Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A Spoiler-Free Review

Been quite a while since I last posted a blog about anything. Sorry readers, but with the release of my latest Starhawk Chronicles novel, and all the marketing and promoting that goes with it, plus those annoying familial obligations, I haven't had much time for anything else. But I felt my newest topic was something worth writing about. So without further adieu, here is my SPOILER-FREE REVIEW OF...

In a nutshell I loved it. As much as I liked the prequels (Yes, I liked them) they just never had the same feel as the original trilogy did for me. Perhaps it was simply because I was seeing those as an adult rather than a wide-eyed youth between the ages of 7-12. Perhaps it was Lucas' reliance on CG everything, rather than practical effects and sets. Perhaps they really did just suck. I don't know. All I can tell is that right from the beginning, this one FELT right.

The cast is fantastic, especially SW newcomers John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Daisy Ridley (In her first film role.) Unlike Natalie Portman and Hayden Christenson, thse kids can ACT! There was nothing wooden or awkward in their performances, and there was a natural chemistry between them and returning members of the cast. Boyega and Ridley especially seem destined for superstardom. Adam Driver is compelling as villain Kylo Ren, and makes him both a character you want to feel sympathy for, while simultaneously wanting to rip his lungs out. And Domhnall Gleeson takes on a chilling Hitler-esque turn as First Order leader General Hux.

By far, my favorite character was Lupita Nyong'o's Maz Kanata, the only major CGI-rendered character in the film, a diminutive, whimsical pirate/ cantina owner who helps set Daisy Ridley's Rey on her path. With her tiny, Yoda-like stature and over-large eyewear, she is less Jar Jar Binks and more like Edna Mode from Pixars The Incredibles.

Cinematography is gorgeous in this film, in part again due to the actual physical sets and locations, and contrary to what all the J.J. Abrams haters were expecting, not one lens flare in the entire film.
Not once did I find myself cringing at dialogue, unlike the prequels, especially the supposed "romantic" scenes, where it sounded more like cheesy Harlequin romance and not like Star Wars. The banter between the characters was fun and funny. Let's admit it, any time Han Solo is involved, you know there are going to be some good lines. You believe that these characters truly believe what they are saying.

Visual effects are, without having to go into detail, top-notch as expected. The only qualm I had was the busy-ness of the aerial battles, but this could be due to my being seated in the second row, off-center from the screen. Next time I see it, I'll sit further back.

Fun, fast-paced, with lots of neat surprises, The Force Awakens is easily one of the best in the saga, up there with The Empire Strikes Back. People have been complaining that Disney would ruin the franchise, but it is clear that the future of the Force is in very capable hands.
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