STAR WARS (Part VII) – The Force Awakens
A film review by Stephan Haderer
Fast and furious – but don’t expect too much!
The American space epic continues and expectations are high. Will the first Walt Disney distributed and marketed part of the space fantasy blogbuster also mesmerize fans and moviegoers?
For all those of you who haven’t seen it yet: This film review is not a spoiler. It is only an impression on some aspects that I’d like to share with you.
“Star Wars” probably is unique as a movie epic story because it isn’t broadcast in a chronological order. As we know, the original trilogy started off in the late 1970s/80s with the legendary Jedi knights (parts IV, V and VI) and then jumped back in time in the early 2000s with prequel episodes (parts I, II and III). Now surpassing all expectations with another sequel series (parts VII, VIII and IX) isn’t a particularly easy job for producers and directors alike – the movie must find a fair and intriguing continuity.
THE STORY of this new sequel part is briefly told: The mission is to find Luke Skywalker with the help of a puzzle piece that has been kept by village elder Lor San Tekka (starred by Max von Sydow). The First Order opposes this plan of the Resistance forces, led by Luke’s twin sister Commander aka Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Pilot Poe Dameran from the Resistance army manages to obtain the puzzle piece when the village on planet Jukka is being invaded in a bloody feud by the dark forces. He hides the puzzle inside droid robot BB8 and they manage to escape after being captured on the ship of the dark forces.
A young, so far unknown member of the First Order called Finn (John Boyega) helps them to escape. One first weakness of the storyline is that we neither know Finn’s actual background nor his real motivation to desert from the dark army forces. The dialogues between him and Joe don’t reveal very much either.
Their spaceship accidentally lands in a Sahara-like desert on Jakku where a young woman called Rey (Daisy Ridley) lives as a slave, collecting electronic trash. After another brief invasion by the Dark Forces, Rey joins the resistance crew now consisting of Finn, BB8 and later Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and beastly Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Pilot Poe magically disappears to turn up later again.
Now the real struggle begins: Planets are being threatened and destroyed by the explosive weapons of the First Order under the command of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who has his own family secret… The struggle of good against evil is very long and sometimes – despite all the magnificent and powerful 3D computer-animated effects – a bit tedious.
Awkward dialogues with more special effects
The storyline itself is overwhelmed by countless action scenes. The producers of this “Star Wars” episode didn’t want to leave too much space for emotional build-ups and romances between characters like Finn and Rey or Han Solo and Commander Leia. So it’s not surprising that their dialogues may seem rather awkward than witty (even if they’re sometimes quite funny just because of their shallow awkwardness). It makes the characters less authentic and less credible. And – which I find even worse – it makes the story less profound and somewhat repetitive due to the abundant fighting scenes that sometimes aren’t even convincing (like the confrontation between Han Solo and Kylo Ren, or Rey’s sudden telekinetic powers).
As in all Star Wars episodes, part VII has plenty of fantastic and impressive sceneries and futuristic panoramas. However, they aren’t used enough and the moviegoer keeps hoping in vain for any innovative surprise effects – and no, the eyes of Maz Kanata don’t have this surprise effect.
Fast and furious – that’s what I’d call the seventh part of the epic. But don’t expect too much. There’s no Darth Vader, no Padmé Amidala, Luke Skywalker only plays a marginal role. On the other hand, there are a series of new characters – even if their relationships could be better woven into previous episodes (for instance by using some flashbacks instead of permanent war scenes and political allusions to Islamists or German Nazis). There’s great effects and impressive 3D animation. The plot, however, remains thin and poor – so let’s see what’s still to come.