Well, this film obviously needs no introduction. A film series that set off a thousand spawns and imitators, launching the young actors and actresses who starred in it into the stratosphere and the main creator into being one of the most famous (and now infamous) directors alive today. So let us have no further delay, and press on with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Peter Mayhew and is directed by JJ Abrams. Set thirty years after Episode VI, the film follows duo Rey (Ridley) and Finn (Boyega) as they try to deliver secret plans to the Resistance and attempt to fight a new threat to the Galactic Republic, The First Order.
Despite being a new trilogy, Episode VII is pretty much a love letter to the original trilogy and it’s fans. Many of the sets look like they’ve been ripped straight from the old series and given a polish (it’s seems all the planets in the entire galaxy are either deserts, snow or forests) and many of the old cast return for varying amounts of time. Unfortunately, it’s in these moments where I was the least interested in The Force Awakens and because JJ Abrams wants to mollify fanboys, he feels he has to make the film primarily about them rather than the more interesting new cast. It feels more like a fan service film rather than an actually good film.
The new cast is primarily Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, who all excel at their roles. Isaac is well known for his work in cinema and look’s like he’s having the time of his life as ace fighter pilot Poe, but the most praise should go to Ridley and Boyega. While the duo have both done some acting work before, they are relative newcomers compared to Isaac, and they both deliver in the action and the emotion. It looks like Abrams is setting up a new Luke/Leia/Han trio, but with some surprising reveals during act two and three show that it’s going to be hard to pin down which new character is meant to link up with their older counterpart. Sadly, the script does it’s best to try and destroy the chemistry between the three, with many instances of characters sitting down and explaining what has been happening in the time between the films to camera.
In an attempt to harken back to the originals, a lot more emphasis has been put on model work and puppets rather than excessive CGI. The creative teams behind Star Wars have done a fantastic job at creating several believable worlds and aliens that require no added computer wizardry, including the little R2D2 clone BB-8, who was a real-life prop instead of a CGI creation. The CGI that has been used however, looks great. The lightsabers have exquisite detailing, and it’s a joy to watch them get thrown around by the cast. Unlike the light-rods of previous films, the sabers here pop and fizzle, with Dark Lord Kylo Ren’s claymore lightsaber reacting with the falling snow during one battle, making it flicker and fade during the fight.
The Force Awakens leaves me sad however. Say what you will about the prequels, but at least they had a narrative ending. It seems now, with the sequel-bait at the end of Episode VII, and Disney planning on releasing a Star Wars based film every year, I feel as though we are never going to get a satisfying closure to film in this franchise ever again.
In summary, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has a great cast and a compelling intellectual property, but there just seems to be something lacking, a disturbance in the force if you will. Maybe it’s due to there not being much narrative flair, or the rather dull and expository script, or how it tries to evoke so much of the previous films that it doesn’t carve out it’s own niche in the series. I can’t fault Abrams for his enthusiasm, but I find his lack of new material…disturbing.
Score: 7/10 It’s good. It’s not great.