Star Wars- The Force Awakens (2015) – Film Review
Director: J.J. Abrams Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford.
The new Star Wars movie, the J.J.Abrams directed latest installment of the Star Wars franchise raised a lot of new hopes but ultimately failed to measure up to standards. Leastwise to my standards. I believe that the excessive hype pre-release raised up expectation to such a fever pitch that the resultant movie on screen turned out to be an anti-climatic finish. Anyway the duty of a good reviewer is take the good with the bad and thankfully in this instance its not all bad, but good in patches. The best scene of this movie comes a half an hour after the movie begins when Harrison Ford playing Han Solo enters with Chewbacca inside his old Correlian freighter The Millenium Falcon. Till then the movie is all yawn worthy and suddenly with Han Solo’s entry the screenplay picks up or it seems so due to Harrison Fords imposing screen presence. And that shows up the biggest Achilles heel of this movie- casting disaster. Casting relatively unknown actors in important starring roles is a welcome step, but only if they have the acting chops to pull it off. In this case they dont. I am not sure why with such a big budget film they too the risk of it all imploding spectacularly with such a casting disaster and I can only think of two reasons- either there was a pressure on the producers to be politically correct by casting an african american and a woman as the main protagonists in complete antithesis of the usual hollywood white anglosaxon male domination or they believed that with the power of the star wars franchise actors didnt matter and anybody, any robot faced cipher could just coast along in a crucial part and people would still be cheering in the theatres with the memories of the original trilogies making them view everything in a nostalgic haze.
Anyway to get back to the story, the film opens with the exact same scene as the original star wars- an important secret, a secret vital to the success of the rebel alliance, is hidden inside a droid named BB-8 – a cute adaptation from the hit movie Wall-E (in tribute?) and the droid’s owner is captured by the First Order, the evil successor of the old Sith Empire. The droid is rescued by a spare parts scavenger called Rey who then teams up with a reformed storm trooper called Fen, a character who channels his inner Chris Rock (and fails pathetically to) in an effort to play the comic side kick to Rey’s warrior woman. Together they end up escaping in an old abandoned spaceship which turns out to be the iconic Millenium Falcon and in search of which Han solo soon turns up. From then on its a Harrison Ford show as he takes over the search for the missing Luke Skywalker the last of the Jedi who alone can defeat the evil First Order and its dark side adherents. The film ends on a poignant note, with Han Solo’s death at his son Ben Solo’s hand, for Ben solo is the new Sith apprentice to the Chairman of the First Order. And Luke Skywalker is discovered standing amidst the ruins of the deserted Jedi temple as the credits roll promising more films to come in the future.
Director Abrams does a fair job by not going overboard with special effects but keeping the CGI scenes at the same level of technicality as the original trilogy which somehow makes it all believable. And by giving the best lines of the movie to the old pair of Han Solo and Princess Leia he shows he knows the pulse of the audience and satisfies the fan boys. Now if only he had stuck his foot down with the studio and the casting director what seems to be a fair movie would have become a good movie. A good storyline, excellent special effects let down by bad acting is what we feel as we the movie ends.
Our verdict- just passable and worth a single watch. Or better wait for the DVD.