It’s almost been a year since The Force Awakens was released in cinemas, I’ve seen it several times when it was released then rewatched it even more on blu-ray. Now, we’re two months away from the release of Rogue One A Star Wars Story and I think it’s the right time to take a look back at TFA and see how it hold out after several months.
On the internet, there’s definitely been a part of the fandom that has been very critical of the movie with some people even being very vocal of their hate and on the other side another part of the fandom that has been attacking anyone who made the slightest criticism of TFA. And there’s also obviously the part that just loves the movie and that’s all. Concerning the general audience, from what I saw of people I know, they mostly see TFA as a re-hash of A New Hope now and don’t really like it. So it’s definitely not all love for this movie now, the reactions are much more mixed than they first were when the movie was released.
I still love very much The Force Awakens and still watch it regularly, it was an amazing Star Wars movie but it doesn’t stop me from seeing it has flaws. The biggest problem was the visuals. TFA was the least creative Star Wars movie in terms of visuals. All the movies by Lucas have been visually creative, always being breathtaking and stunning, inventing new ships, new planets with very different environment – To quote Ryan Church Concept Design Supervisor on Revenge of The Sith: “George rules are that each planet are completely distinct from one another, distinct details, colors, architecture, places …” Unfortunately this wasn’t the case for TFA, for example Jakku was exactly like Tatooine, D’Qar was exactly like Yavin IV, it was like Tatooine 2 and Yavin IV 2, there was nothing creative in that. Even Hosnian Prime was a copy of Coruscant while Bloodline showed us it’s very different but what they showed us in TFA just wasn’t. In terms of ships, it was the same problems yes, the X-Wings and Tie Fighters have different colors and are slightly different but they’re still X-Wings and Tie Fighters, where’s the creativity in that? There’s none! And that’s too bad because when you take a look at The Art of TFA, you see that there were designs for some new ships but instead the team chose the easy path – nostalgia. For the X-Wings, I prefer the TFA ones, I just love the blue but they should have done lots of other ships rather than just these. The only new ships we got were Kylo’s shuttle, Leia’s resistance transport and the First Order transport. Those are nice designs, but it wasn’t enough in terms of visual creativity. When you look at the Rogue One trailers you immediately see the difference, RO is visually creative, it is everything that TFA should have been on this level.
TFA didn’t do all wrong in terms of visual creativity but it was certainly a HUGE let-down. I’d say the stormtroopers were good, you could see the inspiration from both the Imperial stormtroopers and the Republic clone troopers. Or the costumes from the characters, those were amazing costumes! That Leia blue outfit at the end was very reminiscent of Padmé’s outfit during the Prequels, it was beautiful! So there was definitely some nice work done there. The helmets of the Resistance pilots were really good too. Han Solo’s new jacket really fit with how the character was in this movie. Rey’s outfit was reminiscent of the Jedi outfits and at the same time made sense for a survival in the desert …
The other big problem in TFA was the aliens! We saw Ithorians that weren’t Ithorians, or Cosians that weren’t Cosians, they were just the same but not the same species because they were slightly different … We were introduced to a lot of new aliens which was good because each trilogy is supposed to bring new aliens but each trilogy is also supposed to feature aliens from the other trilogy like we saw with the Prequels. However, in TFA it wasn’t the case, we saw 0 aliens from the PT and OT in background, the Star Wars alien factor was missing there. The only aliens from the PT/OT we saw were the named ones from the OT returning in TFA but no background aliens. There was also the over-emphasis on humans, putting aliens on a back-back-background while aliens always had a role in Star Wars. That’s also a problem I hope that should been dealt with in Episode VIII.
Diversity, there was plenty of diversity in The Force Awakens but just as in the Prequels. The Prequels featured dozens and dozens of new alien species, female jedi, female bounty hunter, it was all about diversity, look at all the characters, background and main – the clones, Padmé, Mace Windu, Zam Wesell, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli … But what the Prequels did was Lucas wasn’t afraid to kill a character from the diversity just because it was representing a community, when there is a battle there are obviously people who die and it’s not just white people, it’s everyone. TFA was afraid to do so. During the battle of the Starkiller we were told that Poe’s squadron was massacred with less than the half surviving but the only character of his squadron we saw dead was Ello Asty, an alien. So that was not really believable. Movies need casts with diversity but it’s not because they have diverse cast that they can’t kill these characters.
So now, about the story and the characters … that’s exactly where TFA nailed it! They created and developed amazing new characters! They brought us Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8 and Kylo Ren. It was instant love with BB-8, that was a really cool new droid that brought a good dynamic with the other characters. Finn was a very interesting character – a First Order stormtrooper that realized what he was doing was wrong and ended up working with the Resistance, it was a great idea! With Poe, we got our new ace pilot after Anakin in the PT and Luke in the OT. Kylo Ren was an intense villain, I really liked his fight trying to stay in the dark while the light was calling him, he was very similar to Anakin and yet very different because Kylo just made his darkness, he killed his father, Anakin had lost his mother, he didn’t kill her, though both are manipulated by forces of evil – Snoke and Palpatine. In every SW Trilogy there is a trio, in this one it’s Rey, Finn and Poe and Rey is the lead of this trilogy. She was definitely the best of the new characters. She lived on her own on Jakku after her parents abandoned her, she had a tough life and it’s because of this that she became such a great hero and evolved at the end to embracing who she is – a Force user. Just like Padmé and Leia, Rey is a strong female character and follow their footsteps. TFA also continued the story of already known character like Chewbacca, Han Solo and Leia. This version of Han was my favorite, he was still the badass cocky smuggler but because he was older, he was also a wiser person which was a great side of his character to see. We had a Han who believed in the Force now.
The plot was really good, it was intense, paced with great action sequences and time to develop the characters. The big storyline was where’s Luke? And it’s only at the end that we find him. That final scene was of pure beauty, certainly among some of the best scenes of the saga, the way it was filmed, the music, Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley’s performances, everything was perfect! The opening scene was also excellent, it was the best way to get us into TFA and Kylo’s entrance was a memorable one, that was the right entrance for a villain! It kept me on the edge of my seat, it impressed me. One thing it could have done better was made the Republic-Resistance-First Order situation clear, the political landscape was blurry in the movie while there was a scene that was cut between Leia and Korr Sella that would have explained the situation. If you didn’t read the books, you don’t understand what’s going on with these 3 factions and when you watch you shouldn’t have to read books after to understand the movie, you should understand it by watching it simply.
So in the end, there’s no doubt that The Force Awakens is far from being perfect, it is heavily flawed but it remains an amazing Star Wars movie.