Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December 31, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Whoever it was who said, “you can’t go home again,” it wasn’t JJ Abrams. His recent career seems to be all about nostalgia. With his two “Star Trek” movies, he simultaneously recreated and reinvented the series he had grown up on as a kid. Now, he has done the same with “Star Wars.” With “The Force Awakens,” Abrams has done everything in his power to recreate the mood and feel of that first film, for better and for worse. This movie has sweeping action, beautiful images, a rich and fully realized universe, an panoply of aliens, courageous heroes and menacing villains. It is, in other words, every bit as epic as those first films. Where the series of the late 90s stumbled with an overly convoluted plot that robbed the central story arch (Anakin’s rise and fall) by diluting it, this story feels much tighter and more focused. Also, the stilted and silly dialogue (which even occasionally plagues the original films) is missing here, as is the awkward, emotionally flat acting. All of which is to say that there is much to recommend in this film, except much originality. It is such a slave to the original formula that it lacks any real nerve. Say what you will about any of Lucas’s films, they pushed boundaries and were daring, even if it didn’t always work. This film is like Abrams went through a check list of the “Star Wars” greatest hits. Desert planets, cute robots, seedy bars, reluctant heroes who get swayed by a beautiful girl, and daddy issues galore. Just because you make a character orange and a woman, doesn’t mean she isn’t still obviously a Yoda substitute. As interesting as she is, I can still see the outline of the original. In fact, the themes were all so derivative that I had already guessed the shocker near the film’s end. What a shame because it’s a great moment, it’s just also the reflection of one I have seen before. I don’t want to sound too harsh. It is, in some ways, an impossible task to follow Lucas (even Lucas couldn’t follow Lucas). At least, Abrams’s film is fun and exciting and left me wanting more. He did a good job, maybe even a very good job, just not a great one. For that, he needs to find his own voice within the Star Wars universe. The young padawan needs to become the master.

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  1. […] I think had some real flaws, not the least of which is how derivative it was (you can see my review here). Edwards seems more interested in reinventing the franchise than Abrams was and has created a tone […]


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