Vatican newspaper fails to give ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ its blessing
An organ of the Vatican has slammed the new “Star Wars” film as a thorough disappointment because its villains are not sufficiently evil.
The Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has given a dismal review to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” even as it breaks box-office records.
While the Vatican might have been expected to sing the praises of any “Star Wars” film, given the series’ depictions of the battle between good and evil, the latest installment, directed by J.J. Abrams, drops the ball on sheer badness with a crop of unconvincing villains, the non-bylined review claims.
This time around, the villains are more insipid than devilish, the paper adds.
“The counterpart of Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, wears a mask merely to emulate his predecessor, while the character who needs to substitute the emperor Palpatine as the incarnation of supreme evil represents the most serious defect of the film,” it wrote. “Without revealing anything about the character, all we will say is that it is the clumsiest and tackiest result you can obtain from computer graphics.”
Amid a torrent of positive reviews for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which praise the film’s old-fashioned sense of adventure, a handful of critics have complained it is a thinly disguised recycling of the original “Star Wars” movies.
Stormtroopers pose in front of the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.(Twofour54 / EPA)
People wearing “Star Wars” costumes pose as they wait at the Grand Rex cinema in Paris for the French release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”(Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images)
People dressed in character pose outside the Grand Rex movie theater before a screening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens"in Paris.(Michel Euler / Associated Press)
“Star Wars” fans attend the movie premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Medellin, Colombia.(Luis Eduardo Noriega / European Pressphoto Agency)
Fans attend the premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakenn” in Medellin, Colombia.(Luis Eduardo Noriega / European Pressphoto Agency)
Members of a “Star Wars” fan club attend a midnight premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ at a cinema in Stuttgart, Germany.(Nikolai Huland / European Pressphoto Agency)
Fans dressed as Princess Leia, right, and an Imperial Storm Trooper arrive for a midnight screening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Sony Center CineStar in Berlin.(Sean Gallup / Getty Images)
A fan at the midnight premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Stuttgart, Germany.”(Nikolai Huland / European Pressphoto Agency)
A member of Malaysia’s Star Wars Club dressed as Darth Maul before watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at a cinema in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur.(Mohd Rasfan / AFP/Getty Images)
A Malaysian Muslim woman poses for pictures with members of Malaysia’s Star Wars Fan Club before watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at a cinema in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur.(Mohd Rasfan / AFP/Getty Images)
A fan poses at a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” event at Sydney Opera House on Dec. 10, 2015, in Australia.(Brendon Thorne / Getty Images)
Harrison Ford greets fans at a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” event at the Sydney Opera House on Dec. 10, 2015.(Brendon Thorne / Getty Images)
A costumed “Star Wars” fan stands in front of hundreds of miniature Stormtrooper figures placed atop the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall of China during a promotional event for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”(Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)
A woman takes a picture of a scale model of the “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon spaceship displayed in a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Nov. 30, 2015. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens in Hong Kong on Dec. 17.(Philippe Lopez / AFP/Getty Images)
A group of children dressed in Star Wars costumes play with fake light sabers in a cinema in Hong Kong.(Jerome Favre / European Pressphoto Agency)
A visitor walks past displays of R2-D2 and C3PO during a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” event in Madrid.(Javier Lizon / EPA)
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, who was born in Mexico, answers reporters’ questions at a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” event at a Mexico City mall on Dec. 8, 2015. The film opens in Mexico on Dec. 17.(Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press)
A pedestrian walks past a store window filled with Stormtroopers as part of a “Star Wars"-themed Christmas display on Nov. 5, 2015, in Paris.(Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)
Actor John Boyega takes a selfie with, from left, actor Adam Driver, director J.J. Abrams and actress Daisy Ridley, plus a few dozen fans, during a promotional event for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens’” on Dec. 9, 2015, in Seoul.(Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)
In that vein, The Vatican’s newspaper agrees, calling the film “more reboot than sequel.” For good measure it adds, “Not a classy reboot however, like Nolan’s Batman, but an update twisted to suit today’s tastes and a public more accustomed to sitting in front of a computer than in a cinema.”
Sticking the knife in further, the review adds, “Abrams’ direction is in fact modelled on the sloppiest current action films derived from the world of videogames.”
“The only merit of J.J. Abrams film is to show, by contrast, how the direction of the previous films was elegant, balanced and above all appropriate.”
L’Osservatore Romano, has first published in 1861, has built a name for lively film reviews since its editor was told to spice up the paper in 2007 by then-Pope Benedict.
Not all its film reviews are as tough as the one on the new “Star Wars” installment. In 2012, the paper raved about the 007 film “Skyfall,” even lauding the “extremely beautiful Bond girls.”
This year, it described futuristic road movie “Mad Max, Fury Road” as “a real, true masterpiece.” On the other hand, it slammed Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” saying it added nothing new to the biblical story except a welter of special effects.
Kington is a special correspondent
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.