Film Review: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Starring John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac
Star Wars is back.
Not back like it was in 1999. But really, back. I remember the hype and anticipation surrounding a new Star Wars film being released for the first time since 1983. I was much younger than, and had a lot less film criticism under my belt. But I still knew something was amiss. Yes, there were fantastic pod races. And yes – that fight scene between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Darth Maul was simply fantastic (the first lightsaber scene that was truly exciting by modern standards). But those aforementioned moments have become the only reason worth putting the Phantom Menace Blu-ray into a player, and that is dependent on whether or not you can get past the thought of terrible writing, horrendous acting, and last but not least – Jar Jar Binks. The prequels, were quite honestly, pretty terrible. And the fact that Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was the best says a lot.
Fast forward to 2015. A decade has passed since any disappointment we may have had with a Star Wars film in theater. And our beautiful, coveted baby has new parents. While we will always appreciate George as dad, Disney is the new kick-ass step parent that let’s us really have fun with our toys. And we get to play without getting all our homework done on the taxation of trade routes and treaty negotiations. This isn’t your father’s Star Wars. This is your grandfather’s Star Wars. And I mean it in the best possible way. Thank you J.J. (who will be able to sleep at night, knowing that he will never be referred to as “Jar Jar” Abrams).
The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. This makes it extremely easy to explain our returning characters aging 30 years, without stumbling over clumsy CG or prosthetics. Their names may have changed, but the good guys and the bad guys have pretty much stayed the same. The First Order has risen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire, and The Resistance is still fighting the good fight that the Rebel Alliance took up decades earlier.
We once again have three main characters: two male and one female. Finn (John Boyega) is a Stormtrooper who abandons his post after the first day on the job. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger living on Jakku, bound to the desolate desert planet for reasons unbeknownst to us. And Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is the Resistance’s best pilot (accompanied by the adorable, and most purchased droid of the holiday season: BB-8). Much like in A New Hope, BB-8 is carrying important information that must be kept away from the bad guys at all cost – this time lead by the evil and mysterious Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Fate causes their paths to cross, and our heroes must join forces to stop the First Order at all cost.
Director J.J. Abrams pays plenty of homage to the original trilogy, without feeling like cheap fan service. Much of the plot, and characters, are derivative of those which occupy Episode IV. Yet after the drought we’ve experienced since the first three films, these reflections are welcomed with open arms. These are the droids we’ve been looking for, so-to-speak, and the performances are anything but robotic. With juggernauts like Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) in charge of the script, the writing is fantastic – and the actors know how to deliver. Oscar Isaac has already proven himself to be one of the most in demand actors around as of late, and I bet we’ll see a lot more of the other two leads in the near future. The casting is truly fantastic, and that goes for Adam Driver as well. I had my reservations at first, never having watched a single episode of Girls on HBO. But I’m now a believer of all the good things I’ve heard about the actor.
The score is of course fantastic once again, thanks to the legendary John Williams. The familiar sounds you expect are all there, along with plenty of new ones to takes us on our amazing new journey.
We all know that the main characters from the OT are back, but I won’t say in what capacity. However I will say that their performances go far beyond mere cameos and fan service. As we’ve seen in the trailers, Harrison Ford is home. Not just E.T. “phone it in” home, but Han Solo is back. If you don’t get Goosebumps the first time you see him and Chewie (Peter Mayhew) back on the big screen, I’m not sure you can call yourself a fan of the series. Yet one thing for certain is that it feels great to have him back, giving the character all he’s got, and seemingly enjoying every minute of it. Carrie Fisher is now General Leia, but she’s always be our Princess. And don’t forget C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). It feels like a family reunion, except you actually want to be there – and you never want it to end.
Did I forget someone? Wait a minute, where is Luke (Mark Hamill)? Good question, and I’m not going to answer it here, or even elude to whether or not I know it myself.
Right from the get-go, I started remembering that these movies are supposed to be fun. Were we supposed to feel the rush of excitement, laugh out loud, and be glued to the edge of our seats? All without cringing at terrible dialogue and boring conversations about nothing? Yes. Yes we are, and The Force Awakens sees to it. There’s a reason that I go back at least once a year, and watch the original trilogy – skipping right over the prequels. And the reason is that episodes I through III just don’t have the same amount of fun and excitement that the OT has. Those first films are timeless, enjoyed by generation after generation. And I can’t wait to see what Lucasfilm and Disney have in store for us over the coming years.
If you have to sum it all up with one question that fans of the series want to know, it has to be: did they do it? The answer quite simply is yes. Star Wars is back.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an A