The movie you’ve seen, not that long ago in a galaxy far, far away…
This is the Star Wars movie that they had to get right. If they messed it up this time, the movie franchise would be pretty much over. It is for this reason, and probably this reason alone that the movie fell drastically under my expectations, resulting in me leaving the cinema feeling incredibly disappointed.
It was fun, I can’t deny that. As soon as the opening credits rolled up, there was a smile cemented on my face. Abrams didn’t need to get me into this movie; I was already with it as soon as I saw the first shot of the star destroyer slowly taking over the screen
. I was impressed that there were parallels between A New Hope and this movie, and I thought that this first shot was a clever variation. However, soon after this shot, it began to slowly dawn on me how similar this movie was going to be to A New Hope. As time went on the smile on my face was slowly being chipped away until a few moments happened that made me feel like facepalming. Playing this movie safe is one way to please fans that, which I am very aware, left this movie like the giggling man-children that they are, but it didn’t need a beat for beat retelling. Tricking the audience, by labeling this a new movie in the franchise, feels like the sort trick that Bugs Bunny would pull on Elmer Fudd whilst wearing a wig. It got to the stage where I was predicting most of the major plot points. I would think, ‘this feels like that bit in A New Ho-…Ahh, that’s why. It is that bit from A New Hope.’ This removed any of the tension and excitement from the movie for me.
I have had people say to me that Episode 4 and 6 have similar beats to each other. This doesn’t make me agree that it’s ok for this movie to do that, it only solidifies my point that they shouldn’t be doing it again.
Despite this, the movie looked amazing. Everything within the world actually felt that it was contained within the world, which is a refreshing compared to the prequels. I must say it was quite odd to begin with as all the ships looked like shiny video game versions of the ships from the originals. But after the first 20 minutes, it didn’t matter, everything just looks great. The practical effects worked particularly well for BB-8, who had weight to him, and you can actually see the impact he had on the world, such as trials in the sand, that further adds to the immersion of the movie. The scene in Mos Eisley Cant- I mean Maz Kanata’s Castle was a feast for the eyes with the puppetry opening up, yet again, exactly how expansive this universe is.
The sound design can’t really be commented on. It’s John Williams and it’s lovely. You know exactly what you are going to get but it’s always a nice surprise to see what he has up his sleeves.
The new characters are also a treat to watch. Unlike the prequels, they are actually fleshed out. You know their motives and you actually care about what happens to them. However, the characters fall into the same tropes as the plot. They are too familiar. Poe Dameron is the new Han Solo, Rey is just Luke Skywalker, BB-8 is the new R2-D2 and Kylo Ren is the new Darth Vader.
Even the older characters have been promoted to roles seen prior. Han Solo is the new Obi-Wan and the role of Luke feels like it’s going to be all too similar to a particular wise green fellow. This is no discredit to the performances. Everyone did a fantastic job in the roles they played and the slight differences in these characters were refreshing at times. Rey and Finn are fantastic leads and I can’t wait to see where episodes 8 and 9 take them. Kylo Ren is exactly what Anakin should have been in the prequels. His instability and ego really add depth to him, especially towards the end of the movie. This still doesn’t detract from the fact that, in conjunction with the plot points, a strong sense of déjà vu floods throughout this movie.
On a second viewing, I may enjoy this film more than I did the first time. My enjoyment was hindered throughout by frustration and disbelief. When I go see a Star Wars movie I expect to be taken to distant lands and see new and interesting things. The locations felt, yet again, all too familiar. I wasn’t transported to any distinctly new planets that I won’t confuse with locations from the original trilogy. I understand why they made the movie this way. The strong parallels between this and A New Hope will give people that Star Wars feeling once again. It’s just such a shame that for a franchise that has a universe so expansive, it couldn’t stray away from its own solar system.