Critics Consensus

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens: Believe the Hype

Plus, Sisters provides some laughs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is a dead end, and Son of Saul and Transparent are Certified Fresh.

by and | December 17, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got the most anticipated film of the year: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford). In addition, we’ve got party-hearty siblings (Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) and traveling rodents (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, starring Jason Lee and Justin Long). What do the critics have to say?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) 93%

Star Wars casts such a powerful shadow over the pop cultural landscape that it’s difficult to evaluate any of the films without nostalgia or prejudice. That said, critics say Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens both affectionately recalls the franchise’s best moments and promises an auspicious future. Daisy Ridley stars as Rey, a capable scavenger who teams up with disgraced soldier Finn (John Boyega) to help locate Luke Skwalker before the First Order, a new evil empire, can track him down. Along the way, they run into some formidable foes and friendly faces. The pundits say the Certified Fresh The Force Awakens successfully evokes the familiar wonder of its predecessors, introduces engaging new characters, and offers appropriately thrilling action in a worthy addition to the Star Wars saga.

Sisters (2015) 60%

The comedic chemistry between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler is so infectious, critics say, that it can carry viewers through some of the rougher patches of Sisters, a comedy that balances its gross-out humor with some big laughs and a surprising amount of heart. Fey and Poehler star as thirtysomething wild child Kate Ellis and her frumpy divorcee sister Maura, who fly home to Orlando when they discover their parents have sold their childhood house. Faced with the impending loss, they decide to let loose and throw one last raging party. The pundits say Sisters benefits from some solid gags and the inherent likability of its leads, even if it doesn’t offer many surprises.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015) 15%

Say what you will about Alvin and the Chipmunks, but they’ve made one indelible contribution to seasonal merriment with “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” Critics say Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is much more ephemeral — little kids will probably be mildly amused, their guardians will not, and all will forget about it hours later. This time out, Dave (Jason Lee) is planning to propose to his girlfriend, and Alvin, Simon, and Theodore think he’s going to give them the heave-ho, so they hit the road in an attempt to change his mind. The pundits say The Road Chip is, at best, a moderately inoffensive time-waster.

 What’s Hot on TV

Transparent: Season 2 (2015) 98%

Transparent‘s second season ups its dramatic stakes while retaining the poignancy and humor that have made the series such a consistently entertaining example of the best that modern serial drama has to offer.

The Expanse: Season 1 (2015) 78%

The Expanse blends sci-fi elements and detective noir into a visually compelling whole, though it takes a few episodes for the story to capture viewers’ intrigue.

Childhood's End: Season 1 () 70%

While it doesn’t quite live up to the book that inspired it, Childhood’s End has a balanced narrative and sympathetic performances.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Son of Saul (2015) , a drama about a prisoner of Auschwitz who attempts to arrange a proper Jewish burial for a dead child, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • He Never Died (2015) , starring Henry Rollins in a horror comedy about a grizzled depressive who literally cannot expire, is at 71 percent.
  • Dreams Rewired (2015) , an essay film about the collective response to technological advances, is at 63 percent.
  • The Emperor's New Clothes (2015) , a documentary in which Russell Brand examines the causes and effects of income inequality, is at 64 percent.
  • Noma, My Perfect Storm (2015) , a documentary portrait of celebrity chef René Redzepi and his innovative restaurants, is at 33 percent.
  • Extraction (2015) , starring Kellan Lutz and Bruce Willis in a thriller about a man who puts together a plan to rescue his ex-CIA agent father from the terrorists who kidnapped him, is at zero percent.
  • Going to go see “Force Awakens” Saturday, can’t wait to see it!

  • ian

    Don’t believe the hype. “Force Awakens” was a disappointment. Completely recycled plot and predictable. Abrams is no Kershner. I would give the movie 3 stars out of 5.

    • Jayden Leonard

      What’s wrong with that? Besides, A New Hope wasn’t exactly a thinking man’s sci fi flick either, for the most part. It’s probably a little bit better to compare Rian Johnson to Kershner, ’cause he’s doing Episode VIII.

      • New Hope showed us things we had not seen before, envisioned new worlds, new ways of living. If you missed it just watch this one.

        • aNYagenda

          “If you missed it just watch this one.”

          If Star Wars was a little heady for your taste,
          just watch star wars for dummies.

      • aNYagenda

        “…A New Hope wasn’t exactly a thinking man’s sci fi flick either,…”

        Lol @ the desperate fan-children defending the latest bad robot tvrd by attacking the classic things that they shamelessly ripped off.

        You did the same thing with prometheus.

        On the contrary Star Wars was sweated over and planned out meticulously over years, read the Making of Star Wars by Rinzler.

        It took actual effort to make Star Wars seem so effortless.

        jj abrams just ripping off star wars for a star wars sequel/remake didn’t take any effort at all. Just a hollywood liberal blockbuster budget to distract easily distracted children.

