December 21, 2015
Written by Roger Malcolm
Starting much like the original Star Wars: A New Hope, we find ourselves on a desert planet with a droid being given a map of the location of the long lost Luke Skywalker. In the opening message to the audience we read that after the Empire’s downfall, the First Order has risen out of its ashes. The Rebellion is now referred to as the Resistance and their leader is General Leia (still played by Carrie Fisher).
In the place of R2-D2 is a droid with the label BB-8 unit. Within this BB-8 unit is part of a map with the location to an ancient Jedi temple, the location of the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Both the Resistance and the First Order are after this droid. A pilot named Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac), the best pilot in the Resistance is the one responsible for inserting this map with commands of reaching General Leia. The First Order arrives and captures the pilot as the BB-8 unit escapes rolling across the sand with its sphere shaped body and a head unit rotating around on top as if connected by only magnetism.
Immediately we are introduced to the equivalent of Darth Vader in a smaller figure in all black with a black mask, a mask that seems to serve no purpose rather than to obstruct his face and voice. His name is Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), he wields a red light saber that has two small sabers protruding from the sides of the handle, which of course is used to minimal effect later on. The Resistance’s best pilot attempts firing his blaster, only Kylo Ren uses his dark force powers to stop the blast in midair while placing a paralyzing hold on the pilot Poe as storm troopers apprehend him. They bring him in front of Kylo Ren where Poe mocks him by claiming sarcastically to have trouble understanding his voice, but not before adding some humour of who should start the talking first.
While scavenging parts from a crashed Imperial ship, we are introduced to our lead character Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), who barters for minimum amounts of food rations. She eventually comes across the BB-8 unit and a former storm trooper named Finn (played by John Boyega). Finn has had a change in conscience and has decided to help free the pilot Poe from the clutches of the First Order. Rey and Finn with the BB-8 unit manage to escape from the the First Order’s raid when they come across an old pile of junk, a garbage spaceship called the Millennium Falcon, which is still in functioning condition.
Eventually they are coasting in space when a larger cargo ship captures them. They decide to hide in a hidden compartment as whoever has captured them boards the Millennium Falcon. As it turns out, it’s the original owners Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). They discover the hidden crew immediately and we are filled in with Hans history in a very mundane fashion. Harrison Ford seems uninspired as does the entire story including the dialogue.
The entire film lacked proper suspense and all of the real reveals or surprises seemed as cliche as J.J. Abrams having the Millennium Falcon crash landing at the edge of a cliff, seems like I recall he executed a similar scene in Star Trek with Kirk driving his fathers car off a cliff, yet still managing to grasp on with his hands as he fell out onto the edge. I couldn’t help but think of Charlton Heston’s return to Beneath the Planet of the Apes after watching Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, but I don’t want to spoil anything here. Certainly aimed at the youth, I felt only children would enjoy the monotonous humour between the characters. General Leia comes across cold and detached not only from Han Solo but the audience as well. Only Chewbacca did have a couple moments that didn’t play as well as one might have hoped for and the little BB-8 unit seems to be less abrasive as Jar Jar Binks and R2-D2’s constant beeping.
Enough touches to be considered nods to the original, only it just ends up feeling like a complete rehashing of the original. In one scene our lead Rey hears something down in a basement area which causes her to follow it to a box which she opens revealing Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Earlier in the film as she finished eating her instant meal rations from her scavenging, she picks up a fighter pilot helmet, but not just any fight pilot helmet, but one that looks to be Luke Skywalkers. Of course she is being drawn to the force and as she touches the lightsaber we are treated to an experience unlike any we’ve seen before. She is transported into past visions of her memories of being abandoned by her family and close encounters with Kylo Ren. It’s certainly foreshadowing her destiny with Kylo Ren as The Empire Strikes Back did with Luke and Darth Vader while Luke was at the Dagobah System studying with Yoda.
Overall the film feels like a clever way to milk millions more out of consumer pockets by presenting a hollow story with poor chemistry between actors in tedious scenes. The true missing ingredient is the lacking of writing by the auteur himself George Lucas, without his vision it just doesn’t capture the same essence of the originals. I did watch the 3D version of the film and once I got use to the action always being slightly blurred at all times, I did get slightly use to my headache as well. If it honestly wasn’t for the constant blurriness, I would have rather enjoyed the 3D effect. However, it only made taking notes that much more difficult to boot. I did find a few shots rather nice but nothing really breathtaking, though it certainly seemed like what Abrams was going for. For young audiences I can see this being a great introduction into the Star Wars universe, yet I still would recommend the original 3 over this cleverly crafted Disney consumerism tractor beam of a film. I give it 2 out of 5 for a rating of Good.
The Malcolm Scale
Should have left the ending at Return of the Jedi, but if this was meant for anyone, it was meant for children. I’m not trying to disable Disney’s consumerism tractor beam that’s milking millions out of the masses, I wouldn’t do that would I? I am more rebel than not though, so actually I am trying to disable Hollywood’s tractor beam that continues propagating propaganda into the minds of the masses. #ClashHollywood George Lucas was the auteur and without him at least writing, his vision is dead.