Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review
4:21am, my 3 friends and I rigorously discussing our thoughts on Star Wars, pouring what left is there in the car. I couldn’t handle what has transpired the past 2.5 hours. I was left speechless and my nostalgia cogs were finally riled up.
It was 8:00pm on a breezy Wednesday night, 4 hours to midnight, I swiftly readied myself in han solo attire, itching to see the film that I had been waiting a decade for. 2 months prior I had booked tickets for the midnight screening of Star Wars in Parramatta Event cinemas.
As I briskly started the car, trying to keep a sound clear mind of what was to come, I couldn’t help but realise that I was witnessing a film that has stayed with me throughout my years growing up. An invisible babysitter, comfortable in the sounds of lightsabers, blasters and tie-fighter dog battles. My four year old self started to emerge from within.
Driving along dark empty roads through Woodville road, I finally arrived at Event Cinemas. looking for my friends they indicated their presence with a “STAR WARS” shout, I couldn’t have been more relieved seeing them.
1st viewing “A time capsule experience”
H14, smack dab in the middle of cinema 06, smuggling snacks and drinks in was the cherry on top. Preview after preview, the crowd bemoans, gets restless and complains about the random Hoang Do ads. Finally after 30minutes of redundant ads, the classic rolling intro plays with much loud applause.
I absolutely adored the beautiful set pieces as the cast travels from planet to planet. If there’s one thing to take away from the transitions, it’s the stunning wide shots of the environment with subtle music from John Williams. The slow traverse of Ray and bb8 was met with watery eyes as I gasped at the framing of her isolation.
The audience was intelligently shown sub plots and back stories without the need for long exposition (I’m looking at you Marvel films). Casual conversation was just that, unstructured and completely true to the core of their characters. The one liners by han solo never cease to amaze (escape now, hug later!). I loved the reveals of iconic Star Wars characters through clever masking of events. In particular was Ray mentioning piloting the “old ship”. It was these sprinkling of moments that I kept anticipating what was shown on screen.
I yearned to know more about the pirates chasing han, the back stories of the traders in jakku and the drunken tales in the bar. The use of puppetry was amazing and definitely takes a stand against CGI all things non-human. It brought me closer to the experience and heightened my empathy towards the soft spoken conversations. The potential for an expanded franchise is there.
The dream sequence was fantastic and met with anticipation about a scavengers destiny as a future jedi. The trailers did a 180 and thank goodness Finn wasn’t a jedi.
Of particular notice was the dog fights with the millennium falcon, which brought the crowd to a standstill. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen.
This film goes above and beyond to represent diversity through its main cast, and I’m extremely proud to see the epiphany in the female Jedi and storm trooper turned hero Finn. My face was met with awe as Ray stood triumphant with Luke’s lightsaber in her stern hand. Star Wars is a shining example of what other films should be, casting people of colour without making a big deal about it. A female Asian X-wing pilot wow!
While the force awakens does take elements from the original films and wraps it up in 2015, I didn’t see this as a negative as it’s a wonderful introduction for a new generation of fans. The classic struggle between the resistance vs the all powerful army armed with a powerful weapon is not new. Treading on familiar territory thats executed in solid cinematic language is a combo that never fails. Pay homage to creators while allowing a new garden of flowers to bloom.
The humour was a welcome return to the series. Unfortunately for the prequels it was cheesy as hell (given Lucas was the writer) but here it flowed well from scenario to scenario. Finn has given Han a run for best comedic timing. A stormtrooper that has self doubt, oh the irony!
Pacing was brisk and allowed for consistent shifting of scenes, I felt urgency and a constant push forward to greater climax. Cinematography was top notch, the Jedi duel paid tribute to the high angle wide shots, contrasted to the intertwining branches made for a mosaic piece of art. Cutting wasn’t too quick and at a refreshing pace that didn’t jar the eyes. It captures the kinetic energy of the original trilogy.
BB8 is my new favourite love (sorry R2 – D2)
One gripe I did have was the underwhelming villian and the stormtrooper lieutenant had zero screen time (maybe a spin off perhaps?). The supreme lord reminds me of a lotr creature, not that menacing in comparison to a cloaked Sidious. I think Thanos is menacing as hell, but thats when size does matter. Kylo Ren is understandably still confused and of frail morality, I found he was the weakest point of the film. The predictable confrontation on the bridge is a nod to all the duels in the previous films. The feels were real and again while I was hoping in my mind the outcome would change, it was incredibly sad to see a personal hero of mine fade away on screen.
THAT said, this is part of trilogy and Kylo Ren’s character is a seed waiting to grow, to further evolve and battle his inner demons, insecurity and place in the galaxy. I take back comments about Kylo Ren being the weakest element in the film after reading some reviews, this is a flawed character who compared to Darth Vader, has raw moments of frustration and fear of not living up to expectations. He is indeed a 3 dimensional character, I’m curious where he stands in the next two films.
Additionally, the space battles had a wonderful array of camera work (including gopro shots!) to create tension and chaos amongst the light resistance fleet. I would’ve loved to see more than one type of ship, even if they were reverse engineered ships (for both sides). I mean come on, you’re rebuilding your army and you need everything you got.
The last frame is indeed a symbolic thank you to all those who helped create one of the most important cultural / social phenomena in the history of cinema and the world. Passing the torch to a young cast whilst guiding them to future success.
Overall, I came out of an experience that took my breath away. I did not blink, nor did I breathe loudly, this was a journey that I would gladly take up again to shift my eyes towards other details of the frame. J J Abrams has avoided the lens flare to give the end of 2015 an incredible ride that will no doubt have fans conversing about this movie for years to come.
I will quickly summarise my experience into one sentence:
A breathless nostalgia awakening an innocent imagination from yesteryear. A true updated masterpiece that stands on its own as a magnificient genre film that deserves more nods come awards season. Here’s crossing my fingers for a Best Picture nomination.
Thank you for bringing out my 4 year old self. I couldn’t stop smiling or shaking my friends during the movie.
final score: 9.1/10
Vinh Nguyen 17/12/2015 9.26pm
“An oil painting in motion, it is a breathless nostalgia awakening an innocent imagination from yesteryear.”