Knee-jerk review: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

1. Now that's what we call a Star Wars movie.
2. It's not flawless, but it's got way more passion and emotion than those horribly sterile and labored prequels George Lucas foisted on us.
3. There's no way to describe the giddiness, is there, we all feel when that fanfare strikes up and up pops the yellow Star Wars logo on the starfield? That's what dreams are made of, right?
4. We all just got to watch Daisy Ridley become a star.
5. Who wouldn't want to steal a TIE fighter?
6. The most interesting characters were all of the new characters, which surprised us.
7. We certainly didn't miss C-3P0, who's barely in the movie but still overstays his welcome.
8. The villain Kylo Ren is particularly fascinating to us, especially the way he's prone to preschool-style temper tantrums.
9. That is one bad-ass name you got there, Poe Dameron.
10. Who wouldn't want to steal the Millennium Falcon, sit in that pilot chair, and reach around flipping all those mysterious switches?
11. Nice rapport between Ridley and costar John Boyega.
12. BB-8 is amusing and cute, but not in a cloying, cheesy way like the Ewoks.  Or in a transparent attempt to appeal to kids, like the international waking nightmare that was Jar Jar Binks.
13. There are surely other ways intergalactic bad guys can prove their bona-fides besides blowing up planets.  This is the third Death Star in seven movies.  Not very imaginative (but we do give begrudging points for pulling power from a star).  Ditto the way the good guys try to destroy the weapon.  But then again, if it ain't broke... 
14. And as much as we like Ridley's character, sticking her on a desert planet is just too much of a callback to Tattooine.  Why not keep her scenes all as is, but just make Jakku a grassland planet or a mountain planet?  But then writer Lawrence Kasdan didn't ask us for script notes.
15. It's those kinds of retreads of previous Star Wars elements (like Ren's silly Vader mask -  he's just as scary when he takes it off) that make this movie a kind of fanboy mashup.  As a friend put it - it's part remake, part sequel.
16. But it moves with energy and purpose and leanness.  There's no denying that.  It's exciting and offers good surprises and twists.  Two developments in particular made our jaded, seen-it-all mouth drop open. 
17. That stands in stark contrast to the loud, chaotic mess that was the Star Trek Beyond trailer that preceded the movie.  Yuck.  That reboot franchise makes money, we suppose, but what a disappointment overall.  Sci-fi as tent-pole action.  But we digress.
18. Han Solo has a bigger role in the plot than we expected.  By the way, "Chewie, we're home" isn't even his best line.
19. There's something odd going on with Carrie Fisher's voice.  You can discuss the hows and whys amongst yourselves.
20. The final two minutes are undeniably goosebump-worthy.  Epic and sweeping and mythic in a Lord of the Rings sort of way.  We're excited to see what the next two movies bring.  
21. And what they'll look and feel like without J.J. Abrams.  He's okay, but not what we'd call a visionary.
22. We went in wanting to like it very badly, but worried we would be very disappointed.  We weren't.  We liked it.

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