Believe it or not, here at Third Act Film we don’t always agree. We’ve had disputes in the past such as the case of Chris Elliott V Todd James arguing whether Boyhood is better than Transformers (strange, I know). We’ve also had disagreements in the form of bets, such as James Forbes V Todd James (ongoing theme here) about whether Avengers will make more than Star Wars (Team Star Wars, represent!). This time round however, we’re discussing Star Wars and arguing the point of whether it was good or not. Todd “Always Wrong” James has made his case as to why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is disappointing. I’m here to stand up for my boy, TFA, and point out what worked. This may feel as though it is an odd rebuttal considering as a site we’ve given this film a 4.5 star review, to Todd’s dismay.
1 – George Lucas’ Dream A Reality
I feel sorry for Lucas. Imagine creating a mega-blockbuster (arguably one of the first), and making loads of money from selling toys, making 3 terrible films that make you loads of money, and then selling the entire company for billions. I don’t know how he does it. In all seriousness however, I’ve always seen Lucas as a man who had a dream (not that kind of dream) and could never bring it to reality. When he started the original trilogy he didn’t have the proper funding or the technology to achieve what he wanted, and when he then had both he ruined the franchise.
J.J. “My Man!” Abrams got it. He saw into Lucas’ young, uncorrupted mind and stole from it the essences that is Star Wars. J.J. understood what it meant for a film to be considered real Star Wars. A living breathing world whereby technology, aliens, space-travel and adventure are normal yet war and death are unchanged. A rustic, more realistic depiction of our futures. J.J. gets it.
2 – New Great Characters
One of the criticisms on Todd’s article is that the film is basically A New Hope. Which is exactly what the film needed to do! You’re kick-starting a new franchise that had been trashed by the prequels. What better way to bring trust back to Star Wars than to return to where it all began.
On top of that, we are rewarded with a cast of new great characters that are easy to fall in love with. The film is a rehash, of sorts, but it builds upon the original and spins certain elements. For instances, in ANH you had Luke wanting to leave his desert planet of Tatooine for adventure in space. In TFA you have Rey who is the only person who wants to stay on her equally desert-y planet of Jakku. It’s these simple changes that allow the story to stay updated and interesting. It presented us with new great characters who can carry the series by themselves.
3 – Clean Slate
This film was necessary and, in my eyes, couldn’t have been done any better. Disney have planned MANY Star Wars films for the future and they need to push the franchise forward. What they needed was a clean slate. The quicker the past 30 years is recapped the quicker we can get to new content and adventure.
After watching TFA we are all left with 100 questions: Why is Luke on that planet? Why did R2D2 reactivate? Who was that droid with the red arm? None of these could be posed if they decided to skip the reintegration of past characters and fill in the audience with what has been going on since Return of the Jedi. The film has answered most of the questions we had before seeing it, only to leave us with even more. This is what captivates an audience and this is what builds a great legacy.
4 – For The Fans!
Another issue Todd had was with the nostalgia factor, as he felt as though there was too much pandering to the original Star Wars films. The purpose of this film was to regain people’s trust and what better way then bring back the characters they love and see them back in this world.
It is unavoidable to have the seventh sequel to a film that doesn’t harp back to any of the prior films. This is why we watch sequels, that’s why Fast and Furious has lasted so long. We enjoy the familiar and the layered story-telling of years, or decades in the case of Star Wars. This film was for the fans and it delivered on that.
5 – The Dreaded Prequels
Those who know me know I HATE the prequels. I forced (eh!) myself to watch all the prequels again as I marathon-ed the Star Wars films in preparation to watch TFA. The impression I get with TFA is that the creative team behind it had also sat down and watch them prior to making the film and took notes. Not to imitate what they had seen but to avoid it. It is universally known that the majority of Star Wars fans dislike the prequels, so if you’re going to continue the franchise you need to learn from you mistakes.
The biggest issue, for me, with the prequels is the stark difference in narrative. The originals followed three underdog heroes taking on a seemingly unstoppable empire. The prequels was politics or something, who actually knows? TFA goes follows the formula that works in the originals and follows individuals instead of focusing on the political mess thought up by a mad man. It brings an emotional attachment, it brings wonder and a feeling of impending doom for the characters you have just become attached to. They understood that nothing should go right for the heroes, however they still prevail. Each decision made by the character is based on their personal characteristics, each triumph is earned and downfalls hurt the audience. We cheer on the heroes in the originals and TFA and simply don’t care in the prequels.
6 – The Blessed Originals
Whilst avoiding the prequels, they learned from the originals. They took what worked and made damn well sure that it featured in TFA.
The other problem with the prequels I, and most had (other than ‘he-who-should-not-be-named‘), was the delusional concept of what makes great action. In the prequels, action is a million lightsabers and a billion blasters all firing at each other. Just like in Horror films when you finally see the monster it looses it’s appeal, the lightsaber should be used sparingly. When it is used all the time, the audience become numb to it. In the originals, there are three lightsaber fights: Obi-Wan Kenobi Vs Darth Vader, Luke Vs Darth Vader Round 1 and Luke Vs Darth Vader Round 2 (4 if you count Obi-Wan Vs Random Pigman & Alien Friend from the bar). It made it special, seeing a lightsaber was a moment to remember.
On top of that, the fight scenes had consequence to them. They were filled with emotion which showed in the fighting styles. When Luke was angry, he would flail his saber around. It didn’t look choreographed like the Darth Maul fight. The fights in the originals were people trying to kill each other, not clash lightsabers. TFA emulates this, sparring the use of lightsabers and lightsaber fights.
7 – They Did It, Simple As That
We are so spoilt. We have so many great films released each year and we all take it for granted. Did anyone imagine that we would have Marvel comics as a cinematic universe 20 years ago? The start of an exciting new era for Star Wars 10 years ago? No. What Disney was able to achieve is simply a triumph.
What did you think of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Did you think it lived up to the hype? Or do you agree with Todd’s less enthusiastic view?
- 7 Reasons Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a Disappointment
- Star Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens Review
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