      • northsouth

        Whatever you think of Star Wars, don’t call it sci-fi. Just because it has spacecraft, that doesn’t mean it is science fiction. There is not a single interesting scientific idea in the whole Star Wars saga. These are pirate movies, folks, nothing more.

    • Steve

      Me too.

  • Axel

    The weakest film of the saga. The cast is total rubbish. I wonder how Abrams managed to find such talentless actors. I woud give the movie 2 out of 5. It does not deserve more than this.

    • Evan

      Weakest film of the franchise? Are you fucking kidding me? I guess you really loved Jar-Jar Binks, the creepy love story, the nightmarish performance of the child, the wooden performances by great actors and the pointless gaming inspired action scenes in The Phantom Menace. One great 10 minute fight scene with the Sith lord does not save that awful debacle of a film.

      • Rick Starbuck

        Casting was great. Acting was great. The whole theater I was in enjoyed the film immensely and the group I was with loved the film. To call it the weakest of the saga is pretty silly. I’d say it’s #3.

        • Jean Saramago

          I agree. I loved the new characters especially Rey. I found the characters in the prequels to be very wooden. Great actors but the words coming out of their mouths, the actions they performed, all seemed to me to be very flat. I liked the people in this movie and cared about what happened to them.

    • Replicant2

      Wow, this film was a bit formulaic and predictable, but still light years better than any of the prequels…you can scarcely find a single reputable critic saying differently. And I’d also put it ahead of Jedi. Try again.

    • Jayden Leonard

      That’s actually how I’d describe Attack Of The Clones. Force Awakens is the best made one since Empire, easy. Even Moviebob, who wasn’t the biggest fan of Star Trek Into Darkness, at all, liked this one.

  • Dennis Hearn

    Very rushed i feel especially towards the end it just cuts off …Kylo ren is a real douch bag childish actor in the whole star wars saga this far mystery at all was kept and easily takes his mask off when asked ….story is very uncomplete and feels there is a lot left out in this episode….even without training Ray just used the force too well and a light saber …also no need to tell “a new story” with the same old caracters and same old spaceships …common there is a 30 year gap there in between

    the story between han and leia is so incomplete with a hellava gap it didnt make sense at all and now with han dead it will never make sense what happened between them as han cannot speak
    and Leia’s acting was pathetic

    also it doesnt feel like star wars …just another hyped space movie

    Fire JJ Abrahams

    • Jayden Leonard

      You probably confused this thing with either the prequels or the last Star Trek, ’cause I’ve actually seen it, and it’s the first one of these that’s felt like an actual Star Wars film in decades. Completely disagree with a pretty good chunk of this stuff here, sorry.

    • Mike West

      Looking for a movie to blow your socks off is completely unrealistic. I like your rendition of Kylo Ren though. You embody his petulant response (in disappointment of the film).

      Why do boys demonstrate such bratty tantrums? Especially on Social Media. Didn’t your daddy teach you manners? Or like Ren, do you expect to get what you want when you want and you MUST express yourself?

      Your points are completely valid. I shared many of the same sentiments. I just don’t get this crap your generation feels it must display.

      Before you go off on some stupid rant about my generation, take note: We just did something better than what we were disappointed about. So do it better pal. Quit whining.

  • Dennis Hearn

    and rotten tomatoes every movie score u give such a shit rating even good movies but star wars u give 94% …i wonder about you…as star wars does not deserve a good score …incomplete story and faults in the movie…are u being payed to give a good score…this movie is more like 5/10

    • Annabelle

      Do you seriously not know how Rotten Tomatoes works?

    • Jayden Leonard

      It’s supposed to be incomplete; we’re getting a whole new trilogy. Pan & Fantastic Four were the real disappointments as far as that kind of stuff goes. This is a great movie with noticeable flaws, I’m just gonna leave it at that.

    • Garrett Brown

      I give it a 45-50% as well.

  • William ly

    Force awakens….you will enjoy the effects, but JJ Abrams got pretty arrogant assuming that he could do a good job writing the script as well. JJ YOU’RE NOT KNOWN FOR WRITING. STICK TO DIRECTING!

    • Soul Less

      HUH? JJ never wrote the script, he co-wrote, other writers most likely did most of the writing.

      • William ly
        • Jayden Leonard

          He would’ve only had a tangential part in it anyways. We aren’t axactly dealing with Orci/Kurtzmann & Lindelof this time around.

      • William ly

        Duh, by making that statement…I didn’t mean JJ wrote the entire screenplay. I was just implying that any influence he had on the screenplay was complete rubbish. FYI, when someone is mentioned on the list of credits as the 2nd writer…they did a significant amount of writing.

