Friday, December 18, 2015

The Matt Signal (Brief and Non-Spoilery) Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I've been sitting and milling over exactly what I wanted to say about Star Wars: The Force Awakens for a while now. I went into this movie having read and seen as little as possible about it. I went in with high hopes but a nervousness that I haven't felt for a movie in a long time.

And it was good. It was very good. I enjoyed it a lot.

This is going to be a very short reviews, mostly bullet points, because I don't want to give anything away, but here are the things that jumped out at me.

-There was a good deal of intentional twinning with the events of A New Hope. Certain character beats and settings intentionally evoke strong ties to the film that started it all, but at the same time aren't so close as to be rip-offs.

-The performances ranged from OK to excellent. There was no performance that I was pained to watch. The two leads, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, were wonderful. They had great chemistry and delivered everything they were given perfectly. I loved Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron (more on him in a minute). I was hoping for a little more nuance from the villains, but at the same time this is Star Wars, and nuanced villains have never been part of the film franchise, so I'll take what I can get. It was great to see the old guard back too, but saying too much about their performances could make me slip up and spoil something, so I'll leave it at that.

-My favorite character was the aforementioned Poe Dameron, The EU gave me a taste for quick-witted pilots (Thank you Michael J. Stackpole and Aaron Allston's X-Wing series), and this guy was a Rogue or a Wraith in screen. He was tough, a great pilot, and funny! That's a character that was made for me.

-Since I haven't read any behind-the-scenes stuff yet (that's a goal for this evening), I don't know how many of the effects and sets were practical vs. CG, but everything felt much more practical than the prequels and many big-budget sci-fi movies. The world felt lived in and real, not as spic and span as CG usually looked. I also thought the two truly CG characters, Supreme Leader Snoke and Maz Kanata, were both far more realistic than any other CG character this side of Gollum. Luita Nyong'o as Maz was a great turn,

-I love Chewbacca. Man, if the new continuity does nothing else, it gave us potential for more tales of Han and Chewie being scoundrels, and that just makes me happy.

-It was funny, and the humor was drawn from character, not slapstick or poodoo jokes! There were some really funny moments, especially Poe's first meeting with Kylo Ren, and the revelation of exactly what's Finn's job was working at a First Order facility (I had to backspace over "Imperial" there twice).

I could ramble on a lot more, but I want to just leave that there, let it all sink in some more, and maybe write something longer and fuller after my second or third viewing. And there will be second and third viewings. May the Force be with you all!

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