After a long time of anticipation and speculation by fans, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has finally opened in theaters around the world. Millions flocked to their local theaters, many wearing costumes and bringing memorabilia to the shows. But was all the hype worth it? Does J.J. Abrams breathe some much-needed life into the epic saga that is that Star Wars Franchise? And, most importantly, was the movie good and does it live up to its predecessors (you know which ones….). And the answer to that, at least in my own opinion, is yes. Yes it did. It not only honors the franchise but the movie stamps out its own right to the title of Star Wars by delivering a truly entertaining galactic-scale film that both the old generation and new generation of fans can appreciate and enjoy.
Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a defector named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey (Daisy Ridley), a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last of the Jedi Knights.
Now, for the most part, I kept myself free of spoilers and information about the movie. I didn’t traverse the message boards that were filled with theory after theory about the movie so my opinion on the film hadn’t been tarnished when I saw the film. I really didn’t know what to expect at all and, you know what? I really enjoyed The Force Awakens, it felt as though I was watching a part of the original franchise in a lot of the movie. And I do not mean in a way where it felt like the exact same movie, although many similarities can be made with A New Hope, the film did a fine job stamping out its own legacy and story for future films.
There were a lot of nods to the old franchise both in story similarities and in themes. Seriously, I think we are all getting tired of seeing the Death Star, aren’t we? And in this movie we get the Starkiller base, which is an ice planet that was converted into a stronghold of the first order that has the capability of destroying entire star systems, that looks and feels like a mega-deathstar and even has a vital weak point, though different from the Deathstar’s. And the whole relationship between Leia and Han felt a bit forced for me… maybe Leia’s acting chops weren’t there or maybe she was just written poorly but it all felt extremely cheesy to me.
However, the force Awakens is as much about the new blood to the series as it is about older characters. In this film, we get a whole host of new main characters that this series of films will focus on. Most importantly Rey, Kylo Ren , Finn and BB-8. And I wasn’t sure if I would like these characters based on the trailers, but they all did a wonderful job in the movie. While I think Kylo Ren stole the show as the dark leader of the first order that struggles throughout the film battling the “light” and “dark” sides within himself. My only real issues with his character are (1) I don’t think they should have revealed his face in this film, they really didn’t have to it did nothing for the story especially when you consider the fact that we already knew he was Solo’s son. I just think he was most menacing when he didn’t have a face and I think certain scenes (especially the ones with him and his dad) would have been more effective had their been some mystery….plus the dude looks like Severus Snape from high school. (2) And this might be a bit of a spoiler, but he didn’t seem all that powerful especially when both Finn and Rey can sort of keep up with him from a physical standpoint.
Finn and Rey, however, definitely held their own as interesting characters…well… less Rey and more Finn. He just has a more compelling story to me. He was a storm trooper, taken away from his family at a young age and essentially bread to be a warrior for The First Order. Until his very first battle where he makes a choice NOT to fight for them. He escapes with a pilot from the rebellion and sort of stumbles his way into fighting with the resistance when all he wants to do is get far far away. Whereas Rey stumbled upon BB-8, a droid that has information that is sought after by the first order, and we find out as the movie progresses that she has a lot of power within her that has been awakened. In this way, I felt as though Abbrams may have played a bit fast and loose with the force during many scenes with Rey in particular and making her a prodigy of sorts is not a great choice, in my opinion, for a leading character as it makes them unrelatable. I just hope this gets fixed with her eventual training that I am sure will happen as we see her actually struggle to get better (not just think for a few moments and figure shit out).
Also, BB-8 has to be the cutest droid to ever live, right? They created him with so much personality and charm! He was like having an adorable but judgy pet along for the ride. All I am saying is that I want one. A real one!
The Force Awakens may not be the best film of the year, but it is in the discussion. However, I think we can all agree that it is one of the best Star Wars films in a very very very long time. The movie is action packed and did a great job of building on the old world that it comes from. The First order felt truly menacing and Kylo Ren seems to be an extremely compelling anti-hero that the films will center on in the future. The films only really big flaws, in my opinion, was possibly playing fast and loose with the force when it comes to Rey and making copying themes from the originals a bit too much. However, if you are fairly new to the franchise, I think you will really enjoy the epic scale of this film and how well everything was done. I am excited to see where this saga goes and excited to see what park Mark Hamill has to play in it.