My original intention for the first post of 2016, marking the rebranding of my blog from Tabula Rasa to Four Mile Circus, was to write a critique of director JJ Abrams’ questionable understanding of outer space. Abrams has the distinction of directing movies in two of the largest space-based film franchises ever conceived (Star Trek and Star Wars), and has done so with very little understanding or respect for it as a setting. But apparently since the science in Star Wars has always been atrocious (and it has been) Abrams’ scientific failures are off limits when discussing the film. That is some of the feedback floating around on Twitter anyway. It is still my intention to write about the topic, but I will probably wait a month or two until The Force Awakens has become less of a sacred cow.
Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a solid Star Wars movie. It may be the most inherently Star Warsish Star Wars movie since the original, as The Empire Strikes Back aspired to be greater than the first and all of the other sequels and prequels aspired to be less. The new characters, scavenger Rey, ex-Storm Trooper Finn and pilot Poe Dameron, are paper thin and questionably motivated but great fun, as are the returning characters of Han, Leia, Chewbacca and the droids. The plot has been wholly recycled, down to the droid carrying important data, a planet destroying superweapon and a visit to an alien filled tavern (although I always felt that it was somewhat unfair to declare that no movie could ever feature a bar filled with aliens without being accused of ripping off Star Wars). The villains of the piece, genocidal maniacs based on their actions, never generate much in the way of fear or intimidation. Darth Emo is in no way as complex or compelling as people think he is. Tantrums do not equal conflict. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a fun and fast paced film, but it really doesn’t add up to much more than that. B+