To say that there is a lot riding on Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a bit of an understatement. The new cast members, including John Bogeya and Daisy Ridley, must match the appeal of the legendary original cast to persuade fans this film is part of the same universe they know and love. It’s the first film in a new trilogy and is required to establish numerous plot-threads to be explored in the future installments whilst delivering a satisfying closure to its story. Fans are also anxious for the film to cleanse the bitter taste left behind by the much-maligned prequel movies, and help restore the magic of the original trilogy. Furthermore it’s broken the record for the largest pre-booking sales for a film ever at $100 million and is expected to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time. With so many boxes to tick for so many people, is it actually possible for it to be simply appreciated as a film?
The mammoth anticipation behind the film proves that Star Wars is one of the most popular film franchises of all time. However the series has been tainted by the prequels which left the fans disappointed and frustrated. It is this love and desperation for the saga to relieve its past greatness that will make it difficult to become the film that fans have been hoping for.
There have been several instances of huge expectations toppling films that are in themselves commendable such as The Dark Knight Rises and Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is largely contributed for the need to be bigger and handle several issues at once. This has become a common problem for the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise as of late, for example stuffing the latest Avengers film with unnecessary teases for the next installments. Hopefully Director JJ Abrams can realize the damage that can be done by this mistake, and steer away from overstuffing Episode VII.
Yet we should remember what Abrams intends this film to be. In talking about the new film, JJ Abrams has stated that the new characters that will be introduced to the viewers are hugely important. The 7th film is about continuing the saga through a new generation and creating iconic moments and awe-inspiring stories for these new Star Wars characters to experience. If Abrams spent so much time trying to hark back to the originals and please fan expectations, then there would still be rampant dissatisfaction as there is nothing exciting and new to offer. That child-like excitement Star Wars conjures up is a core part of its gargantuan appeal.
If I could speak to all of the die-hard and most passionate Star Wars fans before they see the new film (which seems to be the entire world at present), I would urge them to view it as a standalone film. Judge it on the character, story, action that the film contains, not on how it stands up against the other movies or how much fan-service it provides. It is often said that the best films are the films that give the audience what they didn’t know they wanted. Ignore your expectations about the plot and how it impacts the mythos of Star Wars, just judge it for what it is. A film.
Stay tuned for a Rhino Press review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens