Vatican newspaper fails to give ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ its blessing

Party-goers wear "Star Wars" movie character outfits during a party in downtown Rome on the eve of the premiere of "The Force Awakens."

Party-goers wear “Star Wars” movie character outfits during a party in downtown Rome on the eve of the premiere of “The Force Awakens.”

(Filippo Monteforte / AFP/Getty Images)

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.


“The new director’s set-up fails most spectacularly in its representation of evil, meaning the negative characters,” according to the review. “Darth Vader and above all the Emperor Palpatine were two of the most efficient villains in that genre of American cinema.”

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.

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.

Since then, the paper has interspersed its reports on papal Masses and synods with articles about Bob Dylan and a look back at films including “The Blues Brothers.”

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