Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
PG13 / 135 mins
Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Director: J.J. Abrams
Duuuuuuuuh-duuuh-duh-duh-duh-duuuuuuuuh-duuh-duh-duh-duh-duhhhh…. (Just imagine the rest of this review like it’s the iconic Star Wars intro title crawl with the iconic music in the background for added effect)
The Star Wars prequels left a bad taste in the mouths of fanboys across the world. Episodes I, II, and III had their moments but they were largely underwhelming and incomparable to the original masterpieces of IV, V, and VI. Making matters worse, it’s been ten years since Episode III came out, meaning the bad taste has just lingered and festered for years. Fans started to become anxious for the next installment in the storied franchise, just something to cleanse their palette. Enter Disney. Famed Star Wars director George Lucas sold his baby to the entertainment juggernaut that is Walt Disney and soon to follow this news was the announcement that a new trilogy would soon be making its way to the big screen.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens slowly became one of the year’s most anticipated movies. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the movie would continue the story of famed movie heroes like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, along with some newer characters joining the fray. It is made clear that The Force Awakens is on a mission to set the series back on the right track of what made the classics great. Now we have something else to talk about instead of the prequels sucking so much. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but The Force Awakens has been selling gangbusters and breaking records left and right. It has become one of year’s biggest movies. J.J. Abrams has successfully accomplished his mission and has made a Star Wars movie to rival the classics.
The Force Awakens takes place thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi. A lot has happened since then. The First Order, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver of Girls fame), is the omnipotent evil that spans the galaxy. The Jedi are just a myth of the past. The characters from the previous films are all doing their own thing now. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is still the general of The Resistance, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) are still the rebel bounty hunters that we came to love, and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is missing, which is the main crux of the movie’s story.
Within the first couple of scenes we are also introduced to the new faces that will drive the new trilogy for the years to come; Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. These two are the new fresh faces that this series needs. Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a scrapper from Jakku who is under the impression that one day her long lost family will come back to find her. John Boyega, on the other hand, plays Finn, a Stormtrooper who wants to change his ways. The two character’s paths meet up in a play of destiny and they are set on a mission after finding the cute little droid BB-8 that has part of the map that will lead the Resistance to Luke Skywalker.
John Boyega’s Finn was probably one of my favorite new characters from the movie. His humor is a refreshing change of pace for the movie and he has an energy that is undeniable. Daisy Ridley is amazing as well. I believe that both of them will have what it takes to carry the monolith that is Star Wars into the future. This movie was their proving ground and they took the baton from the established cast and are ready to move on into the future. I also want to mention that Adam Driver did a fantastic job as Kylo Ren. His character was perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch. Ren is a unhinged and emotional apprentice to the Dark Side that is afraid that he will never live up to Darth Vader. Driver captured this character’s unstable nature amazingly and I really look forward to perhaps taking a deeper dive into the shroud that this character withholds.
The nostalgia factor is out the roof the second the notorious title crawl starts scrolling up the big screen. Everything from the sights to the sounds bring back pangs of nostalgia and reverence to the original trilogy. The use of practical effects in The Force Awakens alone is super cool in that it adds to the old school mantra that this movie upholds. It really made the movie feel like the original trilogy. In fact, this movie was super similar to A New Hope, maybe a little to its detriment. Everything from the locations to the story seem to fit right in line with A New Hope, almost like it was trying to play it a little safe, using the already established classic as a crutch to carry it forward. This doesn’t mean too much right now, but if the next movie starts to fall in line with The Empire Strikes Back, then maybe we should start to feel alarmed.
There’s also the convenience factor that started to make me question a lot of the things that happened in the movie. I fear that if I started to go deeper into what I mean by this, spoilers would start to arise so I am going to stay out of the mud for now. If you see the movie, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Things line up in ways that seem impossible and characters run into other characters at opportune times that make you shake your head a bit. Don’t get me wrong, this is a problem that a lot of movies have, but that doesn’t make it excusable. Similar to my point about The Force Awakens being too similar to A New Hope, this isn’t a big problem in the movie, but you can add it to my list of small gripes that I have with it.
It’s been a while since a movie instilled a feeling of pure childish giddiness in me but The Force Awakens really did that for me. The feeling of going to see a new Star Wars movie in theaters again was just a delight in itself. Luckily the movie was pretty fantastic to go along with these nostalgic feelings. The movie took its time and established the new characters and paid homage to the old in ways that seem to set up the future movies pretty well. (I should also mention that the movie’s last shot was pretty amazing, setting up the cliffhanger that will be picked up in Episode 8) Whenever J.J. Abrams had his hesitations with signing on to the iconic series, I understood why he would have these feelings. He can rest easy now because he accomplished a lot of great things with The Force Awakens. This is the Star Wars movie you have been looking for.