Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A Call For Your Reviews!

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AB Editor | 16:59 Wed 16th Dec 2015 | Film, Media & TV
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So some reviews are in and it seems really positive?

The Verge: (Spoiler Free)

The Guardian: (Spoiler Free)

Slate: (Not sure if spoiler free, but I didn't feel spoiled after reading it!)

I know a few of your are going to see it at midnight, or very soon after - so I thought it might be fun for us to have one big thread where we can all talk about it.

Please tell people if you're going to drop any spoilers in at the beginning of your review/comment/answer/question :)

I'm not seeing it until Saturday - but am happy to be spoiled!


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## a single Star Wars movie, obvs. ##

Another English mistake Jim Boy, no Capital letter at the start of a sentence, and what is obvs?
//..and what is obvs?//

It's obviously , obviously :-)


There are a few minor spoilers below, nothing too major I hope.

** ** ** ** **

So, saw it for the first time last night and here's my review. I'm off to see it again next week, with parents -- rather than friends last night -- and that I'm looking forward to a second viewing is a good start, I suppose.

There's a few things to be a bit disappointed about, I thought. A lot of the plot is not exactly original -- even in the Star Wars Universe a fair amount happens here that also happened in previous films, and it got a bit too predictable at times, particularly some of the end sequence. That said, there's also some freshness to it and there are major plotlines set up that have been established as likely to continue into the next film. One of the most important of this (spoiler) is that the main bad guy, Kylo Ren, doesn't actually die cheaply -- like Maul in the first prequel or Count Dooku early in the third. Plenty of potential for a decent trilogy story.

A few other slightly weak points: perhaps it was inevitable that there would be a lot of stuff thrown in for nostalgia's sake. It's usually not too heavy, but there are a couple of moments in the sequences on the Millennium Falcon that didn't add much other than "ha, I recognise that bit from A New Hope!" or some such -- and maybe a few too many monsters and aliens in background, although not quite so inyufface as Lucas got into the habit of doing. Also -- again, understandably -- the presence of Han Solo, Leia, C3PO, R2D2, Chewie etc, from the original trilogy at times makes it harder for the new stuff in the film to get the attention it really needs. Mostly the linking is fairly natural, but in the next two films I'd hope to see less of the old and more of the new.

Moving on to the strong stuff, then: the new leads are great: Finn, who starts off with a storyline that I'm not entirely sure I buy but ends up great, and I'll look forward to seeing where his character goes; Po Dameron, a skiled pilot that was maybe a little underused in the film but also seems to be the first time you see a skilled pilot in Star Wars and think "actually yes, he really *is* skilled"; Kylo Ren, a villain with plenty of depth owing to his obvious internal conflicts and aforementioned lack of dying off too early. And Rey. Rey, Rey, Rey. It wouldn't be too wrong to say that Rey carries the film from "at least it didn't suck" to "wow this is a seriously good film". Incredibly strong character, given some great scenes and dialogue, capable of outshining the fan's favourite Han Solo when they share the screen, and just an all-round kick-ass heroine. The film is, in large part, her story, and while it parallels Luke's in Episode IV massively (stranded on desert planet, finds droid with important information, runs from forces of evil, drawn into fight to save the galaxy), the embellishments to the basics, and Daisy Ridley owning the character, make it look fresh enough that you stop caring. No Damsel in Distress she, and a scene early on in the movie hammers this message home in some style.

The first time through watching it I was distracted a little by the constant thought "please don't suck, please don't suck" -- and it doesn't, so at least there's that, but it makes it hard to come up with a true rating. Maybe on a second viewing it'll be easier to judge the movie fairly. On a scale out of 10, though, and comparing to only the other Star Wars movies (with A New Hope scoring 8/10, Empire 9/10 and Return of Jedi 7/10 -- all the prequels somewhere between 2 and 4), I would give it a 7/10, or perhaps 8 at a pinch. There's nothing stupid like teddy bears beating up elite fighters -- most of the marks lost are down to a recycled plot from Episode 4, though, along with one scene in the middle of the film where our heroes are running from vicious man-eating monsters that is just too silly. Absent that scene and with a slightly fresher plot, 9/10. Well worth a watch!
I have just seen this thread pass through and have copied what I said on a tandem thread on the Star Wars theme.

Just got in from the Star Wars film with my son and his pal. Brilliant!!We three loved it. It was never meant to be a cerebral experience from day 1. We are going again next week.

22:35 Thu 17th Dec 2015
Jim our only agreed beef about the film was that the Light Sabre fights were not as good as previous ones. But we did agree that it was because the protagonists had not had sufficient training and will be better in the next film.
Funnily enough I had that down as almost a strong point, that the lightsabre fights weren't as good -- added some believability to the sequence. Rather like, no matter how lame the Vader v. Obi-Wan fight in A New Hope was, the story made up for it, whereas Dooku v. Yoda is fun and pretty epic but ultimately fairly pointless in the story.
So , what is your opinion re my question i posed earlier ?

