Review* of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

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Star-Wars-The-force-awaken-crashed-star-destroyerDuuuh, duh, duh-duh, duh, duuuuuh, duh, duh-duh, duh, duuuuuuuh, duh, duhduh, duh, duuuuuuuuh.

Yes, that’s the famous John Williams intro music for Star Wars, which I have transcribed into text friendly ‘duh’ mode to get you in the mood for the new Star Wars film that is out at the end of 2015.

The internet got the vapours last week when a trailer for the new film, called The Force Awakens, was released. To summarise; Darth Vader helmet, Luke Skywalker talking, running, bangs, flying, Han Solo and Chewbacca. The trotting out of these cinematic icons, which are in no way being used as crutches to re-launch a film franchise that George Lucas left breathing through a tube after he tackled the prequels 10 years ago, was greeted with squeals of delight from nerds everywhere.

The question is though, will the final film deliver on the vague promise of the trailer? Will the Magic™ of the original trilogy be recaptured?

There are reasons to be optimistic about the chances of these new films not being as chronically dogshit as the prequels. The big one of course is that George Lucas’s tyrannical grip has been loosened. He might be a good ideas man, in the broadest sense, but all the best films he’s been associated with (i.e. the original Star Wars trilogy and the first three Indiana Jones films) had a lot (A LOT) of input from others. For these new films George has been given $4.05 billion by Disney to politely fuck off so they can allow the industry’s primo franchise cash cow milker, J. J. Abrams, to get his thick hands wrapped around the dusty teats of the Star Wars cash cow.

Gorilla, being the industry titans we are, better connected than two Harvey Weinsteins or six Brett Ratners, are able to bring you an EXCLUSIVE review of the new film, 8 months before it’s officially released. So without further ado, here’s our review of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.

It’s fine. It’s nicely paced and well structured. The story is comfortably engaging and holds your attention for the whole running time (2:15). The new characters display some basic aspects of humanity, mainly through light hearted “banter” punctuated by the occasional moment of inner-turmoil. We don’t spend too much time learning their back stories, which are blown through with expository scenes that use action to disguise some on-the-nose exchanges. This is common for most action films these days as directors want to get to to the explosions (obvs).

The presence of Luke, Han and Leia provide a thrill at first, but that’s soon replaced with thoughts of how fucking old Mark Hammil looks (he was in a pretty bad car crash tbf), how jaded Harrison Ford is (he hasn’t had a sparkle in his eye since the late 80s tbf), and how un-Hollywood Carrie Fisher is, in the best possible way. After these points have been contemplated (for about 2 minutes. They’re not that incredible really), you realise that Luke, Leia and Han are just characters. Bringing them down from the pedestal of nostalgia and history that the original films had elevated them to is no bad thing. They are also the most human and interesting in the film, whether that’s because they have the benefit of 6 hours of back story established in the original films or a case of ‘they don’t write characters like they used to’ I’ll let you decide.

The action is all fine. Some big battles and explosions, some running and jumping and pricking about with lightsabers and guns. However, there are diminishing returns with the scale of the space battles. If a fight with 10 spaceships is exciting then a fight with a 1000 is hundred times more exciting, right? “No”. It’s all about context, mate. But then again, a lot of Disney money needs to be spunked on this, so whatya gonna do?

The film is fine. A solid 7 out of 10. It’s on a par with most of the marvel films and the new Star Trek films. Well made, but a feeling of being safe rather than truly exciting and daring, which is understandable when £150m+ is being invested in it by Disney.

And that’s why the new films don’t, and never will, recapture the Magic™ of the original films. When Lucas et al made A New Hope in 1977 they were the rebels, outsiders heading to the desert to make a dusty ‘space opera’. Their references were cinematic greats like Akira Kurosawa, not other blockbusters and franchises.  Against the odds, these enthusiastic rebels made something that changed the whole system that they had worked outside of. Inevitably, like all rebels who succeed – Mao Zedong, Lenin, Nick Clegg – they became the establishment. Drawn into the bosom of the Hollywood empire, Lucas and Co. were no longer outsiders.

Becoming part of the establishment brings new pressures and fears, too much has been gained to take big risks. There’s no room for rebels in the Star Wars Empire now, and so the films march along to the steady, monotonous drum beat of big-business, blockbuster delivery. Well made by any standard, but not exciting like the originals. The new film is fine.

Having said that, I found the Jar-Jar Binks sex scene to be gratuitous and unnecessary.

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David Price is the editor of Gorilla Film Online and co-writer/co-producer of MarsCorp and The Bunker podcasts. He has made a number of short films and has watched more than 12 feature films. Writers/con-artists can contact him at daveprice at gorillafilmmagazine.com

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