    • Dennis Hearn

      well i must say the writing sucks …especially if it even took a few people to do it …they still messed it up with too many gaps in the story

  • Soul Less

    LOL at trolls below nothing better to do , no attention in real life need to get it via anonymous internet posts.

  • AndrewWal

    Some people will never be happy. WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT!?! The Force Awakens was entertaining as hell and a GREAT introduction to a new storyline with great new characters. WELL DONE, JJ.

    • Jayden Leonard

      Yeah, I think the angry fans kinda brought this one on themselves.

    • ClemMedia

      There’s not many people that outright hate it. A lot of us just feel like everyone should take a deep breath and calm down about the whole thing. It’s a 6 or a 7 out of 10…. it’s nothing special.

      It’s certainly no Guardians of the Galaxy.

      • Randy Shick

        Ummm…yeah Guardians is a 6 or a 7 too, let’s not act like that film wasn’t also super simple and filled with flaws people ignored do to entertainment.

        If Guardians is the standard for this kind of thing now, I’d rather watch new Star Wars movies.

        • ClemMedia

          dis-a-greed. Guardians was a fully formed swashbuckling quotable gem. TFA is the equivalent to a middle range Marvel movie. And I think everyone knows it.

          • I don’t get how people enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy. Half of the cast is emotionally 12 and somehow monologue their way out of trouble. It’s like Garfield as an action movie.

    • Yeah_its_me

      I agree, it was a really good movie. Extremely entertaining…. The theater I was in gave a standing ovation at the end of the film.

  • Mikey Walsh

    this movie was awesome. people who didn’t like it just had some crazy expectation about what they wanted the movie to be. in terms of film it’s a great movie in every aspect, fun and entertaining.
    there is one epic tragic moment that has been coming for a long time, aside from that, the story doesn’t take many risks. since the fans are so critical about everything I think they forced the writers to play it safe. basically, it’s an origin story about the new characters.
    all the characters and cast were great. Captain Phasma didn’t do much, but I’m sure she will have her moments in the future.
    yes, kylo ren is a selfish, emo brat with anger issues, just like ALL the other dark jedi and sith, there’s nothing weird or surprising about that, and he was awesome, specially when he got angry.
    both him and Rey are very, very powerful with the force! you can’t predict what they’ll do next. definitely exceeded my expectations.

    • Jayden Leonard

      Yeah, say what you want about Kylo, least he ain’t a complete whiny little bitch like Anakin was in AotC.

    • Yeah_its_me

      It was a great movie and a credit to the ‘Star Wars’ films.

  • Phlyers Phan

    And cue the JJ haters……

    • Jayden Leonard

      Half of them are probably still bummed out about Star Trek Into Darkness.

  • Radknight

    I don’t hate JJ, Disney or hell anyone else for that matter. The movie was good but not great. Way too many people and stuff going on that could’ve been saved for the next movies. You kinda get the feeling that the writers weren’t on the same page. Looking at it as I would any movie, Star Wars or not, they should’ve kept it simple and really concentrated on the plot and character development. Way too much going on for the first movie.

  • Brendan

    Everybody is a critic these days, seriously. As someone who got to witness first-hand the letdown of TPM and what became of the prequels this movie is 100% StarWars (the prequels do not exist) and 100% entertaining. Does this movie rehash some plot from the other movies; yes. Does this movie also have some flaws; yes. Is this really an issue to not enjoy part 1 of a 3 part story, not at all. If you wish to see a Starwars film that is as flawed as episode 4 & 6 this is exactly the movie you are looking for. Starwars is this untouchable behemoth of pop-culture that in reality didn’t produce an amazing and epic story until the Empire Strikes back. ROTJ became a mess as Lucas pushed toy sales over story, (no way the Ewoks were a great idea) and ANH built the story we love and hold dear but also fell hard on “coincidence” to drive the story. The Force Awakens (TFA) is over-hyped but does not falter as a StarWars film. I will say it is definatly on par with ANH and takes all the best of StarWars and injects it with fresh acting and a new and yet familiar world to delvge into in Part 2 and 3. I will say this movie does resemble ANH very closely in terms of story,but do not let that turn you aside as this movie has plenty more story to offer, and realistically pulls together what we loved about these films in terms of aestheics, action, character, and story. I went into this movie with a sick feeling in my stomach and anxiety to watch our beloved characters fall flat in a mess of a story, within 30 mins of this film I knew we had finally got the new StarWars movie we deserved (not a perfect godlike behemoth that pop-culture makes StarWars to be). Please be the judge of this movie yourself, but if you want to watch a StarWars film that is no better than Empire nor worse than ROTJ then your film has been found.

  • Cayo Hern

    It leaves so many opportunities for the next movie while telling a cohesive story of it’s own….It was great seeing so many of the past and future threads meld with the new additions to the mythos!!!

