So much to say, too much to unload. Considering the sheer level of hype poured down on this movie, it’s fair to accept that it was never ever going to live up to the hype. I probably need to watch again to absorb all the nuances but basically, what I feel is that The Force Awakens is either a Star Wars reboot or a fan-made tribute or eye candy searching desperately for a story or perhaps all of the above.
Overall, what I liked – the practical special effects, the dazzling sets, Daisy Ridley & John Boyega, the nostalgic nods to the original trilogy, the Marvel-esque humour, the return of beloved characters and virtually no reference to the prequel trilogy (except maybe a mention of the clone army).
What I disliked – JJ Abrams’ penchant of burying an incoherent plot under mountains of action sequences (see Star Trek Into Darkness), lack of characterisations for the new characters resulting in very one-dimensional cyphers, YET ANOTHER DEATH STAR (although the ‘Starkiller’ in-joke was a good riposte), Rey’s use & control of amazing Force powers without any training whatsoever (thereby making previous pronouncements of Obi-wan & Yoda silly), Luke Skywalker being characterised as a coward (running away from his problems rather than confronting them like a man) and yes, the pointless demise of our favourite smuggler scoundrel.
It did seem to me that Abrams’ goal was to make a fawning tribute to the original trilogy without any attempt to tell a proper story. To that end, he had to cram in as many nostalgic references as humanly possible to get the audience ‘oohs and aahs’ over the sight of the Millennium Falcon parked conveniently in the Jakku desert, Rey’s totally out-of-the-blue Jedi mind trick, Kylo Ren praying to Darth Vader’s helmet, a revamped cantina scene, R2-D2 hiding under a sheet in the corner etc etc etc.
Which is fine BUT where was the story? At the end, it felt like I was watching Maze Runner, yes, Maze fucking Runner — the entire movie seemed like a setup for the remaining two to come.
Star Wars (the original, please don’t call it The New Hope – ugh) was self-contained and whilst there were questions raised – that were unfortunately badly answered in the prequels – these were not integral to an understanding of the story. It does appear that in order to understand The Force Awakens, one will have to wait for Episode VIII and IX.
Sure, folks complained a lot about how bad the prequel trilogy was in that it was chock full of talking heads in exposition, but The Force Awakens is the polar opposite – there is hardly any exposition at all. Virtually nothing is explained. Is that a strength or a flaw?
At this moment, I really cannot decide. Wait and see…
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in the cinemas now.