Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

star-wars-force-awakens-official-posterSo tonight, I went into our local theater and prepared myself to get lost in the galaxy far, far away. I’ll admit, I had a bit of trepidation going in; like I said yesterday, I had been in this position before, only to get burned. But I’ve liked what I’ve seen in the previews and trailers. I’ve appreciate J. J. Abrams’s desire to keep the plot under wraps so that people could go in and experience the movie fresh. And I’ll admit, I got chills when I saw the Lucasfilm logo, even more so when I saw the “Long time ago” card at the beginning. I’ve just now gotten back from the theater after soaking it all in, so it’s all sort of fresh and new. My opinions and thoughts may change after multiple viewings (because who am I kidding? I’m going to see this at least one more time in the theater). But here are my thoughts on the movie.

Oh, and I’ll be good. No spoilers. Honest. I’m going to honor J. J. Abrams’s wishes and allow people to go in to the movie with fresh eyes. That means I won’t post any sort of plot summary here. Instead, I’ll just dive right into my thoughts.

When it’s all said and done, I would say that this movie is definitely a worthy successor of the original trilogy. It’s a far sight better than the prequels, that’s for sure. Abrams’s reliance on “practical effects” was refreshing and made the world seem a whole lot more real than the prequels ever were. There’s a return to the original aesthetic, a universe that appears lived in and worn. The visuals had the right feel to it all, and that was a huge step in the right direction. Abrams also packed in a couple of fun surprises and Easter eggs, and there were probably more that I missed.

And John Williams. Do I need to say more? And the original cast returning. It was fun seeing Harrison Ford running around with the walking carpet once again.

Overall, I was really pleased with this movie. I liked it. But I wouldn’t be a true Star Wars fan (and a writer at heart) if I didn’t do a little nitpicking. And again, I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

Let’s start with the tone of some of the dialogue. There were times when the dialogue sounded too “modern” to me. As in, this is the sort of thing that modern Americans would be saying. I’m not saying I’m expecting Shakespeare, but a few of the lines delivered by the actors didn’t sit quite right in my ear and sort of jolted me out of the story. It’s a small thing, but it bugged me.

Second, there was the muddle about political systems. In the original trilogy, politics were simple. Empire is bad. Rebellion is good. Easy peasy. George Lucas’s desire to mire himself in the arcane politics of the Old Republic in the prequels really messed those movies up. And, at first, things seemed pretty straight forward in this movie until about the halfway point. That was when I really started thinking about some of the things that were being said and I was left scratching my head, thinking, “Okay, how do all these political pieces fit together?” Maybe it’ll be explained in future movies. Maybe? Maybe I won’t care by then, but it didn’t seem like this was thought-through all that well or, if it was, it didn’t have a good enough (or any) explanation.

Third, let’s talk about Kylo Ren, just a little. When he first appears on screen, it’s intimidating. Very reminiscent of Darth Vader striding onto Princess Leia’s ship. He did something that made me sit up and gasp. Very, very cool. And I have to admit, he was just mysterious enough that it made me want to know what his backstory was (which I’m assuming we’ll learn about in future movies, probably with Episode VIII). But as the movie wore on, he started to shrink a little. Then a lot. By the end of the movie, I wasn’t nearly as impressed with him. If he’s the new movies’ big bad, he needs to step it up by a lot.

And finally, the Star Wars geek in me was not pleased with… oh, I don’t know how I can explain this without dropping spoilers. Hmmmm….

Okay, I think I can put it this way and still keep my promise of no spoilers. I wasn’t pleased with some of the stuff that happened after the Force awakened at the end of the movie. It strained the bounds of credulity just a bit the way…. GAH! I want to talk about it, but I really can’t.

So should you go see this movie? I’d say yes. I enjoyed myself. I thought it was very well done. I’ll definitely be in line for Episode VIII (and Rogue One and whatever else Lucasfilm cooks up). My enthusiasm might just be a little tempered is all.

Author @JohnWOtte shares his (spoiler-free, honest!) thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Click To Tweet

So how about you? Seen it yet? What did you think?

3 Comments:

  1. I’m with you on your points. If Darth Vader a fully realized Sith Lord, Kyle was more of a whiny teen. Maybe there’s more with the shadowy figure, there just wasn’t enough back story to make me really care/fear for the new characters. That being said, I’d see it again and I recommend it. It felt very original Trilogy Star Wars.

  2. Thanks, John, for the “no spoiler” review … I’ll be seeing it Monday!

  3. No spoilers, just teasers – but I have to wait till the DVD release in April.

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