Star Wars: The Force Awakens is courtesy of J J Abrams and new LucasFilm owner Walt Disney, and it is very much their movie and not George Lucas. I warn you now – if you are not a J J Abrams fan, especially after Star Trek: Into Darkness, you will not be happy.
I won’t recap the movie, but if you are spoiler sensitive, do not read on.
When the word came out that J J Abrams was going to direct the new Star Wars movie, I had not yet seen Star Trek: Into Darkness. For all the lens flare baiting he got for the first movie, I thought his take on Star Trek was fun and fresh, even if he changed Captain Kirk from a man who earned his stripes to a happy-go-lucky bar fly who gets lucky. After I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness – like Han Solo, I started to get a very bad feeling about this.
Star Trek: Into Darkness was both visually stimulating and awful. The awful part was that he took all the best parts of the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the ultimate weapon trope, and the corrupt military leader trope and blended them quite poorly into a special effects movie. It is the sort of movie that directors make when they decide to kill a franchise in order to get out of people asking them to make a sequel. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he doesn’t quite commit the hatchet job he did on Star Trek: Into Darkness. It is more like Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns in that it respectfully aped what came before but added almost nothing.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens feels more like Star Wars than George Luca’s prequels, but ultimately doesn’t accomplish much. Here’s where I see it going wrong:
- J J gave us another Death Star. The super Death Star II in Return of the Jedi was sort of obnoxious but it gave Lando something cool to contribute by shooting it up. At least J J didn’t give us more teddy bears. The new super weapon was dumb, too.
- J J invalidates the progress of our original heroes. Han Solo and Leia are horrible parents, and effectively break up. Despite having 30 years, Luke doesn’t have a massive new Jedi academy waiting. Leia doesn’t go Jedi, even though we know she’s got a bit of the Force.
- J J made the Force magic and wish fulfillment. We know from previous movies that using the Force takes more than just wanting to do it – and short cuts can lead to the Dark Side. This isn’t even Luke cutting class on Yoda to face Vader – new Force girl Rey is just able to do it, when push comes to shove.
- J J harvested a bit too freely, but it wasn’t a complete Khan. Something we really want or need is locked into a droid – in fact – locked into two droids this time. Father and son meet on a bridge that overhangs a void, ending in disaster for the good guys. Our tested heroes, right before the credits, head off in two different directions to tantalize us for the next movie.
Oh, if you enjoyed any of the Star Wars movies to date, you’ll probably find this one entertaining. It is entertaining – J J knows how to do that. The new characters Rey, Finn and Poe are charming and likable. But like eating a bag full of cotton candy, you’ll start to feel you’ve gotten a momentary high but will end up not feeling that great about it in the long run.