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Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ villains not evil enough for Vatican City reviewer

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If you’ve been reading our coverage, you know that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is on pace to break the records … all of them. The film is a monster hit and has made box-office history while receiving almost universally positive reviews from critics. That said, not everyone is a fan of the franchise’s latest installment.

As the Vatican City’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano typically publishes Catholic Church-related news, but in recent years it has developed a reputation for spirited film reviews. This week, it printed an anonymous review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that was, shall we say, less than glowing.

In fact, scathing is the best word for it. The reviewer’s primary complaint: The evil characters weren’t evil enough.

Yes. A reviewer from the Vatican City’s official daily newspaper is calling for more evil. In other news: Down is up, left is right, and anchovies are the best pizza topping.

Here are a few translated excerpts from the review:

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

“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 … 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.”

“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.”


While some reviewers have questioned the handling of Kylo Ren, who at times seems more like a petulant man-child than a terrifying villain, this reviewer’s contention that Supreme Leader Snoke is “the clumsiest and tackiest result you can obtain from computer graphics” is a less familiar sentiment.

The suggestion that the only merit in Abrams’ film was to throw the brilliance of Lucas’ original films into sharper relief was also a tad unfair. The Force Awakens has been criticized here and there for recycling too many of the franchise’s conventions, but if it wasn’t bringing something fresh to the table, it’s hard to believe that it would be such an astronomical success.

Fortunately, if you haven’t already seen the film, you can check it out at virtually any theater on Planet Earth and decide for yourself.

May the force be with you through the holidays and into the new year.

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