Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Much time has passed since the death of Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker has disappeared. A new threat has risen to power known as the First Order and they will stop at nothing to find Skywalker before the Resistance (lead by Princess Leia herself) can locate him. Luke’s whereabouts are secured by the Resistance’s best pilot Poe Dameron, who stores the map in his droid BB-8, but when Poe is captured, it is up to a young scavenger girl, a converted Storm Trooper, and Han Solo himself to get Luke’s location into safe hands.
I will start off by saying that at the time of this review, I’m a 33 year old male who really likes the Star Wars franchise but isn’t in love with it. I worked at a movie theater when I was 16 years old at the time The Phantom Menace came out and it was a big freaking deal, and I can understand how this is going to be received from fans young and old. I never saw any of the original 3 movies in theaters as I was too young, but have seen each of them several times.
To understand Episode 7, you really don’t need to have seen Episode 1-3, but seeing Episodes 4-6 is key. J.J. Abrams has not only created new places and characters for this movie, but has taken many ideas, characters and elements of the original series and put them in this movie. The nostalgia is off the chart as we get to see the Millennium Falcon, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2 and even minor characters like Admiral Ackbar once again. For those of you wondering, Han Solo is a MAJOR character in this movie and is in most of the movie. Many of the old characters come in for a scene or 2, but Han and Chewbacca are there for the majority. Also, don’t worry, there are no new characters that remind you of Jar-Jar Binks or the Ewoks! BB-8 is the only thing that comes close and he is charmingly fun rather than annoying!
As far as a movie goes, think of everything you loved and enjoyed from Episode 4 and add 2015 technology! This movie looks, thinks and acts swift and sleek! It is amazing how they evolved Star Wars after 4 decades, yet still managed to keep the authentic feel the same. You can tell that some of the characters were purposely left looking “old” to keep the feel of the original. However, that is only a small part. Many of the new creatures and characters are CGI and you can tell, and that is ok, but I’m glad that not all of them were. The more impressive upgrades came in the air battles mainly. No longer do the fighters look cheaply made as they move behind a green screen. These fights are fast, intense and engaging and in my opinion what needed the most overhaul.
I have a few minor issues with the movie as a whole that knocks it down 1 star for me, but they are more personal in nature. The next 2 paragraphs have major spoilers so skip them if need be……. The first issue I have is Luke. He is in 1 scene at the very end with no dialogue. That’s it! I was quite disappointed. Secondly, I don’t feel Kylo Ren was that badass of a villain. If you remember back to The Phantom Menace, the best thing about Star Wars returning was Darth Maul. He was that true badass fans wanted, but Kylo Ren tries to be too much like Darth Vader and he plainly isn’t. Another aspect that took away from my enjoyment of the overall movie was Han’s death. I knew it was coming, and I understand why it needed to happen, but that still doesn’t mean I have to like it. Ultimately it was a moment that made me say “ok, I like this movie a little less now.”
For those of you that read many of my reviews, you know that story is huge to me in most movies, and for some reason, in the Star Wars films, I always forget details of the plot and just remember the main overlaying story. The Force Awakens has a story that is full of tricks and distractions to keep the flow smooth, but ultimately this movie has a simple story that is almost identical to that that of Episode 4…. follow me here. In A New Hope, Leia puts a message on a droid so that the good guys could rescue the princess and destroy the death star (along with its planet laser weapon), all the while, the Imperial troops were close behind trying to locate the droid. In The Force Awakens, Poe puts the map to find Luke on a droid so the Resistance could find him and bring him back, all the while, the First Order is trying to get their hands on the droid too. Ultimately, the First Order uses a giant planet/space station with a planet destroying canon and the Resistance has to blow it up. Hmmmmmm, sounds pretty similar if you ask me. Sure there are many, many, many differences in detail and characters, but the overall arc to the movies look about the same. Not sure how many people noticed that, but wanted to point that out!
Halfway through the movie, I contemplated if The Force Awakens was better or not than Mission Impossible Rogue Nation which at this point has my top slot of 2015. If so, that would mean that this movie deserves a 10 rating and a spot in my top 100 of all time. When the movie wrapped up, I felt pretty sure that this wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, but was damn close. In fact, it’s hard for me to say if this is better than The Empire Strikes Back, but that is a debate for another day. Due to my feelings on Rogue Nation and The Martian (tops for 2015), The Force Awakens deserves a 9 star rating. It is a perfect blend of action, adventure and sci-fi with plenty of nostalgia and new things to look forward to. The simple and almost paralleled story didn’t bother me that much, but if the story had been more involved, I might have liked it more. At the end of the day, Star Wars The Force Awakens is something to cheer for and enjoy. I’m glad the series has a bright future thanks to J.J. Abrams! Starring Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issacs, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Davis and Max von Sydow.
9/10 Stars – Bring Star Wars into 2015 was a task only for J.J. Abrams as he delivers a stunning and awesome adventure story full of new and old characters. It’s minor flaws can’t overshadow its ability to entertain and create plenty of nostalgia.