This will be my first film review, and what better to start with than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Before I begin I should state that the following is my own opinion. It should also go without saying that there will be massive spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen the film.
I’ll start off by saying just how spectacular the effects are in this movie, it surpasses even the prequel trilogy in terms of visuals. Although there were a few questionable choices in set design which bugged me. The starting planet Jakku, looks an awful lot like Tatooine. While, yes, it is a call back to the original trilogy it also begs the question. Why hell didn’t they just use Tatooine? It would be interesting to see what became of the planet after Luke defeated the Hutts, not to mention it would be a stronger call back to the original. Either way, I felt it a bit strange that they would create an entirely new desert planet to set it on. However the planet is beautiful all the same and the effects gone into its construction allow me to forgive what seems to be a rather strange design choice.
Now a bit of spoilers for the ending. When Rey goes find Luke I felt the planet he was on was lacking. And by lacking I meant it looked just like Earth. While a great number of locations were also no doubt filmed on earth, this is the only one which actually screams “earth” even though it is supposed to be an alien planet. This is in part because there is nothing distinctly alien about the planet. No technology, no twin suns or green sky. Just ocean and blue sky as far as the eye can see. While this may not be a problem if we see little of the planet in the sequel, I felt kind of underwhelmed by the design choice after seeing all kinds of alien worlds throughout the franchise.
Plot. There is little to be said. It keeps on track, fast paced with the action all the way up to the very end. There was no point in which I felt the movie was boring, which all I can ask for in a movie. However from my perspective it felt like the reveal of Kylo Ren’s identity could have done more subtly and to me it became obvious who he was by the movie’s halfway mark. Ideally I would have preferred the reveal to have happened when he confronts Han on the walkway. I felt when it was revealed part way in, it did so rather unceremoniously, and having the reveal happen on the walkway would have been the perfect way to rectify that.
In terms of action I had minor gripes with the lightsaber fight at the end. Finn was useless, and therefore ended up a passenger character for basically the entire climax. I felt also it was a bit underwhelming as a whole, especially when compared to the ones of the prequel trilogy. While the prequel trilogy was flawed, I had great appreciation for the lightsaber fights, and a more dramatic lightsaber duel would have added to that. Upon reflection I feel like their location of battle wasn’t dramatic enough, and there was nothing dangerous about it. In the fight against Darth Maul Phantom Menace there were the bottomless pits and laser beams and against Anakin Revenge of the Sith there was big pits of lava. Here they just exchange sword blows in the snow, with the occasional sliced up tree causing problems. There was nothing jumping out at them trying to kill them in a spectacular fashion. However despite my gripes it functioned, and was far better than no lightsaber battle.
Overall, the film was great. No doubt, upon rewatching many of the others I would pick up far more problems than I have watching this one. It also serves to prove that a film doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect to be good, so long as it does what it promises to do. This film did just that. The effects are and visuals are brilliant, and the action is non stop. This is probably the best modern Star Wars movie, beyond a doubt. However it is no film of a year for me, in part due to the issues I had with the plot, though this is probably some of the writer in me speaking. Had it addressed the issues in its plot it could easily have taken its position not just as my favourite film of the year but also one of my favourite films of all time.
IN A WORD: FAST