Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Directing8.5
  • Writing7
  • Acting8.5
Overall8.0

J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens slaps a fresh coat of paint on the series, introducing new and exciting characters to a very familiar universe, while also correcting many mistakes from George Lucas' prequel trilogy. Fans will enjoy and new-comers will understand why Star Wars is one of the biggest movie franchises in history.

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J.J. Abrams‘ long-awaited Star Wars sequel The Force Awakens is finally here, proving that George Lucas isn’t the only person that can create an exciting entry in highly popular franchise. The Force Awakens manages to retool the original film with a fresh coat of paint, bringing in exciting new characters to a franchise full of familiar faces and scenarios. The Force Awakens isn’t the best Star Wars film to date, but it does succeed in washing the horrid taste of the prequels out of our mouths, while providing the (clunky) building blocks for a new trilogy.

The Empire has fallen and the last remaining Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared somewhere in the galaxy, leaving the Resistance in pieces as they face a new danger known as The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his Sith apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

A rag tag group of men and women must now face off against The First Order or find Luke before it’s too late.

J.J. AbramsStar Wars: The Force Awakens kicks off the traditional opening credits that helps set the mood for a familiar, yet exciting new entry in the Star Wars Saga.

The Force Awakens introduces us to new characters, while bringing back old ones to help expand the universe.

Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are the new friendly faces of Star Wars, while Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Snoke (Andy Serkis) represent the Dark Side.

The Force Awakens is a film that’s going to please a lot of people, because almost immediately it’s clear that J.J. Abrams was the perfect choice to replace George Lucas as director for the new generation of Star Wars films. Abrams has always been a strong, action-oriented visual director and he proves his worth behind a camera with his best work yet.

He follows Lucas perfectly, respecting the original trilogy while also breaking new grounds and leaving the prequels in the dust. I’m going to be up front and tell you that The Force Awakens is not the best Star Wars, but it’s definitely the third or fourth best.

The Empire Strikes Back is still the king, while A New Hope and Return of the Jedi edge of The Force Awakens just slightly.

Part of The Force Awakens‘ problem at becoming something completely different rests with its all too familiar roots. Large portions of the film are lifted from the original film, like the Death Star becoming essentially a Death Planet and most of the new cast simply replacing the old members in similar roles.

The Force Awakens is A New Hope for a new generation and while that’s not exactly a bad thing, it’s far from a completely original idea.

Abrams does manage to establish his own set of unique characters, which are the shining stars of this entry.

Daisy Ridley‘s Rey is a brave and fearless fighter that has a strong link to the force, while Attack the Block‘s John Boyega finally breaks out as the stormtrooper turned rebel Finn. He really is the beating heart of the film. He’s cautious and doubting, yet just as courageous as the rest of the group.

Oscar Isaac‘s Poe isn’t in the film nearly enough, but the little that we do see of him shows us a character that’s energetic and welcoming, but mostly an aftertaste or side note to the dozens of other key characters.

Boyega’s Finn might be the beating heart of the film, but Adam Driver‘s Kylo Ren steals the show. Ren might look and sound like Darth Vader 2.0, but the actual character is so much more complex. He’s messy, emotional and unstable, which creates an entirely new level of darkness that’s crossed by light.

Watching Driver battle the force and come to terms with it is one of the film’s strongest scenes.

Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill all return to varying degrees, with Ford’s Han Solo remaining the standout character of the original bunch.

Ford hasn’t been this good in years and it just goes to show you how important a connection between an actor and a character can be to a film and their career. Ford manages to hang with the new group better than anyone and watching him back in the trademark Solo gear will bring streaks of nostalgia up your spine.

Sadly, Fisher’s Leia is wasted space, with absolutely no character development from the last time we saw her. Eliminating her from the film entirely would do little damage.

Those expecting to see lots of Luke Skywalker will be disappointed, because Hamill rarely shows up in the film, which isn’t a spoiler, but partially one of the film’s problems. Skywalker’s absence is felt throughout the entire film and the way the story uses the character for plot advancement seems weird and wrong.

The Force Awakens is the beginning of a new trilogy and that fact is felt many times in the film. Abrams’s film is often-times clunky in its attempt at merging so many things at once. Introducing new characters, while also bringing back old ones becomes a problem as there’s just not enough time or space to include everyone and give them their proper dues.

For example, Andy Serkis‘ Snoke is given barely any time or attention. You’ll probably not even recognize Serkis behind the horribly bland creature design and CG, which is surprising and confusing as to why they’d bother casting such talent if they were going to waste him.

There’s so much to love about The Force Awakens. Abrams understands completely how to both please the fans and also create an entirely new universe for his characters to live in. Rey, Finn, Ren and to some extent Poe are what makes The Force Awakens click so well.

But there’s also a lot to get annoyed with. The Force Awakens sticks to safe territories as it softly retreads the first film only with updated special effects and an aged crew.

There’s also the whole feeling of the film being part one of three that lingers over the entire story, constantly reminding you that things aren’t going to get resolved until later.

Abrams was without a doubt the perfect choice to direct the film. He did an amazing job shooting the film and bringing the characters to life, but the writing varies in quality and reminds us that he should almost always let others pen out his characters and stories.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a good film. But it’s not a great one. There’s plenty of room for improvement and I feel that Lucasfilm is going to make those changes in future installments.

J.J. Abrams has managed to top George Lucas‘ awful prequel trilogy in every way that matters, while also harnessing the magic that we all felt while watching the original trilogy. The Force Awakens balances strongly on delivering a fan-servicing film that lives up to the hype, while also throwing in a few new surprises and changes. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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