I was lucky enough to get into a special screening of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' on Tuesday, and although I've been avoiding reviewing it until now, due to spoiler concerns, I figured that with the movie coming out I could at least share some of my opinions. The first thing, I have to say, is that I really expected higher production values. I mean, this is 'Star Wars'! You'd expect them to throw all the money in the world at this movie, but instead we got a dingy, grimy film that looked like it had been shot back in the 70s. Perhaps Abrams was trying to maintain fidelity to the original?
The second thing I noticed is that Mark Hamill really seemed to be phoning it in as Luke. Half his dialogue sounded like mumbled ADR added in post, and he gestured as though he was conducting some sort of drunken concerto. (And as for his appearance...I get that they wanted him to look older, but his beard was obviously fake.) I don't think you can fault Hamill, who's done great work elsewhere; this just seems to have been a shoddily directed production.
And the screenwriting was no great shakes either. It lacked the scope of the previous films--even the Prequels took us to strange, alien worlds and showed us astonishing vistas from across the galaxy. This looked like it was shot on a beach in Florida. And the plot--Luke's spaceship crashes, and he needs help from local kids to dig it out? That's the best they can come up with for a star-spanning epic? To say nothing of the bizarre digression halfway through, where Luke just stops to tell the kids a story that's a thinly-veiled version of "Jack and the Beanstalk". I don't know what they were thinking there.
To me, though, the worst indignity was when the Millennium Falcon (or what passes for it in the new film's budget) shows up to rescue Luke. We don't even get Han Solo--just Chewbacca, in a half-hearted costume that looks more like a gigantic white rabbit than the Wookie we've all come to know and love. It's a lazy, slapdash resolution, made all the weaker when Luke's spaceship simply disappears through "Jedi magic" and the kids all just go home. What were they even thinking with this--
...um, I seem to have been laboring under a misapprehension, there. It appears that what I attended was not a sneak preview of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', but was in fact an encore presentation of 'Rifftrax Live: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny'. (Which, if nothing else, explains the short Christmas films in front of the feature and the three guys who kept talking over every scene.) Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be seeing the theater about a refund.