Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2015 long-awaited sequel

Rating: 15/20 (Dylan: 13/20)

Plot: Nobody can find Luke Skywalker, no matter how many times they watch the 35-40 trailers that came out for the movie. A posse of cosplayers--including a Princess Leia in her slave outfit, always a popular choice; a tall Jawa; a three-man Jabba the Hutt with a Salacious Crumb dick puppet; a Spock; three Stormtroopers; a half-digested Boba Fett; and another slave Leia--head out looking for him, screaming "Skywalker or bust!" and holding aloft home-made Styrofoam lightsabers. They meet an evil George Lucas along the way, a George Lucas accompanied by a trio of tromboners poorly playing The Imperial March. "See, guys?" Lucas says. "You like this song don't you?" he adds before pulling a Jar-Jar Binks marionette from behind his back. "Taste the Binks!" he cries as he makes the Gungan dance around. Lobot passes away from shock. No, not a cosplayer dressed as Lobot. The actual Lobot. Lucas jumps on a unicorn and giggles away while the others wonder if they can even go on without Lobot.

If you haven't seen the movie, you shouldn't read any more. There will be numerous spoilers. 

It's hard to be completely objective with Star Wars movies. When the prequel trilogy began, I watched with my son who was around 4 or 5. And as maligned as The Phantom Menace is, the whole thing made me feel like a kid again. I wanted to play with action figures again. Now my son is a grown man, and I'm not sure if I'm going to have an excuse to play with action figures. This movie, perhaps even more than the prequels, did succeed in making me feel like a kid again, like I was sitting there with Vernon and Brad and James and whoever else was in the theater when I saw Boba Fett die in Return of the Jedi. The opening scrawl, the John Williams, those countless stars and some sort of Star Destroyer thing that looked more immense than a Star Destroyer (I'm no longer hip to the Star Wars lingo) eclipsing a planet. It brought happy tears to my eyes.

I've been waiting for this movie for a long time, but that last half an hour when I was actually sitting in the theater watching the commercials they now play? That was more excruciating than all of those months put together.

This is going to be very stream-of-consciousness as I'm still digesting things and also watching football.

Who would have guessed that my favorite moment in the movie, the most I've actually laughed at a movie in a long time, would be courtesy of C3PO. "You probably didn't recognize me because of my red arm" is a line that makes me laugh even now actually.

Not a lot of C3PO or R2D2, the latter apparently in a state of mechanical depression. That was one silly misstep. Robots don't feel melancholic, do they?

Mark Hamill. No wonder the guy wasn't in the previews. If he'd been in the previews, they would have probably ended up using every single second of his screen time. Man, does he look like quite the elderly Jedi, out-Qui-Gonning Qui Gon. That beard and hair combination he reveals on that island where Lost took place, apparently where he just stands and wonders what happened to the Smoke Monster or talks with blue translucent Yodas and Obi-Wans. I wish the last shot would have been something else because that swooping overhead shot of Rey and Luke didn't feel very Star Wars-y, but I am glad the movie ended where it did. It's strange by the way that Hamill, who has been known more for his voice work the last several years, doesn't get to use his voice at all here.

Who are Rey's parents? Is she Ben Solo's brother? Is she somehow Luke's kid? If so, who's Luke's mom? I hope it's an Ewok, but I suppose that would make Rey a lot less furry than she should be. I'm looking forward to her training with Luke on Lost Island.

For a Star Wars kid like me, all the nods to the original trilogy were appreciated. A character finding that little electrocution ball that Luke toyed with on the Millennium Falcon, looking at it with confusion, and tossing it aside. The mutant chess board thing and Chewbacca's look when it was accidentally turned on. Good stuff. Chewbacca has a lot of funny moments in this, more than in the original movies. I wonder if I only picked up on them more because I speak fluent Wookiee after watching the Star Wars Holiday Special. His rapport with Han Solo (don't just call him Solo, apparently) was great. And how about fucking Han Solo. I wondered about Harrison Ford since he doesn't seem to like Star Wars all that much, but Han Solo here just seems like Han Solo thirty years after the events of the last movie. He's back to being a scoundrel and seems to approach the highlights of his life--Leia, having at least one kid, helping to successfully defeat the Empire with the help of all those teddy bears--in the exact same way as he approaches the low points of his life. It's just all parts of the same life that have made him into the guy he's become. One character asks him, "Weren't you a general?" or something like that, and Chewbacca's reaction is priceless. Han Solo gets such great lines, lines that recall the moments in Empire that made everybody really fall in love with the character, and I suppose we should thank Lawrence Kasden for that. Ford's first appearance, already revealed in one of the first trailers, is a wonderful moment, and that's before he even breathes a word.

