Ohhhh I don’t know why I wrote this. It just started out as some notes about The Force Awakens because I’d seen it on the morning it was released and had some thoughts about it but, other than a conversation following seeing it, had no protracted conversation about the film with anyone.
Warning: There is little structure or content- this is called managing expectations. Oh and it’s not meant to be negative – everyone already said loads of good things about how amazing it is; I naturally/annoyingly take an oppositional stance to most things and everyone was saying how it was the most amazing film ever and I was just a bit ‘it’s good but it’s not that good’.
Oh yeah: SPOILER ALARM!
The prequel: Me and Star Wars
I’ve seen all the Star Wars films. I’ve seen them all lots of times. I wasn’t ever obsessed with them. I don’t know the names of all the minor characters; I haven’t read any of the novels in the ‘extended universe’. I’d say my most significant negativity towards Star Wars is that I don’t buy into the Boba Fett thing. Shit bounty hunter who doesn’t do anything good, everyone loves him. Oh and despite some of the heavy-handed remarks about the prequel trilogy in what follows: I don’t hate the prequel trilogy, some parts of it are quite good.
Why do they pay for all the adverts? It really didn’t feel like it needed some of the sponsored Twitter adverts and such. People knew about the film. It was ubiquitous: it was so ubiquitous that people who were very funny were making the jokes like “is there a new Star Wars film out?”.
The personification of the hype machine seemed to be John Boyega. I did worry that there would be a backlash (not that one, I am not interested in that backlash) because he was everywhere and, you know, people don’t like that sometimes. There was a little while when I was a little bit fed up with his Instagram feed (didn’t unfollow obviously) but then you just had to think…he’s one of the leads in a new Star Wars film, have the fucking time of your life mate.
Why it’s not a 10 out of 10
I have to suppress being too excited when I experience something I EXPECT to like, certainly in the context of giving a reliable review of said experience to others. I have the ability to convince myself things are very, very good which are, in fact, shit. Cites: Oasis albums following Be Here Now and STILL thinking the prequel trilogy is ‘OK’ – when it is an offence against cinema.
I leave the cinema and discuss with my friend Tom. I confirm that I have enjoyed the film and loved lots of the performances. I shy away from confirming his “definite 8 out of 10”. Erring on the side of “potential eight but safely a strong seven”. MY rationale is if I was scoring on a 5-star system it would be definitely 4-star. (That’s the end of using other scales to help a 1-10 rating system [Though never being a massive console/gaming fan I did go through a period of liking some stuff and buying some magazines, they would score games out of 100! Absurd. What’s the difference between an 83 and an 84? What is noticeably shitter about a 22 than a 23? Games weirdos.]
It’s definitely not a 6/10 but I wouldn’t say it was 5-star so we’re not looking at a ten, or even a nine. Why? Are we scoring it as a Star Wars film or a film? The fact that it’s plot is fairly familiar to anyone who has seen A New Hope means it can’t score highly on originality. And ANOTHER FUCKING DEATH STAR?
I have to question the project management at The First Order. “I hear your objections: this is very, very similar to something our predecessor evil organisation tried twice. And it is. I will also not shy away from General Spim’s point – we have designed the Starkiller with a weakness which when identified will allow the complete destruction of the weapon. Let’s not live in the past. We’re only going to let everyone know this weakness, even new Stormtroopers who haven’t evidence their belief in our doctrine of evil for evil’s sake. We believe this is the way to guarantee the success for this venture.”
It’s an 8/10 slash ✪✪✪✪ film.
The acting is good. Not something one has noticed in a Star Wars film. OK, maybe Harrison Ford. And it’s not that other people are bad. OK, maybe the prequel trilogy was such a phenomenally poor arc that you did have time to notice that actors are vocal conduits to get pretty appalling dialogue from George Lucas to millions of people. Watching The Force Awakens and you’re like “she’s brilliant” or “he nailed it.” Maybe not so much if you’re reviewing the performance of Carrie Fisher: it’s not that she’s bad it’s just that she sounds nothing like Leia of episodes IV-VI, namely the cod-English accent had gone and Leia was American. And I think there may have been some changes to her face. Ford got old, but he looks like an old Han Solo – not like someone else.
R2D2 & C3PO
Hmmm. I am big R2’ fan. Bit annoying that he wakes up conveniently in the film after a while. Why doesn’t he just wake up at the first point BB8 appears with the rest of the map? Someone already got to point out that it was a literal deus ex machina going down. In a film with plenty of funny lines, actual funny lines – not attempts at jokey dialogue – C3PO’s opening line when he sees an old friend is perhaps the funniest of them all.
Tough to call what one feels about Kylo Ren. Definitely the portrayal of torturous split between good and evil which was missing from the prequels, well Episodes II and III anyway (You can’t blame Jake Lloyd for everything – look at his sad old face on the police photograph, give him a break). But is he the best bad guy, as some are already claiming? He might be a great character after one film – and superbly acted – but he is no Vader or Emperor in terms of evil-ing.
Is what he did towards the end meant to put him up there? Well it’s certainly not endearing him to anyone but he took no pleasure in it. Come on Team Evil, try harder.
You know what I couldn’t help wanting to know/see? The backstory. Young Ben Solo’s journey to becoming Kylo Ren. Did I learn nothing from the prequels? To be fair you can imagine how the Anakin/Ren storylines could be amazing with the right writer/director. This is what everyone thought about Darth Vader’s backstory! I set with the right writer/director, boom.
To all intents and purposes the lead character in the film. I wouldn’t say I knew nothing about her but I didn’t feel I got to know all that much. What is it with me and not getting that backstory leads to boredom [I know this isn’t true, I know the problem with the prequels wasn’t backstory – it was relentlessly dull political narratives and piss-shit acting].
We never got a sniff of Han’s backstory and that never bothered anyone (besides the Disney Corporation and their desire to make good on the $4 billion they paid Darth Lucas for his Empire**)…so is Rey’s lack of history important? Not really and I am pretty sure we are going to find out quite a lot about her in Episode VIII (which I confidently predict will be called The Order Restores Order).
I have no issue with any beat of Daisy Ridley’s performance and I really like Keira Knightley. Daisy Ridley’s mouth makes me think about Keira Knightley. That is all
John Boyega is the breakout star of The Force Awakens. I’d write that with conviction if I was American and writing a piece about him. Sure, he pretty much is I just wouldn’t use the phrase ‘breakout star’ with the conviction of a TMZ presenter. As with Rey I am looking to find out more about his character as the new films unfold, where did his conscience come from? Is there no performance management in The First Order’s staff management that would have alerted someone to his wavering?
Do we realise how close his name is to the character Nicholas Cage portrayed in Con Air? And, while Poe Dameron is pretty fuckng cool, if Cameron Poe (in Con Air) is the benchmark then I am not sure he makes the cut. Appropriately it doesn’t feel like some of Poe’s scenes/storyline did make the cut. It’s all like woah look at this amazing guy being all cool and…..where did he go? Oh he died and no-one seems that bothered..oh no he’s not dead and he’s still ace but we didn’t bother seeing how he got out of being left for dead and getting back. Again: hope to find out more about this guy. No, I just hope to see him do more (of what I’ve seen him do, fly spacecraft and make quips, not like see him cooking or dry walling).
*About two weeks ago but it seems like longer than that, like three-and-a-half weeks.
**Mix StarWarstaphors much?