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Review Aloo - The Force Awakens [Dish #60]

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    Review Aloo - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Hello readers, and welcome to the first movie review in my Aloo series. Today we'll be looking at the "recent" cinematic sensation and third highest grossing film of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

    The first instalment in the franchises sequel trilogy, set thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, follows a group of central characters - Rey (a scavenger from Jakku), Fin (a former Stormtrooper), Po Dameron (a Resistance pilot) and returning characters Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia Organa - as they fight against the antagonists of the sequel trilogy, the First Order.

    For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, I'm going to refrain from mentioning any real plot specifics, but here's a nice trailer for you to enjoy.


    Now onto the review. I'll be breaking the review down into three sections Plot, Characters and Performance. I originally intended to write about the music and cinematography also, but John Williams is always good and I don't know enough about the latter. Alright, here we go.

    Plot
    The plot of the movie is... different. Weirdly though, what makes it different is that it is in many ways a nod to the original movie. If you take out all the details, it boils down to "A lost droid containing important information has ended up in the hands of a stranger on a desert planet. The hunt for this droid drags the stranger into a conflict with an evil group in possession of an enormous weapon of mass destruction." If that sounds familiar, it's probably because that's exactly what happens in A New Hope.

    There are somewhat subtle differences, such as the search for an AWOL Luke Skywalker actually being the focus of this movie. The weapon at Starkiller Base is less of the central point of the movie like the Deathstar was, and more just a reason that the bad guys are really, really bad. In general though, the plot for this movie is very similar to the original. The weird thing though, is that whilst this would normally make me hate a movie on principal, because of how long it has been, it worked for The Force Awakens. Rather than feeling like I was re-watching A New Hope, I felt nostalgic like I was watching it for the first time all over again with the subtle differences keeping it just fresh enough to let this happen.

    What this boils down to though, is a lot of bonus points for nostalgia. Watching this movie as a standalone for the first time is a great experience, but I think marathoning all seven movies (starting at Episode One, please people start with the prequels) would cause the plot of Episode Seven to lose some of its potency. The movie was very enjoyable and the plot was far from bad, but because it follows the formula of the original trilogy so closely I find myself unable to give it a particularly high score. For me it gets a 6/10 here since I feel it did set up the following two movies to diverge from the formula further.

    Characters
    Again, there were noticeable similarities between characters in this movie and the heroes of the original. Rey is very much the strong, independent woman that Leia was supposed to be and Fin is very much a reluctant hero like Han Solo was. However, the characters are also a lot less cookie-cutter than the plot. Rather than literally handing us another Luke, Leia and Han, the writers have played mix and match with the traits of the original characters to create a group that embody aspects of all of them in our main heroes.

    The returning characters were also a success. The writers were very aware that thirty years have passed, so rather than having it be as though Deathstar 2.0 blew up just yesterday, we can see that the characters really have grown. Han and Leia have been through many trials and tribulations and when we are reintroduced to them, we no longer see the cocky and reluctant hero or the brave and forceful warrior princess. We return to see a broken relationship and broken people. We see people who are bound to their fight by a sense of duty that's killing them. Even through his absence, we can see that Luke is a changed man.

    The villains however, are a tad more cookie-cutter than the protagonists. Kylo Ren is very reminiscent of both the younger Anakin Skywalker and his older, Darth Vader alter ego. He's a young man facing an internal struggle between his quest for power and his knowledge that deep down he's doing the wrong thing. Snoke, is very much the mysterious and shadowy figure in the background the same as Emperor Palpatine was in the original movies, however he lacks the subtlety we learned of the Emperor in the prequel trilogy. He's less Hitler and more Napoleon, although the Nazi themes have not been lost. One thing I will say though, is that for a sci-fi movie there was a far too great human to alien ratio. Despite the small flaws, overall I was happy with the characters and feel comfortable in giving them a solid 8/10.

