Friday, December 18, 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Film Review
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Domnhall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac
Series: Star Wars
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Length: 135 Minutes
"As we stand here together, we can see ourselves as one."
A brilliant line from a brilliant song. The song is "Great Hosannah" by Kula Shaker, and the line is something that's been running through my head since The Wanderer and I left the theater about an hour ago. The whole run time of the film I felt connected with my fellow moviegoers. We whooped and hollered, we cried, we laughed. Perhaps it was The Force running through us, binding us together. Perhaps it was the great sci-fi adventure film we were watching together, that just left us silent and attentive. Whatever the case may be, this is a great day for fans the world over. This is a joyous blast of a film that captivates from beginning to end.
This is Star Wars.
God, how do I attack this plot?
A scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), a soldier (John Boyega), a grizzled old smuggler named Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Han's buddy, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and an ace pilot (Oscar Isaac), are all thrown into a galaxy spanning conflict when they come across a strange little droid, who carries a fateful secret.
Meanwhile, an evil Sith apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), his militaristic peer, General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson), and their master, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), lead a massive army born from the fall of the Galactic Empire, known as The First Order, on a quest to spread their reign across the galaxy using the power of the Dark Side of The Force.
That's all I can say, because every little moment in this film, from character introductions to throwbacks to the originals, plays out in a nice little reveal. Even saying how one character meets another or where they are at the beginning of this film might ruin some of the fun, and that's in part because of the cast. Our new leads, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, are just a ton of fun to watch, and their interplay is as witty and heartwarming as some of the major players were in the Original Trilogy. Rey just kicks so much fucking ass, and Boyega's character is surprisingly complex, and both actors really get room to breathe life into these unique heroes.
Also being more than meets the eye is our wonderfully flawed, and multi-faceted villain, Kylo Ren. Adam Driver gives a perfectly solid performance, and is able to pull out some really powerful work in the film's climactic moments. Domnhall Gleeson is somewhat less memorable as General Hux, and his performance hits one sour note in the second act, but that's about the worst I can say about the acting. Even secondary and tertiary characters, like Lupita Nyon'go's character Maz Kanata within the story all felt fleshed out, and were driven by good performances. Of special note is Harrison Ford, who does his best work in years, and reminds all why we loved Han Solo in the first place. Seriously, it was awesome to see him having this much fun with a movie again.
Transformers fans will be thrilled to know that this movie blows things up real good like. The action is incredible, and unlike Tranformers, you can actually tell what the fuck is going on when things get heavy. Even during the film's utterly jaw dropping climax, you never have to wonder just what you're looking at, and instead you can slouch into your seat and soak up the ocular endorphin. Even further distancing this film from Transformers are the wonderful CG and practical effects. I was somewhat reminded of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and how that film seamlessly blended live action and animation, as I watched the screen. Everything looks phenomenal. Even the 3D, which utterly blew me away whenever a First Order Star Destroyer was on screen, was awesome. Hopefully modern audiences will snap out of their apathy induced stupor, now that there's a real action film in theaters, and we can just move on from the whole Transformers thing and lance that boil off the face of future cinema.
While this movie is the bee's knees AND the cat's meow, it's not quite 100% perfect. Sometimes the story falls victim to some predictability issues, and things get a little too similar to A New Hope in quite a few spots. Also, (on a personal note) I really wanted about 30 more minutes of Poe Dameron being a fucking King of the Skies, and blowing the shit out of TIE Fighters while looking awesome doing it, but that's a small complaint. And in spite of it, here I sit, just about two hours after I got home, pining for the next opportunity I'll have to see this film on the big screen.
On the way home, I tried sussing out a few more things I didn't like about the film, just to give it a fair rating. So, The Wanderer and I discussed the film (or more like bickered about A New Hope's standing in the Top 3 now that this film is out), and looking back, all either of us found were more reasons to like this film. Now that I'm home, and have digested the film through my thought processes some more, it's basically impossible for me to find any more faults, and as the seconds go by I just continue to recall the way the film made me feel as I was watching it, or a wonderful character that I already love, or that one moment when...
...well, let me just say...
I can't wait to see it again.