Thursday Night Movie Club
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
star rating graphicstar rating graphic  ⁄  star rating graphicstar rating graphicstar rating graphic½
Release Date: 18 December 2015

Director: J.J. Abrams
Harrison Ford
Mark Hamill
Carrie Fisher
Adam Driver
Daisy Ridley
John Boyega
Oscar Isaac
Lupita Nyong'o
Andy Serkis
Domhnall Gleeson
Anthony Daniels
Max von Sydow
Peter Mayhew
Gwendoline Christie
Simon Pegg
Warwick Davis
Han Solo
Luke Skywalker
Princess Leia
Kylo Ren
Poe Dameron
Maz Kanata
Supreme Leader Snoke
General Hux
Lor San Tekka
Captain Phasma
Unkar Plutt
Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie poster Star Wars: RThe Force Awakens movie poster
Effect shot from Star Wars: The Force AwakensName this movie: Plans crucial to the evil Galactic Empire as well as the fledgling Rebellion are hidden in a droid. The droid must get to the Rebel Alliance. Soon, the droid is marooned on a desert planet. Only moments from the scrap heap, the droid is saved by a young teenager who is strong with the Force, an energy field that binds the galaxy. When the Imperial Troopers discover the droid, it, the teen and new friends must flee the planet in a derelict ship called the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his First Mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

Meanwhile, the evil Supreme Leader has removed all traces of the Imperial Senate. He is also developing a super weapon that is powerful enough to destroy a planet.

Elsewhere, an aging mentor meets his former pupil who has turned to the dark side of the Force. The pupil slays his former mentor thus sinking further into darkness.

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force AwakensA young princess is captured and taken aboard the planet killer station thus setting up both a rescue mission as well as a mission to destroy the weapon. Along the way, the young teenager begins to feel and use the power of the force.

This is the synopsis for "Star Wars: A New Hope" or "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". These two movies are so similar, the titles can be interchanged without causing any confusion. "The Force Awakens" could be the story of Luke Skywalker discovering the power of the Force. "A New Hope" could be the story of Rey as she discovers the power of the Force.

Director J.J. Abrams does for Star Wars what he did for Star Trek: Give the audience what they want; Don't take risks; Make a movie that will entertain and make lots of money; No substance required! Thus the 2-Star rating.

Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force AwakensOn the other hand, 3½ stars for the return of Han Solo. Harrison Ford steps back into the role so easily it seems this is his twentieth movie as Solo and he's loved every minute of playing the character. Solo's devil-may-care attitude, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants bravado, and his brilliant sense of humor were elements sorely missing from the first three episodes in the Star Wars saga.

As with "A New Hope", The Force Awakens starts off with a bang, and then smashes through the stratosphere when Solo appears on screen. Solo is the Anti-Force. If the Dark Side is the opposite of the Force, Solo is somewhere out in left field laughing at the arrogance of Jedi or Sith. No one, not even the Force, is strong enough to have any influence on Solo. He is the wild card in a Pinochle deck.

Peter Mayhew is on a similar plane with Andy Serkis. As Chewbacca, he can do more with gestures, grunts and howls then a lot of actors with lots of dialog. Although Solo "translates" for the audience, Mayhew can turn a howl into howling laughter in the audience.

Effect shot from Star Wars: The Force AwakensThe Force Awakens is mainly the story of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley). Just like dozens of Jedi and Sith before them, Kylo Ren and Rey have very little on the personality side. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley, although likeable, do nothing to make us either root for them or fear them. They are both adequate in their performances. Either actor could be replaced without affecting the movie. Their roles can be interchanged without affecting the movie. Rey is the hero of the movie just so the public can have a strong female character aka Marketing.

Take away Han Solo, The Force Awakens isn't any better than the first three episodes in the saga. J.J. Abrams is a capable action director. The film is rousing, exciting, thrilling. The action sequences and special effects are stellar, as one expects from a grand space spectacular.

Effect shot from Star Wars: The Force AwakensThe story is not very exciting or thrilling. The audience has, quite literally, seen this movie before. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The lack of originality is truly shocking. Abrams and the writers were given a golden opportunity to create something really special: To boldly go where Star Wars never went before. They failed miserably.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is fun. Unfortunately, when the film ends, there is very little substance here.

SPOILER ALERT: The next film in the sage has been titled "The Last Jedi". This is exactly what Yoda, on his deathbed, said to Luke. Once Luke Skywalker dies, Rey will be the last Jedi. Therefore, episode 8 will not be anything special. This will be a story of the evil Supreme Leader will hatch a plot to capture Rey. He will probably capture Finn and torture him. This will lead to a light-saber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren. Rey loses her right hand before Kylo Ren tells her the truth: Rey, I am your brother! Once Kylo Ren went bad, Luke and Leia used the Jedi mind control technique to cause rey to lose her memory. Any bets on whether I am right?