I am not a major Star Wars fan, but I had seen all of the first six movies in the order they were released. I had enjoyed most of them and was curious to see what new stuff Disney could put out. The Force Awakens takes place about 30 years after the events of the Return of the Jedi and all of the returning actors show their age. I’ll admit that I haven’t read the literature and other lore, and will be basing this review purely on the movies without taking into account all the fan fiction and even the books that are considered canon.
The movie doesn’t really hold up as an independent film, but as a part of the series, it is passable. It feels mostly like a reminiscing of A New Hope where Disney is trying to generate more cash, without touching the story as much as possible. If George Lucas were involved, he’d probably be willing to take more risks with the characters and also be ready to bear the brunt of the fans. Disney on the other hand is taking no risks, making sure they give the fans exactly what they want. Even though most people have given the movie a thumbs-up, I think it makes the movie a predictable and average experience for returning fans, while becoming a run-of-the-mill sci-fi flick that the new viewers will soon forget. Rehashing the same content while doing fan service is exactly how you kill a series with so much potential. Disney does not know what it has in its hands.
DISNEY DOES NOT KNOW WHAT IT HAS IN ITS HANDS.
The movie offers nothing of value to new viewers that can make them go and watch the previous movies. The movie will purely survive out of nostalgia, fanboi love and its closeness to the original trilogy. The same thing cannot be said of the next two movies that are poised to come out.
Another interesting point to note is that Star Wars as a franchise is worth more than the Harry Potter and James Bond franchises combined. It is also worth more than the entire GDP of actual countries like Jordan and Paraguay.
A lot of scenes are almost intentionally reminiscent of the original trilogy:
- The narrow walkway above the shaft where Han Solo is killed by Kylo Ren
- Maz Kanata’s watering hole where the heroes are spotted by the villian’s spies
- The Supreme leader Snoke as the Sith master of Kylo Ren
Die hard fans may find themselves wishing dearly for Solo to survive, but it looks like Han Solo is gone for good this time: since his own son kills him and the body falls into the depths of the spaceship.
The final fight between Rey and Ren is drab and predictable. The outcome is obvious before the fight even begins and Kylo Ren is not a particularly intimidating villian. I do like that crossguard lightsaber is actually put to use and is not merely ornamental.
One of the reasons why I liked the Star Wars movies was because of the memorable bad guys. Their menacing portrayal, dialogues and legacy is something that has spawned several jokes, articles, art, discussions. Kylo Ren does not fit the bill at all. Being Han and Leia’s son is the only thing he’s got going for him.
The movie completely avoids the prequel trilogy. Midiclorians, Anakin, and others from the prequel trilogy are never mentioned.
I still hope that the story will improve in the next two movies, but it is probably futile.