Of course, that's one of the many moments that seems forced or a little too coincidental. I did mention that this isn't a perfect movie, right? It's better than all of the prequels and, of course, Return of the Jedi, a movie that isn't even as good as at least two of the prequels. It's not without its issues, but like The Phantom Menace, I'm able to shove those aside and just enjoy the hell out of the thing, probably because I'm still a little kid.

Captain Phasma, for example, is the Boba Fett for this new generation of Star Wars fans. She (apparently) looked so cool in the trailer, holding that gun and walking down a metallic hallway, her (apparently) armor gleaming. Well, I hope you enjoyed that walking action sequence in the trailer because I don't think the character does anything else in the movie. Nothing! It seems impossible to create a cool character who does even less than Boba Fett, but Captain Phasma does just that. It's unclear what happens to her (apparently) in the movie.

I didn't like a scene with these Dr. Whovian tentacled things chasing our characters around. I know what they were trying to do--a Mynock or Rancor moment--but it just doesn't seem to fit. The entire scene could have been cut, and we would have lost nothing at all.

So much of what happens in Star Wars seems so random. I don't think I've ever seen heroes get lucky this much. That happens a lot here. I could hear eyebrows raising in the theater during a lot of this.

Did we really need another Death Star-esque thing? Starkiller? Is that what it was called? It seems like that plot element was already used in a couple other movies. As well as a robot holding on to some secret. And characters listening to ethnic music in an alien saloon. At least C3PO's arm was red in this one.

Oh, I was talking about old characters. Carrie Fisher's looking good, only she might be on something similar to whatever she was on when she filmed the Star Wars Holiday Special. But no, Dad, she doesn't wear a metallic bikini unfortunately. She doesn't have a ton to do here, but they made her a general, one of at least a couple times where we get to hear women roar in this installment. Rey is the most obvious example, a female who doesn't need anybody to hold her hand. She's the female version of what I think Lucas was going for with young Annakin in The Phantom Menace. She's crafty, fierce and fearless, and tortured. But you get the sense of her potential as soon as you see her start doing stuff on the screen. The character's very well written, and I'd find it impossible to believe that anybody could watch this new main character and not fall in love.

Poe Dameron is what Wedge Antilles should have been. The movie pretty much starts with him, a good choice because he sets the tone well. He's lippy. That's probably what I like most about this movie actually. There's lots of action and just the right amount of heart and a whole bunch of mystery, but this matches the tone of the original trilogy a lot better than the prequels did. The Phantom Menace knew it needed comic relief because that's part of what made The Empire Strikes Back so successful, but Lucas piled it all on Jar Jar Binks' reptilian shoulders. It just never works. The whole thing feels stiff except for this odd character that nobody liked anyway who's making fart jokes and stepping in shit. That movie desperately needed some punchy dialogue between McGregor and Neeson or something, and Lucas just didn't give us any of that. In 2 and 3, there's some of that rapport with McGregor and Christensen, but it was too little, too late.

Here, the characters all have great rapport. Harrison Ford, or at least this old and tired Han Solo, bounces off everybody well. Rey and Finn are cute together. Finn and Poe have great romantic chemistry that I'd love to see developed in the next movies. The new little robot interacts with the characters in a way that feels strangely organic. The new scary bad guy, black cloaked and masked Kylo Ren, has a lot more personality than I would have expected from the previews, and his interactions with characters on both sides are really great.

