Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

The force is awake indeed!

Let me preface my review by saying that I find the prequels more entertaining, and at the same time more annoying (Jar-Jar, trade federation, etc.). I have seen all the feature films at least twice, and most episodes (over 80%) of the Clone Wars animated show; I have also read about the extended universe on Wikipedia. So I am not a die-hard star wars fan by any stretch of imagination, but I'd like to consider myself a rather knowledgeable enthusiast!

I really liked this movie. It was entertainment and spectacle at their bests - in other words, this film is a true hollywood blockbuster. I had a grin on my face throughout the movie and didn't look at my watch even once (*).  I won't spoil the movie, but suffice to say that it is made by the fans for the fans. Those familiar with the extended universe may recognize some of the characters (with different names though).

Pacing, characterization and acting are all great. Particularly Rey - she is one of the best developed female heroes in recent years, and Daisy Ridley should be commended for her understated, yet strong performance. While on the topic of acting, JJ Abrams managed to keep Harrison Ford interested in the role, and this is a Herculean task on its own!

We know by now that this movie broke many records (most importantly, it is now the highest grossing movie in North American box office). Overall, seems the older fans loved it. Sales of merchandise is at its highest, which could indicate that younger fans loved it too.

However, I'm not sure how this movie will be received as the first entry to the franchise by an adult... For me, seeing characters from the original trilogy was the highlight of the movie. There is also one scene in which Rey uses the Force to grab a lightsaber, and that literally made my heart skip a beat. But again, an uninitiated adult may not connect with the film at all (case in point, two of my friends - of course it is a minuscule sample). So maybe this is the only shortcoming of the movie... But at the same time, Star Wars has enough fans already - serving them best may be more important than converting the uninitiated minority.

This is a movie that should be watched on the big screen. A fan will give it 10/10; for a newcomer, maybe 7.5/10.

(*) not looking at my watch while watching a movie or tv show is my highest level of engagement.

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