Star Wars: The Force Awakens
A Short Review by Matteo Baratta-Senza
After much waiting and speculation, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was finally released on December 18th, 2015. I was lucky enough to be given a free ticket, due to the generosity of the Railroad Street Youth Project staff. Their Youth Operational Board had purchased ten tickets for youth who could make it, to see TFA in 3D at the Triplex Theater. It had rained all day, and I arrived at the theater damp and eager to see the film which everyone could not stop talking about. Around two hours later, as a stumbled back out into a slight mist and removed my 3D glasses, I was speechless. At first I was absolutely in love with the film, and claimed that JJ Abrams had done a splendid job, but as the infatuation wore off, I began to notice something horrible. I had just watched Star Wars: A New Hope.
Many people have made the joke that the two films, although more than twenty years apart, are strikingly similar in plot, but this overused dig still rings true nevertheless. There was so much that was right with this film, but sadly, in the end, the good was overshadowed by the overly referential nature and recycled storytelling. We have encountered a planet (or moon) sized super weapon twice before in the Star Wars films, and each time they were defeated by a single structural weakness. So when fans discovered that there was to be a third such super-weapon in The Force Awakens, they were outraged, and rightfully so. This was not the only similarity, in fact, many fans have analyzed A New Hope and The Force Awakens side by side, finding countless recycled plot points, characters, and locations. There was so much potential to take fans on an adventure through new parts of the galaxy yet to be seen in film on the search for Luke Skywalker, but instead the film’s potential was squandered on forced humor, uncomfortably chunky exposition, and a plot that sort of gives up and throws in the towel an hour in.
While there was a lot of disappointments with The Force Awakens, but one thing that I still found enjoyable was the overall “feeling” of this film. When looked at from a purely aesthetic standpoint, TFA really feels like a Star Wars film. That was what I really fell in love with, and is what stood out to me about the film. Sadly, it is not enough to redeem the feeling of disappointment that came with the weak plot, cardboard characters, forced humor, and the sickening feeling that the entire film was produced only to set up the next two. We can only hope the coming films will be better, and not glossy remakes of the original trilogy.