Film Friday: Star Wars, The Force Awakens

Photo: starwars.com

A long time ago, in a website far, far away…

Oh. My. God.

I mean…

Oh. My. God.

There was never really going to be any other reaction apart from that.

I have been a Star Wars fan all my life (ladies), so you can imagine my reaction to hearing the news that Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, and announcing that there would be new Star Wars movies.

I also remember a bunch of fanboys being pissed off beyond belief that Disney, freaking DISNEY, was making Star Wars. A friend of mine even said “Star Wars: brought to you by the minds behind Aladdin.”

darth mickey, weknowawesome.com
“No, Bambi, I killed your mother.” Photo: weknowawesome.com

Notice how those voices have shut up now?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, otherwise known as Episode VII (because Roman numerals are a thing in galaxies far, far away) begins roughly thirty years after Episode VI. Because I have almost no respect for people of pubic age who have not seen Star Wars, I will not catch you up plot wise. Episode VII opens with a brand new Star Wars text crawl, explaining how the Empire has been replaced with the so-called First Order (despite the First Order being the third group of baddies, after the Sith and the Empire) and how the Republic has created the Resistance to combat the First Order. However, one of the heads of the Resistance, none other than Luke freaking Skywalker (Mark Hamill), has disappeared. The other head, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, who for some reason is not a Queen yet, how does she fit in the royal family again?) has dispatched a pilot, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to find him. From there, everything goes crazy with Stormtroopers going rogue, Millennium Falcons going into hyperdrive and a brand new bad guy, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) threatening the very existence of the Light Side of the Force.

adam driver, bingewatched.com
Ladies and Gentlemen, Kylo Ren, the destroyer of Jedi. Photo: bingewatched.com

OK, writing that, I’m starting to realize how weird Star Wars might seem to a non-fan.

Now, normally when writing a review, at this point I’d go into acting and direction. This is where I have to set my fanboying aside. Star Wars has never exactly had Oscar worthy performances. Granted, this was by choice,  Star Wars has always been self-aware (save for Episodes I and II, who shall henceforth be known as the Dark Side of the Star Wars saga). When I review acting of a Star Wars film, I rate it the same way I would a superhero movie. I’m not comparing the acting ability of Mark Hamill to Daniel Day Lewis. So, how did the acting go?

This is probably some of the best acting of the Star Wars saga. Star Wars: Jar Jar Binks Strikes Back has a group of very talented young actors, including Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), That-Guy-From-Girls (Adam Driver), The-New-Stormtrooper (John Boyega) and, of course, who can forget Girl-We-Know-So-Little-Of-We-Only-Just-Found-Out-How-Old-She-Is (Daisy Ridley). These actors are obviously better than the original crew of Han, Luke, Leia and Chewbacca (Furry dude was always chewing the scenery).

chewbacca, gawker.com
Pictured: The first of many of Chewbacca’s sexual harassment lawsuits. Photo: gawker.com

In terms of direction, J. J. Abrams really knew what he was doing. J. J. based the direction of Episode VII off of previous entries in the saga. This includes the infamous swipes. Rumour has it that George Lucas was dared to see how many cheesy transitions and swipes he could fit in to the various Star Wars films. Turns out, quite a lot. Somehow though, Lucas managed to make them look good, and they have been associated with the series ever since.

Another thing people don’t seem to notice about Star Wars (or films in general) is the cinematography. Star War: Return of the Sequels is closer aesthetically to the original trilogy than any of the prequels were (and theysa have a noticeable lacksa of Jar Jar Binks). The feel of Star Wars is back, but with a digital camera instead of 35mm.

jar jar, sky.com
Pictured: An image from Jar Jar Binks’ leaked sextape. Photo: sky.com

Now all this flailing fanboyism does not exist in isolation. Star Wars: The Ewok Menace does have some problems. Notably, the design of some of the creatures. What sets Star Wars apart from your standard sci-fi series is the design of, well, pretty much everything. You have spaceships that look like the letter X and another that looks like a squashed hamburger with a bite taken out of it (I’m not kidding, that was the concept behind the Millenium Falcon). You have tiny robot scavengers, slug-like crime lords and a metal cylinder which weaponizes light by turning it into a freaking solid. However, most of the design of Star Wars’ more iconic features, such as lightsabers and Darth Vader’s mask, was done by Ralph McQuarrie. Sadly, McQuarrie died of Parkinson’s in 2012, and was unable to design anything in Star Wars: Return of the Mack (sad also because, you know, a person died).

Therefore, some of the designs, particularly of aliens, felt somewhat cheap. One example is of the character Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o). Maz seems to be a very generic alien design, small, big head, exaggerated features. She is boring to look at. Another lackluster design is of the big bad head honcho himself, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy ‘My Preciousssssssssss’ Serkis). Snoke’s design, similarly, is boring and uninspired. His head is human-like, but with more skeletal features, and no hair. That’s no fun to look at. Additionally, both of these characters were animated. Granted, many more creatures were made via practical applications, but that just makes these characters appear all the more jarring. Give us more people like Chewbacca, and then we’ll be happy (except we won’t, nothing pleases Star Wars fans, one’s rage can be seen in Fig 1.1).

nerd rage, followingthenerd.com
Fig 1.1 Photo: followingthenerd.com

Some people are also criticizing the story. While I personally am fine with the story being incredibly similar to previous Star Wars films (the stories are always identical), there are some parts which just feel off. Without spoiling anything, there is a point in the film wherein a character magically gives a vital piece of information they were unable to give before. The moment comes out of nowhere, yet is still incredibly predictable.

Star Wars: The Wrath of Khan is a welcome sequel in the generation spanning Star Wars saga. It does have some flaws, it is not perfect, but the joy and wonder of Star Wars that many felt as children is kept alive for generations to come.

nerd rage 2, nukethefridge.com
Somehow, I have offended more nerds than this image. I can tell. Photo: nukethefridge.com

Technically, Star Wars: The Jedi, the Sith and the Wardrobe cannot get a perfect 7/7, because it is not perfect. Based just off of enjoyment, it would definitely get a 6.5 if not a 7 itself, which is why it pains me to say…

Star Wars: Revenge of the Wookies gets a glowing 6/7


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