If you've been paying attention to the movie community at all, you know everyone is talking about one movie.
Yes friends, it's The Force Awakens, the first in a series of new Star Wars films headed to our galaxy courtesy of Walt Disney Productions. The film is easily the most discussed and most anticipated film of 2015 and 2015 has been a big year for movies. Jurassic World, The Avengers Age of Ultron, and Furious 7 all broke records this year and it looks like Star Wars could crush all of them, as long as it continues to maintain momentum. More critically anticipated films like The Revenant and The Hateful Eight are getting overshadowed in the press by Star Wars mania, just like in 1999 with the advent of The Phantom Menace.
Overwhelmingly, reactions to the film have been positive. Fans raved and are reportedly going back to theaters over and over again. Rotten tomatoes critics give the film a score of 94% and fans give it 91%. Metacritic.com gives it the respectable score of 81.
However, there are dissenters.
"It's sad that people actually think this movie was good or acceptable" – IMDb user pipbison
"...the movie was BORING! It's amazing how Hollywood can continue to put out movies like this, cheat their viewers, and then wonder in astonishment why everyone stays home to stream or pirate movies." – IMDb user nysalesman
"Makes the Prequels look like masterpieces! Biggest movie disappointment of my life. Nothing will ever come close. STAR WARS IS NOW DEAD!!!!!!!!" – IMDb user magicbeatledelOne of the most common criticisms of the film (STOP READING to avoid spoilers) is the similarity of the plot structure to the original film. And objectively, it's fair to say that a lot of the beats are the same. The Force Awakens isn't just a sequel... It's a reboot of the most successful franchise in movie history.
As such, it's doubtful it could've met anyone's expectations, let alone the expectations of millions of satisfied viewers. But somehow it did, much to the amazement of the internet.
"I went in with an open mind and hoped jj Abrams would restore my faith in the franchise after the terrible prequels. Instead i got another rehashed,regurgitated story like we have seen recently in so many other rebooted franchises such as ;terminator,the hobbit, spider-man etc." – IMDb user edwardiainwarne
"The new bad guy is a whiny immature kid with daddy problems that throws literal temper tantrums whenever he does not get his way, even worse than the fan hated prequels." – IMDb LiveFire1The film's lead villain (as well as his cold blooded murder of a beloved character) prompted a tidal wave of fan outrage. One star reviewers had a hard time understanding why he abandoned the Light Side of the Force and most agreed that his father's death was a bit useless.
One interesting trend, is that most who hate the film have no problem with the new leads, but rather with the treatment of original trilogy characters and with the new villains.
"And who the hell is snuke? Why should we care for him? Why do you guys feel this Movie is so great, I'm simply not feeling it. This Movie was NOT Worth ruining the ending in Return of the Jedi in order to make." – IMDb user Rikard Falk
"I do not possibly think they could have done it worse... Literally the most lazy writing I've ever seen... This was a giant middle finger to SW fans. Worst of all, it was done for the sake of raking in money." – IMDb user CowboyDan33Of course, Disney has invested a great deal in recouping it's $4 billion investment into Star Wars, and there is still a long way to go to that end, but it seems clear that The Force Awakens has set the stage for what's to come– big budget episodic films that cash in on the franchise.
Personally, my heart goes out to the negative reviewers. I felt much the same level of disappointment and frustration as the credits rolled. The film does have a lot of problems. Even folks who loved it had trouble accepting the character of Finn, who managed to subvert his programming with ease and abandoned his friends in favor of looking out for number one. It is a mixed bag of a motion picture, light on originality and heavy on appeals to nostalgia.
But unlike the one star reviewers, I prefer to step back and look at the good in the film. Yes, Kylo Ren is an adolescent cry baby, but there's a lot of potential in the character to grow into something we've never seen in Star Wars. Yes, this story does nullify the ending of Return of the Jedi but I can separate the two franchises quite easily and return to the novels and comics if I want an alternative story.
BB-8 is a lot of fun and Poe Dameron is a classic swashbuckler.
J. J. Abrams gave us a movie with enough positives left over to create some good movies within the same universe.
Like Luke Skywalker, looking at the twisted and evil machine that used to be his father, I am inclined to glance at this bloated and hyper-commercialized mess and say,
"There is still good in him. I can feel it."