NO SPOILER REVIEW (PART 1)
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – The franchise is back on track! I think that was the biggest concern among long time fans of the original They still have a little bit further to go to instill the franchise fully into hearts of a new generation, but J.J. Abrams did bring a good portion of the magic back. Loved seeing some old faces that were more than just cameos. But what was satisfying were the new faces in a galaxy far far away. First off, John Boyega exceeded all expectations in his portrayal of Finn. He was amusing, as well as a conduit for some of the drama of the film. And he was a great match for fellow actress Daisy Ridley who played Rey, a girl just trying to find her way. Adam Driver played big baddie Kylo Ren (his rapper name). I think he hit his mark for being the poster boy for the Dark Side. The storyline wasn’t deep, which is reminiscent of the originals, but it was fun. The kids in the audience seemed to really enjoy it as much as the adults. Spaceship battles and chase scenes were tight and very cinematic. But they weren’t over done with too much for the eyes to take in. In fact, I don’t even think I saw one lens flare. Abrams has learned his lesson. There were little things in there that rubbed against my technical science geek side, but since when has Star Wars worried much about scientific details? There were also a couple little plot-points that could have been tightened up with a couple lines or maybe extra scenes. But it was fun and nostalgic and that’s all I was asking for in this most recent go-round. Looking forward to more stories if this is what the franchise will look like, though I do want to see work from other directors. Geek Soul Brother gives The Force Awakens 4.5 out of 5 COSMIC AFROS.
SPOILER REVIEW (PART 2)
So I have a few criticisms about the film, but most of them do not pertain to the quality of it. They are more of me wanting to see something fresh and new. But what we got (my biggest critique) is a remade mesh of the original New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. I’m not judging too harshly on Abrams and the rest of the creators because they really had their hands full with this film, and playing it safe was probably a good strategy. What I don’t think they had to do was give you homage after homage to remind you of all the things you loved about Star Wars. After a while it just got too noticeable.
Let me clarify the whole ‘Remake of New Hope’ thing. The Awakens plot mirrored New Hope almost to the scenes. From the ‘Hiding plans in a Droid’ to ‘Young Person Escaping from a Desert Planet’ to ‘Meeting the Mentor / killing the mentor’ to ‘Battling a Deathstar’. The some of the roles were different, but the story was basically the same. And just talking about this Deathstar that needs a whole sun to fuel up its weapon? Star Wars was never savvy at explaining how the technology worked, but sucking up a whole star into a ray gun, even one the size of a planet, does not work in anyone’s astrophysics book. I’m just waiting for Dr. Neal D Tyson to give his view on the thing.
Now to applaud JJ for the things I liked about the film. There is one thing you can probably say about Abrams – He’s a supporter of diversity in his projects and he likes strong fleshed out women and people of color on the screen. Ray was multi faceted in her portrayal of a young girl that had innocence yet cunning, was strong but just a touch of vulnerability that wasn’t a troupe that tends to diminish other female heroes. The best thing is that Ray has a destiny with the force that has yet to be revealed. Earlier this year, everyone hailed Furiosa from Mad Max as being a great female protagonist, and she was at that. But in Force Awakens, Rey was commanding her own direction and the direction of others, discovering her power of the force, and enacting her own escape, all without the help of a man. It’s a hot debate as to how she was able to fight with a lightsaber for the first time and best a young sith like villain. But I did like Ridley in how she showed determination and strength in Rey. She reminds me of a young Emily Blunt in how she uses subtle looks and expressions to convey her character.
And on the other side of the table we had Finn, a young brother that had to balance courage and fear at the same time to escape the First Order, and step up to the plate when his new found friend Rey was in trouble. And Finn carried his share of the weight when it came to his decisions directing the story. I have to give it up to the writers for allowing two characters share the decision making in the plot. That’s not an easy thing to balance out. Now some people had a problem with Finn as a black man who also carrying a lot of the comedy on his plate. It could have been construed as that typical black character that’s always in films for the comedy relief and not much else. But I would say that Finn was much more three dimensional when it came to his dramatic moments – like fighting troopers or worrying about Rey. Basically Finn was a young cheeky Han Solo opposite Rey being a serious young Luke Skywalker. Like I said, New Hope all over again. I have to say though, as a Storm Trooper, they could have given Finn another previous job other than a sanitation guy, but I guess that was another Abrams homage.
Of course I have to give a shoutout to my girl Lupita Nyong’o for her role as Mas Kanata, or orange Yoda woman. It will be nice if we can see her again. What was she doing with Luke’s lightsaber is another story I guess. And Oscar Issac didn’t have a lot of screen time, but his character Poe Demeron was instantly likable, and a far cry from the obnoxious character he played in Ex Machina.
Again, I loved seeing the old and familiar faces again. I’m glad Solo, Chewbacca and Leia had a major part in the story. And it was also fitting that Han took a bow out of the franchise.
So again, my critiques really didn’t have much to do with the quality of the film. Not when it comes to a story that was fun and kids would like. I’m sure the next couple films will dive more into some originality, but for now I’m satisfied that Star Wars: The Force Awakens did its job.