A Casual Fan’s Review of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

star-wars-force-awakens(Warning: spoilers ahead) I held off visiting the IMDB boards until I saw the movie as to avoid any potential spoilers. Upon finally seeing it on Wednesday and deciding to take a look at what people had to say, I was aghast at what I saw. A mixture of trolls and people with seemingly nothing else to do with their lives bashing the hell out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While reviews have mostly been positive and the film is setting box office records left and right, there seems to be a fringe of people who have it in for the J.J Abrams creation. I can take solace in the fact that he and Disney are laughing all the way to the bank, but what intrigues me is how most of these people doing the ripping appear to be die-hard fans of the original trilogy. People who arrived at the theater and would not allow themselves to enjoy this movie no matter what the end result. The nit-pickers, the pot-stirrers, the people who think they can write a better story themselves when they have never written anything else in their lives. My message to you? Get a freakin’ life. There are plenty of die-hards who love the movie, and that is because they are here for the ride and want to have fun, not make a statement.

I’ve seen every Star Wars film from the first two trilogies multiple times, but I am not a fanatic. I consider myself a “casual fan” if such a term can be used here. They’re not my favorite flicks, but I think they are all well-made, George Lucas is one of the most creative artists to ever live, and appreciate their ability to deliver me from this chaotic world to a galaxy far, far away where I can forget everything for a few hours. No matter what in these seven movies I liked or didn’t like, I don’t think I could have written it any better, or hoped for it to turn out differently. The plots have become their own subculture. Not flat scripts, but a whole other universe with complicated intricacies and characters like the world we live in. For anyone other than Lucas to undertake a new trilogy is a monumental task. I think Abrams nailed it. The special effects are outstanding and Oscar-worthy, the story was strong, characters developed, and no matter what any 30-year-old troll who lives in mommy’s basement will tell you, this was not “fan fiction” or fan appeasement in any way.

Some themes do repeat, but it manages to be refreshing to see what happened beyond Return of the Jedi. Kylo Ren, I believe, has his character more developed by the first half of The Force Awakens than Darth Vader did in the entire original trilogy. That is why I seem to like him more. Mask, voice, and cool light-saber aside, he is not just pure evil, but a tragic figure caught in the maelstrom of good vs. evil. Until the end of what would become episode VI when he reconciles with Luke, we don’t feel sorry for Vader. He’s evil, plain and simple, and we want to see him destroyed. Ren, on the other hand, still has some good in him. Remember, he was very close to joining his father Han Solo and switching to the light side before a last second decision ended the run of my favorite character of the whole saga. He is torn between right and wrong, and for that we sympathize.

Solo, though I was sad to see him killed off, had to be done away with to advance the saga and usher in the next generation. I knew he was going to die, not from spoilers or really even gut instinct, but Harrison Ford’s own desire as an actor to be done with that character. The only thing I was worried about would be if they gave him a worthy death, which they did. He looks into his son’s eyes and with a careful caress of his cheek plummets to his death with a look on his face of peace and understanding despite how he died and who killed him. Will Ren come around to the light side in future movies? Time will tell, but that little tug-of-war in his mind will keep us wondering. There’s a depth here which the prequel trilogy barely achieved.

Personally, I felt the weakest link in the entire movie was Carrie Fisher’s performance. There’s a whole viral debate ongoing online about whether or not she aged well. To me, that’s not an issue at all, but she does appear to have had so much work or Botox done that her lips do not move when she talks, leaving her absent of emotion. This really affects her acting. She looks fine as a character, but when she talks it comes across as wooden and detached. Harrison Ford, on the other hand, is surprisingly invigorating. Given his age and wanting to be finished with Star Wars, I wondered how he would look. He managed to bring a good albeit slightly subdued energy to the set, and had great chemistry with John Boyega as Finn.

I give this movie 9 out of 10 stars. I also recognize that there are two types of 9-star ratings. There’s “Oh my God, that was amazing!” and “Wow, that was very well-made”. I am going with the latter, but that doesn’t take anything away from how I feel about the film. In a way, I feel those who are obsessed are the ones who really missed out. Rather than go in with an open mind, relax, and enjoy, they were determined to hate this movie. If you don’t like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that’s perfectly fine. But what is your reasoning? If its “Because Disney sucks, the story sucks, and I could have done it better!”, you don’t really have much of a case. This was the take on the latest from the biggest film franchise in history from a casual fan. I may not be able to hold a conversation about the “expanded universe” and what is or is not considered “canon”, but I do know a good movie when I see one.

P.S: As a side note, how much do you think Mark Hamill got paid to stand there silently on the mountain for twenty seconds at the end of the movie?

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