Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Director: J. J. Abrams
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Max Von Sydow, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew
For the past few weeks anticipation was at an all time high, but the day finally came for the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh chapter in the Star Wars saga. The back story behind this movie is that it is the first film in the Star Wars Saga to be produced by Disney every since they bought Star Wars from George Lucas for a mere 4 Billion dollars. So while this film exists within the universe that Lucas created, George Lucas had nothing to do with this film. Now some fans might say that this is a good thing and I’d have to agree with them because, let’s be honest here, everybody hates the prequels. They were George Lucas’s chance to give fans the Star Wars movies they’d been waiting for since Return of the Jedi (1983). What we got instead were a trio of overtly serious films that were missing that element of fun that the old trilogy had. Lucas forgot about the cliffhangers, the pure movie magic, the entertainment. In comes J. J. Abrams, the director to whom Disney gave the chance to “save” the Star Wars franchise. I think he was the perfect choice actually, after all, it looks like J.J. Abrams is shaping up to become this generations Steven Spielberg. He’s the new big budget, pure entertainment and spectacle guy. Did he manage to make a pleasing Star Wars film? Did he save the Star Wars franchise? I will be reviewing The Force Awakens in the next few paragraphs, and I’m keeping it spoiler free so I won’t deny you of the amazing surprises and shocking moments that this movie holds in store for you, so read unafraid my dear friends!
The premise for this movie is that Luke Skywalker has gone missing and everyone and their mother is desperately looking for him. The Rebels want to bring Luke home, and the bad guys, a fascist military order known as ‘The First Order’ are also after him. They fear he might bring back the Jedi’s to the galaxy. Now the only one with the map to Luke’s location is a little android known as BB-8; who has Rey and Finn, the two protagonists of this story to protect him as he makes his way to the Rebel Base. Will they make it? Will they ever find the ever elusive Luke Skywalker? See how I kept that short and sweet as to not spoil anything? ;)
Man, watching this movie in theaters, with a crowd of fans was such an experience. As it happens with the premiere of any Star Wars film (good or bad) audiences are always excited to see a new one. After the opening scroll which explains the premise of the film, it’s all dead quiet as everyone devours every second of what transpires on screen, hoping with every bit of their beings that it doesn’t suck. What all Star Wars fan wants from a Star Wars film is that old magic, that feeling of adventure we got from the first film. It’s incredible how not even Lucas himself could recapture what he achieved with that first film. The thing about those first films is that they were not about ‘the senate’ or the ‘trade federation’ or ‘negotiations’, they were quite simply about good guys fighting the good fight against the bad guys. And somewhere along the line, Lucas forgot about that and decided to do the prequels, which were primarily about politics. They got too technical, everyone was too serious. And as we all know, politics are boring. There was no Han Solo saying funny jokes, there was no Princess Leia with her snappy come backs. Thankfully, this new film brought that fun element back! That’s right my friends, we’re back to good vs. evil, and sure, at the crux of it all is a political themed film, but we see that angle from a broader spectrum, we don’t go into political conversations that nobody cares about.
One of the main reasons why Episodes IV through VI work so well is because they had likable characters. I mean, who didn’t love to see Han Solo and Princess Leia bickering, Luke and Han fighting over Leia’s affections. R2 and C3PO squabbling over everything. I mean, sure, the future of the galaxy was in the balance, but there was always time for that silliness like Leia calling Han a "scruffy looking Nerf Herder" and the such. On The Force Awakens we have a little bit of that back again. Characters are back to saying comedic lines in the most serious moments. I mean, you can tell Han is back, and yet again, everything he says will get a giggle out of you. I have to say, true fans of Episodes IV through V will get such a thrill out of seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca back in action, flying the Millenium Falcon. When Han says “Chewie, we’re home” I thought “and so are we” because that’s exactly how I felt, like this was the Star Wars I wanted and loved, it’s finally back. I, as a Star Wars fan, was home. Trust me, I didn’t feel that with Episodes I through III. A warning though, they gave C3PO and R2D2 a rest for this film, we only see them in brief yet essential roles.
And what about the new guys? John Boyega as Finn, Daisy Ridley as Rey and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren? Well, I’m happy to inform that they did a fantastic job. The thing with presenting us with new Star Wars characters is that they have to be good actors, they have to be likable, their performances have to be convincing. Casting the wrong person in these important roles could mean the death of a movie, sure they’ll make money (as the prequels did) but the films will be hated for all eternity because they have that bad actor in that key role, Episodes I through III, I’m looking at you guys! Daisy Ridley is instantly likable, I loved her character! She was written in an interesting way. She’s got a charisma, those eyes, she’s smart and self reliant. I’m just glad that Hollywood is finally giving women great leading roles. For the longest time, women had been relegated to being ‘damsels in distress’, females who couldn’t fend for themselves, who had to rely on the big macho man to save them. Not so here. There’s this moment in which the bad guys are chasing Rey and Finn and Finn grabs Rey by the hand and she says “I can run perfectly fine without you holding my hand!” That’s when I knew that this movie was making a special effort to portray a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself, which is awesome to me because for the longest time Hollywood did the contrary. So this movie gets two things right, it puts the women and the black guy in the forefront by giving them the starring roles. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is obviously making a statement with this, and a good one at that.
And what’s a movie without a good villain right? On this one we get Kylo Ren, a truly hateful villain. Trust me when I say that by the end of the movie, you will end up hating him with every bit of your soul. He comes off as an angry, volatile, less experienced Darth Vader; he is shaping up to become a memorable villain in the Star Wars universe. And what about Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron? Well, what can I say, they’re calling him the new Han Solo, I kind of agree! Now a word about the structure of the film, which is extremely similar to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). It’s true what you’ve heard that A New Hope is the blueprint for The Force Awakens; of course it was done on purpose to give us a feeling of familiarity. There are some moments that mirror A New Hope, but there’s no denying that the film also gives us some amazing new elements that I was not expecting at all. So there’s a little bit of the old, but also, a little bit of the new. It’s emotional, and will make an impact on you, trust there’s some shocking moments in store! In terms of effects, well, the film is top notch. You do not feel as if characters are walking in front of a green screen, nope, these sets are there. They are tangible, they feel real. There’s a perfect balance between practical set design and computer work, which is the way it should be. This is also something that George Miller executed perfectly well in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). So I applaud these directors that are showing a true balance in the force, they aren’t forgetting that films are made in front of a camera! So thank you for that J.J. Abrams, my hats down to you sir! So yeah, I was pleased as hell with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), and that ending? Whoa! Left me salivating for more! Let’s see where we go to next, looking forward to Episode VIII come May 26th 2017!
Rating: 5 out of 5