J.J. Abrams is a damned good director. He does a masterful job of blending practical and digital effects. His story is basically a retooling of Star Wars-which is basically a classic take on The Hero’s Journey. We have two new Heroes to follow around, a woman and a black man, two groups that were in little evidence in Star Wars.
The Force Awakens was not a perfect film, but after the abomination of the Prequels, it’s like a ray of light falling into a dank, dark dungeon. There were cheers when the opening scroll hit the screen and a spattering of applause once the final credits started to roll.
For some reason, Abrams is terrible at invoking emotion. His death/rebirth of James Kirk was laughable. The bulk of his endings lack any kind of punch at all. The high water mark for onscreen deaths is Spock’s death scene in The Wrath of Khan. Easily the best death scene of all time. Bursting at the seams with emotion. A death scene that was greeted with a group shrug was Kirk’s death a few films later. The death in The Force Awakens is all Kirk and no Spock. It really should have been a better death. This kind of on screen death always makes me think of Switch from The Matrix, “Not like this… not like this.”
I liked Star Wars The Force Awakens, but I didn’t love it. But then, I didn’t love the first Star Wars either. The Empire Strikes Back is still my favorite of all the Star Wars films. There was a lot of setup here and not a lot of explaining. We have an odd problem similar to the one with the Sith, the nonsense that there can be ONLY TWO. Luke appears to be the only Jedi left in the Galaxy. Did none of the other Jedi have families? Does everyone now have to be related to Luke and Leia? And since Luke never finished his training, what does he know about teaching new Jedis anyway?
On the plus side there were no arms being lopped off. No Jar Jar Binks, though there were a number of background characters that were a tad over the top. There was an opportunity to show Jar Jar being evaporated, but they didn’t take it for some reason. It was great to see the Millennium Falcon in action again.
The Force Awakens was fun. I did enjoy the many little gags and countless call backs to Star Wars. It’s well worth seeing, if you happen to be among the handful of people who haven’t seen it yet.