Brightest Daycare

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Spoiler-Free Review

film reviewRyan ClarkComment
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So I will try my darnedest to not spoil anything for the film- I know some people haven’t seen it yet and wont see it for a while. I got lucky, and had my in-laws step up and offer to watch the kid so my wife and I could enjoy Force Awakens in IMAX 3D. Then, the next day I got the opportunity through my wife’s work to get discounted group tickets for another showing of the film, so we took my three year old to the movie. I wanted to take him to see it, because he (of course, as my son, he has little choice in the matter) loves Star Wars and we have frequent lightsaber battles (and even though I bought him a Kylo Ren saber on Force Friday, he still wants to use my ForceFX Vader saber), and we watch Return of the Jedi probably once a week. Add to that the fact that a family member sent us early Christmas presents that were Stormtrooper costumes for my wife and I, and a Darth Vader costume for my son, complete with helmet. WHICH HE IS OBSESSED WITH! This is extremely fortunate, because we got him a Captain Phasma voice changer mask and a Phasma snuggie- because when he told santa what he wanted for Christmas, he said he wanted a blanket with sleeves like mom and dad have. And before you judge me- yes, I have a camo snuggie that I wear pretty regularly. But, that is enough vamping before we jump into talking about the movie- and having seen it twice, I think I can say a few things about it- and hopefully spoil nothing (or at least, as little as possible).

My Chewbacca in aviators shirt and Santa Vader ready for Force Awakens

My Chewbacca in aviators shirt and Santa Vader ready for Force Awakens

So I saw the movie the first time in IMAX 3D, like I said, and it was an absolutely gorgeous experience. The soundtrack is impeccable- I already bought a copy. The opening score and text scroll actually made me tear up. I couldn’t help it- it was just such a wonderful and magical experience. The opening sequence felt a lot different than the beginnings of the other Star Wars films, and I don’t think it did it any disservice to the film. I liked how this film sets up it’s characters, and after I spent some time talking things over with my wife after BOTH viewings of the movie, I think that the way they interact really isn’t all that different from the way Han, Luke and Leia interact in the original trilogy.

The sensibilities of the film have changed- there is a much faster pace to this film than there ever was in New Hope, Empire or Jedi. Things just move a lot faster than they did, and one thing that was omitted from the film that I did find odd, and enjoyed so much from the original films was that the faster than light, hyperspace travel usually took some time- it may have only been a few minutes, but it still afforded the characters a chance to interact in a much more relaxed atmosphere, and to allow for some much needed humor to be injected, without it being more slapstick/punch line type humor.

Beyond that, there was a lot of great practical effects, the special effects weren’t too overbearing, and there were plenty of moments that reference the previous films and characters in so many ways. Not to mention all the easter eggs that have come out since then, including cameos, references and nods to the original films (which I will refrain from posting here) that I have been seeking out more of now that I have seen the movie.

Also, there was talk of the Force Awakens novelization being a much more in-depth exploration of the characters and their interactions, which is something I really want more of. There were SO MANY questions raised after watching this movie, and the film does a really great job- just like A New Hope did before it- of setting up the world with some very high stakes, and giving the heroes AND villains personality and even some charisma that helps to really humanize them.

There was one moment that stuck out to me as a bit odd- and that was one of the first moments John Boyega is on screen, when he speaks, he drops his accent. If you don’t know, John Boyega was in Attack the Block- a film I greatly enjoyed; but it showcased him with a very thick British accent. In The Force Awakens (not really a spoiler) he speaks without that regional accent. But for one brief moment, it slips; and somehow that momentary slip was the best take from that scene, and it made it into the film.

Without giving things away- there were reports of certain characters reprising their roles for Episode VIII already, some of which are spoiler-y, some of which are less so. But still, I hope that we find out a couple of secondary characters make a bigger impact on the story in the next movie. It also makes me wonder what sort of crossover we will see with the anthology films. I know that it is pretty public knowledge that Rogue One will focus on the rebels that recovered the Death Star plans prior to the opening scene in A New Hope, in which “many Bothans died”. So that will be an interesting part of the Star Wars cannon, not yet explored. Plus the “untitled Han Solo origin story” a young Han Solo, possibly meeting a less-shaggy Chewbacca for the first time, falling in love with the Millenium Falcon at first sight, and all sorts of carousing, swindling and womanizing? What’s not to love??? The big questions is- what impact, if any, will it have on the main universe? I would like to see some bits and pieces from Force Awakens (and even the original trilogy) touched on in those movies, because it would just further help in attaching them to one another.

The Force Awakens does a really good job of looking and feeling like a Star Wars film, and has a lot of the same concepts as the original trilogy. There was a lot less that I feel negatively about after seeing the movie, and it absolutely passed the test of my three year old, who sat through the whole movie (minus a couple bathroom breaks- again, why I wanted to see the movie without him first). So, I think this movie (beyond it’s massive critical and financial success) will be considered a high mark to hit in Star Wars cinema, and in movie making in general. J. J. Abrams did a great job with this film, which very much does feel like a movie that fans of the original trilogy will enjoy, but it has enough new and different material, and includes more prominent characters played by women and people of color that the story should appeal to a much wider range audience than ever before.

At first I had thought that there was too much humor in the movie for what it was, but after talking it out with my wife, I came to see that it was much like A New Hope, in that the cast members that are seemingly “thrown together” form fast friendships and bond rather quickly, not unlike in The Force Awakens. The idea of cinematic convenience comes into play a few times in the movie as well- and probably just because of my bias towards the original trilogy, I don’t really see Alderaan being destroyed by the Death Star and the Millenium Falcon flying into an exploded planet to be picked up by a Star Destroyer, only to have Obi-Wan confront Darth Vader so that Luke, Han and Leia can escape and then Luke is IMMEDIATELY made a Rebel pilot as a bit of a convenient bit of storytelling- but it is. So my complaints about the movie are few and minor, and comprised mostly of the problem that there is no new Star Wars movie to watch now for quite some time…

I hope that nobody has had too many spoilers thrown their way for this movie- I for one only had two instances of spoilers for the film- one minor, and one very, VERY major. The minor one was the day I was set to see the movie for the first time, a very specific cameo was detailed in a facebook article headline, which was just disappointing- the movie hadn’t even been out for 48 hours and people are just burying the lead on things? Why not just come right out and spoil the whole movie like AMC did for the Season Five midseason finale of The Walking Dead??? It really didn’t sit well with me that people weren’t just saying “Yes- that is **SPOILERS** doing a cameo in Force Awakens” which is already TOO MUCH detail- because I don’t even want to know these things yet. The other moment was one that I am sure people have experienced- because when it comes to the internet, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. I had the emotional pinnacle of the film spoiled for me in the comments section of some random facebook post, not even pertaining to Star Wars. It was just very disappointing, and shows that trolls are everywhere, and awful and that when you give into the Dark Side, there is no depth to which one wont sink.

But things have been good thus far- it has been a few days, and I haven’t heard too many overtly dissenting opinions on the film. It seems to be a rather resounding success, to fans, critics and at the box office (probably doesn’t hurt that people are already taking in repeat viewings). This movie is definitely worth watching, and you should most definitely take the time and enjoy it when you can- you wont be disappointed.