‘The Force Awakens': What the Critics Are Saying About ‘Star Wars’
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the general public on Friday, December 18. To say expectations are high would be an understatement; seeing The Force Awakens was literally one dying man's wish (and one that was granted). Few American entertainment franchises stir this amount of nostalgia, reverence and conventions, but while Star Wars fans are passionate, they're not blind. Many will admit that the most recent three films didn't remotely match the majesty of The Empire Strikes Back. But that's all behind us now (literally; they were prequels) and Force boasts an exciting cast that includes Oscar Isaac as well as Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprising their roles as Han Solo, Leia and Luke. Like most people, you'll probably see it — but do the critics suggest joining the line on opening weekend?
The Hollywood Reporter says yes, raving that the film "pumps new energy and life into a hallowed franchise in a way that both resurrects old pleasures and points in promising new directions." THR does caution that you'll have to be on board with the action-film tone shift that comes with J.J. Abrams' direction. The review also makes some unfortunately unimaginative direct comparisons of Daisy Ridley's character Rey to the female leads in The Hunger Games and Mad Max: Fury Road (lady holds weapon, isn't smiling all the time!), but they're meant to be flattering and highlight Rey's strength in combat.
The New York Times would suggest that you to buy a ticket, saying Abrams successfully "returned to basics," shedding the clutter that bogged down the prequels. Manohla Dargis also praises the diversity in casting newbies Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, saying "part of what makes them contemporary isn’t just their skin colors but also the slippery playfulness of their roles." Ultimately, "Mr. Abrams doesn’t pile on the mayhem, and, for the most part, the pace remains fast without being overly frantic."
Our friends at ScreenCrush gave a measured but largely positive review, saying "Abrams hooks you early with a string of great action sequences, some surprisingly big laughs, and a great feel for the characters, both old and new," even while it "contains too many homages (if not outright thefts) from the first Star Wars to count."
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+, though the writer declared himself a Star Wars fan since childhood with somewhat difficult-to-manage expectations. The plot's similarity to A New Hope is a point of contention, but ultimately, "Like Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, The Force Awakens is funnier and has a lighter touch than the previous Star Wars films. Its aerial dogfights are dizzying and thrilling and its CGI doesn’t feel as cheap and chintzy as it did in Lucas’ prequels, which this film tops in every way."
Overall, it's safe to assume that if you love action movies and your Star Wars fandom doesn't come with a need to see George Lucas' vision revived in the Force Awakens, the new film comes highly recommended.
The Stars Come Out For 'The Force Awakens' Premiere