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Critics of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ blast new film – here’s what they said

Updated Dec 24th, 2015 10:30AM EST
Star Wars The Force Awakens Negative Reviews
Image: Star Wars

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December 2015 will forever be remembered as the month where Star Wars hysteria reigned supreme. The recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set innumerable box office records already and will likely break many more in the weeks and months to come.

Directed by JJ Abrams, the new Star Wars film has resonated with fans of the franchise in a way that the prequels did not. Anchored by a wave of nostalgia, the excitement for the latest Star Wars installment is palpable; hardly a surprise as fans have been eagerly awaiting a film that finally does the original trilogy justice.

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But not everyone is on board with the avalanche of praise currently draping Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Though most reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, there are quite a few people who found the film disappointing for a variety of reasons. If you are one of these people, rest assured, you are not alone. In the interest of keeping things balanced, we thought we’d counter the seemingly endless stream of Star Wars praise and draw attention to a few of the more interesting negative reviews to have emerged over the last week.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the more negative takes on the film harp on the fact that it didn’t tread much new ground and essentially presented the same type of story arc we’ve seen before. Warning! Some spoilers ahead.

The Patriot Ledger

“The Empire strikes out in J.J. Abram’s overhyped “Star Wars” reboot, “The Force Awakens.” At least somebody “awakens” in this dull, derivative money grab in which wunderkind J.J. Abrams chooses to go where George Lucas has gone before by basically repeating plot points, even lines, from the original trilogy. At least it’s not as bad as the last three episodes, I-III. And thank God, there’s no Jar Jar Binks. But where’s the originality? The innovation? Surprising, given Abrams track record with rejuvenating aging franchises like “Star Trek” and “Mission Impossible.” With “The Force Awakens,” he simply gives the people what they want, which is more of the same.

If that’s all you desire or expect, you’ll be pleased. But, silly me I was anticipating something new and different in the way of story and characters. The only thing that’s an upgrade is the quality of the special effects, which are spectacular. The rest is just rehash.”

Slant Magazine

“But The Force Awakens is still more or less a fetish object, a film that exists to inspire phrases like “It feels like Star Wars again” ad nauseam from a fanbase that equates the lasting impact of Lucas’s prequels as something akin to PTSD.”


“For better or worse — and here’s where my hoodie-wearing friend’s thought experiment comes in – “The Force Awakens” is more like a remake or a mashup of the first two “Star Wars” pictures than a sequel. Yes, in technical terms Abrams and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt are picking up the narrative some 30 years after the destruction of the Galactic Empire at the end of “Return of the Jedi.” But they barely even pretend to advance the story of the initial trilogy; they rewind it and repeat it, with new characters substituting for old ones but many of the same action set-pieces, narrative dilemmas and hidden connections.”

North Shore Movies

“STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS is the “Star Wars” movie you think you’ve been waiting for. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from one of these pictures, and also a heck of a lot less. A lean, mean nostalgia-dispensing machine, the movie is designed to ring bells and elbow you in the ribs with familiar sights and faces constantly as it hurtles from scene to scene at a breakneck pace. It’s sleekly engineered to be the kind of film you point at and nod in appreciation–because you remember “Star Wars,” and those memories are quite fond. Abrams gets the tricky tone and jokey exhilaration down pat, the feeling of (re)visiting a rusted-out, slightly sarcastic fairy tale. Still, a few hours after the credits rolled it’s all evaporating and I’m struggling to recall a remotely original or inventive moment in the entire goddamn thing.”


“And yet The Force Awakens adds up to something less than the sum of its parts. The early scenes have a relaxed, assured pace. But as the story moves forward, Abrams becomes more mired in the task of keeping the plot mechanics in gear. There’s the expected climactic battle between X-wing starfighters and TIE fighters, which is mildly exciting and nothing more—the fact that it’s punctuated with dumb dialogue like “General! Their shields are down!” “Prepare to fire!” and even the classic, “It would take a miracle to save us now,” surely doesn’t help. And the movie’s big twist, clearly intended to be a moment of Shakespearean grandeur, is handled clumsily: Instead of allowing a significant figure to have his grand moment, Abrams cuts to other characters expressing shock and dismay, as if he didn’t trust the audience to know what to feel.”

