Tag: Review

Star Wars Episode 7 Honest Review SPOILER ALERT

Does Episode 7 live up to the hype? Here’s an honest, unbiased review from a casual Star Wars fan.

Background: My friend Seth asked me to be a part of a new podcast he’s creating called Hi Five (the Star Wars episode is now available on that link). I was glad to be invited and after some talks, we agreed to make a first episode about the top five moments in all of the Star Wars movies. Since we were to include Episode 7, I decided to go see it in theaters. It was the first movie I saw in theaters in 2015. I typically don’t get caught up in the hype of the latest big movie and can wait for it to be available on Netflix or Redbox. The last movie I paid to see in theaters was Days of Future Past back in May 2014. I watched episodes 4, 5 and 6 as a kid for the first time when the movies were re-released to theaters in the 90s. I loved the PC game Jedi Knight as a kid and had some of the action figures.

 

My expectations were for this new movie to be pretty good. I expected that it would be probably be better quality than Episode 1-3.

 

ONE MORE WARNING. SPOILERS AHEAD.

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After just having seen the movie, I’d say it was OK. It had some good things about it, but there were some other things that took me out of the moment.

 

The good: It was awesome to see the opening credits and realize that I was seeing Episode 7. I remember watching the original trilogy in the 90s and wondering if there would ever be a chapter after those ones. I’d say that the best parts of Episode 7 were basically tributes to the old movies: Han, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, Leia and of course Luke (who has roughly 10 seconds of screen time and says nothing). The story moved pretty well and the performances by Fin and the main female lead were fine. There were middle aged guys in the seats next to me just loving the movie and laughing hysterically at all of the jokes. The crowd had applause breaks when some of the familiar characters were first shown on screen. I can imagine that this movie was a dream come true to most kids who grew up watching Star Wars in the past. I can also imagine that modern day kids absolutely loved the movie. The music is good and John Williams is a living legend. I saw the movie with my buddy Neil and some of his family at Alamo Drafthouse. Never been there before but I liked the spot and made sure to take advantage of the ability to order a burger from my seat.

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The not so good: I feel like the whole thing was a ripoff of A New Hope in a lot of ways. You have this evil empire and you have these rebels. There’s a guy dressed in all black who wears a black helmet and has a weird voice box effect when he talks. The guy in the black helmet is hunting certain people down and looking for certain information. He takes orders from a super evil dude who sits on a throne. There’s a bunch of stormtroopers and a big ship that destroys planets. Then, there’s this small town orphan from a desert who finds himself (or herself) on the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo and Chewbacca. They eventually join forces with the rebellion to blow up a huge ship, but not before one of the old characters gets dramatically killed by the bad guy in the black helmet with a lightsaber. That plot works to describe both Episode 4 and 7.

 

Here are some other thoughts that might be controversial. I’ve seen how fiercely people have defended this movie in other reviews online. I mean no offense to the people that absolutely love the Star Wars franchise. I’m simply opening up discussion for honest thoughts. Perhaps I’m wrong with some of my assessments. I leave it up to you to continue the discussion rationally. In no way am I trying to attack Star Wars or open myself up to hateful responses. That’s not what I’m about.

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1) Wait..What?

You have this one bad guy (I don’t even remember his name, so I’ll call him Ben Solo) who has very strong powers with the Force and has even been trained by Luke Skywalker at some point. Yet, he goes toe-to-toe with Fin, a former soldier who’s literally used a lightsaber for like 2 minutes, and they have an even fight. Unless Fin winds up being some Force prodigy like Luke’s daughter, I’d say that was a stretch. When Fin picked up the lightsaber, people in the theater were actually laughing. The initial reaction from the audience was that the battle was going to be a joke.

2) Acting

Everyone just feels like they know they’re in an action movie. Leia knows that the love of her life was just killed. She appears sad for like 10 seconds on camera. Then, droids come with some good news, and she perks back up and is ready to keep fighting. I know it’s probably silly to point out what’s realistic and what’s not in a sci-fi fantasy, but the acting in the battles felt aloof. People are dying left and right and no one seems to feel like their lives are in any danger. Maybe I’ve just been watching Saving Private Ryan too much.

3) Villains

It’s hard to take Ben Solo seriously as the bad guy, but maybe that’s the point..? Regardless, the comedic part with the stormtroopers turning around when they hear Ben Solo having a temper tantrum kind of weakens the ability for me to take some of the villains seriously. That would be like seeing Darth Vader slipping on a banana peel or hearing Emperor Palpatine fart or something.

