Sunday, 20 December 2015

REVIEW - STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (J. J. ABRAMS)


All that history, and for what? Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film shaped by the past, yet wholly for the future. Objectively, it simmers with exuberance for the potential revenues to come, both financial and artistic, yet lacks the clarity and originality of vision that has built the franchise upon which these new foundations have been so carefully placed. The Force Awakens technically owes as little to its forebears as any other film, and the feeling that the filmmakers are here using history only to expand upon it is abundant throughout - nods to mythology are unburdened by the portentousness that crippled the older movies, but that also characterised them. As promising as it is to see J. J. Abrams steer Star Wars into new narrative territory, these winking little hints to the past aren't cute, they're just silly, and the lightness he brings to this film is, stylistically, far less satisfying than George Lucas' cumbersome grandiosity - less sincere and considerably more calculated. And yet, for all that The Force Awakens may resemble too many other modern blockbusters (often more than it resembles any other Star Wars movie), the basic technique is hard to fault. It's generically enjoyable, looks and feels as expensive as it no doubt is, and hits all the requisite beats to work, as the piece of premium grade entertainment it needs to be. This is 2015, so surely we couldn't expect anything less, but there's nothing especially wrong with The Force Awakens, even if there's nothing especially right about it either. No dud performances, no shaky effects, no needlessly annoying characters. Disney aspires to move forward with speed and surety with this franchise; looking forward, this is the least we could expect.