Movie Nation

“The effects are sharper, 40 years more developed. Why does Abrams do so little to show them off? The chases, dogfights and set-piece battles are static and recycled. The Big Pause for a Big Death is just an eye-roller.

Even the aliens are oh-so-familiar, right down to Admiral “It’s a trap!” Ackbar.

The earliest reviews of this are all glowing, as indeed they were for this past summer’s “Jurassic Park” clone — “Jurassic World.” This will certainly make billions. “Brand” above all, right?

But “The Force Awakens” boils down to a couple of genuine lump-in-the-throat moments, and those are due to nostalgia. The rest? Seen it, done it, been there, and remember it — even though it was “a long time ago.””

And a few audience reviews via Rotten Tomatoes.

JJ Abrams brings the action, but as usual, he does not bring a well paced story. He is chronology impaired, and seems to believe that the Galaxy is the size of a closet. There is little character development, little rationalization for the events that take place and no sense of travel times across an immense galaxy. Untrained people fight a Sith Lord with a lightsaber successfully, and none of it makes sense. Visually stunning, mentally numbing.

As expected, this review also calls out JJ Abrams for not coming up with an original plot.

The movie didn’t spend any time actually delving into a plot. All the time was allocated to fan service callbacks, out of place “funny” moments, throwing around dozens of new and useless characters, and stolen plot from A New Hope. I didn’t see this as a new Star Wars movie, but more like a 2 hour long, $200 million dollar advert Disney paid for in order to try and get people to watch the next 2+ movies. Such a wasted opportunity.

And another:

Well acted and visually impressive, but the entire recycled-from-Episode-IV story line falls apart close to a dozen times unless major characters don’t find exactly who and what they need at exactly the right times.

The story writers seem to have put together a check-list of their top nostalgia-baiting moments and strung them together with contrived encounters that could have happened anywhere in a wide universe, but conveniently happened in such a way that newcomers Rey and Fin can take a tour of Episode IV’s highlights in the span of 2 hours and change.

Disney and Abrams seem to have forgotten that, despite the shortcomings of The Phantom Menace and its follow-up films, we thoroughly enjoyed being transported to a galaxy far, far away where there were new creatures, starships, and ways to wage intergalactic war each time.

Those who revel in the ground-breaking creativity that we are used to seeing from new Star Wars installments will certainly be disappointed with Episode VII, while those looking for a nostalgia trip will be impressed easily enough.

And two more for good measure:

A dead rip off of the original movie, Episode 4. From the crappy looking infinity CG roll opening sequence, bar scene and light sabre fights to a janitor identifying a weakness in the battle star, this movie is chock full of inside jokes and tired ideas. The only redeeming grace for this movie is a solid performance by Harrison Ford as Han Solo and a compelling performance by Daisy Ridley as Rey who represents the resurrection of the Jedi. Fun to watch and full of action, but there are numerous dead spots and far too much nod to the Star Wars wonks of yesteryear.

And to close things out:

(SPOILERS) Very token. It introduces some truly great characters dripping with personality and motivation (Fin, BB-8) alongside the single worst character in Star Wars history (Kylo Ren) who looks terrible, acts badly, and takes his helmet off too often to reveal his shockingly ugly face. Bringing back the original cast actually worked this time around, Solo in particular being an absolute beast and central to the plot. But about 2/3 of the way in, they just bring in the biggest deus ex machina around for a “mega threat” and then decide to kill solo with no fanfare and no reason. The music is easily John Williams’ worst ever (and I have adored every score he’s ever done until this one) and why does this random, untrained force sensitive girl suddenly learn how to do a Jedi Mind trick by simply repeating the same phrase three times? She didn’t even know the jedi existed, why would she think this would work? Why can she hold her own against Kylo Ren, a trained jedi/sith with a sword she’s never held before?

Dialogue was above average, cinematography was great, but the last third of the movie was a horribly massive let-down that killed any interest the first two thirds had built. Worth watching? sure. But the tone is definitely not Star Wars, the villain was godawful, the “quintouple death star” was ridiculous, and overall it just gave the star wars fan in me an irritating little headache with all the fantastic lore that disney could have used, but decided to axe for reasons that solely seem to be for financial gains. And I hate Kylo’s lightsaber. It looks wrong, sounds wrong, everything.

If you weren’t feeling the new Star Wars flick, well, I guess you’re definitely not alone.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.


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