Oh my god guys like I can’t even.
Please understand that I am a movie snob. I find most big budget films purposefully watered down to appeal to the lowest cultural brow like The Avengers and Jurassic World. I’m also a Star Wars snob (I regularly read Wookiepedia) so I was prepared for an overhyped disaster.
Instead, we have my favorite movie of the year. Where do I even begin?
Everyone’s part is written really, really well. Whenever people criticized the new trilogy for its horrible writing I reluctantly point out that the original trilogy was full of cheese as well. Believe it or not, the exchange:
“I love you”
. . . isn’t exactly Oscar gold.
But The Force Awakens kicks the writing up a notch. There are still silly little moments and quips but they’re dispersed appropriately and either short enough or smart enough that it doesn’t feel like a cheap laugh. In particular, they managed to nail the “droid who beeps to speak” comedy with BB-8. It’s better than R2D2 YEAH I SAID IT WANT TO FIGHT ABOUT IT?!
It’s helped by a fantastic cast. Other than returning characters, I cannot think of a single big-name actor or actress that gets a main role. The original trilogy didn’t do it, Game of Thrones didn’t do it and The Force Awakens reaps the same pay off. The actors aren’t typecast and are essentially building a name for themselves from scratch.
The special effects are fantastic. I’m not just talking about the quality here, I’m talking about its usage. There are certain types of directors (I’m looking at you Michael Bay and don’t even THINK about walking out of the room Mr. Snyder!) who abuse special effects to the point of eye rolling. The special effect should be a byproduct of the spectacle, not the spectacle itself.
But the BEST thing about The Force Awakens is that it understands how to honor its source material without relying on it.
I’m going to use the most inoffensive example I can to illustrate this. There are really no spoilers, but at the same time people are so sensitive to The Force Awakens information that I’ll put a “spoiler-ish warning”. Read on.
So in the scene where the Millennium Falcon is being pursued by TIEs, one of the character gets into the iconic gunner port and fights them off. Same double grid interface, same chair, same everything.
He manages to take out a TIE and exclaims in jubilation. I was waiting for the “Don’t get cocky kid” but instead got a completely original line.
THAT’s how you pay homage people.
Are there flaws? Minor ones.
Some characters don’t get the proper amount of development. Hopefully they’re saving them for the sequel, but the villain (Darth Jesus Lightsaber) in particular doesn’t get enough in my opinion. Is it better than the depth given to Vader and the Emperor in A New Hope? Hell yes, but it still pales in how well they characterized other people.
There are some plot elements (in particular, parts of the climax) that are too derivative. They’re still wonderful to watch but it doesn’t have the same sense of wonder built up in other parts.
These are minor complaints to what is an unbelievable movie.
Mad Max: Fury Road was supposed to have set the benchmark for what a proper reboot looks like, but I move that award to The Force Awakens. I’m a cynic and a snob, and even I walked out of the theater grinning ear to ear.