Let's talk about him. I expected a Vader clone crossed with a silently menacing Darth Maul type, but he surprised me. There are really two different characters here. For the first half of the movie, you get a guy who is a true powerful presence. He can stop lasers from blasters in mid-air. He can force-choke the shit out of a person. He's got that cool scarred mask and a growly voice. He wields that awesome light saber with the hilt. He seems like he's going to be just a quiet killing machine, like Darth Maul with a little more personality. But then something happens--you see the guy throw a temper tantrum. He's like an emo Vader wannabe, even having conversations with Luke's dad's charred head which he must have picked up at an Ewok auction or something. And eventually, that mask comes off. Initially, you think, "Uh oh. He's got Hayden Christensen hair," but instantly, along with those light saber temper tantrums, the villain is humanized. This is a villain that actually grows, unlike Maul or (especially) pointless Dooku or Grievous or even Darth Vader in the original trilogy. Kylo Ren is a villain with some depth, and that makes him far more interesting than almost any character in any Star Wars movies. And when we find out that the guy's training isn't even complete, it all comes together. The guy's conflicted, "tempted" by the light side (an interesting twist), which makes that scene on that bridge where he makes that choice that will likely sadden Star Wars fans so huge. You know there's good in there, a part of Ren that didn't want to impale his dad with a laser sword and throw him into a giant pit. At the same time, it was something he could do and then not seem to think about it for the rest of the movie. Man, what a character.

I can't wait to see if this trilogy is about Kylo Ren's redemption, Rey's coming-of-age, Luke bringing balance, or a combination of all of those are more. I love how this movie introduced as many mysteries as it did characters. There's a myriad of ways they could go from here, and that makes the next several years very exciting.

I hope nobody read this without first watching the movie.

I mentioned the contrast in tones between this and the prequels. In a conversation on Facebook, I had help thinking of another difference. This movie is very safe. It's like Disney and Abrams decided to just give fans what they want and have a story that doesn't take a lot of chances at all with the exception of an antagonist who has that much emotional depth and such strong female characters. Lucas was the exact opposite of safe when he gave us The Phantom Menace. I think that might be why I'll always have a sweet spot for that movie that nobody else seems to like.

I know Harrison Ford probably demanded that Han Solo is killed off in this movie, and the way it went down is certainly emotionally impactful. I just wonder if I'm going to see this as a move that was set up well enough and ultimately necessary when I think about it years from now or if I'm just going to see it as one of those let's-kill-off-a-major-character-to-show-the-audience-that-nobody-is-safe type moves that seem so popular these days. Han Solo was a character I loved as a kid. I wanted to be Han Solo or Indiana Jones or Jim Douglas from The Love Bug, mostly the latter because I'd get to hang out with Buddy Hackett. And I loved Han Solo here as a guy who has aged just as much as I have.  So his demise hit me almost as hard as it hit Chewbacca except I didn't have a cool crossbow to use to take out my anger on some stormtroopers.

What else is there?

Oh, the X-Wings and Tie Fighters. Man, oh, man. No person around my age who loved these movies as a kid could watch the scenes with those flying machines without grinning. Hell, I bet I could have closed my eyes and just listened to those sound effects and ended up with a gigantic goofy grin. Watching them fly maneuver around was amazing, easily the best dogfighting we've seen in Star Wars movies. It's like J. J. Abrams playing Star Wars in his bedroom only with about 370 million more dollars than I had when I was a kid.

Other action scenes are done really well, too, and not with that reliance on CGI. The pair of light saber fights, the first which really didn't make a lot of sense, put you on the edge of your seat, and the best part is that I know there are going to be even better in the next two movies. The on-ground battle scenes are intense despite the stormtroopers still not being able to shoot very well. Somebody's got to look into that. And watching the Millennium Falcon get this much action after 30 years? Holy hell, I think I probably had a boner!

I didn't pay much attention to John Williams' score but, of course, noticed it when it was at its most familiar. When Leia greets the heroes after they come back victorious, the romantic-sounding melody from Empire got to me a little though. Just a beautiful moment.

One thing I didn't like at all--Andy Serkis's playing a giant Gollum that I was supposed to believe was our new Palpatine. That whole thing was as dopey as the guy's name--Supreme Leader Snoke. I'm sure some big Supreme Leader Snoke reveal will happen in one of the next couple installments, but this incarnation was a disappointment. Where'd he come from? Is he really that big? Is it actually Gollum in some sort of strange crossover?

Where was Binks? Maybe Snokes is actually Binks?