4) Teasers

The whole movie seems to just dance around any significant events happening. Ben Solo has that pilot (Poe?) in captivity, but tortures him JUST a little bit and lets him escape by leaving him unattended. Then he has Luke’s daughter (I presume) in captivity, tortures her a little, realizes she has some strong potential with the Force, then leaves her attended by one, yes ONE stormtrooper. That’s kind of like one of the jokes that the Austin Powers movies make about James Bond movies. After the two lightsaber battles at the end, people are wounded JUST a little, but luckily for episodes 8, 9, 10, 11, and 29, no new significant characters die yet. 

5) Dragonball Z Super Saiyan 4

The movie seems to try to elevate the seriousness of the plot by cheaply ramping everything up. Remember when Luke took like 2 movies and a lot of training to use a lightsaber decently in the original trilogy? Well, this time, people can use them well without any prior training at all. Remember when the Death Star blew up a planet with one shot? Well, this time, the bad guys can blow up four planets at the same time. Remember how big the Death Star was? Well, this new evil ship is going to be like ten times as big as the original Death Star. It doesn’t seem to make the story more interesting or important. And when you realize that a Death Star or other type of mother ship for the bad guys has been blown up three times by rebels in episodes 4, 6 and 7, you would think the plan would’ve changed by now. Instead, the story seems a little repetitive and needs to ramp up things (like the size of the ships) to make it seem like the stakes are higher this time.

6) Characters

Let’s talk about the characters. Obviously, the old Star Wars characters are great. The guy who plays Fin does a good job at being kind of a clumsy comedic hero– I guess he’s an upgrade from Jar Jar Binks. Luke’s daughter(?) is fine. But, the bad guys just seem like one-dimensional evil guys besides Ben Solo. Maybe I’ve been watching Game of Thrones for too long, but I like my villains to have some sort of depth. In Game of Thrones, for example, you can see some sort of bright spots even in the most sadistic characters. You can often see their reasoning for their actions whether it be family name, love etc. From what I can gather, these new evil characters (besides Ben Solo) are just typical evil bad guys in a quest for domination, etc. It’s just not as interesting to me.

7) Big Picture Storyline

I fear that the movie kind of undermines the end of the original Star Wars Trilogy. Luke Skywalker was supposed to be the one to restore balance to the Force and end the war with the dark side and all of that. Here, we see that everything Luke accomplished made no difference, because the same events of Episode 4 happen again in a nutshell. If that’s the case, then maybe it suggests that nothing significant is ever going to happen in any of the future movies- it’s just going to be an endless war between rebels and empires. I found myself kind of hoping that Ben Solo would kill his dad so that something huge would actually happen in the movie. Because other than that and the Skywalker reunion, the whole thing is just a setup for countless movies to come.

Final Remarks:

An article on Cracked.com once taught me that Terminator 2 has an alternate ending in which the future war with the robots never happened. It was a true ending to a classic movie and showed that the heroes managed to change the future. I suspect that the peaceful ending was scrapped in order to leave the option for T3 and whatever else comes after it. It makes perfect sense in a business mindset, but it weakens the story. It just set up the sequels which never live up to the classic T1 and T2, and the franchise just continues to live on and be watered down. I fear that that has already happened for Star Wars. It should have probably ended at Episode 6, but that wouldn’t make sense for business purposes. So now, we can look forward to countless Star Wars movies for the rest of our lives. None of us will live to see the last Star Wars movie. I’m sure some of them will be amazing– you would think that Disney has enough chances to strike movie gold over the next hundred years. But in the big picture and for the sake of the story, it just feels like “what’s the point?”

 

I stopped listening to the radio a couple of years ago. I’m a musician, but I stopped listening to the radio because I was tired of hearing the same 20 pop songs circulated every hour. Most of the time, I only liked maybe 5 of the TOP 40 in a given period. Over time, I heard enough to realize that it’s a lot of the same stuff being repackaged over and over again. I also realized that if a song was big enough or significant in any way, it would find me one way or another. Either I would hear it at a party and take note of it or someone would be talking about it. But most of the songs just didn’t seem to matter and did not stand the test of time. As Star Wars is now owned by Disney and plans to release new record-breaking ticket selling movies until the end of time, I’m starting to think that I’m just better off waiting for the reviews. There have been 7 Star Wars movies so far, and 2 or 3 of them are legendary… the others are mixed bags to say the least.

 

Perhaps I’m being too logical. I realize that Star Wars has an incredible amount of passionate fans. There have been times where I’ve seen an X-Men movie in theaters and absolutely loved it, mostly because I just love X-Men. Over time, I heard bad reviews and read negative things and started to look out for flaws in the movie that were pointed out by other people. Now, I can’t take some of those movies seriously when I watch them. I’m not trying to ruin a movie for any of you. If Star Wars makes you happy, then I hope you all loved the movie. For me, it was just OK and I don’t plan on seeing Episode 8, 9, etc. in theaters (and nobody cares). The new era of Star Wars will make billions of dollars for years to come.