STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
RELEASE DATE: 12/17/2015
STARRING: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford,
Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o,
Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis.
Ever since the premiere of The Force Awakens in LA a couple of days ago internet trolls have been doing their damndest to spoil the film for everyone else. I fell prey to one of those douchebags and while they didn’t ruin my viewing experience, it’s still extremely lame. Why would someone want to wreck another person’s enjoyment of a film? Are you mad because you’re empty inside and when you look into the mirror every morning you hate what you see? Those lifeless eyes staring through you and that cold facade you’ve erected in order to face an existence you can barely stomach anymore? Or did your parents just never take you to see Star Wars and you’re jealous of all the fun everyone else is having? Either way, get over yourself.
Now on to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
This is the part of the review where I normally do a brief synopsis of the initial storyline of the film, introduce the main players and things of that nature. I will skip that because I promised no spoilers in the title and that may be considered as such. So let’s say: The Force Awakens continues the story of the original Star Wars trilogy three decades later and once again we find the darkside of the force pitted against the light.
The most glaringly obvious thing about The Force Awakens after my first viewing was how painstakingly pure J.J. Abrams was to George Lucas’ original vision. The guy really nailed it. There’s no way someone who enjoyed the first three films will not dig The Force Awakens – I just can’t see it. It continues the spirit of those movies in a modernistic way that is emotionally satisfying while still showing a great deal of restraint.
The choice to mix in a boat load of practical effects, real sets, and filming locations alongside the CG was such a wise choice. One of the worst offenses of the prequels is how flat and digital everything looks. The Force Awakens is vast and wide open, like there’s a galaxy with personality out there waiting to be discovered. Puppets and man-in-suit creatures leering out of the corners, or the simple computer displays that harken back to the originals – these were all sincere touches added that didn’t feel like fan service, but more like continuing a fine tradition.
Another egregious blunder the prequels delivered was a real lack of a compelling story. Abrams gets back to the heart of what made the original trilogy so successful, a plot you can get behind. It doesn’t waste three films building up love and betrayal, instead it manages to balance them both in a crisp and concentrated manner within its runtime. There’s also a clear through line and you know the protagonist’s end goal right from the start.
The character development within the film is mostly successful. The newcomers Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) are instant classics and you’ll immediately be endeared towards them. Your antagonist Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is ominous, ruthless, and very much what you hope a Star Wars villain would be. I found myself wishing we got a little more from Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), both of whom seemed interesting, just not expanded on enough. All the original cast still have it and play against the new story seamlessly.
There’s not much that disappoints about The Force Awakens, and for the small blemishes it has, it doesn’t detract from the overall spectacle. The cinematography will awe you, the score will move you to tears (damn you John Williams), and the climax will leave you wanting more.
One last thing, the final shot of this film is perfection, and is the best of any Star Wars film, hands down.