Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Force Awakens Review - Part 3 (Spoiler Alert)

Subtitle: Was There A Cheese Factor?

I think I can speak for 99.999% of Star Wars fans when I say our biggest fear about Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is whether or not it would be “as good” as the originals or instead be more on the spectrum of “as bad” as the prequels.  I had made up  my mind to hope for the best but to expect the worst.  I had also made up my mind that I would be “ok” so long as the quality level landed somewhere in the middle.  I am elated to report, however, it met and exceeded all of my hopes and expectations and I will go so far out on this limb as to state…I think it rivals the originals.  It might even be better.
But before I go so far as to make that claim and get too many of you upset, the point of this post is to examine if there is anything in this installment to be critical about.  Did it have ANY of the cheese that stunk up the prequels or is it cheese-free?  As stated in my last post, it did not bother me that JJ followed the pre-established formula and in many ways mirrored A New Hope.  However, it did upset the hyper-critical crowd a little and its probably worth mentioning.  My take is we chalk that up to JJ’s attempt to accomplish two things:

1. Honor the originals that we all so dearly loved without deviating too much off grid.  I bet had he done that, this hyper-critical crowd we be all the more upset.

2. The first installment of any trilogy is meant to provide a foundation and set everything in motion.  So long as the next two establish their own identity apart from the original series, I think I can forgive anything that resembled A New Hope.

So here is the rest of my checklist.  Feel free to add to it in the comments:
Was there any cheesy use of green screen or over-use of CGI?  No!
Was there ridiculous dialog causing normally good actors to look like bad actors? No!
Were there any cheesy characters, like Jar-Jar that made me want to impale myself on a light saber? No!
Did all the animations, puppets, landscapes and actors look realistic especially when interacting with one another?  Yes!
Does this movie escape any and all criticism from me?  No…but almost and here is why. I did find it a bit of a leap for JJ to essentially ask us to believe that in just a few minutes Rey, who formally had no idea she had the force, touches a light saber…has several visions and then bests Kylo Ren in both Jedi Mind tricks and light saber skills just a few scenes later.  I understand movies must accelerate plot lines to keep within the 3 hour time limit but that felt “too fast” and somewhat unbelievable.
That said, I must confess my absolute favorite part of the move was when Kylo tried to make Luke’s sword come to him but instead it flew right past him and into Rey’s hands.  Truly. Epic!


Michael Paine said...

I like that part with Rey over powering Kylo for the light saber equally to Kylo stopping the blaster shot which was also awesome!

I think maybe it isn't so much Rey "out forced" Kylo, but that Kylo was too afraid that he encountered someone else who was able to use the force. I think he thought no one else had it besides Luke after the Knights of Ren destroyed Luke's academy.

As for cheesy, some may find Finn's dialogue cheesy but I like that kind of humor.

Jim said...

I LOVED the stopped blaster shot as well but plan on either putting that tidbit in a post about Kylo Ren or about all my favorite parts (not sure yet). I also loved his modern Vader look and deep voice modulation effect. I also like the kind of humor that you reference and found Finn to be a believable character.

Jim said...

Lastly, I agree Kylo Ren was taken by surprise at Rey's abilities. I did not know about the Knights of Ren storyline, so that helps me fill in some gaps. Overall I was not put off too badly by her quick ability to learn but it was one area where I felt like JJ "forced" me to stretch what is believable in the Star Wars universe. One possible caveat to that is if she ends up being some offspring combination of a Skywalker and a Kenobi. That would explain how naturally gifted already powerful she is without training.