The more that time has passed since I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the less kindly I look upon it. Not because it’s bad, or because it wasn’t enjoyable, because it was. It’s its lack of ambition that bothers me, which is far in excess of what I would expect from a Disney movie that’s trying to generate more money than god.
Using the same basic plot—another damn superweapon, another resistance, another droid, another paternity drama—was taken to such an extreme that, much of the time, the movie feels like a rehash rather than an evolution. It was like they decided to polish up A New Hope and remake it for a modern audience, but had the audacity to call it something new. And haven’t we had enough of reboots and remakes? Make something new, dammit. Or at least hide your theft better.
If I had to judge Star Wars: The Force Awakens right now, I’d put it somewhere in the vicinity of Return of the Jedi. I haven’t seen Return of the Jedi in a while, so perhaps I’ve forgotten some elements, but to me the strength of the opening scenes in Jabba’s Palace and the ending battle in and around the Death Star balances out all the Ewok nonsense to make for a fairly good movie—and the strong parts stick with you far better than the weak ones, since its the culmination of so much.
In comparison, The Force Awakens is more even throughout, neither spiking as high nor dipping as low, but averaging out to about as good of a movie as Return. It’s helped by strong characters who have a sense of humor, and hampered by its copy-and-paste plot pinched wholesale from A New Hope. And that 93% it has on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing? Over-inflated.
Oooo, look at me. Disagreeing with the big-name professional film critics. Look at the britches on this no-name author. Well, deal with it. I’ve listed out my reasons, so you’ll have to live with it.
The good news is this still puts The Force Awakens as the third or fourth best Star Wars movie we’ve got, and it will take time (and a few more viewings of each) for me to decide if it’s better or worse than Return of the Jedi. But for now, putting it in the same ballpark gets the point across. Either way, it’s not as good as A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back. The original movie revolutionized the industry, and told a thrilling, self-contained story without a road map, establishing the formula by which Star Wars grew to such a cultural powerhouse. Then there’s Empire Strikes Back, which was the more complex and emotionally satisfying continuation, delivering character growth and some of the franchise’s most iconic moments. So yeah, the new movie can’t match those.
The other positive about The Force Awakens is that it’s a good springboard. It could easily be the weakest movie in the new trilogy, because the foundation it built—in particular, with the characters Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren—is strong enough to build some fantastic stories on. So as much as I seem down on the movie right now, as opening strokes go, it’s not bad. If the rest is great, it’ll look better in retrospect.
In conclusion, I’m not angry because The Force Awakens didn’t do well. I’m disappointed because it feels like it didn’t give us its best. Now go back and do it again, Star Wars. You did all right, but there’s more work to do. You’ve got plenty of good will left, and certainly a lot of money, so use it to make something grand.As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).