Pros and Cons In 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

18 December 2015

Weighing up the pluses and minuses of the new 'Star Wars' picture...

  • John Boyega is hilarious.
  • Daisy Ridley is dead canny.
  • Economic characterisation early on, through rather than instead of action: e.g., Boyega holding Ridley's hand when fleeing from imminent peril on Jakku, and Ridley's reaction against it (naive, well-meaning (and quick-learning!) condescension vs. 'street-wise' fight-my-own-battles attitude).
  • Those shots foregrounding our new Jedi-in-the-making (who's a working-class lass no less!) against a fallen Star Destroyer in the dusty distance.
  • The Millenium Falcon's first appearance. Fucking gan on mate!
  • That shot, from the trailer, of the Millenium Falcon swooping high then low then high again when escaping Jakku; perhaps the first time we've had a camera movement to reflect the 360° nature of that ship's design.
  • BB8: never mind that I think of Brian Belo winning "Big Brother 8" whenever someone mentions it, but this little droid is ingenious in design and delightful in character. Note: Peter Bradshaw of "The Guardian" says his only reservation with the film is BB8. I repeat: the only reservation.
  • Kylo Ren's name.
  • Kylo Ren's mask!
  • Kylo Ren's voice, when masked!! On par with James Earl Jones's Vader voice. The timbre of its distortion made me yearn for him in every scene. Happily shits all over Bane's oral skidmarks in "The Dark Knight Rises".
  • Chewie: gets all the best lines!
  • Ridley and Boyega holding their own - like, the whole fucking franchise - with chemistry and acting talent for the film's first half.
  • Boyega calling Han "Solo."
  • Boyega: "We'll use the Force." Han: "That's not how it works!"
  • Han having a little nostalgic droplet of water in his eyes when he says, "It's true... all of it." Ford's performance naturally reflects the character's own nostalgia for better days. I wasn't expecting so much of Han to be honest, though it all makes dreadful sense when he calls out to Ren on the bridge and we cut to Chewie and everyone else getting into their positions for his final send-off. (Like when a character's suddenly given a lot of air-time in a TV series only because he's about to be violently offed at the end of the episode.)
  • That cool tracking shot through the Mos Eisley-style cantina place.
  • The appearance of "Assistant to Mr. Hamill" in the end credits. "Money for nowt," as my mam would say, but nice work if you can get it.

    • "Luke Skywalker has vanished." So, those who can't teach, betray their race and their galaxy-saving mission to go live on an uninhabited planet to stare at the horizon until someone finds them? We call those traitors. Forget that sensitive, thin-skinned scumbag and move on.
    • Supreme Leader Snoke looks fucking shit. Like, straight-up Jar Jar Binks synthetic shit. If you're going to have an Emperor Palpatine-type chief villain overseeing the planet-busting operations of a Death Star-like planet, at least cut off Ralph Fiennes's nose and have him play the hologram thingy. (Certain parts of these films seem designed only to keep Andy Serkis in a job.)
    • Maz. See previous point. Don't confuse me by putting Lupita Nyong'o up there in the end credits. Show me her in the film.
    • The scrap metal trader who gives people quarter- and half-portions of foodstuff for junk. See previous two points.
    • Chewie walking straight past General Leia, who he's previously been all huggy with, upon landing back at base after Han, her husband, has been stabbed to death and fallen down a shaft, never to be seen again. 
    • Absence of catchy musical leitmotif for Kylo Ren. (I'm actually humming Darth Vader's theme as I type this.)
    • They kind of overdid Ren's lightsaber. I don't mean its (terrible) design, I mean milking its presence, e.g., that close-up of Ridley with this super-thin glow-sword held poised at her neck. Looked like a comic-book composition. Would prefer wider shots in these action sequences. Give me classically framed silhouettes.
    • The fact that, having established two protagonists (and actors) who can clearly carry this film, Abrams and team shit their keks and revert back to safer territory. The film's second half becomes an awkward remake of "A New Hope" and even, with certain visual and thematic motifs, "Empire Strikes Back": X-Wings fighting to penetrate the core of a Death Star, a villainous lord appearing in hologram form, Jeremy Kyle showdowns on a perilously designed bridge thingy. Etc, etc.
    • This fan-serving conservatism reflects distractingly and badly on the whole First Order lot: their dastardly plans come across as dim and unimaginative given how terribly their predecessors' fucking identical operations turned out. (Wry nod to how history's fascists repeat themselves?)
    • Stormtroopers Heil Hitlering Domhnall Gleeson.
    • The solar energy beam with which Death Star 3.0 destroys planets; reminded me of something from "Die Another Day".
    • Abrams zooming in on indistinguishable TIE fighters and X-Wings like he's a cameraman for CNN.
    • Poe Dameron's name. It's like David Cameron fucked the pink Tellytubby. (Handsome child, mind!)
    • "George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Secretary of State, United Kingdom" receiving thanks in the end credits.
    • C-3PO. Dismantle this copper clown and be done with it. Use the Force.
    • Luke appears! ("Money for nowt...") End with the Millenium Falcon departing to go find him. Or, don't bother at all 'cause he's a sorry scumbag who's probably living out his days on that planet by wanking himself to death because there's nothing else to do (see the first point of this list).

    Overall, I would give this film a high 6/10 or a low 7/10. As it's Christmas, I will give it 7/10.