Although I'm not a big Star Wars fanboy, the franchise is definitely one of my favourite. Like the fans, I love the Original Trilogy, and unlike them, I'm partially OK with the prequels. Sure, they brought us Jar Jar, idiotic characters, and Anakin/Padme's insomnia-curing romance, but at least Liam Neeson's cowboy Jedi is awesome, the late great Christopher Lee brought his trademark evil baritone voice, and more of John William's epic soundtrack. The series also spawned a ridiculous number of Expanded-Universe entries ranging from novels to video games, which I never bothered with, apart from some of those games. And I never bought any of the merch before, apart from my first Nerf Stormtrooper Pistol.
Nevertheless, the long-awaited sequel to the Original Trilogy is here. George Lucas might be the creator, but his past involvement showed that he just can't write a really interesting story with good dialogues. Some might bulked at J.J. Abrams being the director, fearing that he might tainted the franchise like he did Star Trek, but Justin Lin might have beaten him to the punch at that one. So with some of the original cast returning along with new bloods to save the day, will this be the Star Wars film we'll finally love?
Sand-worm hunting goes horribly wrong.
Since everyone here will pretty much not pleased with even one word of the plot out of my mouth, I'll just leave it out on this review, except that the fact it feels like 1977 all over again. The writers really did a great job on this one, especially when Lucas isn't involve to meddle around. Finally, there's some really good feel on adventure, humor, and excitement. And the dialogues aren't as painful to spit it out as the prequels! The lightsaber battles are, in my opinion, far better than the prequels. Unlike the previous acrobatic battles, this one's as grounded as the originals, and with being grounded in reality comes a bit of tension to the fights. There's also a few bittersweet moments, which might affect you if you knew the old cast well.
Unfortunately, feeling like 1977 isn't all perfect. As I kept watching it, I kept thinking that it really feels like A New Hope all over again. Guess that J.J. Abrams's too much of a fanboy to fear taking big risk on this one. The return of epic space battles are pretty nice, but the problem is that it's gone a bit too fast for us to enjoy it. Conversely, the quiet moments with conversations almost felt like padding. The overall negatives aren't bad enough to affect your enjoyment, that depends on whether you'll enjoy watching the familiar plot again with better special effects and writing.
These guys aren't laughing stocks anymore, that's for sure.
The new cast are generally pretty good and likable. Rey, being a scavenger in a desert plaet, is essentially the new Luke, Finn is a mook with a conscience, and Poe Dameron is pretty much Han Solo 2 riding an X-Wing, without the snarks and smart-ass attitude yet. The villians are... less interesting. Kylo Ren acts more like an manchild with a lightsaber (Which by the way, his crossguards do have a justified function!), General Snoke's design looks generic, and Captain Phasma felt more like an ascended extra. Only General Hux felt intimidating around here, and Domhall Gleeson's scenery-eating accent is more than enough to intimidate the whole galaxy. The original cast are more or less the same after 30 years, with a few layers of cynical, of course.
The cameos are by far the most disappointing aspect in this film. Max Von Sydow only have a few minutes of screentime with only a pitiful lines, I can't seem to figure out which creature Simon Pegg costumed as, and the inclusion of The Raid cast are just around to establish Indonesian (I think?) as an alien language. Not even a bloody silat martial arts to show off! Think of the potential of having it as the new Sith moves, dude!
Darth Vader-sempai, please notice me!
The special effects are generally pleasant enough to look at, with the help of practical effects and without too much distracting CGI. Score-wise, John William's work here is sort of a mixed bag. Not to say that they're bad, all of them are pretty much music to your ears. It's just that none of them sound iconic enough for you to hum around after you walk out of the theatre, or be part of his 'greatest hits of all time'.
Rebel's don't surf!!!
All in all, there's not much to say other than the fact it's one of the better Star Wars movie out there. It being very familiar to the 1977 films might somewhat dampen your hype, but the return of the classic Star Wars excitement isn't enough to drain your enjoyment. It isn't the best blockbuster movie this year (That goes to Mad Max: Fury Road), but it's Star Wars, for God's sake. It's all about being a kid again and enjoy space dogfights and lightsaber battles. If you like Star Wars or you want to relive the pure state of what a blockbuster movie is back then, that's more than enough reason to sit back and enjoy the adventure.
Now if you'll excuse, I'll go for another round right now.
I missed you, guys.