DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

STAR WARS: EPISODE V11-THE FORCE AWAKENS (director/writer: J.J. Abrams; screenwriters: Lawrence Kasdan/Michael Arndt; cinematographer: Dan Mindel; editors: Mary Jo Markey/ Maryann Brandon; music:  John Williams; cast: Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka), Greg Gunberg (Snap Wexley), voice consultants: Dave Chapman/Ben Schwartz/Brian Herring/Bill Hader (BB-8); Runtime: 136; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk; Walt Disney Pictures; 2015)

"It's loaded with nostalgia."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Star Wars franchise and its pop culture mythology goes on but this time under the Disney label. George Lucas sold in 2012 the property rights to his Star Wars creation to Disney for a couple of billion dollars. The seventh entry is directed by fanboy J.J. Abrams ("Super 8"/"Star Trek Into Darkness"/"Star Trek"), who reboots the series and some think (not me) he has brought the Empire back from the dead after several supposedly tiresome prequels in the 2000s to the original trio shot by Lucas in the '70s and '80s. Some even erroneously think this pic matches in appeal Lucas's original in 1977, even if it offers nothing inventive.

J.J.Abrams co-writes it with “Star Wars” veteran Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. It's loaded with nostalgia and has made every effort to keep it as the same old, same old, afraid to try anything new. The result is a familiar Star Wars episode. I couldn't feel the Force, though I admit I was never a fan of the franchise and thought it was at best only a B film narrative. It was cleverly supported with a populist juvenile concept of 'good vs. evil,' snazzy toy gizmos, a goofy playfulness and some visually striking sets enabled by a big budget. As usual the acting was wooden, especially from the new stars Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega, who are prepped to take the place of the trio from over thirty years ago Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. The old-timers are again in another episode, and have the tiresome look of those getting another fat paycheck for just showing up.


The movie can't be fully reviewed without revealing a minefield of spoilers derived from the plot. It's not a difficult plot to follow, so I'll back off from telling much about the plot and just give a thumbnail sketch of the situation and the main characters involved. The evil First Order runs the world, and a Resistance army led by the princess turned general, Leia (Carrie Fisher), is in hiding. The Rebel group has not been effective in making a dent in the armor
of
the Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). The last Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil), has vanished. The Resistance fighter pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) has a map of where Luke might be but is hunted down by the First Order stormtroopers and he hides the map with his droid BB-8. When Poe is captured, one of the stormtroopers, a sensitive lad, renamed Finn (John Boyega, Black Brit actor) by Poe, goes AWOL from the First Order and helps Poe escape from the space station destroyer where he's being tortured by the Darth Vader-like masked Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). When the air craft they stole explodes after shot down, Finn hikes in the desert planet of Jakku and meets the feisty scavenger, Rey (Daisy Ridley, Brit Actress), who was abandoned by her parents on Jakku, and is there now with Poe's droid. They join forces with the smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his companion co-pilot Chewbacca (voiced by Peter Mayhew) to help get the map to the Resistance headquarters and then help them attack the First Order before they could be attacked by them.

The action scenes include lightsaber duels to X-wing dogfights with TIE Fighters. The romance includes Finn falling in love with Rey.

REVIEWED ON 12/18/2015       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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