/Am i incorrect - will a complete newcomer to the film be able to understand and not get lost ? //
Kind of tricky for me to answer but my feeling is that it should be enjoyable even for newcomers. The links to previous movies are, for the most part, not subtle enough to be missed even if you weren't looking -- eg, it's made pretty clear who Han Solo is and what his involvement in the previous movies was, as well as his relationship with Leia. And what references there are that are subtle enough to be only picked up on by fans doesn't matter to the main plot.

So I'd say yes it's watchable as a standalone movie -- hope you enjoy it if you do decide to go and see it!
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"Am i incorrect - will a complete newcomer to the film be able to understand and not get lost ?"

Reports amongst those at AB towers who have seen it suggest you should be safe.
Just got back from watching it and yes Ed, 'new' viewers can watch it without needing to watch any of the previous.

Yes, there's obviously characters in it from the original film and they do mention occasionally what happened previously, but it no way detracts from this great film.

As for my review, like jim, I'd hyped up the film in my head and went into the cinema almost scared that id be disappointed, I wasn't. It's a cracking film, and yes, again as Jim said some of it was predictable (we'd seen the same fights in the original 3) but you somehow manage to overlook it.

If you get chance go see it on big screen -it's worth it :-)
Question Author
I went to see it at an iMax, which was good. I think it was a perfectly fine film, but I got a bot bored when the old people turned up.

Bazile: You are probably better going to see it without having seen the earlier films.
i saw it yesterday and loved it, ab loved it,(apart from the guy eating jalapeno laden nachos sitting next to me - at 9.45am???)

want to see it again, but at home this time

i did get bored at the end watching her go up that bloody hill, but i was dying for a pee by then.
Thanks - i will drag her indoors along with me, to see it
I agree almost word for word with jim's review
I was disappointed in many ways, but that is probably because the reviews I had read were almost insanely positive
Maybe it's just that I am not a fan of endless high speed chases in weird space craft. In which case I probably shouldn't be going to Star Wars and may explain why I liked the prequels which seemed to me to have much more depth and a lot more 'going on' other than that
I'd add that,I'm my opinion, people who have not seen the first three films, will surely get less out of it, but maybe not
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Does anyone think those really positive reviews might have been under pressure/paid for? I haven't heard a major reviewer point out any of the problems with the films - and there are some.
The most influential review I heard was by Mark Kermode, who you'd think would be pretty independent
He claimed it had more laughs than some poor comedies, which I think may be true, but they must be poor !
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ichkeria - I heard that too, he doesn't usually shy away from pointing out weaknesses in films he likes overall, so it seemed strange he didn't really touch on anything...
I suppose it's partly because of all the hype surrounding the film -- hard for that not to rub off, and it's difficult to be dispassionate when reviewing it for that reason. (Rather like Schindler's List -- how can anyone review that on its own merits, given the subject material?)

Perhaps on a second viewing it will be easier to see the film in a less biased light. Having said that, the negative points of the film, for me, are largely the lack of plot originality and a couple of characters being underused. (There's also the issue of Snokes, a mysterious figure that I don't yet understand). The plot issues can be ignored, perhaps, and the underused characters/ unexplained party can be remedied in the coming Episodes VIII and IX. Since the acting, cinematography, characterisation, script, music etc are all pretty much on point, I still think it's a good movie and reboots the Star Wars franchise in a very promising way.

Which I suppose brings me to the prequels. There was a lot going on, a deeper world, but I think the real problem is how badly it was done. Let's gloss over Jar Jar, who himself probably drags the films down into the abyss -- but the politics was messy, confusing, badly-portrayed and so wholly disconnected from the original trilogy that whenever gaps were bridged they were so wholly artificial as to be distracting.

Case in point: why introduce Naboo at all, a planet nobody had heard about and that, despite its central role in developing the plot, doesn't even appear in the original films? Why not make it, say, Alderaan -- a planet whose fate is already known, but that would make it all the more poignant later on. As it is, Alderaan does get a look-in in Episode III but it's just thrown in because they desperately needed to have it in somewhere, and by then nobody cared.

And then the "key character attrition rate" was quite heavy. Game of Thrones has shown that this doesn't necessarily matter if done well -- although usually the characters that die have been around a while, and their "replacements" were also contemporaries. As it is, the prequels introduced us to three or four villains, most of whom died cheaply, a fair few good guys who died before we could really get to know them, some Jedi who died sometimes really pathetically quickly, in all sorts of bizarre ways (the deaths of Mace Windu's three companion Jedi at the hands of Palpatine was particularly awful). With so many characters arriving and dying with maybe two or three minutes of screen time between those events, nobody cared. And I have only hinted at just how awful Jar Jar is -- and haven't discussed the awkward stuff surrounding Anakin. A barely believable love story, a fall from grace that is laughably quick ("Palpatine you have to go to jail!" "Yeah but do I really though?" "No, you're right of course -- now where do I go to slaughter some kids?").

With a bit of streamlining, better tie-ins to the original films and a few other tweaks here and there, the politics of the prequels would have made for a great story. As it is, they don't. Too much baggage, and too many stupid distractions.

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