Warning: Some minor spoilers may follow.
Five years ago, I would not have believed you if you told me there would be a seventh Star Wars film. After a US$4 billion acquisition, an incredible amount of hype across various media platforms and a well-practiced intention to keep details of the script away from the public, we were finally presented with The Force Awakens.
Characters and Acting
I thought the casting choices were justified, and that you could easily empathize and connect with the likable main characters. Daisy Ridley delivers as the headstrong and valiant Rey, while John Boyega brings a more relatable and down-to-earth persona to Finn. Harrison Ford gives a great performance as an older Han Solo and his chemistry with Chewbacca and Leia just feels organic and refreshing.
As much as I like Adam Driver’s exceptional acting in HBO’s Girls, I felt that the decision to cast him as Kylo Ren led to mixed results. While he brought a different take to a Star Wars villain, I never felt like he was ever threatening or even intimidating as an antagonist. It is important to note that because his character is different from the conventional brooding Darth Vader, there is potential and room for his character to grow and develop into a more sinister persona in the following sequels.
Some characters that did not have that many scenes included the starfighter Poe Dameron and Supreme Leader Snoke, and thus cannot be judged fairly in perspective of the trilogy as a whole. Thankfully, these characters might be developed further in the next two movies. Other characters like Captain Phasma seemed rather unnecessary.
Script and Story
Finn (John Boyega) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) had believable character motivations. I never felt like at any point in the movie they were doing something illogical or wrong to their character’s nature. The writing for these characters was well developed.
On the pacing front, even though I know that a major complaint of the prequels was that there was too much exposition, I still feel that we may have needed a little more time to get to know Finn and Rey a little better as characters.
I recall a scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo and Princess Leia were desperately trying to get out of the space slug in which they had mistakenly landed the Millennium Falcon. As they were escaping in the Millennium Falcon out of the space slug, the banter between them felt natural and real. With Finn and Rey, it may have felt a little forced. It just sometimes felt like they were two characters thrown into the midst of the action. Take the part where Finn and Rey were leaving Jakku due to the threat of the First Order. All Rey did was tell Finn to stop grabbing her hand as he guided her away from each new threat.
The plot did feel a little safe but all in all it was logical and it guided the audience in a clear direction. This movie was not really that ambitious but it did set the tone for the sequels very well. The humour wasn’t overdone either.
The lightsaber fight scene in the third act was visually stunning. I think they also did a great job drawing the audience into a Star Wars universe. Not even once did I feel that the scenes were actually shot in actual deserts in Dubai. This immersive experience took me back to when I was witnessing the Forest of Endor in Return of the Jedi. The setting felt believable and tangible as part of their universe. A breathtaking scene that encapsulates the new artistic direction was that of the Millennium Falcon as it soared through a desert with remnants of the ruins of star destroyers in the background.
Presentation, Special Effects and Music
The combination of CGI and prosthetics really worked out well in creating a living and breathing environment of the world of The Force Awakens. John Williams’ score felt appropriate and reliable in adding depth to many of the scenes in the movie. Whether it’s the “Scavenger” theme being played as we’re introduced to Rey in the unforgiving deserts of Jakku or “The Ways of the Force” as a lightsaber battle begins in snowy forest, the scores always feel like extensions of the movie that propel the cinematic sights to newer highs.
I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For a film with so much expectations riding over its back, it did not crumble to the ground like Jar Jar Binks’s contribution to the story in The Phantom Menace. It set the tone for a new trilogy very well, and delivered with a few great moments.
For a Trekkie’s take on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, visit: https://www.republicanpost.sg/star-wars-the-force-awakens-review-a-trekkies-take/