Published on December 16th, 2015 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
If it’s not one of the most anticipated movies of all time, it is certainly way up there. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the thing that every Star Wars fanboy, including myself, fears. Will it be as good as the original trilogy, or will Disney and Bad Robot drop a deuce like many believe Lucas did with the prequel trilogy. Well, here is a spoiler free look from someone who has these fears.
Fret not, everyone. Abrams has done a magnificent job of continuing the Skywalker saga in Episode VII. And great news, there are no lens flares, at least none that I noticed. As I mentioned, this is spoiler free, but I will give you an idea of the overall plot.
Episode VII picks up 30 years after the end of Episode VI. The Emperor is dead, and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) began training a new generation of Jedi. But something went wrong and one of his students turned against him and destroyed the school. Blaming himself, Skywalker went into isolation. With Luke out of the picture, risen from the ashes of the Empire, the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), is trying to reclaim the power of the Empire. Knowing that Skywalker is their only threat, they are attempting to find him to eliminate him before he can join the Resistance’s fight against them. Daring Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is attempting to find a map to Luke’s location, but is quickly interrupted by the First Order. He hides the map on his droid, BB-8, before being captured by the menacing force. And so sets off a chain of events to find Luke Skywalker by the Resistance and the First Order alike.
It’s no secret that many of the main cast is returning, including Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), See-Threepio (Anthony Daniels), and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). We also have a slew of new characters such as the aforementioned Poe Dameron, Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), General Hux (Domnall Gleeson), and Supreme Leader Snoke. The cast, both returning and new, blended really well together and had a great amount of charisma on the screen. There was the right amount of comedy, drama, and action in this movie, and the interaction between the characters just felt genuine. This movie definitely felt more like the original trilogy than the prequels did.
The soundtrack and effects were amazing. Right in line with what you would expect from a Star Wars movie, but as I mentioned to the studio rep as I was leaving the theater, the film didn’t try to go overboard with everything. So there was no feeling of over production as some felt from the prequels. And with John Williams doing the score again, you know it will have the same sound. He did a great job of blending in little melodies, or snipits of songs, that made reference to the previous movies at just the right moments.
All-in-all, it was a fantastic film that did not leave me disappointed. It shouldn’t leave you disappointed either. Now, it’s not without a few plot holes, and suspension of belief will help, but they are, for me any way, forgivable and I will leave it for you to discover them. At the end of the day, this is definitely the Star Wars film you are looking for. Go see it. See it multiple times. Give Disney and Bad Robot more reason to continue not only with the Skywalker saga, but also the other stories like next year’s Rogue One, young Han Solo and Chewie, or, one can only hope, the story of everyone’s favorite bounty hunter/orphan, Boba Fett.
5 stars out of 5
Second Review by Ryan Guerra
Rarely does something live up to the hype. Usually hype becomes a living breathing mass that whatever is being hyped, has to exceed in order to live up to. In the case of film, so many elements have to work. The visuals, the score, the action, the pacing, the acting and the story. If that wasn’t enough, a film like Star Wars: The Force Awakens also has to manage unreasonable fan expectations and the Disney merchandising and advertising machine. It can be insurmountable.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens lives up to its hype. It is clear that J.J. Abrams was the right choice to take over the franchise and bring some modern sophistication to the space opera. His visuals and landscapes look and feel like respectful updates on the originals we have come to know and love. The John Williams score feels familiar but is different enough to stand on its own. The action is not only grand, but also fun, as it contributes to create fantastic pacing in a film that has a 135 minute running time. There is never a dull moment as we witness this chapter of the Star Wars Saga unfold.
There are two places that I feel that Abrams and the cast have improved upon the Star Wars Saga. The first is with the acting. It think it is safe to say that the previous films have had some great actors, but we have received few strong performances in those films. This time it is different. The main newcomers to the series all deliver strong and believing performances. Primarily from Daisy Ridley (Rey) who is the lonely scavenger. John Boyega (Finn) who is the storm trooper with a heart of gold. And Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) who is the Darth Vader like villain. They do not feel hollow, wooden or whiny (Sorry episode 4 Luke). Instead we get a sense of the emotional weight they are going through as the galaxies begin to collide around them.
The second improvement is with a solid and complex story which I cannot go into much without spoilers. Instead I will just say that there are familiar elements and fan service from the Star Wars universe. Learning about new characters, complete with Star Wars one liners of comedy sprinkled throughout, helped deliver an enjoyable film that has similar notes of the original trilogy but at the same times feels different as it sets up future movies. Additionally, seeing the “old guard” interact on film for the first time in years created emotional “feels” in me, which was unexpected because I am someone who “likes” Star Wars but doesn’t “love it.”
In the end, it is hard to believe that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has actually delivered on its promise of updating and expanding the universe with care. Fans of the series will relish in everything that J.J Abrams and a group of talented young actors have brought to the saga. Causal fans and viewers will enjoy a fast paced cinematic adventure. After watching the film, I could not help but look forward to the next time I get to watch it again and get lost in a galaxy far far away…
4.5 stars our of 5
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