All things considered, The Force Awakens did a good job with the story.
I disagree with this. I think the overall look of the film – the designs, the non-CGI-monster effects, etc. – was tremendous. The acting was hit or miss. The film’s biggest problem was the story. What was the film’s vision? What did it want to accomplish?
Sometimes you get a film and the filmmaker(s) vision is to tell such-and-such story in such-and-such way. Sometimes their vision is to push a political message. Sometimes you get a snob whose vision is simply to create the most artsy film ever. Sometimes you get a film where the filmmaker just wants to entertain people. And on and on we can think of countless examples.
My takeaway from TFA was that the vision of this film had nothing to do with story, or innovation, or anything that has been traditionally Star Wars’ forte. The vision of this film seemed to be simply to make another Star Wars movie, have it be good enough to not piss people off, and make a lot of money. Introduce some interesting new characters, bring back old and beloved characters, and just have fun and a good time.
Was the film a success? Certainly. By all measures, it seems to have accomplished its goals. Those goals started with the studio execs who chose the director, and JJ Abrams is someone who – I’ve heard this from a lot of people – is a safe bet. He’s unlikely to make anything really good, but he’s also unlikely to make anything bad. If you want to take a franchise like Star Wars and make a safe ripoff, he’s a steady choice. He more or less accomplished what was expected of him, the film is making a record amount of money, and he additionally, to his credit, he had the right approach in several areas to gain extra goodwill with the fans.
But what about the story?
It’s actually terrible and the weakest part of the film. There are a million plot holes. There are a million coincidences. It’s derivative. It’s poorly paced and chaotic. It just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
I’ve offered criticism in the review threads (and I’ve also praised a lot of things I thought the film did really well), but in my next post I will offer some ideas on how I might have written it differently, just for fun.