Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - Average Joe Review

So, on December 23, 2015, I went to the theater to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. And this is my review of the movie.

First off, this review is spoiler free. You're welcome.

Also, I will add that I haven't seen any of the prior Star Wars films, prequel or otherwise. GASP! I saw a few snippets on TV when I was little and instantly disliked the franchise. Many years later, I realize that I saw a snippet of the prequels on TV, not the original trilogy.

As my first Star Wars film, I was very pleased for this to be my introduction to the franchise. Even if the movie itself was terrible, the music on its own would bring up its rating by 3! J.J. Abrams pulled off something in this movie that, had it not gone as well as it did, would've had... let me just say bad consequences within the Star Wars fandom (which is basically every adult at this point). Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and every frame was a pleasure.

I am not quite sure if this film lives up to the hype, but The Force Awakens sure does a good job at attempting to. I highly doubt any film could live up to the amount of hype that surrounded Episode 7 (ahem, Age of Ultron, ahem)

When the scrolling text appeared in its iconic yellow font and filled me in on what happened in the 6 movies I missed (although I am very confused as to which movies are canon and which aren't), I was relieved that this movie didn't require the viewer to have watched prior installments episodes to understand it.

The movie is, in essence, the classic fight between good and evil, in this case, between the Resistance and the First Order, basically a new evil organization after Luke Skywalker's whereabouts to kill the last Jedi and to secure their safety & stability as an evil organization. And maybe to take over the galaxy too. Eh, it's not too clear, but then again, I'm not exactly the best at movie comprehension. The protagonists of the story, Rey (I think that's how you spell it?) and Finn are very well portrayed characters. They are relatable, and the actors do a very good job at conveying the ups and downs of their story arcs. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that in The Force Awakens, there was no shortage of acting talent on-screen.

What really enthralled me, and probably most everyone else in the theater, were the brilliant setpieces (IDK if that's the proper terminology or whatever, but neither does the Average Joe (I should think), so IDC: DEAL). Jakku, the desert planet which we saw much of in the trailers, is absolutely astonishing, as are many of the other settings in this film. The forests, the starships, the galaxy itself, everything was to perfection, and this aspect of the film, a mon avis, really brought the whole film together.

Han Solo was ever-so charismatic, and Harrison Ford's portrayal of him is SO GOOD, especially at a certain point in the film (which I won't spoil now). Chewbacca is Chewbacca, which is to say, AWESOME. All the side characters in this film are great.

One gripe that I have about this movie, however, is the lack of character depth. For example, the Resistance pilot we see in the beginning of the film, although we see his incredible loyalty to the Resistance, we don't see much else of him in terms of character development. The same goes for the orange old alien lady voiced by Lupito Nyong'o (whose name I don't know, because y'know, movie comprehension isn't my strong suit), however to a lesser degree.

Another thing: the character development and interactions between Finn and Rey seem rushed and very unrealistic. I understand the attempt at "enemies-turned-allies" and such, and by the end of the film (not a spoiler), they become close, but still, their character development seemed rushed and unrealistic.

The starship fights, ont he other hand, were amazing. Special effects were great in The Force Awakens, and unnecessary CGI was seldom seen. Lightsaber duels (of which there were, sadly, fewer of them than I had anticipated) were awesome, and Kylo Ren's use of the force was accompanied by some great acting and some great sound work (that sentence sounded stupid, I know).

Finally, the villain: Kylo Ren. As someone who had no prior knowledge of the Star Wars Universe, I had no idea who this guy was, other than the stereotypical evil bad guy dude that the audience is supposed to not like and is supposed to want dead. That being said, throughout the movie, the character development for this character is very good. By the end of his story arc, I found his fate befitting of such a character. I won't spoil anything now, but I'm just saying that the villain of The Force Awakens is good (ahem Marvel ahem).

All in all, The Force Awakens was, for me, a very good introduction to the Star Wars Universe, and every frame was a pleasure. From setpiece to setpiece, planet to planet, across the galaxy, it was funny, action-packed, dramatic, and all that other crap. I give The Force Awakens a 4.7/5, because although the action was awesome, laser-gun-fight-light-show-thingies (equivalent to a rave in Zion in terms of how epilepsy-related-seizure inducing they were) were also awesome. a mon avis, character development was somewhat put on the back-burner, and to me, that's a really key component for a fulfilling movie.