‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ film review

There’s been a theme in many of the reviews for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that being the phrase “Star Wars is back!”, but I can’t think of anything that better describes that feeling across the world this week.

In short: just go see it. Star Wars fan or not, Episode VII is a great movie. I actually consider my feelings indifferent towards the Star Wars franchise, but even I dug the hell out of this and can’t wait until Part 8. The fact that the trailers and pre-release material merely teased the characters, plots and themes, rather than outright spoil the movie, as the Batman v Superman trailer seems to, you’re better off watching this right now and reading as little about it as possible.

If you’re reading this and haven’t seen it yet, why the hell not? Here’s the rating, go see it, and if you have, read onwards.

Rating: 4.5/5.

Okay, MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW. You have been warned.

Wow.

JJ Abrams and the cast and crew did exactly what this movie had to be, and what they said it would be. It’s a movie for Star Wars fans. The fans still bitter about Jar Jar Binks and rough sand. Fans who saw hope in the pretty decent third prequel. Fans who have memories of seeing the very first movie back in the late ’70s and have been obsessed ever since. Being a fan himself, Abrams knew exactly what he had to do. Cut down on the CGI, bring back the practical sets, have a good script, give us some brilliant acting and then hit us in the face with spectacle. It’s an instant classic Star Wars for the modern fans.

My first worry for this movie was whether the returning veterans were going to overstay their welcome, making it tough for the new cast members to find their own voice…kinda like Scrubs Season 9 (yes that’s what we’re going with…). But that’s not the case at all. The story is about new leads being wrapped in the affairs of the old cast, but their personalities and conflicts are set in stone from their very first appearances.  This is despite the opening space crawl almost implying that the entire story is about Luke Skywalker going missing.

The trailers, teasers and even the poster deliberately fooled us. Observing the film’s entire marketing campaign, you’d think that Finn is a Jedi, but Rey using The Force becomes a key spoiler that hopefully wasn’t ruined for you.

The acting, one of the major elements that took down the prequels, is thankfully strong in this one. Daisy Ridley plays an exciting lead in Rey, up to the task of any challenge. And yes, they made her a damnsel in distress and then have her save herself, so that’s a good thing! Finn (the sweaty John Boyega) seemed to turn to the light side fairly quickly, but his words in the trailer alone gave him a backstory and a personal justification for his actions. You have to root for him – he doesn’t even have a name at the beginning!

Then you have BB-8, who I initially thought would be a derivative of R2-D2, and it is a little bit. They must have tried so hard to avoid an annoying Jar Jar Binks character, and they succeeded, because BB-8 becomes one of the best parts of the movie. There’s some good humour in this movie and this droid becomes a very important part of it, and I almost forgot about how important he is to the plot.

Adam Driver as Kyo Ren in a way seemed like a lightweight., but by the end you’ll both fear and hate him. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) I assume is the third lead protagonist, but will most likely have a bigger role in the upcoming movies in contrast to this one where he shows up and acts cool for a bit. I guess they wanted more time to service Harrison Ford’s last hurrah as Han Solo, who plays a much bigger role than both Leia or Luke.

While this is a fan service film, JJ Abrams should be commended for taking incredibly bold decisions. Perhaps it seemed too easy to make Kylo Ren the son of Han and Leia, but then to have Ben KILL his father. As I said earlier, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but that still got to me. I know that long time fans, some who saw the original Star Wars back in the 70s, just had their whole world lit up when they heard “Chewie, we’re home”, and then destroyed in one foul swoop. That took guts.

Force Awakens is for the fans, but doesn’t play it safe. Some may think it’s just derivative of A New Hope, and maybe that’s a fair argument. I don’t think that was a huge issue this time…BUT,  if the next movie becomes just Empire Strikes Back with Luke Yodaing Rey… That, on the other hand, would be lame, but I have high hopes.

Force Awakens got the fans back on board, and for me, now I’m one of those hardcore fans. I may not buy a Star Wars mug, but I look forward to the next two parts. I’ll even watch the spin off movies.

Star Wars is in safe hands for the future, but for now, the Force is strong in this one.
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