The Nerd-Base crew had been eagerly awaiting the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now that a bunch of us have rushed to the theaters, we thought we’d provide everyone with our personal impressions. These impressions will not contain any spoilers but will provide a quick tidbit of information, especially for those silly people that have yet to see the movie.
David Chosid – Like many, I grew up during the original release of the Star Wars trilogy. This universe is engraved in my core being. I might be one of the most critical of the team against the abomination prequels to the point where I prefer not to acknowledge their existence in the cannon in anyway. Therefore, I tried to keep my expectations low for Episode 7. When the trailers were released, I was a bit hopeful, but still wary. I was especially concerned about bb-8 (fan-named “ball droid”). As more info came out, bb-8 began to grow on me and even reminded me of the general reluctance for people to accept an odd little blue trashcan droid way back at the start, which has become a beloved icon. Now, having seen Episode 7, I am on-board, not just with a single lovable new droid, but the direction that the francaise is seeming to take. The Force Awakens rekindles the atmosphere of the original movies, capturing adventure, a little comedy (but not overdoing it), an intriguing story, and wonderful new characters. I love love love that the director relies heavily on (gasp) actual actors and models and minimizes the CGI effects. The lightsaber battles feel real, emotional, and gritty and not overly-choreographed. In summary, I enjoyed this greatly. Personally, I don’t feel that the story has the rawness of the original three but it does pave a way for a new and interesting Star Wars for our current day and age. I plan to enjoy the ride.
Christopher Lee – I think it might be safe to say that of all of us here at Nerd-Base, I might be the biggest Star Wars fan. As such, I’m also going to be the most critical, yet also the most forgiving.
I loved TFA. We’ll get that out of the gate. However, instead of gushing over what I loved about it since really, it’d be too difficult to do without spoilers, I’m going to be a bit more critical.
Point one, the soundtrack; When I saw the first commercial with the Falcon flying and the music swelling into a new version of “Han Solo and the Princess”, I got goosebumps and immediately wanted to own that version of the song. After seeing the movie, I was disappointed not only by the lack of inclusion of that particular track, but by the soundtrack taking such a backseat all together. To me, the music is as important to Star Wars as anything else. But I’m guessing JJ didn’t feel the same.
Point two; The movie felt too much like it should have been the second part of a trilogy, not the first. I think JJ was stoked to get the opportunity to do Star Wars, being a huge fan, however, it felt like he really wanted to be the guy who made the new Empire. There just needed to be a lot more exposition. This is a different universe then the one we left. It’s been 30 years. An analogy would almost appropriately be, if someone were to go into a coma the day after Victory Day (the end of WWII) thinking that the worst was over and the world was now heading into a golden era, and then awoke in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam conflict, and were asked to follow the news reports and social changes without any explanation about how it all came about, they would be pretty confused. I mean, I thought we’d be seeing a new golden age, the return of the Republic and THE RETURN OF THE JEDI!!! Alas…saying anymore would be too spoiler-y.
All in all, I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy it, but the truth is this is just the first reaction. It’s going to be one of those movies that I will love more in time. After talking with friends about it, after seeing it a few more times, catching more tidbits and nuances, I’m sure I will grow to really love it. But this is what we’re doing here, just initial reactions, and there’s mine.
Rishard Chapoteau – Back when I was a kid, Star Wars was the epitome of science fiction, and what could be done with special effects in a movie. Now being close to 40, other movies have done some pretty amazing things. Looking back at the original Star Wars it’s still a good movie, but how do you show that to a child today and expect them to have that same wonderment that you felt all those years ago. They have The Matrix which is 16 years old, and Avatar which is only 6 years ago, and many other movies that have a more modern feel that might resonate more with kids today.
In a way The Force Awakens took what made the original Star Wars film great, and gave it a more modern feel with modern story telling so that kids today can get the same feeling we did back when we were younger. While this is a sequel, it feels more like a remake/reboot that our kids today can live with and enjoy until they’re pushing 40 themselves.
