Happy Recovery Day after Xmas!
I would all like you to give another warm welcome to my guest here at CRR's!
Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.
Did The Force Awakens Meet Expectations?
In a word - yes. As the Internet rushes to assure fans around the world that their favorite franchise is finally back without giving out spoilers, it's important to reflect on what makes this film actually work. While not flawless, The Force Awakens manages to tell a story that feels like it belongs in the Star Wars canon in a way that no visual property has managed to do since Return of the Jedi.
The Star Wars franchise is one of the largest in science fiction spanning comic miniseries spin offs, TV shows like Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: Droid Tales available through Disney XD and DTV, novels, toys and countless other outlets that have created a rich universe easy to get lost in. Even with the elimination of the Expanded Universe as canon in the runup to The Force Awakens, there is still a ton of material to help flesh out this galaxy far, far away. Of course, what truly works about this movie is that it adds to that universe in a way that seems natural and fitting.
A major failure with the prequel trilogy was that it had far too large a focus. It wanted to tell the story of the fall of the Old Republic and rise of the Galactic Empire, but it did so in very broad strokes losing focus along the way. The Force Awakens hearkens back to the original trilogy in that it tells an epic story, without shifting perspective away from the main characters. Sure, the fate of every person living in this galaxy was important in the original trilogy, but the journey we were concerned about was Luke's. Similarly, the stakes in The Force Awakens are incredibly high, but ultimately our concern is with Finn and Rey who are caught up in this adventure.
One way in which this film truly excels is with its dialogue. All six of the previous films were almost Shakespearean at times in their writing, however that could often come off as stilted. Here every interaction feels natural, adding to the instant chemistry between several of the characters, and it really doesn't take long at all to start to love these new characters just as much as the returning ones.
The film itself focuses primarily on three main characters: Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Rey (Daisy Ridley), with most of the screentime going to the latter two. After BB8, the R2D2-type droid of the new gang and trilogy, is given some important information by Dameron to prevent it from falling into the hands of the evil First Order, he closely escapes capture multiple times and meets up with Rey and Finn, starting them on an adventure that would soon change all of their lives.
Directing and cinematography really stand out in this film, not to mention successfully fulfilling JJ Abrams goal of returning to the less-CGI focused times of the original trilogy with a film full of practical and visually pleasing effects. The villains reflect the type of figures that we have gotten used to, but they also stand out with individual personalities and a sense of having inner lives that give them depth. And while Kylo Ren is arguably the most developed character in the film, the final scene before the credits is most notably beautiful and perfectly composed, leaving us with a sense of the grand scale of this event and the ones leading up to it.
While I don't want to go into detail or share any spoilers, it is valid to say that the structure of the film is very familiar, leading to a split reaction among fans regarding the plot and writing. Less discussed is the rather strange pacing at the beginning that moves in fits and doesn’t fully take off until Finn and Rey meet.
Other than the slow beginning though, the movie generally exceeds all expectations. Some fan theories were correct, others were way off thanks to very clever marketing, and there a quite a few surprises not many saw coming. If the pattern holds true, the next film will be far more narratively challenging, giving Rian Johnson (Director) some leeway by re-establishing the brand here.
Either way, Star Wars has regained the cache that it had spent decades building and nearly squandered with the much derided prequel trilogy. From here, we will hopefully see some daring new stories being told that will make us fall in love with this world all over again.