This review is from the early days of the podcast when we thought we were going to be hosted on Square Space. Obviously we weren’t and there was not place for this written review…UNTIL NOW! Enjoy this review for a movie that is almost a year old.
Stars Wars VII: The Force Awakens, is the first film of three in a new trilogy set in the Stars Wars universe. It was written by JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt. JJ Abrams also directed the film, and the story was based on characters created by George Lucas.
After the last Star Wars trilogy ended, a lot, and I mean A LOT of people were left with a bad taste (of gungan) in their mouth. George Lucas is a wonderful world builder and storyteller who gave the world the Star Wars universe and showed us the power of the force. Unfortunately he is terrible at writing dialog, and he gave us around 6 hours of it to power through in the 3 movies he wrote and directed in the early 2000s. Fortunately, Lucas was not involved in any of the writing or directing in this film, but did all the new faces in production and cast create a movie worthy of the Star Wars name? Is the force strong with The Force Awakens? Far and away, the answer is yes! This isn’t just great Star Wars style storytelling, it is the best thing to ever bare the legendary brand.
Lets get the dry parts out of the way first. Although I’ve dabbled in the world of special effects, it is not something that I feel I would adequately do justice to if I tried to describe it in full. Just know that The Force Awakens does a great blend of CGI and real special effects that presents a believable science fiction universe that is immersive. Every environment, space ship, and alien is breathing with life. Lazers shoot with satisfaction, lightsaber “woosh” with feeling, and things blow up in the best way that cinema can make things blow up. It’s beautiful to see and fun to watch.
Perhaps the best thing about the film is the cast. The stars of the original trilogy reprise there roles as their older selves beautifully. Harrison Fords Han Solo is still leading the life as a smuggler, but is ultimately a man changed by his family and the one’s he loves. Carrie Fisher plays princess now general Leia with wonderful determination and a new found motherly love. Luke’s appearance is brief but powerful, making way for Episode VIII set to be released in December of 2017. It’s great to see the old characters so many of us have loved for so long brought back to life, but it is just as great to see the newcomers in this installment of the saga.
Daisy Ridley plays Rey, the new face of the franchise. She is a strong female lead who brings the film a very fresh feeling of personality and hope. We trust Rey instantly, and feel as if she is capable of taking on all the evils in the universe. Where she comes from and who she really is remains a secret to be unveiled in later installments, but ultimately we are just happy to have her their with us through all the films highs and lows. She reacts to these moments with so much believable feeling that I felt to compelled to return to the theater a second time to relive those moments with her. We have a lead character meant for greatness just like Luke Skywalker, sees the world in a personal way like Anikan, and blends them into the most complete character to ever lead the franchise.
John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are the primary supporting characters who fight along side Ridley’s character Rey. Bogey plays a storm trooper gone rouge named Fin. An absolutely wonderful backstory concept that I instantly love. He meets Rey in the early parts of the movie and fights along side her through most of film. Of all the characters, Finn grows the most through the movies plot and gains our admiration in the process.
Isaac plays Poe Dameron, the top X-Wing pilot for the Resistance. Although he has less screen time than the other main characters, he plays a primary role throughout every part of the story. He is the first hero to deal the villain Kylo Ren first hand, himself and Finn collaboratively escape from a huge Imperial ship by highjacking Tie Fighters, and he leads a crew of X-Wings against a huge armageddon weapon towards the end of the film.
The final supporting character is Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver. He’s a former student of Luke’s, the son of Han and Leia, and the main bady in this film. He is introduced in the opening scene as a ruthless villain with crude intent. As the story progresses, we watch a he is torn apart by the battle between the light and dark sides of the force. This constant back and forth makes him emotional and unpredictable, and having a complicated villain like this one was so great to watch because we are left pondering what will become of him. So many times, the villains in movies are so strait on their paths of evil that we are left expecting nothing but evil deeds. Even worse, the end result of characters like this can be easily predicted long before the film is over and leaves the heroes victory over them feeling a bit empty. It was great to see how the writers did not place Kylo Ren on this strait path to doom in The Force Awakens. He might return to light or he may fall deeper into darkness, but regardless of stories conclusion, the character is great because because it allows us to wonder where he will go.
The film writes these characters, along with all the others in a grand story that leaves us wanted more. No line feels forced or out of place, no characters come across as annoying, and a strong sense of fun is shown in direction of the movie. Characters cry and feel pain, but there is always light hearted moments to keep us rooted. The wonderful droid BB-8 makes us laugh with its silent mannerisms and optimism, Chewbacca never ceases to be the perfect compliment to Han Solo’s fierce bravado, and even C3PO and R2D2 return to remind us that watching a Star Wars movie is about having the time of your life inside this super fun universe. Capturing all this along with the drama of the story is a true accomplishment for the writers. They gave the audience what they wanted while giving them something new to look forward to.
Great characters and great writing are what this film has. It has a lot of other things that are done exceptionally well, but nailing the things that matter was so important to me as a Stars Fan, especially after the let down of the last trilogy. I will always love the original saga that started these films, but I have give credit where credit is due. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is the best Star Wars movie ever made. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. If you have, go watch it again. It deserves it. Bercos Billions all the way
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