This is the review you have been looking for. Yes, that’s right, you are about to read about what could be considered the most important movie going experience in 2015, if not this decade. What am I talking about? Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams . And to say I am excited to write this review is the understatement of the year.
The Force Awakens introduces us to new characters Rey, Finn and Poe, along with BB-8 and new series baddies Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma. They, along with an entire new catalog of heroes and villains to fall in love with, are taking us to “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” But this isn’t the Star Wars you grew up with (timeline wise) as we are jumping forward into the future – 30 years to be exact.
The tales of Luke, Leia and Han have long since passed into myths and legends among the citizens of the various planets within this large, still-growing universe. So with the knowledge of the Skywalkers being lost to our new cast, what will happen to them in this new cinematic adventure? A lot happens, to put so bluntly. But, as this is a non-spoiler review, I can’t give many of those details away.
When I sat down in my plush Alamo Drafthouse seat, I had a feeling this was going to be a good one. What I didn’t expect though was to have my childhood dreams come true. That the little girl who used to dream of X-Wings and Lightsabers finally could find her place in the universe. The Force Awakens gave me this.
Since 1999, Star Wars has been a sleeping giant, hidden behind a mountain made of toy shelves. It was waiting to be awoken, much like the title speaks to. But ironically, all it needed was a guy who worked on a few Star Trek movies, which felt like Star Wars movies – along with the help of a mighty wizard (Kathleen Kennedy) – to break the evil curse. The force has indeed awoken, my friends. You can breathe a sigh of relief now.
The film’s greatest advantage is its new cast, and how well they mix with the classic heroes we know. We live in a world that demands to have a variety of heroes, both of different gender and otherwise. And Force gives us that in the best way possible – by giving them strength and swagger, unlike any seen in the franchise since, well, the original cast. Unlike the stars of the prequels, this new bunch knows how to handle themselves and are acting in a caliber higher than what we saw in episodes one through three.
Newcomer Daisy Ridley is the standout, along with Adam Driver and John Boyega, who bring a new level of class and sophistication to their roles. These aren’t the newcomer co-stars that Sir Alec Guiness questioned in A New Hope; these are professionals, plain and simple.
Ridley in particular comes off like a seasoned pro. She plays with the big boys, aliens, ships and other deadly objects like she is the queen of the entire universe, which after seeing this movie she might as well call her self. There’s a lot of great things in her future – a star truly on the rise.
As for our returning heroes, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford prove yet again that they are cinematic treasures, and the magic they concoct together on screen is still there, without missing a beat. And don’t worry, Mark Hamill is in the movie. Where he is though I shall not spoil, but when he appears, the biggest smile ran across this Jedi’s face.
Much praise should be given to JJ Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan for writing a screenplay that equally is refreshing while still giving the classic Star Wars feel. Some will argue that much of the plot covers familiar territory that fans of the original trilogy will know all too well. While there are some similarities, it never detracts from the story at large.
The only downfall of entering this universe again is time. Even in a movie with a 2 hour plus running time, there still isn’t enough space for every one to get their moment to shine . But that is what sequels are for, and new episodes are coming, folks. May those disappointments above be fixed by these future adventures ahead.
But who is the greatest returning hero of them all? John Williams. In all honesty, I have not been too taken with Williams’ work as of late. He seemed to be forced to pour out any remaining melodies he had, and the passion seemed lost. But I can say with confidence that Mr. Williams has produced yet again another beautiful score, one that I need to add to my collection in a heartbeat. From the softer moments of Rey searching for parts, to Kylo Ren’s scenes of rage, Williams captures them all beautifully.
Though somewhat safe, there are still enough elements to consider The Force Awakens one of the greatest entries in the franchise. Some will say it is the best since Jedi. I am of the camp, per a few more viewings, that Force surpasses that entry and sits closely on the edge with A New Hope and then the crown jewel, Empire, at the top. Establishing a new cast, world and story, this is the first movie to feel like a Star Wars film in a long time.
And these are the experiences we go to the movies for. To be taken to new worlds, shown characters that inspire us, move us, and excite our senses. This is what the cinema was made for. Welcome back, Star Wars, we missed you.