Dir. by JJ Abrams - 2 hrs. 15 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
First things first, yeah, there's probably going to be some spoiler talk here. The internet's been remarkably good about not blowing anything contained within "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," but if you're checking out a review about the movie, you probably have already seen it and wonder what other people think. And I thought it was pretty damned good. I also have been sick of the overexposure of the original batch of films for quite some time now, and really wasn't hell-bent on seeing this installment. Turns out, part of that malaise was due to how poor the second batch of films were; what's to look forward to when the people in charge of the franchise haven't a clue?
This time around, we start in a small village on Jackoo, where Poe (Oscar Isaac) obtains a thumb drive (okay, not really, but kind of) purporting to contain a map explaining where Luke Skywalker (who is now a legend people have heard of, but never seen) is hiding out. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the First Order (which is what the Empire has evolved into) rolls into the village, levelling everything and capturing Poe, but not his droid, who escapes with the Hello Kitty thumb drive. One of the Stormtroopers seems to have a difficult time with the massacre, which leads to a whole lot of things happening.
Collect 'em all!!!
So where to start? First off, the action in this film is all a lot of fun, never far away, and resembles the action in the first trilogy. In fact, the whole film looks like the first batch in a very satisfying way. Even more to the point, this film makes use of things from the first batch of films in a very satisfying way. I don't know how much to reveal here. Obviously, if you look at the list of actors in the film, it's not a secret that there are going to be some familiar faces. They're blended well, and have skin in the game, so to speak. Those characters are not just there to make you forget that Jar Jar Binks ever existed. They are part of the story. And really, the best aspect to the film is that the main characters all have motivations that are intertwined with the others; the characters are well-written and relatable, even when they're not the good guys, which goes one hell of a long way to getting an audience emotionally involved in the action material.
You have to provide your own airplane sound effects.
Secondly, even though this (and the entire franchise, really) are all-ages (read: kids) movies, TFA doesn't really insult your intelligence. The humor is light, the monsters fantastic, and the aliens are all visually interesting. The soccer ball droid is probably the most kid-friendly thing in the film, but it's not as cloying as the Ewoks were, either. You'll be able to leave the theatre thinking you saw a pretty fun adventure movie, not a merchandising juggernaut.
I think I'll leave it at that, rather than dig any further. I'm pretty excited to see the next two films in this batch, which I absolutely wasn't going in to this one. I viewed seeing TFA largely as geek duty, and left having enjoyed a pretty good film, one that I wouldn't mind watching again. So even though I didn't think TFA was the greatest film ever made, it was enough of a success to rekindle long-dormant stirrings of fandom for me.
4 / 5 - Theatre