Star War Episode VII is a problematic movie. As a stand-alone film it is both solidly crafted and extremely formulaic by-the-numbers. As a Star Wars film it is a franchise restart and a building point for what will probably be multi-billion dollars' worth of spinoffs and sequels. It accomplishes exactly what it set out to accomplish. That is also the movie's greatest weakness.
The movie sports a new ensemble of likeable, entertaining and interesting characters that have some novelty to them. However, the quick pace and the movie's insistence of stuffing as many original trilogy references into the limited runtime as possible undermine the quite enjoyable character arcs. The movie does not have courage of letting the characters act or breathe, instead throwing action at the viewers at every single opportunity - and when there is a chance for character exploration, the movie usually undercuts itself by introducing old characters, failing to establish a real history or other referential frame, or simply moving too fast.
The Force Awakens is like a reverse prequel-trilogy: It has way too little originality and too much needless action, but it is hidden behind solid Hollywood action-film facade. The prequel trilogy was criticized for spending too much time in the galactic politics - the Force Awakens discards galactic politics to the degree that the background of the climactic battle is pretty much nonexistant and the entire larger plot becomes meaningless and incomprehensible. The prequel dwelled on original ideas, executed poorly - the Force Awakens dwells of rehashed ideas, executed well. The prequel trilogy spent too much time on bad characterization - The Force Awakens doesn't spend near enough time with it's good characterization.
However, despite all it's failings, the movie is entertaining. It is entertaining in the way of Avengers - it hits all the right notes and has an ensemble of good characters, but has little or no originality, sense of scale or, for the lack of better word, elegance. I am not unhappy after seeing the film and sort of recommend seeing it, but it is ultimately just another Star Wars rehash. There is much potential for different space fantasy stories starting from The Force Awakens, but whether there is courage to actually tell them remains to be seen.
El Perkele fucked around with this message at 20:17 on Dec 25, 2015
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