I’m not sure it ever slept
Edit: This film is actually PG-13. Please excuse my mistake in the slide below.
This week, I saw a fairly obscure movie. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s a reboot of some trilogy from the ‘80s. It’s called “Star Wars”, or something like that. Ring a bell?
It certainly did for a fair number of people, as it made $250 million globally on Friday night alone. To put that into perspective, here’s what that kind of money could do:
- Buy almost 14 million toy lightsabers from Toys ‘R Us.
- Pay off the entire budget of the film AND buy the Northern Aegean Island of Greece. Apparently, it’s only 30 minutes from Athens by speedboat. So obviously you need a speedboat, which would run you $1 million, if you splurge (which you can). In this scenario, you’d still have around $6 million left over.
- Pay for a full four-year education at Mizzou for 1,557 non-Missouri residents (or 2,438 Missouri residents).
- Buy every person suffering from chronic homelessness in the Unites States a $2,000 used car.
- Pay back approximately one one-thousandth of a percent of the debt of the Federal Government.
So you might have heard of it.
Regardless of all that, however much a movie makes does not necessarily mean that it’s good. So this begs the question, is it?
“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” picks up thirty years after the events of the original trilogy (which is episodes IV, V and VI. Confusing, I know). To sum up the plot with no spoilers, everyone wants to find Luke Skywalker, including the First Order (basically the Nazis of the Star Wars universe), the members of which are the bad guys.
First Order (ha!) of business is to ask whether or not this film is accessible for someone with minimal knowledge of the franchise. Basically, you need to know Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader and their genealogies, and it helps to know the actors that play them as well. In short, it’s sort of accessible, and someone who hasn’t seen the original trilogy should definitely read a short synopsis of those three films before seeing “The Force Awakens”.
The flipside of “The Force Awakens” not being super accessible is that it is rewarding for fans of the series. Many characters from the only previous films that matter make appearances and play major roles, which is nice to see and extremely well-implemented. The new characters complement them well, though we could do with a little bit more character development for them.
On a technical level, the film is impressive. The classic soundtrack is back and utilized well, while the acting is light years better than anything in the prequels. Visually, the film is spectacular. My main problems lie with the story.
While the story is never bad, I think the best word for it is “safe.” Profoundly few risks were taken, and the only ones that they did take were visible from a mile away. It’s disappointing to see such a familiar direction from “The Force Awakens”. Honestly, they should just change the name to “Family Feud” at this point.
Further than that, a few really dumb things happen at times, like whatever that “harnessing the power of the sun” business was. However, these are mostly excusable, as everyone knows that Star Wars comes with some baggage.
There aren’t any themes worth discussing, as “The Force Awakens” is simply your vanilla good versus evil storyline with no room for moral grey areas. This isn’t bad, as Star Wars should probably just stay in that realm, but it does make for a thematically shallow, though fairly emotional, experience.
Despite the comparatively weak story, “The Force Awakens” still manages to be a good time. Like I mentioned, all the characters were used really well and I think the story is heading in some interesting (if predictable) directions. It’s never boring and is well worth the price of admission for the whole family.
Overall, I would put “The Force Awakens” up there with “The Empire Strikes Back” for my favorite films of the franchise. For a Star Wars movie, it’s fantastic, but as a movie in general, it’s only pretty good. Even though it won’t blow anyone’s mind in terms of quality, it’s still worth seeing (even if it is just to be a part of the conversation).
Hmm….. I wonder if they’ll make a sequel?