One may criticize The Force Awakens for treading on safe ground without actually breaking it. The typical Hero’s Journey formula is still there, Starkiller Base is simply the Death Star on steroids, The Empire is still the Third Reich, and the Force will always save the day. Of course, Abrams was working with very delicate material. One misstep, and he’d have purists sending death threats to the entire Abrams lineage for generations. But it doesn’t take much to appreciate the smaller new and unexpected things that have arisen because of this movie.
It was a tour de force of visuals seamlessly interlocking with its masterful score at exactly the right times. It had Star Wars down to the tee. Finn was a great character, and I loved the fact that someone other than a Jedi was able to wield a lightsaber, and even hold his own in a battle against a Sith, albeit wounded. Han Solo wasn’t an annoying, snarky fuckboy anymore, thank god for THAT. And I particularly loved the implications of a vessel of destruction requiring the use of a light source to fuel its dark intentions, to which Poe remarks, “As long as there’s light, we’ve got a chance!” I was really hoping they’d play on this symbolism, with regards to Kylo Ren’s inner struggle. But alas, we don’t get any of that. And what we got was tons of explosions in a climax that wasn’t much of a climax because we knew it was gonna happen anyway.
There is no doubt that it was a good movie. It screams pure enjoyment. But I’ll be one to say that this movie could’ve been more, even if a seventh Star Wars movie was already too much to ask for. It could’ve been far more epic in scope had it dwelled on the setting and its characters at length. Or it could’ve used its elements more wisely by limiting its focus onto fewer characters. But it was ambitious, and it wasn’t planning on holding back. The more Star Wars we can cram into two hours, the better, right?
As it stands, The Force Awakens was like an extremely condensed TV series. There was so much stuff in it that could’ve been expanded upon, given more time to, and made into a whole season. There was too little time to establish anything, as it went from scene to scene, excited to tell as much as it could in precisely 2 hours, and leaving out a metric ton of things either unexplained or forgotten. It was a grand feat nearly verging on sensory overload. I wanted to spend more time on Jakku, contrary to Finn’s wishes. Rey’s entanglement into this war was spurious and lacked the buildup Anakin had in Episode I. Who the hell knows what Captain Phasma was there for? And there were lots of cheesy, convenient deus ex machina-y parts because IT’S THE FORCE, LOL.
Furthermore, it pandered to the oldschool Star Wars crowd, with all its in-jokes and not-so-subtle nods to movies IV to VI, because True Star Wars Fans™ don’t care about Episodes I to III. It was a return to form, with its raw and ungraceful lightsaber battles and impressive use of practical props. But at the same time, it had the same hyperactiveness and multiple concurrent storylines that pervaded the prequels, so Episode VII kind of stands at a crossroads, reconciling the two generations.
Conclusion? I ain’t got none. See above, it’s all there. Ciao.