It took me awhile to come up with the perfect title for this review of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. I think I hit it pretty close to accurate.
This latest installment is better than the last three, but that’s not saying much.
One of the problems with trying to make Star Wars into a cash cow is that every story becomes progressively more diluted in its archetypes than the last, and thus less satisfying.
The first three movies: 1977, 1980, and 1983, made sense, and were satisfying, except for parts of the last one, RETURN OF THE JEDI.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was one of the greatest entertainment moments theater cinema has ever had.
But the second set of three films, even though they were overseen by George Lucas, were awful.
Even the original creator of Star Wars could not keep up the narrative quality after RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Another problem with THE FORCE AWAKENS is that it is absolutely dramatically flat. There is zero story arc. Zero emotional development.
Just goes to “show” you that even a ton of money, the original actors, and the corrupted blessing of George Lucas, cannot make a dead bird fly.
2015 and 2016 were years of economic downturn, and there is always very little interest in innovation and creativity during years like these, because studios do not want to risk losing money.
THE FORCE AWAKENS has already made two billion dollars.
And McDonald’s has billions and billions served.
That doesn’t mean that either are of high quality.
Well, I know a way that The Six Billion Dollar Man, George Lucas, can go in a new direction from his greed and soulless selling-out: he can finance dozens of creative experimental films to try to expand the future of movies–with narrative depth, humanity, universal truth and morality, and excellence. And this he again has promised to do, as he did almost 40 years ago.
THE FORCE AWAKENS is like a stale meal–it’s not even good leftovers.
The beginning of the movie is insufferable. Slow, barely perceptible storyline. Unmotivated action. The music is forced, no pun intended.
At one point, I almost dozed off, and I never do that in movies.
SW:TFA commits the ultimate cinematic sin: it’s boring.
Really, there is no huge surprise in the movie. Nobody lives forever, whether they are killed or not.
All of the original characters make small, meaningless appearances that are not integral to the story.
Dramatic things happen in undramatic ways.
There are a couple of words of dialogue that had sincere nostalgic emotion. I appreciated those.
The effects are better than ever. (I’m so excited. Yawn.)
The lightsaber duels between Kylo Ren and Finn and Rae are the best choreographed and most beautiful sword fights in any of the movies.
I liked the female alien character with the goggles on her eyes.
Even the music by John Williams has some very good moments.
But that’s all.
Bits here and there.
There are probably ten good minutes in the entire film.
And the reason for that, as STORY author Robert McKee says, is that action and meaning must be fused with emotion for a film to be powerful.
THE FORCE AWAKENS is one of the flattest and weakest films I have ever seen, for that exact reason.
Where was the joy and meaning and excitement?
Where was the narrative arc?
It’s not there.
I was hoping I’d “buy in” and enjoy the ride at some point during the film, but I didn’t.
I was hoping I’d feel like I was a 12 year old kid again.
But I didn’t.
I know these feelings are still possible for my almost 51 year old soul, because I felt them while watching the preview for INDEPENDENCE DAY 2, just moments before THE FORCE AWAKENS began disappointing me.
STAR WARS is a space soap opera, said George Lucas.
It is a mythological fairy tale, said Joseph Campbell.
It’s a way to make an unbelievable amount of money, said Disney Corp.
If a fairy tale is done well, it will appeal even to adults–especially to adults–as C.S. Lewis said, because it is infused with deep truths.
George Lucas is right to feel he has sold his brainchild to those who will prostitute it for money alone, without concern for narrative quality or archetypal and emotional resonance.
The way they handled the “stories” of the original main characters was insulting to the characters and to the audience.
Of course, as others have observed, the story is almost a carbon-copy of the original two films.
Director Abrams has an gift for killing drama–a strange gift for someone whose job it is to provide entertainment and drama.
Inside joke: He teases us with one flash of blue lens-flare at the beginning, and then I didn’t notice it again.
Han Solo has a line in the film: “That’s not how the Force works.”
THE FORCE AWAKENS: what a shiny piece of soulless and unimaginative trash, only designed to make money, not designed to tell a good or meaningful or dramatic or exciting or original or emotional or archetypal story.
THE FORCE AWAKENS is unlike the way STAR WARS used to be…
and may never be again…
a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…