There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? It’s as if millions of voices have been crying out in anxiety and were suddenly silenced. Millions of fanboys across the galaxy have had their hopes on life support since The Phantom Menace. Will Star Wars: The Force Awakens strike back?
Kudos to J.J. Abrams for having the cojones to attempt what he just attempted… and by God, the man did it! Star Wars: The Force Awakens clears the brush and brambles that have sprawled out of control for 30 years, clearing the way to what should be an incredible new series of films.
In addition to the arduous task of creating a path between the beloved original trilogy and the future trilogy, The Force Awakens completed the strenuous task of atoning the sins of the prequels. Gone are awful chroma key backgrounds. Gone are the cartoon Cirque du Soleil lightsaber battles. And my personal favorite, gone are the stiff dialogues and wooden actors. Adam Driver gives us the Anakin Skywalker that George Lucas could never deliver.
Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo Ren was the biggest standout in a new cast full of standouts. In just one movie Kylo Ren is most developed villain in the Star Wars universe. Never before have we been so connected to the antagonist. All we knew about Vader was that he hated sand. All we knew about the emperor was that he had electric fingers. Darth Maul had a dope lightsaber. Dooku fought bouncy cartoons. Grevious had asthma… But in The Force Awakens we actually get to spend time learning about Kylo Ren. We learn who he is, where he comes from and what makes him tick.
Kylo Ren isn’t the only new character worth nothing. We are introduced to a slew of new characters that all feel completely new, while feel rather familiar, like a long lost friend from your childhood. I’m pretty sure I’ve met Finn long ago, but he doesn’t quite remind me of anyone I used to know. The same goes for our heroine Rey. While Rey is wholly unique, she and the other new characters seem like a Frankenstein’s monster of different parts of different people we used to know and love.
Generally speaking, The Force Awakens does a good job introducing characters and most of them get fleshed out enough to get me invested. Unfortunately a lot of the character development and relationship building feels rushed and some characters get sidelined for major portions of the movie. With the bulk of content the story needs to cover, the movie moves at light speed. This leads to plot holes, convenient plot devices, and neutered emotional moments.
The filmmakers are trying to cram so much information into 2 hours that the film suffers. In the process of trimming fat from the story, the filmmakers took a little too much meat. The Force Awakens is a movie that would benefit great from another 15-30 minutes. If The Wolf of Wall Street gets to be like 10 hours long, surely Star Wars can be two and a half.
Instead of letting information flow naturally and organically, characters force feed important backstories into weird places. As a result, some of the dialogue feels inhuman. Disney might have considered renaming it to Star Wars: Attack of the Exposition.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not a perfect movie. But for the first time in forever I am excited about the next Star Wars movie. I think J.J. Abrams played it safe and slow. They wanted to deliver something good and pleasing to the fans. They wanted a simple palate cleanser from the prequels. But hopefully they start to take risks in Episode VIII (spoiler alert: I think they might).
I no longer have the feeling of dread waiting for all the new and different ways George Lucas can destroy his legacy. So that fact alone makes me like The Force Awakens more than I probably should. J.J. Abrams did a great fabulous job resetting the Star Wars universe. He took a cluttered mess and prepped it for future success.
Dear Rian Johnson, you’re up. You’re gonna knock it out of the park in Episode VIII.