I saw the latest installment of Star Wars on Friday. I had grown to loathe this movie by viewing time because of the inescapable hype. I then made a snarky comment on reddit that blew up enough to make the front page. I knew which character died within an hour.
This didn’t help since I’m highly critical of this franchise. The writing on the first 6 films sucks. While there are some funny moments, most of it makes on the smallest amount of sense necessary to keep the series afloat. The character development is nonexistent. Leia’s planet is blown up and we hear no more about it. Luke’s entire family is flambeed but when he goes into battle, he wishes Ben/Boo Radley was there instead of the people who raised him. Anakin and Padme have no chemistry. When she said “I love you,” I thought, “Are you sure?” Padme loses the will to live after seeing her babies born? That is the stupidest, most indefensible shit I’ve ever heard in my life and I’ve seen Trump at the Republican debates.
I went in prepared to hate this movie. I left with a new appreciation for the franchise. Contrary to what the previous paragraph would have you believe, I don’t hate the franchise. I respect what it has done for popular culture but I saw it as an adult when you can’t unsee plot holes and bad acting. The Force Awakens fixed most of the issues I had with Star Wars. It even passed the Bechdel Test!
The cast was diverse and talented. The story was interesting, made total sense, and ended in a way that had resolution and left room for the other 2 films we know are coming. The characters had motivations and desires that worked and they grew and changed as the story progressed. It was a good movie. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10.
Why didn’t I rate it higher? I want to give it a 7 but I have 2 major problems with this film and explaining those requires SPOILERS. You have been warned.
1) Cheap CGI
The new cantina scene was great. Maz (Lupita Nyong’o) was an excellent use of motion capture. However the junk dealer on Jakku? He looked ridiculous. I’ve seen enough episodes of Face Off to recognize the fat suit, foam, and paint that went into this character. It was very half-assed and again, took me out of the moment.
The worst offender was Kylo Ren’s mentor. If you can nail Star Wars FaceTime in the prequels, Space Gollum should look better in here. For a big bad, he looked like the forgettable villain in a fairy tale cartoon for little kids. I don’t care if he’s 20 feet tall (you should call tech support about that BTW). If the Sith leader can look creepy and menacing on video conference, so can Space Gollum.
2) Derp Vader
Someone kill the casting director. They nailed every character except Kylo Ren. Why did every other character work so well? Because they were either already established in the universe or the new kids were played by unknowns except Derp Vader. He’s played by Adam Driver, better known as Hannah Horvath’s boyfriend on Girls.
The second I saw him without the mask, I couldn’t take him seriously as a villain. Driver has gotten to much exposure as this weird idiot on an insanely popular show. FFS, one of the Obama kids interned on it! People associate him with this role. I couldn’t unsee it and it took me out of the moment. Even his rage tantrums felt like Derp Boyfriend instead of Unstable Bad Guy.
While I’m on the rant, why does he have such nice hair under a freaking helmet? It’s like he’s out of a damn shampoo ad. Can you at least pretend to make him look different than Derp Boyfriend? Give him a military cut? Anything? How about a vague attempt to make him look like his parents? Derp Vader is a walking joke about the milkman.
Did Driver do a good job? Yes. Had I never seen him before this, I’d think he was OK. A milkman joke but good. But I have seen him and it’s like watching Rob Schneider as the bad guy.
Those two issues are going to be mostly my issues. Unless you’ve seen Girls, Kylo Ren hasn’t been tainted for you. If you love, like, or merely tolerate Star Wars, go see this movie. It’s the best in the franchise. The nerds were truly blessed this holiday season.