Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

On Sunday, we were joined by Jedi Temple Archives’ Paul Harrison to discuss our thoughts about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As life-long Star Wars fans that hold the original trilogy in high regard, Paul and I both agreed that The Force Awakens was loaded with elements that made it a solid Star Wars movie, but it lacked an original story. We liked it, but didn’t necessarily love it; not yet, at least.

The Force Awakens is an amalgamation of the best parts of previous Star Wars movies, making it feel more like an exposition of George Lucas’ cinematic works than a new story in the saga. While fast-paced, the breakneck speed leaves little room for character development and we would have loved to have spent more time learning about characters like Rey, Finn and Poe–whom we thought were played by a perfectly cast group of actors. Overall we liked The Force Awakens, but as rabid Star Wars fans we wish that J.J. Abrams would have asked “what would George Lucas do?” a little bit less and taken a few more chances in developing an original story. Despite feeling a little underwhelmed, both Paul and I have pledged that we’ll be seeing The Force Awakens again in order to let it sink in and pick up on anything we may have missed. And who knows, after a few more viewings it may grow on us.

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  • Jesus’s Best Friend Floyd

    Lol @ Dude thinking maybe they can bring back Han.

    • I’m sure your best friend Jesus would approve of your disparaging comments.

  • “We liked it, but didn’t necessarily love it; not yet, at least.”

    Am I the only one getting sick and tried of leaving a Star Wars movie feeling this. “Well maybe if I watch it again, I’ll like it more.”

    It should be simple for them to make a SW movie that we love the second we see it.

    • I genuinely like parts of TFA and wasn’t cringing in my seat during wooden dialog, a forced love story or humorless humor. There were a few times where I recall thinking “this is a Star Wars movie,” but yeah I didn’t leave this movie like I left the first Avengers or The Dark Knight and I attribute that to being blindsided by a reboot veiled as a new story. I’m wondering if seeing it a few more times and taking in everything that was crammed into the 2 hour 15 minute run time will make a difference. By no means am I complaining, I’m just not as thrilled as the general public and that may have to do with the fact that as a rabid Star Wars fan, I’ve seen this story before.

      • I saw the movie with my wife and a friend, neither of whom are ragbid Star Wars fans. They’ve both seen all the movies, but not obsessively like me. They both loved it, and I told them that’s exactly the point. There are lot more potential movie goers in that are like them than there are fanatical Star Wars nerds like me. It’s the way of the world. Businesses obsess over the customers they don’t have at the expense of the ones they do. We’ve seen this with Hasbro over the years. We saw this with JJ’s Star Trek reboot which likewise alienated a lot of hardcore Star Trek fans. I love those Star Trek movies, but I’m only a casual Star Trek fan.

        I don’t think TFA is bad movie making. It’s markedly better than the movie making in the Prequel Trilogy. But I will say the third act suffers from atrociously bad Saturday morning cartoon writing which is worse than almost everything in the PT aside from the stilted dialog between the two supposed lovers. I could seriously compile a list of 20 things that are laughably bad about that 3rd act.

        The last thing I will comment about is the score. I have to give that an incomplete grade because JJ didn’t give me a blessed chance to even notice it. In both the OT and PT, the score comes alive to me in the quiet contemplative moments or relatively still moments like when Luke is staring at the setting suns or witnessing there sheer awesomeness of the Empire’s military. JJ barely gave us any of these moments (Rey in the Star Destroyer carcass is the only one that springs to mind). Think of Vader’s shuttle arriving at the Death Star in Jedi. It was slow and controlled and it allowed us to appreciate the grandeur of scale. When that shot is remade for Episode 9, the shuttle will race past the screen with five escort TIE Fighters frantically buzzing around like bees.

        • I think you nailed it. Once again, this is a Star Wars movie that isn’t intended for the hardcore fans; it’s intended for the masses. I get the business decision behind it, but I’m sad that many of us have dumped countless dollars and time obsessing on a series that we’ll never “own” again.

          I’m with you, TFA isn’t necessarily a bad movie, it’s just not what I think fans were expecting based on the direction we were told J.J. and Disney were taking. If they said it was going to be a reboot with new blood, I would have gone into it with different expectations and may have enjoyed it more b/c I wouldn’t have been as surprised.

          Finally, I’m taking Paul’s advice on listening to the soundtrack independently of the movie, but I will note that there were a few moments where I did notice the score. Those moments where when the OT tracks play and when Kylo Ren’s theme played. Kylo’s theme was nowhere near as intimidating as the Imperial March. I’m not sure if this was done on purpose to show that he’s not as intimidating, but I’ll equate it to this: a movie reviewer at the Vatican wrote TFA was confused with a foggy story and that the villain was not evil enough. When the Vatican thinks Kylo Ren isn’t evil, something’s off 😉

  • LadyFerry

    I have to come clean. I absolutely hated Episode 7.

    Yesterday, I went to see this movie with an open-mind with hopes of seeing something new and fresh in the Star Wars universe.

