If I were to compare STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS to a Disneyland ride it would be Space Mountain. Twists! Turns! And plenty of moments that will make you scream! This has everything you’d want from a STAR WARS film. Adventure, excitement, and our old friends are back! For us first generation fans, it’s like going to a 40th family reunion, but with surprises we never expected.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS belongs to its lead hero, Rey (played brilliantly by newcomer Daisy Ridley) whose story parallels that of Luke Skywalker in A NEW HOPE. Rey teams up with BB-8 and a First Order Stormtrooper named Finn (ATTACK THE BLOCK’s John Boyega) who has defected from the First Order.
Through events which are far more fun experiencing than spoiling here, the three meet Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca, and together with Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and BB-8, they must face a new threat in the galaxy. But where is Luke Skywalker in all of this? That’s just it. He’s missing.
As much as everyone brings their ‘A’ game to the story, the film is stolen by the new roll-polly droid BB-8. This little guy has so much personality as a character that the viewer is instantly connected. He even gives R2-D2 a run for his republic credits!
Now we need a central bad guy. This is where Kylo Ren fits in. As part of the First Order he is tasked on a search and destroy mission by Supreme Leader Snoke (motion captured by Andy Serkis). Kylo Ren wants more than anything to please his master and when things don’t go his way he is prone to temper tantrums where he whips out his cross-guard Lightsaber and starts slashing anything in his way. Or, in Darth Vader fashion, Force-choking his own commanders.
THE FORCE AWAKENS expertly delivers laughs. Han Solo and Chewbacca play off each other better than in any other film. Even in the most dramatic scenes there is a tension-breaker laugh. The film doesn’t answer all questions. In fact, much of the character development such as last names are not revealed here, or even how certain characters got to where they are. But as a viewer you are excited to join the characters on their journey to find out more about their past.
J.J. Abrams (Director) does a great job taking over for George Lucas, even to the point of introducing characters in a way that calls back the original trilogy. Abrams shoots the fight scenes in Lucas fashion where you can actually tell what is happening (unlike battles comprised of so many tight shots the viewer can’t tell who is winning) Oh, and in case you are wondering, J.J. holds back on lens flares for future STAR TREK movies. Speaking of STAR TREK, at times THE FORCE AWAKENS feels more like Star Wars in a STAR TREK world in that the character banter and FX harkens back to his 2009 reboot.
There are moments in this film that will blow your mind. I can think of three right now, but I won’t spoil it for you. That being said, THE FORCE AWAKENS covers a LOT of ground in terms of plot. If you’ve been holding out on reading any of the Journey To The Force Awakens books or comics, now is the time to dive in. These books help set up a much broader and deeper world than a 2-hour film ever could, without giving away any major plot points.
There has been so much hype for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS in the past few months and many people have been wondering if the film could possibly live up to expectations. After the first fast-paced scene, the answer is easily – yes. And after you’ve finally watched the whole film, something you may have been anticipating for 10 years, you will IMMEDIATELY want to watch Episode 8.
All in all, the lightsaber has passed successfuly to the Walt Disney Company and the STAR WARS franchise is in good hands. As Han Solo said, “Chewie, we’re home.” I can say to fans of every level, we’re home in that galaxy far, far away….