After two months I’ve finally seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Two months of living on an internet that has been littered with praise for the film and spoilers a plenty only fueled my anticipation for the film that would finally cleanse my pallet of my years old disdain for The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately for me it failed and there are three main reasons why The Force Awakens just didn’t do it for me.
Super 8 was this wonderful tale that really encapsulated that 70s-80s Spielberg style, but was still unique and distinctly J.J. Fringe is one of the best sci-fi show of the past 20 years , but it was his take of Star Trek that really elevated him to superstar creator status in my eyes. In Star Trek ,he masterfully directed a tale that reinvented an iconic series that energized old and new fans alike. It was distinctly a J.J. Abrams film and that is what I was looking forward to with The Force Awakens. Instead we got a movie that played it safe and treaded heavily on the influence of Irwin Kershner’s work on Episode V. If it was any other director that would have been ok, but when you have a visionary like Abrams that’s just a travesty of filmmaking. J.J.’s style is noticeably absent from the film and that was a great disappointment.
It Was a Star Wars Film
After almost 40 years of Star Wars it has become a force (no pun intended) unto its own. Each film before The Force Awakens follows a familiar “Star Wars” formula. Sometimes that was a good thing and sometimes it just didn’t work. One of the things that I was hoping would happen with The Force Awakens (and by extension Abrams’ directing) was that this formula would be turned on its ear or at least shaken up a bit. Instead we got a standard paint by numbers Star Wars movie that was fairly predictable even without the spoilers. I do understand that this is just the beginning of a trilogy and that there are many twists, turns, and surprises left to be revealed in the next two movies but I was just a bit disappointed that the status quo was still intact.
Kylo Ren is a whiny brat! Star Wars has always been known for its captivating villains regardless of how much screen time or lines that they were given. From the five minutes of screen time (or something like that) for Bobba Fett, to Darth Maul, to Darth Vader, these villains have resonated with fans for decades. They are villains that we love to watch, want to know more about, or we just know that we are going to get a fantastic lightsaber battle when they come on the scene and Ben Solo just doesn’t fit the bill. Throughout the film, Kylo Ren constantly threw tantrums when he didn’t get his way or things didn’t go his way. This behavior didn’t elicit the fear or badassery that one has come to expect from Star Wars. Kylo Ren seemed more like someone who needed his mommy to bend him over her knee then a feared purveyor of the dark side.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not the worst Star Wars movie but it is nowhere near the best. I see this as more of an exercise in patience that the remaining films in the trilogy will successfully flesh out my criticisms of the first while establishing a new status quo for what Star Wars is. Heck at the end of the day it’s still better that The Phantom Menace.