Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Part 2, the actual review

Time to talk about the 2015 movie that you could not escape no matter how hard you tried, though unlike Ghostbusters, for all the right reasons. The reboot to Star Wars. I've kept you all waiting long enough for this, lets take a look at the movie together. Did the critics get it right, did they get it wrong? Only one way to find out.

Starting with the plot. And this is one thing the critics did get right. Yes, it is episode 4's plot, just redone in some way, mainly for the new characters and locations. Now is this a problem? Depends on how you look at it. If you're going into this expecting to see a brand new story, then you're going to be disappointed. To those who believe I'm in that category because of my Bayformers reviews, you're kinda right. The issue with Bayformers is that its the same plot three times in the space of 8 years. That gets really boring, especially if you're reviewing three of them in 1 week. For Force Awakens, its retelling the story of a movie that originally came out in 1977, 39 years ago. I do believe I've just made some of you feel really old now just by saying that. On top of this being a soft reboot for the franchise, trying to bring in both old audiences who lost faith in the series because of the Prequels, and new audiences who are either learning of the series for the first time, or have known about it all their lives thanks to their parents. So for a movie to play it safe when it needs to do that, I'm fine with. However, if this becomes a reoccurring trend, so episode 8 having the same plot as episode 5 for example, then I'm going to have issues.

This brings me to my actual issue with the movie. While all the Star Wars movies, yes even the prequels and The Clone Wars, did have hints of foreshadowing, all of them could be seen by anyone as a stand alone film and be solid. You wouldn't be loosing anything. Here though, while you could do it for the currently released movies, this has several "It'll be filled in for Episode 8" moments that it gets kinda distracting, the biggest being Rey's parents, who's Snoke, how did Kylo Ren turn to the dark side, how did they recover the light saber, how did Han loose the Falcon, and probably more depending on how many seams you want to pull. There are other plot holes, with the biggest literally being how the first order was able to build Star killer base. These come down to bad writing choices by J.J Abrams. Not to say that the writing is awful, as the character interactions are great. On the smaller aspects, its fundamentally solid, just not as good with the bigger picture pieces.

As for the characters, for me, these are the best star wars characters for the live action movies... though when you're against the originals and their pretty cheesy moments (take of the nostalgia goggles, you know I'm right) and the prequels bland monotone that rivals the DC cinematic universe (I'm in a bit of a cheep joke mood today, two for two to boot), you're not really competing then. I personally still think the Clone Wars and Rebels (in time) characters are stronger, but that's probably medium difference and amount of time to flesh out being the bigger factor. Ray and Finn (Can't really say the same for Poe who has no character development other then he's a good pilot) feel like fleshed out characters, and are the biggest difference between Episode 4 and Episode 7.  The other big thing I love about them is that they are exactly what I'm looking for in more inclusive films. A diverse cast, with all characters feeling like real characters, and the inclusisity does not become the center of attention. Again, it is the difference between a Force Awakens, and a Ghostbusters 2016. I have no issues with diverse casts as long as I can walk away from it feeling like the actor did the role perfectly, and that the character felt like it belonged there, not that it was forced into it.

While I do have to fault Abrams writing, I can't fault the visual style. There are real effects back in Star Wars, and with the mix of CG, it looks great. Some things don't really work, like the abandoned AT-AT's size, but I can still see that there are real sets here, its not all just a green screen. This movie won't be dated in a few years visually!

While I doubt I succeeded, the lack of in depth detail for this one was more for the fact that it is more recent. I do try and avoid spoiling things when I can, not easy for somethings and others I don't even try, but hey. At the end of the day, I'm agreeing with critics for teh most part, but there is one final thing I want to address. Many critics at the initial release of the film said their biggest problem was that it couldn't recapture the feel of seeing Episode 4 at the cinema for the first time. I can't agree with that because this was the first Live action Star Wars movie I saw at the cinema, and the first movie I've seen more then once at the cinema (that I can recall). To me, I probably felt what they felt when they saw Episode 4, and those who have never seen a Star Wars movie (that show any interest) probably will as well. From a critic's perspective, I love this movie. Its not flawless, but unlike other movies, I don't care for now. Come back Sunday for another opinion piece, and next week for a review of Wolverine and the X-Men.

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