I got to the cinema twenty minutes prior to show time, surprised to join a queue thirty people long, so much so that I began to grow a bit nervous about not being able to get a ticket, but nevertheless luck was on my side today and I just about got the last one.
So I sit myself in beside two kids with ADHD and what could very well have been the Von Trapp family sitting behind me, all in all I was just in time for the screen to explode with that classic theme tune and opening crawl ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’. Kids laughter and cheer spread all around me and the air of expectation was infectious.
There is a really good star wars feel to this movie from the onset, the opening scene showing a nomadic tribe unexpectedly attacked by The First Order, a reincarnated version of the empire which has taken hold of the galaxy.
A positive development in the saga is that the camera gets behind a few of the stormtroopers during this opening scene and we learn a lot more about the recruits behind the suits. The drone wars are long over and The New Order is a fascist movement like no other.
The movie gives a new aspect to the stormtroopers, showing that they can think for themselves, their desire for conquest, and as a highly disciplined army who all report to the Supreme Leader, their shooting hasn’t improved much but I think that’s something to do with the helmets anyway.
However after the opening scene the film loses its ingenuity and begins to feel more like a Star Wars replica than a movie which continues to expand on the vastness of the Galaxy. It very much follows the formula of A New Hope with one of the lead characters, unaware of her Jedi powers but with a hidden past which means she has much more to offer than she ever imagined.
The arch villain being the son of Princess Leia and Han Solo takes on a Darth Vader type role with the same desires for conquest but he lacks the kind of megalomaniac tendencies you’d expect to find in such a character. His battle with Finn is rather feeble given he gets injured so easily, when he could use the dark side to rid himself of any threat instead of playing cat and mouse for the sake of pulling out his medieval looking saber, which looks highly impractical to begin with. Kylo Ren is a very disappointing character because he comes with some background story without ever demonstrating the magnitude of his power, and he has no real influence on The New Order and has no motivation for being with the dark side to begin with.
The biggest failing in the film was the imbalance of recycled characters to lack of continuity with the original movies. The film makes little attempt to explain the power shift to ‘The First Order’, and whoops out a steroid version of the death star which they use to attack the Republic mercilessly.
All in all the film was basically a star wars reunion with an old plot rejigged and some new characters introduced. It’s disappointing in the sense that it spends too much time deploying these newbies instead of building context around jedi/sith orders. There is a complete lack of force within the movie, no significant light saber fight, a bad guy from the wizard of oz, and some poor formulaic battle scenes which only rob from and perhaps cheapen the original movies.
I’m afraid to say it but this movie is no big deal, it’s very much a miss-able prelude to whatever this Disney acquired cash cow is about to produce next.