Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
By Daniel Shultz
I’m a Star Trek kind of person. I make no claim to being a rabid Star Wars fanatic, I didn’t see the films as a young child, there was no life altering viewing, I wasn’t forever changed by seeing Vader tell Luke he was his father, (as that was common knowledge within pop culture at the time) and I didn’t get crazy excited to see any of the prequels. I did see the prequels, the last one in the theatre even. But even as a high school student I recognized that day sitting in that theatre on opening weekend (for a friend’s birthday) that the writing was terrible and the story dumb.
I say this to make it known that Star Wars isn’t my favorite thing ever, but I do like the original trilogy, I think they’re quality films. So going into this new Star Wars film I had hope that I would be seeing a good movie, but my expectations were kept at a minimum because of my non-fanboyness.
So is the movie good? No. Its great. It is a great Star Wars film. It’s not as good as the originals, and is light-years better than the prequels. It isn’t Citizen Kane or anything. (side note I don’t think Citizen Kane is the greatest film ever made, but it is short hand for such a statement.) It gets the job done. There is action, believable characters, actual character development, tense moments, tears, laughs, everything you’d want from a Star Wars film.
It has its flaws of course. It leaves no, absolutely ZERO, time to breathe, there are no quiet moments in this film. Every moment has a sense of tension and looming disaster. The characters seem to spend the majority of their time running. Running away from bad guys, running towards bad guys, every single moment seems to be sprinting to the next scene. This can be blamed on the general trend of modern filmmaking, which seems to require that if a character actually is standing still that the camera zooms around them in an epic style. One need only look at Star Wars The Force Awakens Director JJ Abrams previous work on the Star Trek franchise, which feature loads of running and no quiet moments or scenes where the characters take their time to figure out a solution to their problem.
Fortunately Star Wars doesn’t suffer quite as bad from the lack of quiet scenes. It is Star Wars after all, not Star Trek. There is no need for it to have detailed explanations for its science or to have philosophical conversations about the rights of droids. So Star Wars manages to come out of this trend with a few scratches but well intact.
The plot is simple and I won’t relay it here. There are few surprises that people will no doubt see coming, but what does happen is nonetheless impactful. People learn lessons, they develop and change, they grow into stronger people.
Overall the acting is good, the new faces bring energy and skill to their parts. It's good to see that a film doesn’t have to have famous names in the lead roles to make it profitable. The returning actors bring familiarity and gravitas to their roles that helps bridge the gap between the old and new.
This is a great film. You should see it.