I don't want to end this verbose collection of words with something negative, but it looks like I did. I really did love watching this, but you have to take this whole thing with a grain of salt because I'm a guy who actually liked the prequels. There are flaws for sure, but the positives far outweigh them. The new characters make me comfortable with where the franchise is heading. The nods to the originals hit me right in the heart. The film just looks and sounds so perfect like the Star Wars film any Stars Wars fan has been waiting for for a very long time. And the mysteries and loose ends make me really eager to see what they're going to do in the next chapter.

Honestly, I'm pretty excited about seeing this one again. But remember--I also saw The Phantom Menace in the theater twice, so I possibly can't be trusted.


Josh said...

I thought this was a terrific flick. It definitely delivered on the hype and expectations. I feel like it’s going to be not only a great addition to the originals and prequels, but an even better group of films (especially on presentation and filmmaking).

Speaking of this movie’s predecessors, there are a ton of parallels, nods, and reveals that got me harder than Chinese Algebra!

Some parallels are at the surface (e.g. desert planet, miniature wise person, from humble beginnings comes greatness, Starkiller Base/Death Star). However some parallels run deep like the father/son story arc. Vader being the father trying to seduce his son to the Dark Son -- versus -- Han the father trying to win his son back the Light side of The Force (I’m not sure I should have used “seduce” when referring to a father and son). Also, we have the stock characters being represented and replaced all at the same time (loveable droids, smart-alecky pilots, orphaned kid not knowing his/her purpose).

The characters is this were so great to watch. I’m honestly excited to invest myself into watching and following these new characters. My favorite new character has to be Oscar Isaac’s Po. He is a good actor and plays the perfect pitch here. BB8 might have been the 2nd. I think it’s what Lucas wanted Jar Jar Binks to be. Affable, comic relief, loveable…yet SERVES A PURPOSE OF SOME KIND…Anyway, Adam Driver was excellent with Kylo Ren's character. JJ Abram gave us so much on Ren’s characterization. For starters, just seeing his face allowed us to connect and almost care about him. Then, we saw him at his weakest points and be very vulnerable…and throw a temper tantrum with his red light saber. It took 8 films to get into Vader's character and see his motivations (just to find out it was all over women…pshaw). Ren’s training isn’t even complete which tells us that we will see his character evolve over the next movies. I like that Ren and Rey are kind of at the same place in their journeys. Snoke and Maz looked too much like CGI...they looked a little prequelly. I understand why they’re there, but I didn’t like how they were portrayed. I would have really liked to have seen actors be in front of the screen for those types of roles. If you’re going to make a character completely CGI, it should probably be completely perfunctory…like Jar Jar Binks.

Josh said...

The graphics overall, still, were magnificent. I really liked when Ren held that laser blast as the camera moved around it. I also love when JJ Abrams has large, dominant objects in the distance. There were some nods in there with the graveyard of Star Destroyers and Rey living in an Imperial Walker. The light sabers have never looked more real. The gritty imperfections of Ren’s vs. the smooth glow of Skywalker’s were a nice touch. I just didn’t feel like Abrams was showing off. I thought of it as “extravagant reserve” or a “restrained spectacle.”

The story was solid. I definitely saw Solo’s destiny coming. I have read that Harrison Ford thought Solo should have died in Return of the Jedi. It would have given something more to his character -- the ultimate sacrifice as a loyal friend. So, that didn’t surprise me. Plus, isn’t Ford pushing over 100 yrs old? Or maybe it’s 70-something…no, I’m right. His earring is 70-something…

The writing was so good. You can tell the script has been handled by someone of this generation. I’m so glad Lucas didn’t molest it. The sense of humor is perfect. The Jedi mind trick with the stormtrooper (You will leave the room...I will leave the room...You will drop your gun...and I will drop my gun). It's got a new, fresh tone. Lucas isn't trying to just dazzle us with just other-wordly storytelling and a stale humor or slapstick. There isn't a whole lot of exposition in this. We fill in the character's motivations just based on their actions and what we already know about the Star Wars universe. That's what made for such great storytelling. I wasn't around for the originals, but I can guess that people were a tad confused at some of their story elements (If Yoda is so powerful, why is he living in a swamp? Why isn't he helping defeat the Empire? Obi Won Kanobi's Force ghost just appears to help Luke? Isn't that a little too convenient? And Han just by chance finds Luke out in the middle of Hoth?).

There were so many nods and reveals to this that it made me wait impatiently to see what was going to be around every corner. The Millennium Falcon bit was spot on!

