And then the news of Episode VII came along. The movie to right all the wrongs of the past. This was the movie to get it right; to bring Star Wars back into the hearts of the people. After a year straight of hype and anticipation, did it finally accomplish what it set out to do? For the mass public who turned against Star Wars and bemoaned how much they hated the prequels, the answer is yes, absolutely. For me? Stunningly to my absolute shock and bewilderment, not at all. To be fair, I had the highest of sky high expectations for this film.... but once the glowing reviews came out, I knew this movie was basically a sure thing. When the crawl came up I was delighted to be seeing a brand new Star Wars film once more, something that after Episode III, I thought would never happen again. Finally watching it at last, I kept waiting for the moment that I would fall in love with this movie...and it just never happened. Instead as I sat there, I felt myself feeling more and more detached. I couldn't shake the feeling that the whole thing was... well, forced.
That's not to say it doesn't have it's moments, nor that it doesn't show promise for where the series has yet to go (if they dare to deviate from the formula that is.) Prior to seeing the movie, I concluded that I would love the movie despite the trepidatious reviews of some critics, as long as the following three things happened. 1. I wanted to feel that there was a reason for this movie to exist, as Return of the Jedi already ended the series so perfectly. 2. I needed to love the characters. 3. I wanted to have fun.
Onto the characters. BB-8 was the breakthrough star of the film. I absolutely loved him and would have loved if he had been utilized even more. I thought John Boyega was fantastic as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe was great as well, but needed far more screentime. Daisy Ridley did well, but wasn't given quite enough personality as I wanted. She still somehow comes off as a blank canvas by the time the film ends. As for the old... Harrison is now grumpy ol' Han, but does most of the heavy lifting, while the other two members of the original trilogy trio get considerably less to do. And goodness gracious, couldn't they have tried to tone down Carrie Fisher's voice at all? She looked the best she could, but chainsmoker Leia wasn't exactly what I envisioned
As to whether or not I generally had fun? My reaction to The Force Awakens is undoubtedly the result of hype mixed with YEARS of hearing how terrible the prequels are. Because of these endless debates with haters, I can tell you the flaws those movies have by heart (and admit to them,) but I can also tell you the strengths that everyone conveniently forgets. In seeing a film so lovingly fawned over as The Force Awakens in "finally giving the world the Star Wars movie people deserve," I can't help but think "this is what you wanted the whole time? A remake?" Hurl all the insults you want at the prequels, but their stories were their own and they connected to the story of the original trilogy in a natural way, yet a different way. They didn't try to be the originals and everyone hated them for it. Their republic was night and day different than the Empire in IV, V and VI. But people hated that. So now we get more of the same. While The Force Awakens is technically a better made film Episode I, II or III (there are no poo jokes, barrage of CGI, silly dialogue or monotone delivery of said dialogue here) its obviousness at its reveals, and its over-reliance on what worked before rob it of all its integrity. It has, in a sense become "marvellized": bland, crowd pleasing, and like an episode of a tv series that has no meaningful arcs. My precious franchise has turned to the darkside. It's more machine now than man. Twisted and evil. But at least it will please the fans right? Because that's all that matters anymore. Just not this one.
Addendum: I saw the movie again on Saturday, and enjoyed it much much more without the expectations that this was the second coming of Star Wars in the way. It still has some flaws that I cannot overlook, but I would in fact give it a half grade higher now and go with 8/10
For more of that initial reaction, check out my appearance on Baconsale below. Spoiler alert: I channel my whiney Skywalker to harp on a lot of things.