Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Let me begin by saying this is far from an unbiased review. My love of “Star Wars” is well documented; in fact, my first article for Can’t Talk Media as a staff writer was about “Star Wars,” and it is one of the pieces I am most proud of writing. While I am still applying my critical eye to the film, I may also be viewing it through Kylo Ren 3-D glasses.
I’m just going to jump right into this now. Many of the complaints about the prequels were that the stories tried too hard to be like the original trilogy. While I never viewed them that way, I suppose the argument could be made. “The Force Awakens” is its own film, its own self-contained story, and leads perfectly into what will come next. The pacing was excellent. Even if you aren’t a rabid fan of the franchise, there isn’t a single moment in this movie where you will want to check your watch or phone; transitions from action to dialogue and from act to act of the story are downright flawless. Perhaps the only complaint I have was there is a lot of fill-in information from the preceding 30 years that is unknown to the viewer, but really unless, like me, you are deep into the lore of “Star Wars,” the opening scrawl will do perfectly. 9/10
The acting was out of this world. Look out for Daisy Ridley, everyone; she is the real deal, delivering lines with talent seldom seen in Hollywood anymore. She conveys so much emotion with her eyes that she will have a strong career long after the “Star Wars” franchise is over. John Boyega, who I hardly recognize from “Attack the Block” was also outstanding and made a relatable character for men of all ages. Oscar Isaac, who will be in another franchise film next summer, also shows why he is seeing more time on the big screen. As for the rest of the cast, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyoung’o, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Andy Serkis all turn in their absolute best. It is clear they had fun filming, and it translated into the performances we see on the screen. While likely not to get any Oscar nods, it was some of the best acting I’ve seen since “The Martian.” 10/10
Inclusiveness is where “Star Wars” usually scores very low. “New York Magazine” did a supercut of all the lines spoken by women that weren’t Princess Leia from Episodes IV, V, and VI, and it was only 63 seconds long. This time, it is a much different story. The movie passes the Bechdel-Wallace test, has more than one person of color, and, without getting into spoilers, Rey may just be the best female character in science fiction in well over a generation—and possibly ever. Parents, take your daughters to show them what women are capable of. 9/10
As far as the overall awesomeness of the film, I am completely biased; I won’t try to deny it. However, it does deliver on the action and emotion in ways that a “Star Wars” movies haven’t done since “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” The space and land battles are better, the lightsaber fights are more realistic, and the believability of new characters make for this movie to possibly supplant “The Empire Strikes Back” as my favorite “Star Wars” movie of all time. 10/10.
I cannot recommend this movie enough, not just because of the what I’ve written here but because of what I wrote back when I first started with Can’t Talk Media. The effects of “Star Wars” on our children can’t be emphasized enough. It will spark imagination, give them strength, show them that even when you want to run you can still be brave, and that being brave isn’t being fearless but overcoming fear. Take your kids; take yourselves. Plot a course through hyperspace to your nearest movie theater showing it, and try to make it there in less than 12 parsecs.