06/01/16 - The Girlfriend Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens (SPOILERS)

Although the photo below seems to tell a different story, I am very much a part-time Star Wars fan.  In fact, 'fan' is probably too strong a word.  It took me twenty two years to see any of the films and while I readily admit that I enjoyed them, it's not really my thing.  I'm in no way au fait with that galaxy far, far away and while I have a fleeting interest, it's something I never imagined I'd find myself writing a blog post about.  However, after accompanying Shaun - the Jedi in my life and the person who introduced me to the Star Wars phenomenon - to see The Force Awakens, I found myself keen to write about it from the perspective of a relative newcomer.

I will admit that as that legendary blue text disappeared and the logo emerged accompanied by the stirring music, I couldn't help but get chills up my spine.  I was particularly excited on behalf of all the really big Star Wars fans who were getting the chance to have this experience.  I couldn't help but feel envious of those people; it reminded me of how I felt with each new Harry Potter release and that thought reinforced how thrilling this experience must be for people who are really invested this particular franchise.

The big point of interest of this new Star Wars film is Rey, the movie's female protagonist played by Daisy Ridley.  Rey is an awesome role model as she's a total badass and a far cry from the usual damsel in distress that we might have come to expect from this kind of film.  Of course, Leia in the earlier films had her moments of badassery, but these were mostly limited to making sassy quips - "Some day you're going to be wrong.  I just hope I'm there to see it."  Rey's power isn't reserved for snappy one-liners; she's a fully fleshed out character with a lot of heart and a totally independent nature...although of course she gets some great dialogue as well: "I know how to run without you holding my hand."  John Boyega's Finn is also a breath of fresh air, as he is the most human character in the film.  That's what interests me; characters who feel very real and just happen to be on a spaceship, not your typical two-dimensional sci-fi heroes.  It's particularly fascinating to see a stormtrooper confused and hesitant as it's very jarring after the previous films.  He also adds a really interesting dynamic as an outsider to the family demographic.  It's refreshing to see so much more diversity within this movie and it's very much a sign of the progression the film industry has undergone since the originals were made.  However, the fact that this diversity is something that needs to be pointed out and praised as an anomaly shows that as a society, we still have a long way to go.

For me, the standout performance had to be Adam Driver as Kylo Ren.  Being familiar with his previous work, notably in Lena Dunham's Girls, I was unsure as to whether he could create a villain worthy of succeeding Darth Vader and I have to say I think.  He's a much more unhinged and unstable villain which makes him arguably scarier than the cold and calculated Vader, and he gives an excellently nuanced performance.  His emotional conflict is clear and beautifully played out, as we witness a moment in which it seems he could be redeemed and then he throws it back in their faces by killing Han Solo.  From that point, he becomes truly evil in the eyes of the audience.  Appearing to kill off one of the franchise's most famous characters so early in this new trilogy is a very bold move, and one I hope they stick with rather than finding a way of resurrecting him for the final battle of the last film.  Either way, it'll keep the nerds debating until Episode 8.

I'm particularly glad that I got the chance to see The Force Awakens in the cinema; it's so impressive and very much made for the big screen.  The visuals of this film are so much better than the previous ones, but the use of CGI does have mixed results.  The creation of Maz Kanata using motion capture technology on Lupito Nyong'o works superbly and she just oozes personality, while I found Snoke a bit disappointing.  Compared with the very human development so many of the characters benefit from, it's a shame that the overall villain poses no tangible threat as it's very hard to be genuinely scared of a computer-generated monster any more.

The Force Awakens is very much A New Hope for a new generation - the influences are clear and while some may think a little too blatant, it doesn't particularly bother me at all that an awful lot of this latest installment has been borrowed from the original.  Merely targeting established Star Wars fans would be very short-sighted of the film's creators, so this new installment needs to bring in a new generation of young fans, who will fight over who gets to be Finn or Rey in the playground and who will invest their pocket money into the merchandise from the Disney store.  Although any new film in a franchise can't possibly please everyone, I feel this one does a good job at pleasing as many people as it can.

Are you a big Star Wars fan?  Have you seen The Force Awakens?  Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I was seeing a guy once who made me watch one of the star wars films and I just couldn't get into it! I should really try again at some point as loads of people love it, so maybe I should try again!

    Corinne x