Sunday, January 10, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens review

As I write this it's late in the day on January 10th.  As such I have no fear of spoiling anything for those who haven't yet experienced the latest installment of the goings on in the Star Wars universe.

The movie premiered on December 17th for some and the 18th for everyone else.  The buzz around it has been deafening. Everywhere you went online you were reminded of the return of Star Wars to the forefront of popular culture.

Trident light sabers, BB8 toy robots and an avalanche of related kitsch has been showing up everywhere from geek toys to cereal boxes. 

Which should have been your first warning.  Just like video games, the ratio of hype to content in a movie is directly proportional to the level of disappointment.

In a word the movie was...meh.

Which flies in the face of current pop culture, I know...

How could anyone not embrace and revel in a new Star Wars movie! One who's greatest hope is that it's not another awful prequel.

If the Star Wars Prequels were forgettable embarrassments to the franchise, The Force Awakens is a taciturn acknowledgement of their failure.  A half-hearted apology consisting of copious visual effects, a  rehashed story line from a A New Hope peppered with uninspiring performances from forgettable stand ins. 

Rey is the new Luke, Finn and Poe an amalgamation of Han Solo, Kylo Ren the new Vader and Snoke an analog to the Emperor. 

The appearance of original trilogy characters Han, Leia and eventually Luke were little more than a bone thrown to diehard fans and filler for an otherwise deep plot hole.   Is it not obvious that Luke will function as the Obi Wan Kenobi to Rey's Luke Skywalker?  Can anyone doubt that the newly widowed  Leia will likely become an analog of the often forgotten Mon Mothma,  Leader of the Rebel Alliance in the original trilogy. 

Yes, I've let the big secret slip.  Han Solo is dead.  His freewheeling ways brought to an end at the hands of his own son Benjamin Solo AKA Kylo Ren.

And what of Kylo Ren?  The spoiled brat given to childish outbursts of rage when he isn't worshiping his fallen hero, Darth Vader.

What of Rey?  Whose kid is she anyway?  She connects with Luke Skywalker's light saber but can finish Han Solo's sentences and can fly the Millennium Falcon like a seasoned veteran even though she supposedly had no clue how to fly a space ship and no knowledge of the Force.

The bones for the faithful were everywhere from a mothballed Millennium Falcon springing to life to Luke's training orb rolling around in front of the holographic game table.  Even the backdrops recalled the parched landscape of Tattooine and the barren icy wastes of Hoth but with different names.  Even the nemesis weapon of the First Order, the Starkiller is nothing but the Death Star on steroids.

Honestly, who cares?  The whole thing felt like fan fiction on a big budget.

If this movie is anything it's at best a bridge between what we knew and what we'll be forced to accept.  That being an overly processed and weakly developed storyline borrowing heavily from its predecessors but repackaged for an audience that craves CGI effects and politically correct storylines that inspire little reflection. 

The questions left after the closing credits are inconsequential.  The experience during the previous 2 or so hours left me frequently checking my watch as I awaited my release.
It's not a bad movie but it's not a great movie either. 

I like a good story.  I didn't get one with The Force Awakens.  I honestly enjoyed Episode 3 of the prequels better.  If the best praise I can offer is: "At least it's not another prequel." It's not exactly a ringing endorsement.  It had its moments but in the end I really couldn't get invested in the well being of any of the characters including what amounted to little more than extended cameos of the original cast.

Go, see the movie, enjoy yourself but don't expect too much.  Keep in mind that even though it's now reached the status of the highest grossing movie of all time, the previous holders of that title included Avatar and Episode 1. 

This movie is popular only because it's got Star Wars in the title.  I don't expect the next two to do as well unless they plan on waiting another 10 years between releases.

This is not the Star Wars Movie you're looking for...