Spoiler-Free First Review of The Force Awakens

It is 04h00 am here in London and I just arrived after a first viewing of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Before I get some sleep prior to our second viewing tomorrow afternoon I want to share with you a first, entirely spoiler-free, review.The Force Awakens is a thoroughly entertaining movie that will without doubt find a good place within the, now, 7-film Star Wars canon. Let me talk you through a couple of positives, a couple of negatives and some final remarks.

Positives

The absolute highlight of this film is Rey, Daisy Ridley’s performance and her story-arc. Rey’s story is credible, well-written her character is charming, witty and strong. The dilemma’s she faces are well-considered and sufficiently deep for a newly introduced character. Poe and Finn are great characters too. Poe is indeed the self-confident swashbuckler with a good heart and less of an edgy side than Han in the Originals. Finn is in many ways as much a heroic character as he is a comic relief character. His charming clumsiness reminds one of another beloved comedy character in Star Wars albeit without any slapstick. BB-8 is a wonderful addition to the Star Wars Universe and he responds and mixes really well with the other main characters. General Hux is truly menacing with his fascistoid manners and played very convincingly. Kylo Renn is an interesting character whose psychological make-up contains interesting weaknesses and ambiguities. Han Solo is well-written and has an arc that is as satisfying as Finn’s or Poe’s. Maz Kanata is a good and very promising new character albeit no Yoda yet!

Finally the visualization of the story is gorgeous in practically all scenes. There is never a dull moment and camera-angles are often interesting and typically very supportive of the overall narrative.

Negatives

Kasdan and Abrams are lazy story-tellers. Almost all characters, except Finn and Rey, have significant off-screen action. The authors have clearly fallen into a few of the traps that the EU would consistently fall into regarding badly written super-weapons demonstrations. The carelessness with which some story-lines are simply left dangling is puzzling as there seems to be no really good reason for it. Leia and Phasma could have been developed better and Snoke is not yet impressive as a narrative device or as a character.

Despite the gorgeous visualizations, the visual story-telling is fairly thin. Discrepancies between story-time and ‘theatre-time’ towards the end of the film are not very disturbing but a little annoying anyway.

Final Remarks

The Force Awakens is  a very entertaining film that definitely will reward multiple viewing. Rey is an outstanding new character and Finn and Poe are also highly interesting and entertaining. It will be great to see where these characters will take us in Episodes VIII and IX. I will be very interested to see how my first impression changes after multiple viewings.

My Quality-Ordering of Star Wars Movies

From best to least-best: III, V, VI, I,VII, II, IV.

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Spoiler-Free First Review of The Force Awakens

  1. I agree with practically everything you say. Rey was definitely the standout for me, very well-acted by Daisy Ridley and certainly a worthy addition to the universe, and of course it was great to see all the old cast back. I was pleasantly surprised by how funny it was, with the humour hitting the right notes for me just about every time. I enjoyed Hux a lot, but I must admit I wasn’t overly impressed by the rest of the villains, two of whom were my most anticipated characters and ended up being the two biggest disappointments. I also felt the narrative was nothing special, many points of it severely unbaked or rehashed, lacking the substance of 1-6 and the innovative spirit which distinguishes the two previous trilogies. At the moment I’d say it’s my least favourite of the 7 by quite a ways, but I’m going again tomorrow and then a third time on Monday so hopefully I’ll pick up a bit more of the good in it with more viewings.

    Like

  2. I personally think it won’t reward multiple viewing if you found the first one lacking. JJ just doesn’t have the visual flair of Lucas even at his weakest. Few of today’s generation have, honestly.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comment. I must say I enjoyed the 2nd & 3rd viewing significantly more, also because I watched in knowing the flaws and hence noticing them less while seeing a little more of the good stuff 🙂

      Like

  3. The standouts for me were John Boyega and Harrison Ford as Finn and Han Solo. The two of them gave this movie a great deal of energy and at the same time, struck me as the two most interesting characters in the movie.

    I wish I could say the same about Daisy Ridley’s portrayal of Rey. But the character struck me as a borderline “Mary Sue”. It seemed as if Abrams and Kennedy were trying to make her as some kind of “Girl Power” character, and I honestly do not find such characters that interesting. Especially when they are portrayed with the unrealism that seemed to taint Rey’s character. In the end, her interactions with Finn and Han that made her even slightly interesting to me.

    Like

    1. Rey’s character didn’t seem ‘girl poer’ish to me at all. For example I really like that she never appears to ‘demand’ some form of equal treatment, rather from her reactions you can see she assumes it to be the normal. It are Finn’s assumptions that make him behave ‘out of tune’ with the actual situation. But then Finn does this all the tike, not just with respect to Rey. Also her skills with a blade seem perfectly reasonable for someone who is proficient with a staff … which she shows she is and which makes sense given where she lives. Finally she may acquire some other skills surprisingly quickly, but she acquires them not in a well-trained form rather in a very unrefined rough form. When she draws on them in the final scene you see it is imprecise and untrained. But it is enough against a badly wounded opponent who is additionally startled by surprise and agony.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s