Two quick observations: J.J. Abrams’s talents are far better suited to Star Wars than to Star Trek, and I believe that Max Von Sydow stopped aging somewhere around 1993 (or has had some amazing work done).
And one quick opinion: I am SICK of the number of commercials and movie previews audience members are forced to endure before the feature film these days. I pulled down the bill of my baseball cap and took a nap through most of them.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been out for 10 days and yet at 1:30PM today, the only empty seats in the theatre were in the first two rows. Such is the enduring allure these films maintain going on three generations. George Lucas’s brainchild has long secured a foothold in our culture and I say this as a thirty-eight year fan and collector.
Overall, I enjoyed The Force Awakens. I have no complaints. All of the main characters were strong, the plot was well constructed (and, yes, partially derivative), the pacing and editing reminiscent of the original trilogy—much like the story itself with its unabashed resemblances to A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. I won’t hold that against it, however.
To see the heroes from my childhood back on screen in their iconic roles was a joy. Nothing new there. By now, expressing that sentiment has become a staple in almost every review written by a veteran fan. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) had the most screen time and it was equally satisfying to see the Millennium Falcon back in action.
Our new heroes do not disappoint, and each one contains an amalgam of different traits from Luke, Han, and Leia. The true protagonist, Rey (Daisy Ridley) possesses formidable piloting skills and a redoubtable ability to control the Force with no training whatsoever. I regret that the story did not allow for a more organic process for Rey, and the audience, to discover the latter. It seemed to just, well, happen. Perhaps I need to see the film again.
It was obvious from the trailers that Finn (John Boyega) was a deserter from the First Order (read: Empire wannabes) who eventually throws in with the Resistance led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Sounds similar to the life story of a certain Corellian smuggler (who is back to his old tricks at the beginning of The Force Awakens).
The first of the heroes to appear on screen, crack pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), was also the least developed, but instantly brought to mind former rebel pilots Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter from the original trilogy.
A friend of mine remarked in her review that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was little more than a volatile, immature juvenile with the demeanor of a spoiled prick whenever something went awry—and she was correct in her assessment. In that way, he channeled young Anakin in Episode II more so than the Darth Vader that was introduced to fans in 1977.
Kylo Ren is a child, not even fully trained in the Force, with just enough ability to inflate his ego and allow it to dominate him. He is not leadership material—at least not yet—and definitely not worthy of the title Sith Lord. His destructive outbursts clearly display a severe lack of discipline and self-control, all of which become quite apparent during his final confrontation with Rey.
Of course, it would not be a mainstream Star Wars flick without our beloved droids C-3PO and R2-D2, the latter having the least amount of screen time (for personal reasons), which allowed newcomer BB-8 to assume the role of the adorable chirping sidekick. Even C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) was minimized. To be honest, both classic droids were gratuitous to this chapter of the saga. Perhaps they, like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), will return to more integral roles in the sequels.
I look forward to seeing The Force Awakens at least once more before it leaves the theatres.