The Force Awakens | 2015 | 2 hours 16 minutes | Dir. J.J. Abrams | Buena Vista
Tis the season for magic. Whether it’s Santa Claus or light sabers, this time of year we all want to get swept up in a world of make- believe.
Star Wars Consumer Products had a field day with The Force Awakens. We started seeing Star Wars merch this time last year. By November, Star Wars branded everything from Target to produce. By December, we were all kind of sick of it. Do not let the hype deter you. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a damn good movie.
Forget the hype. Forget the last six movies. Forget Luke Skywalker, George Lucas, Hayden Christensen, the Jedi, the Sith, and the BB8 oranges. For two hours and 16 minutes, simply escape to a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the kind of holiday- season epic we used to see more of. Remember epics like Braveheart, Lord Of The Rings, Titanic, even A New Hope? The Force Awakens returns to that kind of movie magic. Director J.J. Abrams handled this sequel with care. He relied on tried- and- true filmmaking traditions and Original Trilogy tropes. The result? Near perfection.
In The Force Awakens, we meet three awesome new characters: Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the emerging Dark Lord who struggles with his light side; Finn (John Boyega), the storm trooper whose moral compass breaks the bondage of combat; and Rey (Daisy Ridley), the eager and resourceful scavenger. All have minor drawbacks. Rey sounds like Pirates of the Caribbean- era Keira Knightley. Finn does a lot of heavy breathing. And Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) wears a helmet because his haircut makes him look like a doofus.
But overall, we end up loving these characters, even Ren, the “bad guy”. The plot of The Force Awakens starts with a search for Luke Skywalker, but it really follows Finn and Rey’s journey as they discover the Force. The film’s most powerful moments come from emotions, not explosions.
This movie handled special effects beautifully. Gone are the prequels’ overcrowded CGI frames. Back are the crafty visual effects like puppets, makeup and miniatures. This movie looks fantastic. The effects team struck a perfect balance between visual effects and CGI. The movie looks neither over- animated nor campy.
The scenes thrive on gorgeous cinematography and simply constructed frames. There’s a reason conventions like dollies and the Rule of Thirds stick around. They look good. The Force Awakens also incorporated a lot of the Star Tours- eque POV battle scenes, which I love. The Force Awakens kept lightsaber duels short and sweet, refreshing for the franchise’s most overexposed toy.
Only major complaint: The ending. Disney couldn’t resist leaving a bunch of loose ends for a sequel to tie up. The ending made an otherwise perfect story arc story come to a screeching, resolution-less halt. Damn this sequel trend!!
So do not let the barrage of Star Wars toys, gadgets and vegetables overshadow the reason for the season. The Force Awakens is an instant classic. An escape from reality. A damn good movie.
Slam dunk, cast & crew.