Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Movie Review

By Andrew Miller

A drooling mob expresses their passionate approval of a film they haven’t yet seen.

“This is like a cheesy self-help book put in outer space with muppets.” — Bill Burr

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the world was given a film that was so positively embraced by a public that had not yet been given a chance to see it that advance ticket sales turned it into one of the most successful movies of all time. If initiated viewers will themselves to look outside the lens used by the worldwide fanboy nostalgia mobs dictating the content of this never-ending franchise, they will realize that director J.J. Abrams delivered a flat, poorly acted, and mostly forgettable reworking of the original Star Wars. Yes, George Lucas already made this movie in 1977. It was much better the first time around and even then, it was just a competent reworking of Flash Gordon and Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.

Abrams and co-writers Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) begin the story a few decades after The Return of The Jedi. Since the Empire was finished off in that movie, an evil new group called the First Order is plotting Empire-like business. Darth Vader died in Jedi, so a whiny replacement named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is brought in to take his place (parentage twists are important to Star Wars scripts. The one involving Kylo you can see coming a mile away). Luke Skywalker is too old now to be the lead of this movie, so a young focus-grouped female Luke named Rey (Daisy Ridley) takes his place. It’s important to point out that Rey is not a hero who happens to be girl. Rey is cynically conceived to be a hero because she is a girl.

Two focused-grouped characters stare at each other in disbelief.

There’s a story involving an AWOL Strom Trooper named Finn (John Boyega) switching sides that feels, early on, like it might be going somewhere, but all of Finn’s scenes are bogged down by a wince-inducing, syrupy humor. A story involving a Resistance pilot named Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) also goes nowhere. This was the first and only time I was not impressed with an Oscar Isaac performance. His many talents as a performer are wasted here.

Many of the characters and actors from the original series return. Mark Hamill, who since the original series has become a well-known voice actor, appears so briefly he doesn’t even speak. Harrison Ford as an aging Han Solo is terrible. It’s been decades since Ford has displayed enough interest in a movie role to actually seem, when the cameras are rolling, as if he wants to be there. As he grunts and scowls through performances, it’s hard to not suspect that this actor has nothing but contempt for his character and audiences.

Chewbacca (left) and Harrison Ford (right), getting seriously worried about how much longer he’ll have to phone this crap in.

We go into The Force Awakens aware of Ford’s past disdain for the part of Han Solo and can see him cynically visualizing getting to end of all this as quickly as possible so he can be paid an obscene amount of money. Carrie Fisher as Leia, now a General, is one of the films only saving graces. Fisher naturally radiates wit, dignity, and wisdom. She elevates her character and the material. I wish there were more of her here. We’ve all since heard the news of Carrie Fishers tragic passing and we also know, quite unfortunately, that there isn’t likely to be any more of her in later films.

The idea of sitting through the next installment of this series is deeply unpleasant, especially since all signs point to it being nothing more than an Empire Strikes Back re-working. Most Star Wars fans seem fundamentally unable to separate Star Wars content from the nostalgic emotions they experience during a viewing and are perpetually demanding more of. As long as mob demands are met, then it’s reasonable for these people to call this a “good movie” but make no mistake: The Force Awakens is a hollow and boring jerk-off session for fanboys.

Rating: 1/5


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