We don’t have a lot of background on Kylo Ren, but I don’t care. I’m sure more will come about him, the Knights of Ren, Captain Phasma, General Hux, Supreme Leader Snoke, and the like. I think it’s better to see these characters now and become enamored with them later. As apposed to getting a new villain with every movie a la the prequels. How long was Count Dooku or General Greivous even around?

We can't see the big picture, so I don't have anything bad to say about the story.
JJ Abrahms nailed it! I'd really like to pop in the VHS tape of Episode VIII and get some closure like I did with the previous 6.

Shane said...

Here's what's been on my mind since I wrote this:

1) Really just loving the Kylo Ren character. All the other bad guys have been a little shallow. Well, the end of Jedi and the prequels deepened Vader, I guess, but Darth Maul just looked cool (umm...menacing) and Sidious was just evil. I thought Ren was going to be that way, too. Just a big bad meanie. But it was all a big trick as he falls apart gradually until the end when we realize he's not even fully trained. That was pretty cool.

2) The parallels with this and the original trilogy, which you mention, have started to bug me a little bit. Some of it's fine because epic tales like these need motifs, but some of them seem unnecessary. I don't even know how the bad guys financed that giant planet that somehow sucked up star power. How's that happen?

Anyway, your comments:

"Harder than Chinese algebra..."

I don't remember what I wrote up there and refuse to read it, but I probably wrote about how much I love those new characters. The prequels didn't really have that. Qui-Gon was fine but he died. Darth Maul was cool, but he got sliced in half. Natalie Portman did nothing in The Phantom Menace to make me want to see more of her. Not even a hint of a Black Swan type masturbation sequence! Jar-Jar? Those fish-headed fellows? There was just nobody but Obi-Wan and the two droids to follow through the new trilogy, and we already knew where they all ended up. And Annakin...I guess we knew where he ended up, too. But Oscar Isaac's character (did you see that Coen brother movie, by the way? Inside Llewyn Davis? It's really good...), the robot, the black guy (although his vernacular seemed out of nowhere), Rey, Ren...I want to find out where all of these characters go. These guys can carry a trilogy. This really was a great mix of old characters there for nostalgia and torch-passin' and these new characters were all interesting.

Except Snoke. I don't really care about him.

Oh, you mentioned a lot of what I liked about Kylo Ren there. I should have read through your comment again before typing. One thing I'll add: I thought Rey's ability to use the force so well so quickly was a little dopey, but everything she does is kind of in response to what Rey is doing. She's mind-tricking or whatever when being interrogated by Ren. She mind-tricks that Stormtrooper (who apparently is Daniel Craig) only after that interaction. She gets better with the lightsaber as that fight goes on in the snowy woods. It's almost like he's her teacher.

I didn't care for Maz. I thought she was the Jar-Jar of the movie.

I thought this was easily the best-looking Star Wars movie. I guess it should be since CGI has come a long way since the beginning of the prequels. The combination of practical special effects and the CGI was seamless. The only time it didn't work was with those tentacled things which I wrote about not liking very much.

Loved the grounded Star Destroyer and Imperial Walker (I think that has another name...I'm sort of glad I don't know it...I think the Imperial Walkers are the two-legged things that the Ewoks had fun smashing up)...visually, stuff like that was telling us that we're making a new set of Star Wars movies, but we're going to respect the past.

General Grievous...there was another bad guy who had NO characterization at all. I guess that all came from a cartoon that I haven't seen.

Shane said...

Harrison Ford is in his early-70s, still young enough to do one more Indiana Jones movie.

Yeah, I was reading somewhere about the light sabers in this, how they interact (wrong word) with the settings more--chopping down trees, sizzling in the snow. Ren's "gritty imperfections" is good visual symbolism to show that he's imperfect as a Sith. So good.

I'm still a little kid every time I hear a light saber noise. They were especially amped up in this movie.

I still don't know how I feel about Solo's death. I have no problem with the character dying, but it would have made more sense in Jedi. Like you said, there would have been more of a reason for it. Here, it was for what? To show how mean his son is? Seems like a wasted opportunity.

My new theory: Rey is the product of a sexual affair between Yoda and Luke. Think about makes perfect sense.

