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Did Star Wars: The Force Awakens Live Up To The Hype?

Posted by: on Dec 26, 2015 | No Comments

TechGeniux Review: I finally saw the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film last night. I’m a lifelong Star Wars fan dating back to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). I tried to stay away from spoilers and limited my viewing of new The Force Awakens TV spots as much as possible, because I believe with just a few clips you can piece a movie together.

The film is directed, coproduced, and co-written by J.J. Abrams. The seventh installment in the Star Wars film series, it stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow. Produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions and distributed worldwide by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, The Force Awakens is set approximately thirty years after Return of the Jedi (1983) and follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron’s fight with the Resistance, led by veterans of the Rebel Alliance, against Kylo Ren and the First Order, descended from the Galactic Empire.  So, with all that said, is the Force Awakens an awesome film? Yes and no. Yes, it is a well-shot, beautiful film that pays homage to its predecessors, but it’s a big no in terms of delivering a memorable story, character development, and themes. The film has already broken numerous records. As of this writing, The Force Awakens has taken in $288.1 million in the United States, with a whopping $40 million haul on Monday alone. Overseas box office has been equally impressive, with $322.7 million, for a worldwide total of $610 million. But even with those record-setting box office numbers, the film is still hit-and-miss with critics. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92 percent. Here are my five reasons why the film misses the mark. (Note: This review contains spoilers.)

1. There is nothing in the film so memorable that I want to see it again. There aren’t even any amazing lightsaber fights. I do like that Abrams went back to the basics, but a little flare would have helped make the film more memorable in its own right. I understand what Abrams had in mind with the lightsaber fights (i.e., not wanting to go full Phantom Menace), but I have seen more exciting lightsaber duels on YouTube than those in The Force Awakens. I understand the lightsaber fights will be ramped up for the next film, but The Force Awakens’ duel was a complete letdown.
2. The story is a nearly frame-by-frame remake of the original trilogy. Again, the film looks great, but it follows the footsteps of A New Hope too closely. There is nothing wrong with that in general, but I wanted to see something a bit different with the new characters. Trying to fill a thirty-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens is a difficult challenge. It’s not easy for a new story to unfold and introduce new characters in two hours and sixteen minutes of running time. On a positive note, I like the new cast of Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Poe (Oscar Isaac). I definitely believe this cast will hit it out the park in episode eight.
3. The musical score was another letdown. The film lacks big moments to highlight key Star Wars music themes. None of the music pulled me into the story. The only time I got a bit excited was when Supreme Leader Snoke, played by the awesome Andy Serkis, was on screen. I was mostly interested in learning more about Supreme Leader Snoke and how he formed the First Order after the fall of the Empire.
4. The humor was okay, but at times it seemed gratuitous. The movie was zipping by so fast, without exploring the characters in detail, that the jokes seemed to take up too much space. I fully understand the desire to save some of the back story for the next film, but I needed more than just humor. But let me be clear: This isn’t The Phantom Menace humor; there is just a little too much of it.
5. I went into this movie ready to see Ren and his mission to fulfill his fanboy obsession with Darth Vader, but was I wrong. I knew Abrams was going to throw a curve ball, but this is a curve ball for the ages. I really hated Ren, especially in the second half of the film. He comes off as a whiny, spoiled brat. I’m confident we will witness his character evolve in the next film.


After I wrote this review I went back to see The Force Awakens with less anticipation and better seats. My original thoughts were gloomy, but after a second viewing I did enjoy the film a little more. I missed an entire scene when Rey and Finn located the Millennium Falcon. That was definitely a memorable moment, and the chase scene was well shot.  I also must add another issue I have with both viewings: I really hate how J.J. Abrams glosses over Han Solo’s death. You would think Solo deserves a ceremony; he’s such a fan favorite, plus we don’t get to see the trinity meeting between Luke, Han, and Leia. I’m confident the filmmakers will realize this error and deliver a proper ceremony for Han in the next film, perhaps in a flashback of the three together. Beyond that, my original evaluations remain, but with less anger regarding how the Star Wars mythologies were handled. Do I still have a slight issue with how Rey wields the Force from out of nowhere? Yes, but with the title of the film being The Force Awakens, I was okay with her newfound powers. I think the filmmakers will produce a better script for episode eight. There is definitely room for improvement with the next film. Overall, the new actors did an awesome job, but the script and fast pacing prevent the film from being a classic. Here’s how I rank the Star Wars films, from best to worst:

1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. Return of the Jedi (I flip-flop daily on Empire and Jedi.)
3. A New Hope
4. The Phantom Menace (I love Darth Maul. What can I say?)
5. The Force Awakens
6. Attack of the Clones (I love the Yoda lightsaber battle and seeing the Jedi in action.)
7. Revenge of the Sith

I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens, four popcorn boxes out of five.
What did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo Credits: Lucas Film

Sources: Wikipedia

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