“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” may be the most hyped movie of the most hyped movie-franchise of all-time. Ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012 and announced a brand new trilogy set in that Galaxy Far, Far Away…the anticipation from fans of the original three – and the younger generation of die-hards – has been off the charts. The Force surrounding “Star Wars” and Episode VII has never been stronger – as for the film itself …well…
J.J. Abrams traveled from “Star Trek” to “Star Wars” to co-write and direct “The Force Awakens ”. He and his creative team were rather smart in how they carefully crafted this movie as a marketing and merchandising monster. There are three new protagonists: The central figure in this chapter is female – Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) – a power symbol for girls everywhere (who will want to buy tons of action figures). There are two new characters for the boys and Fanboys: ex-Storm trooper turned good-guy Finn (John Boyega) and ace fighter pilot Poe (played by Oscar Isaac). For the kids there’s the small, wise and highly entertaining droid, BB-8. And “The Force Awakens” draws-in the older fans by going nostalgic: bringing back icons of the original series, including Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, his co-pilot and partner in crime, Chewbacca, and Carrie Fisher’s Princess, now General, Leia.
The opening credits scroll in typical “Star Wars” fashion, complete with iconic music, and a basic plot description to get us up to speed with the on-going battle between the Republic and the Resistance. And we‘re off – and for the next 2 hours “The Force Awakens” doesn’t feature or include much in the way of suspense or surprises. These have always been very simple, straightforward stories of Good versus Evil, and this time is no different: so much so that it’s actually amazing Disney “forced” the cast and everyone involved to keep the plot such a secret.
And while so many diehard fans will blast me for comparing the two “Star” franchises, there’s no denying that Abrams’ “Trek” movies have so many more layers and legitimate emotion to them. There’s only one scene in “The Force Awakens” that delivers on those levels, and you’ll know it when you see it.
Here’s what I can say about “The Force Awakens” : the visuals are absolutely spectacular and the action scenes are easily the best part of the film – along with seeing Ford having so much fun back at it again: shooting down Storm Troopers, cracking one-liners with Chewy, and taking to the skies in an old friend. The best supporting performance comes from Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as an important ally of the Resistance – through you won’t be able to tell that it’s her.
As for the rest of the story itself, I zoned in and out of many of the escapades, always waiting and hoping for something extraordinary. Instead, we go from space shootout to lightsaber duel and back again – with very little heart in between.
It will break all kinds of records – and people will be afraid to say it’s just OK because they don’t want to seem “uncool” – but this movie – as a piece of cinematic entertainment – IS simply OK.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” gets a B-.
Running Time: 136 min.