Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens (review)

  • Director: J. J. Abrams
  • Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
  • Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
  • IMDb:

I am an unabashed Star Wars fan and have been so looking forward to watching the latest episode Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens. Having now done so, I can sum up this latest offering in one word… disappointing. Make that 2 words… bitterly disappointing!

The two major new elements in play here, Disney’s involvement and George Lucas’s absence, have seen Star Wars transformed from an imaginative and innovative spectacle to a bland and derivative teen fest. The plot consists of a our motley crew of rebel fighters (sound familiar?) who are horribly outnumbered by their evil overlords (sound familiar?) but must somehow destroy the latter’s awe inspiring Death Star weapon (sound familiar?). We even have a masked Sith Lord thrown in for good measure.

The evil overlords are now known as The First Order (previously The Empire) and the latest Death Star is ten times bigger than the original, but guess what, this new awesome Death Star can still be destroyed in almost the exact same way as the original… so much for progress. And the Sith Lord demasks himself at random to reveal an unmarked, baby-faced villain with about as much fear factor as a wet sponge.

It’s 30 years on yet seemingly not much has changed, even Han Solo remains his original rascally, swashbuckling self, which at his now advancing years is incongruous to say the least… did I mention unimaginative? In fact, the film is replete with incongruities; a  young woman with zero training who has only just discovered she is blessed with the “Force” manages to defeat a Sith Lord with years of training in both the art of the Force and light-saber fighting. One minute the Sith Lord is able to hurl our heroine some 50 feet backwards at the speed of a thousand startled gazelles merely by using the Force, the next minute he is soundly defeated by this same slip of a girl in a light-saber duel.

Essentially, Star Wars VII feels like a reboot of the original series, except this time for kids. There is virtually zero exploration of the mythology of the Force, one of the elements that so intrigued viewers about the originals, and no Jedi Order – seriously, how can Star Wars be Star Wars without the Jedi? Not only were these missing elements disappointing but so was the serious lack of emotional investment. At literally no point did I feel sad, frustrated, anxious, exhilarated, or intrigued during its belabored two hours and sixteen minutes. The characters felt like they could be potentially cloned from any PG-13 teen movie you’ve seen since Twilight forced its version of acceptable adolescent stereotypes upon the world.

The somewhat anti-climatic ending clearly points to a sequel (sequels?) and it’s just as obvious that Disney’s approach is aimed at introducing kids to the Star Wars franchise. My younger grandchildren will no doubt enjoy Star Wars VII  but I suspect most of us older ones who “lived” through and enjoyed the original movies may find this latest teen-centric offering way off the mark.

Star Wars Episode (VII): The Force Awakens Official Trailer

My rating:

Just in closing: I can’t help but wonder how much more enjoyable Star War VII might have been if, instead of this rebooted claptrap for kids, the storyline, some 30 years on, had seen the Rebel forces and Jedi now in charge with the evil overlords being the ones trying to take over. But then that would necessarily involve a degree of imagination and innovation, would it not?


7 thoughts on “Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens (review)”

  1. Finally someone who agrees with me (or I totally agree with). You nailed it bang on the head Jim, though there are much too many loyal fans who loved this latest installment. This movie was smoke and mirrors and I was disappointed, because even the 3d version was poor, Mindblower!

  2. Actually, I liked SW-TFA VII. I agree that the plot is all-too-similar with the storylines from the original trilogy. But I wonder if that was done by Disney not out of “teen-centric” laziness, but because the second trilogy movies (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith) were so awful and Disney wanted to reintroduce the original, endearing themes back into the series.

    I thought the second trilogy was poorly conceived, badly written, and the acting was even worse. I never could figure out the convoluted story about trade federations, embargoes, et al, and how they all eventually contributed to the rising of the emperor. Keep it simple for crying out loud! And the love story between Anakin and whats-her-name…about as exciting as watching paint dry.

    For me, SW-TFA VII was a refreshing step backward into the adventurous world a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away.

  3. I will not see it. Considering I was an older adult when the first one came out, (the 1st Raiders of the Lost Arc was more my style), I never got into the craze. It was a good concept until the cutesy 2nd, 3rd, and umpteen many others came out. Didn’t see them either.

    Disney pretty much screws up most everything they touch, it seems.

  4. Mmmm, yes a bit de ja vu but then again as you say, the actors are getting on in years. Disney is forced to introduce new blood & since it seems there will be more episodes, those actors must be young enough to stand the test of time.
    I will be sad when I see the next one because I think they will write out all the original actors we have associated with SW over the years.
    Hard to believe I saw the first one in my early 20’s & still seeing SW now.
    I was more entertained by the cinematography & animation. I remember how bad the first attempts at animation, blue screen etc were & how pleasantly surprised I was when viewing this time.
    I haven’t been to the theatre for many years so it takes a fair bit to get me there. Coming out after the movie I did not feel my 3D ticket money was wasted. It was more or less as I expected, a bit soft & predictable.
    Oh, regarding the 3D… first time I have seen anything in 3D & yes I did duck once! 🙂

  5. I saw a new hope 3 times in a theatre when I came out,the other 2 only once,but watched multi times on tape. The second trilogy should have been 2. Disney made a big deal of rejecting 30 years of books and comics to rewrite canon yet uses the marriage of Han and lea,and evil son won over to.the.dark side. So I saw rise in imax3d. I enjoyed it but at the same time I was PO’d at Disney for.change for.changes sake. Read many of the original novels and the movies make a bit more sense. Maybe Disney should swallow it ego and consult with these authors. Better movies might result.

  6. Yes, totally agree. I see The Force Awakens as a watered down version of the original 3 movies. My favorite is The Empire Strikes Back and this movie doesn’t even come close to any of the original 3. And what’s with the horrible acting of the so-called love affair with Han Solo and Princess Leia and a big gap of their son’s past only to have that fatal meeting of father & son which was a very poor rendition of the original 3? They just had to try to pack snippets of the original 3 into a remake that falls flat every step of the way. All this movie is, is a spring board toward continuing the story for new young audiences leaving us older generation with a bad taste in our mouths trying to explain the magic of the original 3. I walked out of the theatre very disappointed.

  7. I finally got to see the latest Star Wars. What a disappointment. Disney must have wanted a kids story so they just reworked the original Star Wars and made it worse. The actors were quite good, but the scrip SUCKED big time. The special effects were not real. Looked more like something from a cartoon. I won’t be looking forward to the next episode. I will not waste my hard earned $’s to go again.

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