Have you ever disagreed with someone about the quality of a production so intensely that you’ve wondered if the two of you even watched the same film? I’m sorry, everyone in the world, I thought The Force Awakens was a real snoozer.
I’m not surprised that my eight year old nephew loved it, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why the adults I associate with aren’t offended at what we’ve been offered by Abrams as the continuation of the world’s foremost loved space epic.
One of the elements that so intrigued viewers about the originals was the underlying spirituality and the metaphysical forces at play within the Star Wars universe; however, in this version of Star Wars Abrams seems to care more about the characters ceaselessly running away from things and having meaningless, often silly conversation (like in one scene the character Finn asks Rey in the goofiest way possible if she has a boyfriend—I laughed but I was so ashamed) instead of exploring the depths of some of the most intriguing supernatural philosophy in all of moviedom.
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However, this fact is not surprising as the masses seem to be entertained predominantly by action, comedy, flashing lights, and explosions, not exploring the psychological latitudes of light and dark within the human soul, and definitely not sitting through slow scenes of dialogue which could (God forbid) give us an understanding of the depths of the Star Wars legend and mystery. I suppose in this regard (and in too many others) Abrams gave the people what they wanted.
Not only was the confined exploration of the Force disappointing but so was the serious lack of emotional poignancy. At no point, AT LITERALLY NO POINT, did I feel sad, frustrated, anxious, worried, or exhilarated during its belabored two hours and sixteen minutes.
The characters felt like they could be potentially cloned from any PG-13 teen movie you’ve seen since Twilight hijacked the world and forced it’s twisted, disgusting version of acceptable adolescent stereotypes upon us. You could almost swap out the light-sabers, tie-fighters, and storm troopers and you’d have a great sequel to whatever the hell number Hunger Games we’re on these days (because that’s how interesting the rest of the plot was).
Another thing that really annoyed me was the way in which the galaxy was too American. Of course I get it, it was made by Hollywood IT IS American, but guys, this is supposed to be in a GALAXY FAR AWAY, so why was there very little attempt made to try and hide that? Between the all too familiar mannerisms, jokes, and language I just couldn’t fully suspend my disbelief.
In my opinion, the originals managed to avoid most overt use of cultural indicators, I mean sure, it’s impossible to avoid all due to obvious limitations, but watch the main character Finn carefully during the movie and you’ll see that he’s dripping with 21st century western American dude. Like literally drenched. Where was the otherworldly authenticity among the main characters?
Of course it wasn’t all bad. The visuals were beautiful, much of the topography and effects were breathtaking, and I have to admit that I did feel pangs of nostalgia over any scene that included an X-wing, but overall it wasn’t enough. Really a lot of what it comes down to is expectation.
So many people have told me that they went into it not expecting too much and that they had “fun” watching it; and then there’s me sitting here thinking: what on Tatooine are they talking about? With all the media hype this film received, not to mention the disappointment of the prequels, I was expecting a hell of a lot out of this movie, and simple fun ain’t gonna cut it.
Abrams seemed to have carved the profundity and soul out of Star Wars with a lightsaber— the same soul we’ve been waiting to enter our lives again ever since the prequels ruined them.
The Force Awakens was half way there, but it felt forced (pun intended), shallow, in need of a more refined plot, more mature characters, a deeper spirituality, moral complexity and depth; it needed to resonate more deeply with the IMPORTANT themes of the original, and to not have felt like a chaste teen romance with some old faces in there used like a box office tractor beam.
If you’re content with having your childhood favorite epic turned into a lovable, easily digestible icon of twenty-first century pop culture, marketed intentionally at young people to delight and entertain whilst simultaneously causing you to cringe at the fact that the original actors are okay with such a disservice to a beloved story, then you will enjoy the continuation of this franchise.
May the force save us from this trilogy.