    Performance
    One more thing that the sequel trilogy has stayed true to, is that they've employed some fairly unknown/little-known actors for a lot of the major roles. They also have Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill reprising their original roles. These were absolutely the correct choices. Great characterisation in the writing is one thing, but the actors portrayed their characters and delivered their lines as close to perfectly as I believe is humanly possible. They didn't just play the part, they very much embodied their characters. We believed Daisy Ridley was desperately waiting for her parents, that Han and Leia were broken old war generals still stuck fighting, that John Boyega was a man who'd been forced to fight with the wrong side and had finally summoned the courage to not just run but fight back. I couldn't not have asked for a stronger delivery of the emotion, nor the comedy (which was fantastically written by the way).

    Perhaps the most surprisingly good aspect of the performance though, came from some of the Stormtroopers. It was the small details that made the humour in this movie and a lot of that came from the men clad in white, who often perfectly executed their limited lines or displayed fantastic use of body language. The scene below is a pretty good example.


    So yes, I couldn't be happier with the performance from the actors. This is one of the rare occasions where I think an aspect of a movie completely earns a 10/10.

    Conclusion
    Whilst the plot of this movie was far from special, it wasn't bad either and upon a first viewing does an amazing job of triggering nostalgia for those of us who have seen the original movies. On top of that, it holds up fairly well for people who don't know the originals. For veteran viewers though, the plot will lose something if watched in sequence with the other movies or in subsequent viewings of The Force Awakens itself.

    On the protagonist side, the characters were very good. We weren't treated to a complete rehash of Luke, Leia and Han from the originals and instead saw characters who bared certain similarities to each of them, but who stood out perfectly fine on their own. In addition to this, the returning characters showed growth that you'd expect after thirty years and continued warring and political struggles. The characters were somewhat weaker on the villains side, but still enjoyable.

    The actors' performances as those characters though, was spot on. From the main cast, to minor characters and right down to extras playing Stormtroopers the delivery of the script and body language/expressions employed were top-notch. It is rare that I find the acting in a movie to all-round be extremely strong.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens is definitely a nod to the original trilogy in many ways, but it carries its weight as a new film despite this and makes for extremely enjoyable viewing. It's earned a total score of 24/30 from me. I highly recommend it to all fans of Star Wars, or sci-fi in general.


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  • 10,078
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    15
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    • UK
    • Seen Oct 17, 2023
    You didn't mention the best character (and an alien for the ratio) Maz Kanata! So much mystery around her character and exactly who she is, she was the best thing about the movie for me tbh haha.

    The weird thing about the nostalgia element is I got hit by it hard, despite only seening the original trilogy films once and not being any kind of avid fans. I mean the old trilogy were alright, but I'm not crazy about them.

    THIS however I was sitting there and just like shivering with the waves of nostalgia and it was great. Very well done.
     
  • 25,614
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    Mana;bt104883 said:
    You didn't mention the best character (and an alien for the ratio) Maz Kanata! So much mystery around her character and exactly who she is, she was the best thing about the movie for me tbh haha.

    The weird thing about the nostalgia element is I got hit by it hard, despite only seening the original trilogy films once and not being any kind of avid fans. I mean the old trilogy were alright, but I'm not crazy about them.

    THIS however I was sitting there and just like shivering with the waves of nostalgia and it was great. Very well done.

    Maz was great, I really liked her and her VA was superb. Still she was really just a minor character so she didn't get mentioned by name, however she's still counted when I said "minor characters" at one point. I'm hoping to see more of her.
     
  • 5,983
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    I actually didn't like Maz that much. I didn't find the VA compelling at all. Also, that she was CGI was super noticeable and that threw me off.
     

    Fannie

    Don't let my milk go lumpy
  • 552
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    8
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    • Age 32
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    • Seen Dec 31, 2016
    I thought the performances were the best thing about the film. Particularly the newcomers. Most of them were more compelling than than Ford and Fisher to me.
     
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