Lucien’s Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force AwakensFor the not one single person who was waiting for it, here is my review.  I have finally seen the new Star Wars movie.  Let me tell you, I have a lot to talk about.  Given that all of you have already seen it, this is probably going to be me talking to myself, but my comments section is wide open, people.  Feel free to jump on board and hate or like what I have to say.  I know that I am going to polarize some people.  I have some positive things to say, and some negative things to say.  People who know what kind of story I like might see my issues coming.  For the rest of you, let’s get going.

For the one person who hasn’t seen this movie, this movie is pretty much just a REALLY nice re-skin of the original film.  You have a secret McGuffin that a droid has, and the droid is on a desert world, hiding out from the Empire.  Wait, never mind.  It’s the First Order in this movie.  It’s the Empire.  Complete with stormtroopers and everything.  We’ll get to them in a moment.  For those who want to come at me for saying that this is a re-skin of the original film (I’ve noticed that nerds take that a little personally), I’m not trash-talking this movie for that quality.  As I said, it’s a good-looking re-skin.  If you gotta play to nostalgia, at least they did right by that.  It actually did feel like Star Wars.  That is a point in this movie’s favor.  Anyway, you get a new protagonist named Rey, and another protagonist named Finn, and now the race is on to get the information to the Rebellion (oh, I’m sorry, Resistance) before the evil dudes are able to destroy the world.  For real, this movie is not that complicated.  It wasn’t made to be.  Believe it or not, I don’t have a problem with that.

What did I like?  There are things to talk about there.  First, there is the fact that this movie definitely learned from the prequel trilogy.  There were honest-to-Groj sets in this movie!  That was so refreshing.  There were puppets and other kinds of actual creatures that were made with practical effects.  I loved that!  It was nice to see a Star Wars film that actually felt like it was part of a universe that you could feel and touch.  That was a real step in the right direction.  One that I hope they will continue.  The only time I was ever taken out of it was when Han and Kylo were on that bridge, and the obvious green-screen effect was there.  Other than that, this movie was able to combine practical and digital very well.  Props to them for that.

Next up is the action sequences.  Well, some of them.  To be specific, I mean the lightsaber stuff.  The battle between Kylo and Finn was one of the best action sequences in the film.  His fight with Rey was also not bad, but it had less weight, I think.  Partly because of my issues with Rey’s character.  Which brings me to the bad stuff.  I need to get some stuff off my chest.

Let’s head off a talking point – Rey isn’t a Mary Sue.  For those of you who want to know what that archetype is, go to Urban Dictionary or TV Tropes.  Either source will work.  For her to be a Mary Sue, that would have required her to have a personality.  Now I get to piss off the people at Vice and The Mary Sue who wrote about how empowered she is.  She’s not.  Rey isn’t as boring as Luke was in the original films, but that REALLY isn’t saying much.  She is definitely the most boring character in this film, but the truth is that the problem with her is the problem that I have with almost every character in this movie that isn’t ones from the previous movies.

You know what this movie could have used – some quiet time.  Some time for us to get to know these characters on the screen.  Some time for us to really dive into their personalities.  Why?  Because this film was DROWNING in plot!  They kept going from set-piece to set-piece, and the whole thing just gave me whiplash!  Like, they have this Mega Death Star.  Okay.  What’s that?  That whole deal is solved by the end of this movie?  Alright.  We have a TON of characters, all with what are supposed to be complicated motivations, but the fact is that we have almost no time to get to know them.  Like Kylo Ren.

Let’s talk about Kylo Ren.  This guy was cool, until he took his mask off.  My ability to take this character seriously ended there.  The people in the theater I was in looked over when I started laughing.  It was funny!  He’s so…gay.  He’s so fucking gay.  He’s the gayest villain I’ve seen in a while.  Almost all of it was tied into that stupid-ass haircut.  Who could take that seriously?  Millennials?  I guess so, since there were WAY too many young people in this movie.  Half the characters looked to be around the age of millennials.  Why?  Because they wanted to appeal to a target audience?  Yeah, that makes sense.  Like the other commander of the First Order.  This guy looks younger than me.  I’m 27.  How on Earth is someone with the rank of General that young?  Not to mention – he isn’t the least bit intimidating.  The casting for this movie’s villains was fucking awful.  Not one of these character had a discernible personality that I could describe via the Red Letter Media test.

Why did none of these characters have any personality?  Because there was way too fucking much happening in this movie.  This film had a plot that should have been stretched out to two movies.  This movie should have ended with the scene where the Mega Death Star attacks the bunch of planets.  That would have been a good stopping point.  It would have had the tension at its peak.  Rey would have been discovering her Jedi side.  Finn would have been leaving, but then deciding to stay when he sees what the First Order is capable of.  But more than any of that, it would have made it so that we had time to get to know these characters.  Some quiet time, you know?

Like, we see Rey and Han starting something that is almost paternal.  I would have liked to see more done with that.  Especially given some spoiler stuff with Han and his own family.  That would have made a nice dichotomy.  It also would have allowed us to get in his head.  Getting into the heads of these characters would have been nice, but to do so would have detracted from the set-pieces.

I want to like this movie, guys.  I really do.  From a production stand-point, there’s nothing inherantly wrong with it.  But because I didn’t go into this with nostalgia goggles on, I was able to look at this objectively and say that this movie could have been so much better.  Maybe have the film end with Rey getting kidnapped, after Mega Death Stars blows shit up.  Then everything’s going to shit, and it sets up the next film.  We would even have gotten to see some lightsaber stuff, which was cool.  But this movie had WAY too much going on, and we never got a chance to breathe.  Between all the things that were OBVIOUS throw-backs to the original films, and the characters who lack any depth, I just can’t say that I think this is a movie that was worth my time.

If you like this film, I don’t blame you.  If the nostalgia and seeing lightsabers and X-Wings gets your jimmys off, good for you.  I have made no secret that I like character-driven narratives more than plot-driven ones.  And here was a plot-driven one that almost-never gave you a chance to think.  Do with that whatever you will.  Which brings us to the most controversial part.  This isn’t going to make me any friends.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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