Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So it’s Xmas time again, Winterveil is currently in effect on Azeroth, and we’re all looking forward to seeing a fat man emptying his sack all over our living rooms late at night…


Christmas came early for me and a lot of other geeks this year, with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Dec 17th. Long gone now are memories of George Lucas’s attempts to destroy the franchise with his horrific prequels, which were packed full of risible acting, complete lack of acting or direction, and the terrible decision to eschew practical effects completely in favour of CGI, which hasn’t aged well, even only 10 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

JJ Abrams took the helm for this first film of another trilogy, and it quite bluntly shits on the prequels from orbit. It is a far, FAR superior film to all three prequels on several fronts:

Acting: Newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey & Finn respectively absolutely school Natalie Portman and the godawful Hayden Christensen in terms of raw acting ability.

See Anakin? THIS IS HOW YOU EMOTE!

Ridley is absolutely delightful, and Rey is now firmly one of my favourite SW characters. Boyega as Finn completely owned his role and finally showed what a black male lead character (itself practically a SW curiousity) in the SW universe can be.

Sorry Lando & Mace Windu, but you were hardly lead characters!

😉

Practical Effects: Frankly, screw overuse of CGI. If you can build a set practically, then for god’s sakes do it! It gives the actors so much more to work with and allows both them and the audience to inhabit the scene so much more, and the situation becomes so much better realised and believable as a result.

Practical creature effects also helped enormously to give this new film the same feel as the original trilogy, especially the new “cantina” scene at Maz Kanata’s castle.

Friends Reunited: The original trilogy cast & characters make a very welcome return, and when Han & Chewie appeared on screen for the first time, you couldn’t have wiped the stupid fanboy grin off my face for a million quid. Not that the story concentrates on them in any way. No, this is firmly a film centred around the new triumvirate of characters (Rey, Finn & Kylo Ren, the new villain), but the appearances of them spattered throughout the film’s 136 minute running time help make the universe feel just like the one we left 32 years ago.

Story: No trade federation, no trade routes, no silly senate dealings. Nope, this was back to the roots of story telling in Star Wars: A story firmly about family. Or in this case, families…

There was one major criticism of the plot for this film:

[su_spoiler title=”Click for slight spoiler details…”]The film’s plot, beat for beat, perhaps too closely mirrors that of A New Hope. Didn’t bother me at all though, as it was perhaps better to help root the characters and setting once again back into a galaxy far far away…[/su_spoiler]

Overall though? Absolutely loved it. I was completely wrapt for the 2 hours, which is not something I could say for more than any individual 10 minute period of any of the prequels.

Is it better than the OT films? Perhaps Jedi, which as always been the weakest of the OT, but New Hope and Empire for me are still stronger films, especially Empire.

I’ll be going to see it a 2nd time over the Xmas & New Year period, which is something I rarely do with films/movies in the cinema. Last time I did that was the Matrix!

If you haven’t seen it yet, WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS!? GO!


2 comments

Contrary to popular belief, there were lots of practical effects in the prequels. For example: ahttp://makezine.com/2015/10/07/the-surprising-practical-effects-of-the-star-wars-prequels/

Likewise, Ep 7 contains ample amounts of both CGI and practical effects. It’s time to stop blaming CGI for all the problems in the world today. It’s a tool that can be used correctly or incorrectly

Yep, problem is it was used waaay too much in the prequels. When you’ve actors acting against green sets which are added in later, it makes it so much less believable because you know the actors aren’t “there” as such. Practical sets will win out every time.

Regardless of which sort of film it is. Even Sin City bugged me because of similar reasons.

To be fair though, I never said Eps 1-3 never used any practical effects, just that their over-reliance on CGI marred them very badly.

The other problems with the prequels were of course the horrific acting from Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, another point which TFA wins out on easily over Eps 1-3.

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