  • Garrett Brown

    Terrible film.

  • aNYagenda

    “The pundits say…”

    Whats a pundit?
    Is that like a new york liberal pushing agendas?

  • W Van Landingham III

    Very good and entertaining movie, I will agree with some that it feels a bit rushed in places like they cut it down to make it shorter – but really that didn’t take away much. Without doing spoilers I will also agree it kind of just redoes the plot of the first movie for the most part and you can see stuff from a mile away, but still it’s just a fun and entertaining movie. 95% is the proper score in that RT is if reviewers like the movie or not and 95% do, it doesn’t mean it’s a 95 score on a scale of 100. If I was going that route I’d say it was more like 82 or so. But on a like/don’t like scale I don’t really see how you could dislike the movie unless you’re just an angry nerd that wants attention or some hipster d-bag who thinks they’re kewl because they don’t like what everyone else likes. Anywho glad I saw it earlier before the a-holes out there ruined it with spoilers and I really enjoyed it even if perhaps the hype is a bit hyperbole. But the key there is “a bit”, it’s a very good movie.

  • Steve

    I saw it last night. It was good. It was not great. And I was absolutely shocked to see how old Carrie Fisher got. Crack is wack!

  • Block

    Anyone that says it’s “unrealistic to expect this to blow your socks off,” or “you have crazy expectations” are idiots. This is Star Wars; not only is this the most recognizable series in cinema history, it has a massive cult following and has huge cultural implications. You’re damn right people are going to analyze this movie with a fine-toothed comb.

    The movie was entertaining to a degree, but it’s the exact (EXACT) same as episode IV. Not only that, but the pacing was so fast that we didn’t get to learn anything about anyone. Why did Kylo Ren turn in the first place? Why is Finn the only storm trooper to have a conscious? Who are Rey’s parents and why did they abandon her? (Don’t tell me it’s Luke, and he did it to protect her. I won’t believe that the writers of Star Wars are THAT cliche and stupid to make that the case.)

    This film is right in the middle of the Star Wars saga (4th out of 7). ESB, ANH, and RotS are all better.

    • MR

      I don’t know how to say this without spoiling anything but…


      Luke Skywalker has a daughter and a son and that has been decided many years ago.

      The real question is how episode VIII and IX are going to reflect this.

  • MR

    Well… I believed the hype… and I regret it.
    The movie is poor by Star Wars standards (and yes I have seen The Menace).
    JJ Abrams has tried to pack too much into those two hours, so much you can barely concentrate on anything. Not to mention it was overflowing with failed jokes.
    I’m not sure where the critics are seeing those new, exciting characters. Finn was terrible and so was Poe. Rey was ok(ish). Kylo Ren started of well but ended up being a great disappointment – he is the weakest Sith in the Star Wars movie franchise. One of the reasons Darth Vader’s persona has such magnitude is because for many years we didn’t know what’s behind the mask. Well, obviously not the case with Kylo. He is so weak I’m not even sure you can go as far as calling him a Sith apprentice. Sith fanboy perhaps? Even the existing, already known characters are not up to the task… Han and Leia are out of place. The only positive was General Hux and I liked the BB8.
    The plot was actually poor. In episode I, II and III (as well as outside the big-screen franchise) Lucas went onto explaining and showing the politics of the universe. You know.. the whole Republic and Separatists thing. None of that here. JJ Abrams dumbed this down with one master-stoke.. and that’s probably an overstatement. It is pathetic. Oh Coruscant…
    What I always liked about Star Wars was the Star Wars world George Lucas has created. The different planets, the different creatures, “The Force”, the various robots, the vehicles, spaceships………….. The Force Awakens adds NOTHING to the Star Wars world. Yeah ok, Kylo’s Command Shuttle was kinda cool but other than that it’s pretty much a big fat zero. And no, Kylo’s lightsabre is not cool.
    The first question I was asked after I left the cinema with my other half was “Was George Lucas directing this?”. I started laughing because THAT QUESTION sums up what’s wrong with the movie – it doesn’t have the George Lucas concept, the George Lucas touch… the same characters in the same universe and you can still tell something is not right.

  • Jean Saramago

    Nobody hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans. See below.

  • Jean Saramago

    I loved every minute of this movie.

  • rosie1843

    Some people will never be happy. WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT!?! The Force Awakens was entertaining as hell and a GREAT introduction to a new storyline with great new characters. WELL DONE, JJ.

    I wanted a movie with more originality to it and a better understanding of how Lucas portrayed the Force. I didn’t want a Mary Sue for a leading lady and plot holes.

    Yes, it’s entertaining. But it’s also weak and unoriginal. If this is the best that Disney can do, then they need to reconsider using Lucas’ story elements. Or hopefully, Rian Johnson is doing a better job than this crap fest directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams.

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