Sarah Miskoff – lol yeah I was just super excited to see more women in the move Also Rey is amazing and I love her and i’m going to marry her (copypasta’d from a FB message she sent me about her thoughts -CLM)
Amanda Devine – I’ll admit, I’m a Star Wars newbie. I only *gasp* saw Star Wars for the very first time this year. However, I went full force (pun intended) into the fandom. I’ve seen all of Clone Wars, caught up on Rebels, read a good chunk of the newer comics, and even watched that awful Christmas special from decades ago (with Rifftrax, of course).
That being said, I’ve been so emotionally invested in Star Wars, especially lately, that on the drive over to see The Force Awakens, I was a combination of nervous and anxious. As soon as the famous John Williams score blared through the speakers and the opening scroll started, I had tears in my eyes.
The Force Awakens was everything I could have hoped for and more. I was so glad it lived up to the hype, and being that this was my first real movie theater Star Wars experience, I was not at all let down. It was the perfect combination of fun, humor, and heart, and already feeling like a classic. I’m counting down the days until Episode VIII!
Brian Stewart – I have to confess that I find appeals to my nostalgia and this “feel like a kid again” marketing to be irksome. Yet I can’t reject the idea wholesale because for every botched reanimated corpse of a property that should’ve remained in the rose tinted mausoleum of my youth, there’s an Ash vs. Evil Dead or Mad Max: Fury Road that becomes essential.
When I sat down to a not-quite-sold-out 9pm viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens this past Saturday, I was more curious than rabid. I sat back, arms folded, waiting for it to impress me. It didn’t take long. The waves of nostalgia walloped me from the get-go as that old familiar info dump crawl, that should seem so hokey in 2015, slowly vanished into that field of stars. Stormtroopers, phaser battles, somber music stings… the first twenty minutes or so is dizzying stuff. It feels both familiar and new at the same time. There’s a freshness to the way JJ Abrams and Co. quickly establish a trio of unknown faces by cutting between their stories doling out details in a deliberate, confident manner. Rey gets an introduction straight out of Naussica of the Valley of the Wind, scavenging for remnants of a dead world on a dead world. We get a sense of her measured patience as she waits for the adventure to find her. There’s a lot of show don’t tell in these early goings. I honestly felt more invested in Finn because of the wordless manner by which the film makes us feel his predicament than I felt for any character in the misbegotten prequels. The unflappable Poe Dameron and cuddly BB-8 (enthusiastic lighter thumb way up for the little MVD) instantly install themselves into the toy collection in my head as well. Then of course there’s Kylo Ren who gets a breathtaking entrance into Star Wars legend that finally returns real menace to the main Star Wars films.
If only The Force Awakens belonged to these guys.
It doesn’t. The film sidelines these intriguing new characters to pay homage to the past. This is more of a passing of the torch film and as such tends to feel like a greatest hits collection for reasons I want to get into but will save for future spoilerrific discussions.
Not to suggest it isn’t totally awesome to see Han Solo and Chewie back again, and in the Millennium Falcon no less! The moment I saw them, something that any commercial for the film has already revealed, it was like reconnecting with an old classmate. They were exactly as I remembered them (though a bit dustier)and we didn’t miss a beat with each other. Oh my friends, how I missed your adorable cantankerous bickering! This isn’t like the contrived retconning of the prequels, it makes sense for these character to still be hanging around at the margins of this story, considering it takes place only 30 years after the end of Jedi.
It’s been said elsewhere but the look and feel of Star Wars is reverently recreated and appropriately updated. JJ does things with a camera, and stages action scenes with an emphasis on practical effects that do Star Wars proud and are among the best in the entire series. The first flight of the old Millennium Falcon is one for the ages. Star Wars once again teems with alien life, emphasis on the life. The creature effects are stunning and full of imagination. These are fun designs. In fact, fun is something that The Force Awakens has in abundance. Its a cheesy and breezy sort of fun. The movie even takes you aside at points and reassures you that it’s okay. It’s okay to forget about trade tariffs and midocholrians and just indulge in some samurai space western shoot-em’ upper, hack n’ slashery.
More than anything else, I want you to understand that this is a real freakin’ movie. It’s cinematic. It’s emotional. It’s charming and lived in. It’s not perfect by any means but it is Star Wars.