Spoiler-Free Review of The Force Awakens

I’m a geek, but not a passionate Star Wars fan, as I’ve already confessed.

I didn’t know what to expect heading into the theater to see The Force Awakens this past weekend. I wasn’t overcome with the giddy euphoria of a fanatic decked out in the costume of my preferred character, but I was looking forward to seeing what the movie had to offer.

I’m glad I went.

From the opening moments, I was struck with a realization: this movie was something significant. Despite my lack of fanatic enthusiasm, I found myself quickly engrossed as I entered this foreign yet familiar world in a galaxy far, far away. Within the first fifteen minutes I was hooked and couldn’t get enough.

Appealing to the nostalgia factor was key for this movie, and it did a superb job, yet in a skillful way, letting the story stand on its own merits.

Plot

As a Star Wars newbie without much background knowledge, I appreciated how the movie handled the plot. I didn’t feel lost, wondering what the heck was happening. While the plot stood on its own, it tied back to the previous films, providing a sense of coherence and one of change—the next chapter in a grand tale.

In terms of complexity, the plot was far from stunning. Still, it threw in a couple twists I didn’t see coming, and the relentless action hearkened to what a great space opera should be. It’s all about the adventure, the explosions, the crazy space battles.

In that regard, The Force Awakens granted viewers a marvelous performance. I wish there had been more peaceful moments, more time to breathe and take everything in, but one thing is certain—there was no shortage of action.

As expected, it was massive, intense, pulsating. Including a number of unbelievable elements that caused me to think, “Really? How does that work?” But nothing over-the-top enough to ruin the story.

Characters

This is where the movie failed to resonate with me. Due in large part to the fact that I haven’t seen all the originals and don’t have that longstanding connection with Han, Leia, Chewy, and the rest.

Overshadowed by a powerful plot, the characters didn’t shine as I wanted them to. They lacked depth and intricacy, and rare was the moment when I felt like I connected to them on an emotional level.

On the positive side, the door is wide open for sequels, and I’m interested to see where their journeys lead, individually and collectively.

One huge winner for me was BB-8. Let me just say, I don’t know how they managed to make a programmable soccer ball with a swiveling head so adorable, but they did. And it was hilarious. I have a sneaky suspicion it’s going to be in hot demand as a Christmas present.

Setting

Can I just say, “Wow!” The attention to detail, the diversity of creatures, cultures, and colors that leapt to life on the screen—everything was done with excellent taste. Few things stir my geek side more than a sense of being transported to an imaginative, well-built world.

The Force Awakens did that, and scored top marks in this area.

Fascinating settings that absorbed me into the place and culture were abundant, and my imagination was turning cartwheels as I watched. It might have to do with the fact that I enjoy techy gadgets, monstrous spaceships, alien worlds similar to yet different from our own, and a sense of a larger world hovering just off the screen.

Waiting to be explored.

J.J. Abrams did a fantastic job with the world, and it’s definitely one I want to return to often.

Conclusion

Given modern technology, the improvements over the previous films were obvious. Sharper, crisper, louder. Bigger, more intimidating, more epic. Overall, it was an excellent movie. Not without flaws, but a success nonetheless.

While I’m still not wild about Star Wars, I’ve moved over from the camp of casual observer into the this-is-cool-I-want-more camp.

Bravo to The Force Awakens for awakening in me an eagerness to learn more about this Star Wars universe and the many adventures it has to offer.

Have you seen The Force Awakens? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Comments

Spoiler-Free Review of The Force Awakens — 4 Comments

  1. lol – now you’ll have to get around to seeing the other movies then! We loved it – all of it – but we’re hardcore fans. The scene with the xwings in your picture above reminded me of LOTR when the Fords of Bruinen rose up and swept away the Riders – we cheered! I can see where some of the characters left you cold if you haven’t developed a rapport with them from previous movies. While I rolled my eyes a little at how the movie would pause for viewers to soak in their introductions. It was much funnier than previous movies, I thought. And we left the theater already wanting to watch it again. Masterfully done, Abrams, masterfully done!

  2. I rated this one third, after the original Star Wars (a.k.a. A New Hope) and Empire Strikes Back (I mean Empire is number 1 and on down).

    In spite of admittedly great effects that were indeed eye-popping, why did I rate it so?

    The Force Awakens kept a tempo of action that was too quick to allow real character development–which both Empire and the original excelled at. Also this latest flick suffered from a bit of “hypovillainitis” relative to those movies. Darth Vader was a much more powerful and interesting bad guy. Much more.

    Still, I would agree it was a good film. Quite good.

    • I agree that the pace didn’t allow much time for character development, which was the movie’s weakest point to me. The more you care about the characters, the more compelling the story around them becomes. Given Kylo Ren’s background, he has potential to turn into an interesting bad guy, particularly if they emphasize his struggle to choose between the Light and Dark sides. We’ll see where it goes.

      Thanks for commenting, Travis.

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