Nominated for Best Film Editing at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Nominated for Best Original Score at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Nominated for Best Sound Mixing at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Nominated for Best Sound Editing at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 88th Annual Academy Awards
Reviewing the latest chapter in the Star Wars franchise comes with a lot of baggage, so I’m happy to finally be able to get this monkey off my back. Already, I’ve heard grumbling from fans, that it wasn’t nominated for Oscar in the Best Picture category…and I thought that possibility to be hit-or-miss, just ahead of yesterday’s nominees. Anyway, the fanatics can lick their wounds reveling in the fact that the movie recently became the highest grossing domestic release of all time. Is “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” good? Yeah, I think it’s good. And in IMAX 3D, it’s unquestionably BIG, LOUD, AND COMIN’ AT YA. But sue me if I expected it to be much better than just good. I realize director/co-screenwriter J.J. Abrams had an almost impossible task, and he didn’t fail. But he didn’t hit the bullseye either. “The Force Awakens” has plenty of flaws.
Okay, spoiler-allergic nuts–my unconventional plot synopsis. I’ll do my best: Stormtroopers! They look a little different, but the upgrade is cool. A girl (Daisy Ridley) living in a broken down Imperial Walker? Awesome. Finally, a major black character (John Boyega) not named Lando. The Millennium Falcon! I love that freaking ship. Han Solo! Chewbacca! Princess Leia! Luke…he’ll show up. A retread cantina scene? Whatever. A super-duper Death Star? What time is it? X-wing fighters…love it. Jedi mind trick…been there. Some giant CGI baddie. C-3PO, of course. R2D2…duh! Lightsaber battles. The Force. Wait, is that the mask of…
I question how many times we can keep going to the well here, and trying to recapture our childhood. The original “Star Wars” (don’t give me any of that “A New Hope” nonsense) first opened when I was 11…and I adored it. They hit the notes here much more often then the George Lucas-directed prequels did. But they are the same notes. It’s nostalgia porn. Some of “The Force Awakens” was alive and exciting. At other times I was checking my watch. It’s difficult to not achieve some success, when you corral Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, and Mark Hamill. That’s to be expected. And I like that Daisy Ridley and John Boyega too. But a lot of this felt like a remake. It was singing to the 1977 masses. And 1980 too. A long time ago, during a century far, far away, we had two wonderful films called “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back”. And now, 5 times over the last 35 years, they keep trying to match that bar of excellence. I guess they’ll keep trying. And many will keep going. Maybe even me.
next review up: “Joy”