Star Wars: The Force Awakens review
The biggest movie of all-time
Fans and general audiences anticipated the most-recent Star Wars motion picture even more fiercely than when the franchise returned from a sixteen-year hiatus in 1999 to begin the prequel trilogy. At the time, the viewing public felt excitement in the simple fact that their beloved franchise had returned. Arguably, moviegoers have more to be excited about now even though less time has passed since Revenge of the Sith hit theaters. The original, principal cast returns to reprise their iconic roles along with the promise of improvement to some of George Lucas’s writing blunders that manifested in the prequels. All that noted, Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivers on the narrative level as a fun experience albeit with a few plot concerns.
To put in perspective how massive the newest Star Wars movie rates, consider the film’s pre-opening ticket sales had a higher gross than the preceding weekend’s combined box office. Several industry analysts blame the flop of In the Heart of the Sea on Star Wars because people saved their money for the more trusted brand name to enjoy a theatrical experience during a time where going to the movies two weeks in a row isn’t a budgetary option for many. 2015 established the age of the “event film” with studio movies either going big (Jurassic World) or going home (Tomorrowland). Expect a lot of changes in the movie industry for the next year as ticket prices continue to rise, forcing audiences to spend money on a ticket with increasing discern.One can’t deny Star Wars’ quality, but movies have already begun to suffer at its’ expense starting with In the Heart of the Sea flopping and more recently, Quentin Tarantino’s comments shed light on Disney trying to “f***” him on the release of The Hateful Eight at a well-known Los Angeles theater he had already booked. Point Break was already destined to debut below expectation and the concurrently-running Star Wars certainly made sure that the remake will die on arrival (not that anything starring Gary Busey needs to be remade in the first place).
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm and immediately set out to continue the iconic galactic saga, Hollywood hotshot J.J. Abrams (Star Trek into Darkness, Mission: Impossible III) won the job to direct the first installment in a new Star Wars trilogy taking place after the events of Return of the Jedi. Depending on which of the trades one reads, Abrams’ latest film must gross at least a staggering amount somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5 billion to turn a profit. After setting the midnight show record with $57 million and projections set for a $250-275 million opening weekend box office, one safely assumes Disney will make enough of a return on their investment to keep fans coming back to theaters for years to come thanks to Abrams’ directorial and writing effort. Star Wars always had a big payday in sight for the name alone, but positive word of mouth about the film’s strong reception boosts the expectation to a record-obliterating tier. (But really Abrams? Casting the actors from both Raid movies and then cutting them out almost entirely? For shame.)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens places the original trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in the cast list, but also introduces a new trio of heroes (Rey, Finn, and Poe) for the new age of the rebellion, now called “The Resistance.” Our heroes even have another adorable droid for the newest generation of movie fans in BB-8. A new trio of villains (Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Supreme Leader Snoke) rises to join the fun, as well, with the defeat of Darth Vader, the Emperor, and the entire Galactic Empire following Return of the Jedi. Without ruining any surprises, suffice to say the Resistance’s new enemy has evil on the brain and derives from fragments of the shattered Empire. Not a single performance among the principle cast lacks excitement or passion (but it would have been nice to know what Lando Calrissian was up to for the last 32 years, instead of omitting a single reference to the beloved character). Even Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 appear (as they had in the prequels) to cement the viewer in a state of undeniable nostalgia if John Williams’ phenomenal score hasn’t already accomplished this.
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly pleases audiences upon first viewing due to the simple fact that its quality surpasses that of any among the prequel entries, it ultimately lacks the impact contained in the original trilogy. Upon multiple viewings, a few plot issues will arise (R2’s low power mode?) and may divide fan reception until Episode VIII releases in 2017 as next year’s Star Wars movie won’t come out in the form of a sequel, but an anthology story about the rebels and mercenaries who stole the original Death Star plans. Combining the beloved, iconic characters with new characters worthy of the Star Wars label culminates to a movie experience that only Star Wars can deliver and furthermore creates an optimism for the upcoming films that didn’t exist in 1999 when many fans left the theater disappointed in the franchise’s change-up to pace and tone. This will only help The Force Awakens on its journey to becoming the biggest movie of all-time in every sense of the word: money, merchandise, IMAX, 70mm, ticket sales, anticipation, and social media trends.