Despite the fact that it got a very good review right here in Third Act Film, not all of our writers agree that Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is a particularly good film. While it’s nowhere near the worst film to come out this year, I believe it’s somewhat of a disappointment, and even a bit of a step back from the last installment in the franchise, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. I’m aware that not everybody will agree with this statement, but I’ve come up with 7 reasons Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a disappointment.
One more thing, MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING!!! I will be discussing this film as if you’ve already seen it, so if you don’t want anything ruined for you, please stop reading now, and come back once you’ve seen the film.
1 – A New Hope for story
One thing a lot of the advertising for this film left out was the plot, and now that I’ve seen the film, it’s easy to know why: the story is beat for beat an exact replica of Episode IV – A New Hope. I’m not going to go into it in great detail here, but anybody who knows even a rough outline of that film will be able to see just how much of a carbon(ite) copy this film is.
2 – Action / cut
Action sequences have come a long way since the first three Star Wars films, and one thing a lot of people agree on is that the action in the much maligned prequels was better than the action in the original trilogy. This isn’t really saying much, as technology had advanced so much since then. Having said that, another ten years down the line, there’s a distinct lack of action set pieces in The Force Awakens. There are a few short space battles, and even a lightsaber skirmish at the end, but considering the high standard of action in Episodes I, II and III, it seems strange that the action here was quite poor. This franchise is also known for having multiple action sequences happening simultaneously at the end of every film, but here that didn’t properly happen.
For fans of The Raid, this is a particular disappointment, as when two of the actors from those films showed up, I got very excited, only to have them eaten by the least Star Wars looking alien imaginable.
3 – Surprise!
There are two major reveals / twists / big moments in this film, and once again I will remind everyone that there will be spoilers ahead. The first is that Kylo Ren is actually Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and General Leia, and the second is the death of Han Solo. The problem is that neither of these felt like a surprise. Perhaps it’s the rampant internet speculation, perhaps it’s the fact that Harrison Ford has wanted Han Solo dead since the 80’s, or perhaps it was J.J. Abrams letting everybody know that ‘we haven’t told you their last names for a reason!’, but neither of these moments felt like significant reveals. In fact, it would’ve been more surprising if neither of them had happened at all.
4 – Not such a bad guy
The villains in this film are definitely a weak point. Kylo Ren, the big bad, was probably the best of the bunch, but even he came across as being a short tempered brat, not unlike Anakin Skywalker. We constantly hear about how powerful he is, so he should have easily been able to deliver the beat down to both Finn and Rey in the final fight, but almost lost to each of them in turn. The other main villain, General Hux, was quite frankly laughable. His speech to the First Order about the completion of the new Death Star type station (which seemed to come out of nowhere as a plot point) was strangely over-emotional, and it was generally the hammiest performance since Babe: Pig in the City. Captain Phasma also completely allowed herself to be treated like a chump. Even the prequels had Darth Maul.
5 – Puppets
I understand how much people love practical effects, but eventually we have to face the truth – they don’t always look better. Some of the puppets and costumes here look very fake, and are obviously not real, while some of the animated characters, particularly tiny orange person Maz Kanata, look excellent. It will always be nice to see physical being interacting with sets, and some of the characters looked great (particularly the one that trades portions of food for scrap metal with Rey), but there has to be better quality control.
6 – Nostalgia?
There’s nostalgia, there are homages, there are rip offs, and then there’s The Force Awakens. my biggest issue with Episode VII is that it didn’t earn any of it’s emotional payoff, but instead it relied solely on the good name of the franchise, and the fanaticism of the fans. It wasn’t just the story that was lifted from the original trilogy. After the opening text crawl, which was great, we saw a huge ship getting bigger and filling more of the screen, a great homage to the original trilogy. Then there were more references. Then there were more tips of the cap. At the halfway point I was wondering if they were ever going to stop, and they just didn’t.
7 – Luke
This is an easy one. The whole set up of this film, from casting, marketing, opening text crawl and character motivations all heavily referred to Luke Skywalker. I kept wondering when he was going to show up, and it kept not happening. By the time we did see him, in the final shot of the film, I was so bored of waiting that I no longer cared.
Before you click away, remember that people loved The Phantom Menace when it was first released back in 1999, but time has shown us exactly how people really feel about that film. Maybe in ten years, when Episode X – The Final Frontier is released, people will be speaking about The Force Awakens in the same way.
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