I still don't know who that old man carrying around half of a map at the beginning of this was supposed to be.

It's hard for me to remember what I was thinking when I watched these as a kid. I was probably confused because movies confuse me so much as an adult...especially movies with superheroes. But yeah, I can imagine I had no idea why Yoda was in a swamp. How about this one: The galaxy is such a huge place. How the hell did Princess Leia happen to be close enough to a desolate planet out in the middle of fucking nowhere where Obi-Wan happened to be living to drop off droids carrying Death Star plans around? How did she even know about him?

Did you think Leia looked like she was on her Holiday Special happy pills in this?

I probably should have seen the Millennium Falcon reveal coming, but I didn't. I may have teared up a little bit there. I knew it was in the movie, but I didn't make enough connections to know that they'd be flying it around that desert planet.

Captain Phasma...sheesh. I looked it up, and she's apparently in the next movie. Maybe she'll do a little more? All she did in this one was look shiny.

Oh, one more thing: You mentioned how Annakin's shift to the dark side was all over women. That's probably the biggest mistake of the prequels--not being clear enough about everything that went into that. "Padme's going to die! I have to dark side it up to save her!" never seems like enough to me. When you think about how Annakin had to have been pissed off at Yoda and the rest of the Jedi council for screwing him over multiple times (not accepting him in the first movie...not letting him be a whatever-he-wanted-to-be in the last one), how ineffective or complacent the good guys must have seemed, how their rules and regulations and doctrines almost felt Nazi-esque, how they made him wear his hair a stupid way...I think his turn had a lot more to do with trusting Palpatine as a leader over the good guys than it did his love of his wife. All of that was just developed so poorly.

When Ren held that laser god, is there any other use-the-force moment that would make the opposition shit themselves as much as that one? That was bad ass.

Snoke's look will only make sense if we find out that the character actually looks nothing at all like that.

That's all I've got...

JohnnyBoy said...

Rey, Finn, & Ren were all wonderfully rounded & conflicted. It made the movie resonate more because I actually cared about what happened to the characters.

The saber fights were much more palatable as intimate & impactful showdowns vs. the highly choreographed crouching Tiger crap from the prequel finale.

The space battles were beautiful & enthralling.

I really loved it, but I wasn't crazy about Snoke or the strange cliffhanger that takes 3 years to be resolved

Shane said...

That lightsaber fight between Annakin and Obi-Wan was disappointing. It had its moments, sure, but that whole thing needed to be simplified, a little more raw. When it was just the two of them smacking blades together (don't say it, Josh), it was great, emotional, weighty. When they're climbing up machinary or balancing on things in a big lava river, it just got silly. There was no need for distractions with that climactic battle. And you're right--the light saber fight in this one didn't have any of those distractions. You nailed it with intimate and impactful.

I don't think I've heard about anybody liking Snoke yet. I never like what Andy Serkis does anyway, so I wasn't happy when I heard he was in this. And when I saw Big Gollum...well, it just wasn't good.

Barry said...

For me this movie was a bunch of missed opportunities and endless rehashing. It certainly felt and looked like a Star Wars movie, so much so that its almost a complete remake of episode 4. (Or as I like to call it, STAR WARS)

They finally get the original cast together, with a supposed top flight director and endless money, and the best thing they can do is remake a previous film in the series?

I loved how it looked, and I generally liked the new actors and characters in it, but the story was hacked together really poorly. Now its three Death Stars in 7 movies.......all blown up by plucky little rebels. And who the hell is the "Resistance" resisting? Arent they the Republic now? Why do they have crappy 40 year old ships and a rag tag operation? Just because thats what Leia and Han were a part of in the original trilogy?

I give it a 13, because its well acted and looks terrific. But as a movie, it really fails on so many levels.

Shane said...

Well,'re obviously immune to magic!

I do understand all your gripes, especially the rehashing. You can call them motifs, but seeing another Death Star (or whatever the hell they call it in this one) should have inspired more groans.

I thought I'd mentioned this somewhere here, but I can't find it. George Lucas's response after seeing this was interesting to me. He said something like, "Well, it's the Star Wars film that fans want." I think that was a back-handed compliment. Say what you want about the prequels, but Lucas at least took some risks. This Abrams movie was nearly free of risks. Was Lucas saying that Star Wars fans want to just relive their childhoods again by watching virtually the same thing?