    What I witnessed couldn’t be furthest from the truth…

    The Force Awakens falls short of greatness because it never fully embraces the new, exciting energy Abrams and his cast bring to the franchise.

    The movie is reactionary—an absolutely childish reaction to the prequels a small portion of bitter fan boys/fan girls loved to hate, and a security blanket bribe from Disney J.J Abrams giving these fools what they want to see, which turns out to be a movie that is all style over substance with a weak story.

    While no one expects Star Wars to disrupt cinema, the movie’s greatest weakness is in how it tries to look tall by standing on the shoulders of the giant original trilogy, by blatantly ‘copy-and-pasting’ what was the premise of the original trilogy making an original (sequel) trilogy MK 2.0.

    It’s script is ludicrous, riddled with coincidences and a fealty to existing text that a less forgiving person might call lazy.

    The filmmakers have literally gutted the carcass of George Lucas’s previous original trilogy of Star Wars films deeply, to proffer up recognisable elements albeit rearranged into something new like the big-budget ‘cash cow’ Disney will make billions from…

    I am speechless.

    3/10

    • I’m torn. There were elements in TFA that I both loved and hated. The one thing that’s certain is that I’m not seeing the amazing movie that critics are buzzing about.

      When TFA started and the invasion force arrived on Jakku, it felt like Star Wars and I remember thinking that we’re finally getting a Star Wars movie that feels like a Star Wars movie! That feeling slowly dissipated and the feeling that I’ve seen this movie before started settling in as the story moved forward. I was realizing that the script was a reboot veiled as a new story, with a new cast. The thing is, I absolutely loved the new cast. They had great energy, were interesting and were perfectly selected for their roles. I would have preferred to see a new story revolving around them instead of what equated to an amalgamated retelling of the original Star Wars trilogy. I still don’t understand why they’d bring back the original cast and not send them off together in one last hurrah? The thought that Han and Luke won’t share a scene together is incredibly disappointing.

      The coincidences in TFA didn’t bother me as much as obvious fear of failing on J.J. Abrams and Disney’s parts. It’s evident that both were so terrified that the movie wouldn’t live up to fan expectations that they created a story that was a study of George Lucas’ works instead of something creative and innovative that could stand on its own. Heck as much as I cringe during parts of the PT, I still commend Lucas for his creativity. I contest that had he not been surrounded by “yes men” and instead had some push back form a producer or studio things would have turned out better.

      I still don’t know how I’d rank TFA because I’d like to see it again and reevaluate it. I am starting to realize, however, that in the OT George Lucas captured lighting in a bottle. He was surrounded by a talented cast and crew, and studio that pushed back when necessary resulting in a fantastic, original series of movies that may be impossible to recreate.

    • Tom Devito

      What a cutie

    • I’m trying not to allow myself to think this because the result means that Star Wars has officially become just another tent-pole movie. You won’t be bored for two hours, but in a few years you’ll be hard pressed to remember more than two or three lines of dialog. It’s just routine with the same formulaic and studio demanded plot beats. Even though I am critical of the PT, I can still recite dozens of lines by rote.

      In a sports analogy, I’m realizing that TFA was “playing not to lose” as opposed to “playing to win”.

      Oh, mighty George Lucas, please forgive me for my sins. I was critical of you at every turn, but won’t you please come back. I will take trying and failing over painting by numbers. I have learned my lesson.

  • Thanks for sharing @SanfordandSon72:disqus. I’m starting to see more and more longtime fans saying they were underwhelmed by TFA. People are misconstruing our critique as complaints and that’s kind of frustrating. For me, at this point, TFA sits between the OT and PT in terms of ranking.

    As you’ve mentioned TFA has flashes of Star Wars brilliance coupled with bad, inconsistent story telling that makes little or no sense, characters that serve very little purpose (at this point), and way too many unanswered questions. I’m with you about Han Solo dying. I get why it happened and I’ve heard theories that he was sacrificed so that Kylo Ren could fool Snoke in order to defeat him, but I still don’t like the fact that the big three were cast for E7 and they didn’t appear on-screen together one last time. That’s what I really wanted out of TFA more than anything.

  • no lumpy! :’ (

  • hey man, give me your phasma figures. 😉

  • hey paul, do yourself a favor and watch some star trek! tng, and most people say ds9, though i haven’t seen it.

  • SS21O

    Are we talking spoilers yet? Am I the only one who chuckled to himself when you know who didn’t get one line in entire movie at the end? lol

    • I didn’t think it was funny. I was pissed b/c the big 3 didn’t share any screen time. If you’re going to bring them together, at least give them on last hurrah before they ride into the sunset.

  • Just a quick update that I saw TFA for a second time over the Christmas holiday. I watched it with a less critical eye and just tried to enjoy it. I can see how people like it; it’s a fun movie. I enjoyed it and some of the things that bothered me during my initial viewing didn’t seem to bother me as much the second time around. I will reiterate, however, that for Star Wars fans there’s nothing new in TFA in terms of storytelling. It’s a reboot that leaves a lot of stones unturned and doesn’t stand well on its own.