Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is set three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.
*This is your warning: this review has spoilers*
Although I was optimistic when I went into the packed showing in Empire Leicester Square’s IMAX screen, there was a part of me that was really worried it wasn’t going to live up to the expectations and the hype that surrounded the film. And for the most part, it was hardly original, the new characters were mostly unexplained with Rey frustratingly annoying, conveniently good at everything, and lack of emotion for her character; Finn basically useless and sidelined as the comic-relief; Poe hardly seen or his character explained; General Hux lacking any sort of emotional connection; and Captain Phasma disappearing after being forced to comply with Finn’s demands.
The potential relationship between Finn and Rey seems rushed and almost unbelievable. And with Rey supposing to be the lead of the film, it felt like Finn was instead as we’re lead through a lot of the story by him. If Rey is supposed to be the lead, obviously having a strong sense of the force about her as she’s seems somewhat linked to Luke Skywalker, we have to care enough about her. She was apparently left on Jakku alone by an unknown character for no reason that’s made clear to raise herself and becomes a scavenger. This isn’t enough to make her likeable or relatable. Like many of her co-characters that were introduced in The Force Awakens, she fell flat with a lacking in her history in making her character real.
Adam Driver’s character of Kylo Ren was understandable and probably had the most amount of character background and development within the film. Essentially, though, he’s a Darth Vader fanboy that’s hardly as intimidating as his predecessor. There’s also the issue with the reveal of his heritage – this could’ve been done in another way and not revealed so casually through dialogue. I mean, if you take the reveal of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father in Empire Strikes Back, it is probably one of the most memorable scenes in film history and was expressed through a simple line of dialogue against a decent amount of backstory revealed in the rest of the film and it’s preceding film. If Kylo Ren was shown as being so conflicted from the very beginning, and being totally honest about this, would have made it more interesting as he wasn’t exactly pulling his bad-assness off. And also Han and Leia referring to him as their son felt somewhat strange and forced, almost unbelieving of it.
If you want to see a good Star Wars film, see Episode IV instead of The Force Awakens as the major elements of the story are exactly the same, filled with almost cheap stabs at nostalgia, but this isn’t entirely a bad thing but when it makes up a lot of the film, it’s not exactly a good thing. The possibilities were endless for The Force Awakens and there was hardly an excuse for recycling old films. It’s like it was almost played safe It was good to see the originals again, and the cheer from the audience when Chewie and Han appeared was enthusiastic as anything, but when Han was killed by his son Kylo Ren, you could feel the audience sag into a depression that affected the rest of the film. How his death came about was emotional, yes, but could’ve had a stronger impact. There was a weak applause for the return of the beloved droid R2D2 as the depression still hung and the appearance of Luke Skywalker seemed hardly relevant against the destruction of Starkiller Base.
Story and character development, with particular reference being made to the relationships between old and new characters, is virtually non-existent. Everybody just happens to love everyone else immediately and with no reason. And Rey, our new, strong, female protagonist, is conveniently amazing at everything she does instantly without any reasoning as to why. But then given that the story is so poor, without this convenience there would be nothing left.
The Force Awakens is a film I thought I might see multiple times at the cinemas but not only do I not want to put myself through Han’s death once more (he was by far one of the best characters of the series), but it didn’t feel like it had that re-watchability that the originals had or even moments of the prequels had to – you can’t deny the fight scene between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul in Episode I and Obi-Wan and Anakin in Episode III were great moments in somewhat disappointing films.
Each person is allowed to have their own opinions of this film, whether it be enthusiastic or somewhat disappointed and I’m happy to talk to anyone about any of the points that I’ve mentioned in this review.