I'm going to see it again (and probably again) before I settle on a firm opinion. I still think it's better than the prequels for sure, but I think I might be bothered more by what bothers you when I see it again. I do think the goods far outweigh the bads though.

I've missed you here, Barry!

Barry said...

I liked it better than the prequels.....but for me that is faint praise, since of those three films, only the last one is barely watchable. They did take risks though and tried to tell a story in the context that everyone knew how it was going to end. A lot of the choices Lucas made were wrong, but at least he was trying.

I really should like this Force Awakens better. But I dont. I gave Cory my letter grades for the 7 films, and I will grace you with them as well.

Star Wars---A
Empire Strikes Back-A

Return of the Jedi---B-

The Force Awakens---C+

Revenge of the Sith--C-

Attack of the Clones---D

Phantom Menace----D- (only gets this barely passing grade for the pretty intense and well staged light sabre battle at the end.)

I will probably see Force Awakens again....hopefully I will get past the remake aspect of things to enjoy it more.

Cory said...

It's hard to know what to make of this film. The rehashing of previous SW material hangs over everything like an overused Death Star. Going from COMPLETE rebel victory to 30 years later being back to almost exactly where everyone was at the beginning of Star Wars feels totally artificial and manipulative. I really liked Barry's comment about them being a rag-tag group again. Seeing the old characters doesn't help, because they are back to doing the same kind of stuff they were at the very beginning. A droid with secret information on a desert planet being pursued by a Vader-wannabe? Jeez. We again have a guy who talks and looks like the Emperor...only bigger, like the Death whatever.

It is a shame that so many things are so contrived and distracting because the actual execution of the movie is great. There are terrific visuals and touching moments. I really like the new characters even though they too echo the old. As far as Ren goes, my jury is still out on him. I like that he is conflicted and less one-dimensional, but his power seems inconsistent. He can read minds and freeze laser blasts, but then he gets shown up by a girl who just heard of The Force five minutes ago.

I'm glad Solo bit it, if only so that Ford will stop griping about the thing that made him the Harrison Ford who can buy airplanes and cash eight digit checks. I don't like that he got what he always wanted, which was to have his beloved character get killed off. Hopefully Carrie Fisher will be next. I am tentatively optimistic about the future Luke/ Rey dynamic so long as Luke doesn't turn into Obi-Wan 2.0. I give this a 15, which is a compromise between the theater 16 and my thinking about everything afterward 14.

My rankings would be:
1. The Empire Strikes Back -20
2. Star Wars -20
3. SW III: Revenge of the Sith -16
4. SW VII: The Force Awakens -15
5. The Ewok Movie, featuring an unbeatable dark side baddie who pulled the ability to shoot lightning from his fingertips out of his a.. -13
6. SW I: The Jar Jar/ insipid kid movie -13 (with 10 of that coming courtesy of Darth Maul)
7. SW II: A mess of a movie proving that Lucas has NO idea what constitutes "funny".

Shane said...

Empire, A
New Hope, A
Awakens, B
Sith, B
Menace, B-/C+
Jedi, C
Clones, C

Shane said...

Ewok Movie, haven't seen it. I have seen The Star Wars Holiday Special which, if it counts, is an F- and at the very bottom.

I do understand your gripes. I'm willing to bet that the sequels will actually ease your mind about some of them. We'll see, I guess!

I was talking about the Death Star and character motifs thing with Dylan. Look at the human history of war. Same sort of villains and heroes, same desire to create weapons that can kill more efficiently, same types of mistakes being makes sense that a war in the stars would be the same, wouldn't it?

cory said...

Sorry. Ewok Movie is code for "SW VI: Return of the Jedi so he can get his butt kicked". I'd like to go with the "history repeats itself" excuse, but this feels lazy and safe and shockingly formulaic versus being a logical extension of the previous events and the slightest bit original. It seems much more likely the Republic would have built their own Death Star or anti-Death Star, or whatever. In man's history the motives of good and evil have been the same, but the tech changes. Here, 30 years later, we still have storm troopers, laser blasters, tie fighters, x-wings, etc. It is just too distracting to rehash so much. It's like the series fell off the track, and this movie's goal is to get back on the extremely worn path to keep the bucks rolling in.