Warning: Contains spoilers about the movie’s plot.
Now that the dust has settled and Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hit the theatres, moviegoers worldwide got to enjoy one of the most eagerly awaited movies of all time. But did J.J. Abrams’ film live up to the hype? Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far and the film boasts a strong Metacritic score, with most Star Wars fans giving The Force Awakens a thumbs up, so it is clear that the movie is pretty good by most accounts and a solid entry in the Star Wars saga.
And there’s no doubt that the movie pays tribute to the original trilogy, with our heroes starting on a desert planet and eventually becoming saviours of the galaxy. And while it would be unfair to accuse J.J. Abrams’ movie of being a remake of 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, perhaps his new movie goes overboard when it comes to fan service.
Because the new young protagonists Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) also serve the purpose of “putting viewers in the movie”, as they are ordinary folk who in Rey’s case for instance, go from collecting scrap on planet Jakku to piloting the Millennium Falcon and hanging around with Han Solo. She gets to live every Star Wars’ fan fantasies, from wielding a lightsaber to helping blow up the Empire’s secret weapon, and even asks Han Solo about Star Wars trivia like whether his ship made the Kessel run in 14 parsecs, like any giddy fan would (actually it was 12 parsecs, like Han points out…)
And regarding the Han Solo character, kudos must go to actor Harrison Ford for playing the grizzled smuggler with gusto, as his performance is certainly one of the strong points of J.J. Abrams’ film.
But perhaps one sore point of The Force Awakens is how the movie treats the Force and Jedis. Because the Force is not only a big part of the movie’s mythology, as it’s the source of a Jedi’s power, but it has also become part of our popular culture, with innumerable references to it in other movies and TV. The phrase “use the Force” has become something of a cliché, after all.
But sadly, Abrams’ movie misfires in this regard because it cheapens the Force, in the sense that Rey becomes acquainted with it too quickly, doing things that not even Luke Skywalker dreamt about in George Lucas’ original Star Wars movie. Rey is able to withstand the brutal interrogation of villain Kylo Ren, who leads the evil First Order and is a powerful Sith, and she is even able to to convince a Stormtrooper to release her when she is being held captive by the Empire by resorting to a Jedi mind trick , without any prior training. This is of course a crowd-pleasing scene in Abrams movie, but it gives the impression that Jedi skills can be mastered and used by anyone in an instant.
And Rey even gets to wield a lightsaber like a pro and even manage to best Kylo Ren using the Jedi’s favourite weapon, when it took the likes of Luke Skywalker lots of rigorous training with the Jedi master Yoda before he could even face Darth Vader in the 1980 movie The Empire Strikes Back. And while Kylo Ren is no Vader, as he is prone to outbursts and shows insecurity at certain points in the film, Rey’s abilities and Force skills just come to her way too fast.
But still, at least we see her meeting Luke Skywalker at the end of the movie, who will undoubtedly be teaching her the finer points of the Force when Episode VIII hits the screens sometime in 2017. And given that The Force Awakens is already breaking box office records, it might even end up becoming the top grossing Star Wars movie of all time, while actually being a good film in its own right. And if future episodes are just as fun as this one (even if it does take the Force a bit lightly), then Star Wars fans will surely have plenty to look forward to in the future.
COPYRIGHT: Lucasfilm Ltd.