I remember hearing about George Lucas’ nine-part plan for our lives on a bus to summer camp back in the 1980s. I thought that sounded like the most ambitious and exciting turn of events I could conceive of. Nine Star Wars movies were too much to hope for. For nearly a decade it really was. Then we got the prequels, and most of us just hoped that Lucas would stop, please stop. But then Disney stepped in, brought along J. J. Abrams and we were looking at nine movies again. Was this A New Hope? Or was the Disney Empire about to strike out?
You’d think that after blowing up the second Death Star the galaxy far far away would have learned its lesson. Alas, that is not the case. From the ashes of the Galactic Empire arose the First Order and their dark Jedi commander Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Ren is seeking out Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who vanished after his attempt to resurrect the Jedi order failed. Once the first order finds and kills Skywalker they have an open door to the rest of the galaxy.
Standing in their way is the Resistance, organized by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). She’s sent her best pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to retrieve the coordinates of Skywalker’s last known address. But the First Order comes around and mucks it all up. The coordinates end up in a droid named BB-8, who meets a young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley). Before you can say “Help me Han Solo, you’re my only hope”, Rey meets up with an ex-stormtrooper named Fin (John Boyega) and everyone’s favorite smuggler duo: Han (Harrison Ford) and Chewie (Peter Mayhew). A series of adventures explode across the screen as our heroes try to stay one step ahead of the First Order who are convinced that these events are leading to an awakening in the Force.
- A superb cast delivers a solid script (with a surprising amount of humor)
- Brings back the show, don’t tell, style of the original trilogy
- Feels like a natural extension of the first three films
- Or it is pretty much a rehash of A New Hope with a splash of new paint
- Some of the design choices seem to miss the fact that Return of the Jedi happened
- The death of a major character may be too much for some fans
You want to have a great time in the Star Wars universe, then The Force Awakens may be your movie. Bursting with interesting new characters, familiar faces, plenty of great humor and lots of action, the seventh movie in the franchise is a blast. It is also overly familiar and some viewers may find that familiarity off putting. For me it was just what 2-1B ordered. For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to the next adventure in the Star Wars series.
Scores (out of 5)
In Depth Review
|New opening crawl, same old ALL CAPS words.
|Finn's feeling a little blue after Rey is knocked out.
The approach was to saturate the new with the mood and feel of the old. From what I’ve seen, reaction to The Force Awakens is impacted by how the familiarity turns into fan service for you. If the movie crosses the line too often than the whole endeavor feels horribly calculated – something Disney is notorious for doing. But if you enjoy the mix, then suddenly you’re having a great time with a Star Wars film, and for a lot of fans that is reason enough to celebrate.
|Trapped between a droid and tough gal.
The effect is obvious, The Force Awakens looks like it is a natural extension of the original trilogy. That is often a complaint leveled at the prequels, that they never felt tied to the Star Wars universe until the second half of Revenge of the Sith.
|Han Solo tours - bringing the best of the galaxy to you.
|TIE is TIE no matter what trilogy you are watching.
|"They sunk my battleship!"
|Love the scale in this shot.
|BB8 does his best Lawrence of Arabia.
|Leia doubts the veracity of your claim.
What Williams fashioned is a Star Wars score through and through, but one in his current style. It has plenty of quotes for older themes including the main Star Wars theme, the Rebel fanfare, Leia’s Theme and Han and Leia’s theme. But most prevalent is the theme for The Force. Williams gives it some glorious treatments in this score. Listeners with sharp ears will hear a subtle nod to Darth Vader’s theme in one cue near the end of the film.
|There may be some trust issues here.
|Wait, is this Tatooine or Arrakis?
|Ok, who ordered two craggy old smugglers: to go?
In addition there are some good performances by Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and even Simon Pegg as the greedy Unkar Plutt. Then you have the silent but enigmatic moment with Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. That will provide plenty of discussion until the next installment comes out.
|The future looks bright. She better wear shades.
|Don't tell me mum that I'm planning mass murder.
|Couldn't we see her shoot just one person?
|I'm not touching you. Does this bother you?
|Time to play the HD version of Yar's Revenge!
That is my biggest problem with The Force Awakens. It feels manufactured in many scenes. The Starkiller Base is especially bad. It really doesn’t need to be in the film at all. I spent most of my first viewing wondering how stupid the First Order was for building yet another super weapon, when twice before that super weapon was destroyed. It reduced them as a credible threat in a way and hurt the movie.
|Don't tell me they stole the Red Matter from Star Trek.
That said, I understand the approach. The Force Awakens goes out of its way to assure everyone that Star Wars is back, it is fun and it is going to continue the saga in a way that most viewers are going to enjoy. It isn’t ignoring the prequels, but it isn’t using them as inspiration either.
|The First Order brings the brutal hammer down.
|I swear, he let me keep the jacket!
|A duel of the fates?