Awakens…(Spoilers Galore: Enter at Your Own Peril)