There was a time, not too long ago, when it was not cool to be a Star Wars fan. It was sort of like admitting that Nickelback was your favorite band. Star Wars was something some people would secretly love but never openly recognized; I don’t remember anyone talking about Star Wars as being a cool and hip thing in the 90s for example. But that era has passed; suddenly it seems like everyone became a fan and they will happily tell you how important the o original Star Wars trilogy was to their youth. I have no problem with that though, I just don’t remember things being this way.
What I do remember, is back in 1999, everybody was waiting so long to see The Phantom Menace, and the result was disappointment, and mostly hate. That wasn't the movie everybody wanted to see. And that was followed by the horrible Episode II: Attack of the Clones and the OK *Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (which is actually really better to remember it than to re-watch it). Basically, the Prequels were terribly, bad written, too much bad CGI and the acting was Razzie worthy. They left a really bad taste in the mouth of the Star Wars fandom. But in 2012 when Disney bought the rights of the franchise from George Lucas and immediately announced that J.J. Abrams would produce, write and direct a new Star Wars movie, the fandom lost their minds and then suddenly we had a new Star Wars fever very similar to the one I witnessed in 1999. I was suspicious this time, because even so I do not consider myself a massive fan of the franchise I recognize its importance and influence on the pop-culture world and I was very disappointed with the prequels as well so I decided to lower my expectations. That was a good move because after watching the movie I was… satisfied but not mind blowed. The movie did not suck and that is a good start for the new trilogy but it could be better.
Attention, spoilers below:
J.J. Abrams' version of Star Wars is essentially a fresh coat of paint on an old car. The Force Awakens is remarkably similar to A New Hope in numerous ways, I understand Abrams wanted to satisfy the fans that were frustrated with the prequels and that the making of this movie must have been under a lot of pressure. But he played it too safe... It has too many clichés and "déjà vu”. But make no mistake, this the best Star Wars movie since 1983, what I am trying to say is; The Force Awakens could just as well have been a reboot of A New Hope seeing that it has almost the same plot but, there were also some really good points in the movie that where unbelievably emotional and visually impressive. Just seeing all the old characters come back to life was quite emotional. The Nostalgia was palpable and surprisingly well executed.
One of the things I liked was that the two young actors playing Fin and Ray were absolutely terrific. Actually the whole new cast members were pretty good. I was worried that maybe they wouldn't be because it always tricky to introduce new characters in a beloved franchise like this one but Abrams pulled it off. Rey played by Daisy Ridley is very well acted and is a very good protagonist. It is awesome to see a woman as main character in a massive franchise movie. Rey is badass! She is steadfast, brave and smart I liked her a lot, the only problem I had with her was that, in 24 hours, she shifts from a girl selling junk to a mind control specialist, lightsaber master, leading to beating the villain who had years of training with the laser sword but, I am pretty sure that will be explained in the next movies. Finn played by John Boyega adds a lighter and funnier mood to the movie with his humor. But he is also passionate for those he holds dear.
Oscar Isacc plays Poe Dameron. Isaac is a great actor and he was totally different from his Ex Machina role and had a great chemistry with Finn. Sadly he wasn't in the film much but when he appeared his execution was solid. BB8, the new droid, was a great edition. Far better than jar jar binks, the weird and annoying CGI character in the boring prequels. Adam Driver did a good job too besides all the hate he is getting on the internet. He plays Kylo Ren, an insecure (and therefore ruthless) up and coming bad guy. Ren is an angsty teenager who was seduced by the edginess of the Dark Side. He whines all the time, and throws hilarious tantrums. Besides all the hating on Kylo Ren, I think his character, just like Rey’s character, is going to get better with the next two movies. I also liked that the original cast members are used effectively but sparingly, giving the new cast room to breathe and start developing their own characters. Abrams had to "pass the torch" by starting this new trilogy with a handful of familiar characters, which needed screen time and helped introducing us to the new protagonists which was needed to move this franchise forward. Visually the movie is incredible good, the mix of CGI and organic sets was great. Nothing over the top, very loyal to the Star Wars universe. Spaceships, planets, explosions, lightsaber fights, everything is a treat to look at and It was great to see the Millennium Falcon again. The cinematography was very Abrams-esque: Weird angles, zooming back-and-forth, and of course, lens flare. The only thing about the movie visual that I did not like was the fairly blatant portrayal of the First Order as proto-Nazis, I felt like a lazy and cliched approach.
Overall, I enjoyed The Force Awakens. But it is not any better than the average blockbuster that comes every year. Perhaps, Star Wars: The Force Re-Boots would be a more appropriate title. A fine movie, it's fun and looks amazing but it feels too safe, too predictable and familiar. Maybe they will take more risks in the next one, at least I hope so. But truth is, that is an entertaining movie and sometimes that is just what movies have to be.