Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoiler Free Review

12/17/2015 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments



Wow.  How do you even go about reviewing something like this?  Star Wars has been more than a collection of movies for so long.  It's almost not even fair to review it in the same way that you would another film, but I'm going to attempt to.  This will be a complete non-spoiler non-canon-fact-checking fanboy review.  That's coming soon.

The biggest takeaway for The Force Awakens comes back to the many times J.J. Abrams has made a big deal about working with fellow writer Lawrance Kasdan to make every scene of The Force Awakens "delightful."  He succeeded there.  There was both good and bad in this movie for sure, but through it all, it was delightful.


Off the top, Star Wars has never been a franchise particularly famous for its acting.  There have definitely been some good moments throughout, but it's classically one of the weaker points of the franchise.  Not so with The Force Awakens.  Every role was performed near perfectly.  The new cast (John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver) especially stood out, and it will be a joy to continue to see them through the sequels, but the Original Trilogy cast (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill) also probably cashed in some of their best performances of the franchise.

The writing also had some good and some bad.  Star Wars has always taken the most classic and basic of stories, and turned it into something epic.  On that front, The Force Awakens was fairly simplistic in the overall plot.  There just wasn't much going on.  Sure, things were constantly happening on screen and propelling the cast from one situation to the next, but it felt like a lot of it didn't amount to much.  There were times where you wanted to just pause it for a moment to take in what was happening.


If anything, this movie had an overabundance if Abrams's "delightful" scenes.  One or two could be cut (or significantly shortened) in order to let the audience breathe and let events sink in, but there was this drive to propel the plot forward constantly, making moments fel a little forced.  Much of plot flowed more like a video game's progression of objectives than an epic story Star Wars fans are accustomed to.

Having said that, there are plenty of epic (and delightful) moments.  The emotion was real, and the humor was on point (although we would occasionally dwell too long on the latter and not enough on the former).  The dialogue is punchy, and very effectively delivered by the entire cast.  Even the non-human characters.


Speaking of which, the puppetry, animatronics, CGI, and motion capture characters were all excellently handled.  Seeing a return to physical puppets and sets was very impressive, although there were moments where it felt like the use of CGI was avoided too much.  Audiences are definitely wary of the overuse of CGI, but it's also 2015.  When Maz Kanata and Supreme Leader Snoke are done with flawless motion capture, and Admiral Akbar is still a puppet, it raises a couple question marks.

For a series famous for character designs and special effects, The Force Awakens definitely hits it out of the park, though.  All the locations, ships, and other designs are very impressive, and make me want to see them on screen more to get a better look.

Then, of course, there's John Williams's music.  There's not much bad anyone can ever say about John Williams, so I won't.  His music is all beautiful, and brilliantly introduces new themes and ties in old themes.  The story is told through music almost as much as it is on screen.  The only issue with the music is that John Williams's story telling isn't always allowed to shine in moments where lingering on the music before moving on would have been beneficial.


While that word "delightful" keeps coming up, and can (truly) be applied to nearly every moment of the film, it's often accompanied by another word: disposable.  There are a few darlings here and there that just needed to be killed.  They weren't, and as a result, many delightful moments feel disposable, and eat up screen time to sacrifice from the moments that shouldn't have that word associated in any way.  If it wasn't for the fact that this movie is clearly a labor of love, that disposable feeling would have permeated the entire movie unmitigated.

At the end of the day, The Force Awakens is a movie who's highs can be listed right up with the best moments of the rest of the saga, and its lows are few, far between, and cauterized as fast as possible.  It's an absolutely delightful, film as promised.  Flaws and all.

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