Neil Godbole ’17
(Minor spoilers below)
As I’m sure many, if not all of you, know, Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out over Winter Brea, and quickly went to work breaking box office records left and right. As of a few days ago, it has made 1.7 billion dollars in total revenue and become the third highest grossing movie of all time. So yeah, it was financially successful. But, how did the movie fare critically? The Force Awakens was a great blend of good acting, humor, and action. The first of those three things might surprise a few people, as the two leads Finn and Rey are played by relatively new and unknown actors, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley respectively.
While this overall lack of acting experience might make some viewers skeptical, Boyega and Ridley quickly show themselves capable of holding a scene next to legendary actor Harrison Ford. Ridley’s character, Rey, is fierce and determined and is often the focal point of most of the action in the movie. Boyega’s Finn is often featured in the more lighthearted and comedic moments. Another focal character of the movie, Kylo Ren, is on the opposite “side” of Finn and Rey: the Dark Side (couldn’t resist). Ren, played by Adam Driver, takes center stage as the primary antagonist and is perhaps the most complex character in the entire film. His power and ferocity is displayed numerous times from force chokes to lightsaber brutality; despite his strength, however, the character is emotionally conflicted. Ren is prone to childlike outbursts and tantrums and is often unsure of his goals and motivations. In some ways, he is a more complex character than either of the two heroes. So, as far as acting and characters go, The Force Awakens gets a solid A.
Star Wars manages to succeed comedically as well. Jokes and quips are sprinkled throughout the film, usually in interactions between Finn and Han Solo. As is the trend with more and more blockbuster films, humor is present, but not so much so that scenes feel less serious or without weight.
Now for everyone’s favorite part: action. The Force Awakens is absolutely filled action, but not in the ways that some would expect. From the Star Wars prequels, many people associate the action in the series with too-fast-to-see and highly-choreographed lightsaber duels, maybe a few spaceships blowing each other up. While The Force Awakens does have its own fair share of spaceships and lasers, a lot of the action feels more fluid. Scenes are shot in a way that really produces an air of high energy and tension, but not in a way that makes the film feel overly fake. Compared to the prequels, which have scenes filled with warrior-space monks jumping 20 feet in the air and slashing at robots with lightsabers, the action feels slower, which is not a bad thing at all; if anything, the tension makes the final lightsaber fight feel that much better and more exciting. Indeed, the action in this movie is pretty awesome.
While The Force Awakens does do a lot of things right, it is not by any means the perfect movie. Some viewers might take issue with the film’s plot, which does feel somewhat oddly paced at times as a few scenes are exposition heavy. Another issue, and the most alarming, is that the plot feels very much like Star Wars: A New Hope. The final act of the movie is very similar, and many people have voiced their unhappiness with the similarities. Even with these shortcomings, though, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a very enjoyable film that will make any avid fan squeal with glee while intriguing new viewers to watch the earlier episodes.
Overall, I give the movie a 9/10.