Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Sequel to: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Simon Pegg, Greg Grunberg, Warwick Davis, Iko Uwais, Judah Friedlander, Daniel Craig, Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz
Seen on: 21.12.2015
It was 30 years ago that Darth Vader was defeated and the Empire fell. And it’s about as long that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared from the Galaxy. The Resistance is still looking for him. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is hot on the trail of a missing map piece for that search when he comes under attack. He hands the map to his droid BB-8 and sends it on its way. Rey (Daisy Ridley) works as a scavenger on that very same planet and she stumbles first on BB-8 and then on a stormtrooper (John Boyega) who deserted. Before they have a chance to think, they are on the run – and run straight into Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together they decide to try to find Luke.
I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a Star Wars fan. I watched Episodes 4 through 6 when I was a kid and thought they were okay, watched Episode 1 when it came out and thought it was so stupid, I never even watched 2 and 3. When 7 came out, I hesitated for a while to watch it, but ultimately I figured why not? I have watched films for less reason than the cast of this one alone. And I have to say, I don’t regret watching it. In many ways it has the IQ of a potato, but it is seriously entertaining and very nice to watch.
There is a special pleasure in watching a film where none of the three most vibrant, most positive and most heroic characters are white men and are all likeable in different ways. Watching a woman – Rey – go through the classic hero story arc (I assume that’s what’s going to be continued in the next episodes) is wonderful and excuses many of the more tropey elements to that story.
And there certainly are many tropey elements. Not only that, the film covers the same storytelling ground it already treaded in previous films. Daddy issues are in full force and even I, who is not very familiar with the Star Wars universe, felt that they repeated themselves a bit. It’s up for debate how many of those repetitions are allusions, foreshadowing and referencing and hor much can actually be chalked up to lazy storytelling. It’s not really important either. And especially the bits that are very clearly references (some of which plain went over my head, but I always knew from the audience reactions around me when those bits were happening) obviously came from a place of love for what came before it and are fun for the people who recognize them. And when you don’t recognize them, at least they’re unobtrusive enough that they don’t hurt the flow of the film.
It should come as no surprise that my review deals in large part with what came before The Force Awakens, when the film itself deals so much with what came before it, both on a meta level (continuing a hugely successful franchise after the last entries from many years ago were not necessarily positively received) and on a story level: Rey is searching for her legacy, Finn is trying to break away from it, Kylo Ren wants to continue the legacy his parents refused to accept.
Those parallels, though, are not really explored by the film which loses itself in action spectacles and plotholes instead. While that does make it less brainy, it doesn’t make it less enjoyable and from the ridiculously amazing “have to know they’re there to spot them” cameos to Domhnaal Gleeson managing to combine overblown evilness with strange attraction, there was a whole lot to enjoy.