Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)--No Spoilers

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) directed by J. J. Abrams

A new evil has arisen in the galaxy, the First Order. They are on the verge of kicking out the new Republic which has been supporting the Resistance (led by General Leia Organa) to the First Order's influence. Key players in the First Order are using the Dark Side of the Force and storm troopers, so everyone (people in the story and us watching the movie) knows they are bad. The Resistance is trying to find Luke Skywalker. He mysteriously disappeared many years ago but an old friend of Leia's has a map showing where he went. The hope is he can restore order to the galaxy since there are no good Jedi around, only the evil ones. The map is given to a cute droid on a desert planet in the middle of a battle. The droid falls in with a local scavenger and a storm trooper who quits the First Order. Both people help get the droid back to the Resistance, a tough assignment if there ever was one.

The plot unfolds at a good pace and has the right blend of seriousness and humor to keep things enjoyable and exciting if not always believable. The movie has too many visual references to the previous movies but I didn't find them annoying. They just made things too predictable (so maybe they were slightly annoying). Harrison Ford is in fine form as Han Solo and the rest of the cast is also good. The main villain, Kylo Ren, is appropriately menacing even if he is a little too similar to Darth Vader (who the character is trying to emulate). Abrams restrained himself from putting in all those silly lens flares that are in the Star Trek movies and Super 8, for which I am grateful. The Star Wars franchise is a better fit for him as a director since it is more about action and fights and mystical mumbo-jumbo.

This is not a great film but it is great fun. Among the Star Wars movies, it's tied with Return of the Jedi, which is lightyears above any of the prequels. Given more time (and more viewings) I could figure out which is the better film.

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