The Ninjabot

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Review or Episode VII: Another Hope

Posted on December 16, 2015 at 10:34 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson

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Going into Star Wars: The Force Awakens most people just want it to be better than the prequels. So right off the bat let me tell you that it is better than the prequels (well most of them). ***Mostly Spoiler Free***

The Force Awakens flirts with greatness, but eventually falls short of the amazing original trilogy. I know that sentence will be met with groans and cries of bias, and that this film should be judged on it’s own merits. While normally this would be the case, this film relies heavily on our love of established characters while treading some extremely familiar tropes in an effort to set up the full sequel trilogy. The film feels like a “paint by numbers” new version of Star Wars. You need your unwilling hero, your masked Dark Side villain, a mentor, a shocking revelation, and of course a finale featuring an X-Wing battle intercut with a lightsaber duel.

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Let’s start off with the good. The cast is AMAZING! Returning superstars Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) are every bit the joy you remember, and maybe a little more because Ford is not phoning this one in like some previous installments (I’m looking at you Return of the Jedi). He is dashing and funny and every bit the scoundrel we all fell in love with so many years ago.

Adding to the cast this time around is an amazing performance by Daisy Ridley as Rey. She is a fully fleshed out and wonderful character who adds a lot to the franchise. She is not your stereotypical bad ass female warrior. She is someone you actively root for, who runs the emotional spectrum from funny to lethal, and everything in between. She is everything that made Luke Skywalker great without the whiny “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!”

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Then there is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Driver’s nuanced performance is so tremendous that you will be left wondering what Episode 2 and 3 might have been like if he had been Anakin Skywalker instead of Hayden Christiansen. While Christiansen made every complaint seem like that of a petulant child whining, Driver makes you feel the internal conflict, and what an immature squabbling former Jedi might be going through. There has been a lot of internet hate about his lightsaber as well, with it’s cross guard and electrical look. Let me calm the internet down now, the lightsaber is a great addition. Vader had his breathing to set a forbidding mood, and Ren has his lightsaber. The hum and crackling are wholly original and just the sound of it send chills down your spine.

Rounding out the new cast is John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. Both give enjoyable performances that will have you smiling in your seats and add great characters to the franchise. One complaint I have about these two is that their relationship seems a little forced. I understand that war will do things to a man, but I did not buy how close they became so quickly. Especially from where they started.

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The biggest fault of this film is in the world building. Say what you will about Uncle George, but he excelled at creating the world of Star Wars. For his part J.J. Abrams does a great job at not trying to make a “Lucas” Star Wars, but the universe seems small and under-developed. There is the Republic, the established government of this time, but then there is also the Resistance led by General Leia Organa, and the First Order led by Kylo Ren and General Hux. It is never established the relationship between the Republic and the Resistance, and if the Rebublic is even aware of the First Order in the first place. We know that the First Order is bad and the Resistance is good, and that will be enough for most, but the lack of an explanation felt off.

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In addition to the world building, the scope also seemed small. Sure you have the epic scene of Starkiller Base that shows the might of the First Order, but other than that quick shot, you never see more than a handful of Stormtroopers on the screen at once. I’m not looking for a CGI overbloat of troops like we got in the prequels, but all the First Order scenes felt like small landing parties instead of invasion forces. Same goes for the space battles. There is one operational Star Destroyer in the film and it never really engages in combat and there are zero Resistance capital ships. The entirety of the Resistance fleet consists of about 20 X-wings. It seems like Abrams really wanted to send them back to their Episode IV roots, which would be fine if we knew that they were a rag tag group looking to right the galaxy’s wrongs. But since the galaxy isn’t really established, we are left wanting.

All in all, The Force Awakens is a great addition to the Star Wars franchise, but felt a little too safe and similar to the originals. If you were to break down the beats you would see that it is very similar to A New Hope in it’s structure, theme, and tone.

Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-Ball-DroidSnackbar’s Grade: B

Pros – Han Solo is the Han Solo you know and love, A new amazing cast, BB-8, Its freaking Star Wars
Cons – Poor world building, Scope of battles, Seemed too safe/Retread of A New Hope

Also you can check out our vide review below;

Follow Snackbar on Twitter @snackie_cakes for all your Geek News

    • Eric

      I cannot wit to see this movie tomorrow. GREAT REVIEW!

    • Jar Jar Abrams

      Sounds like JJ just tried to remake Episode IV

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