WARNING…THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Reviews for Star Wars: The Force Awakens flooding the web have been overwhelmingly positive with Metacritic, Rotten Tomato and IMDB all scoring the film at an average above 8/10.
J.J Abrams has created a mashup with so much taken from the Star Wars canon and the expanded universe mixed in with a cast of new heroes and villians. For those that saw the originals in the cinema, The Force Awakens is a nostalgic ride. It pays homage to the originals in many ways from the epic imperial set designs, space craft and costumes to the quick witted humor of Han Solo.
The film introduces the new vanguard of the light side, a disaffected Stormtrooper Fin (John Boyega), and Daisy Ridley as Rey, the new face of the force and a worthy hero for the galaxy. Ridley plays the role brilliantly, a strong female character to which the audience has an immediate affinity. She lives as a scavenger on the planet Jakku and is an accidental hero that sports simple biblical-like attire as she roams the battle scarred desert, looking for junk to salvage and sell. The force is strong with Rey. She’s an excellent pilot, is really good at fixing things and also picks up light-sabre skills instantly. She’ a natural with the Force. The Force Awakens is a big tease with Reys’ backstory yet to be discovered. We’re given a tiny hint that she was deserted by her family but no clue as to why or what her lineage is. Star Wars is once again set up for sequel mode and her character arc will be revealed over the coming films. Much speculation exists over who she is related to. Rumours include that she is the daughter of Han or Leia. Or she is the daughter of Luke Skywalker or perhaps Ben Kenobi. If she’s this strong now, then what will she become from here? While difficult to see the future is, she’s going to become a truly formidable force to be reckoned with and we foresee some epic battles ahead.
Fin is her sidekick and also a reluctant hero. As a deserter of The First Order, he escapes and teams up with Rey. Together they embark on a journey much like disenchanted youth in a dystopian future film. Rey quickly lets him know she is capable and doesn’t need any hand holding…literally.
There’s a lot of complicated family drama fueling this story with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), trying desperately to follow in the footsteps of his Grandfather. Kylo Ren is the antagonist and is a dark soul tortured by the light, who is working hard to stay mean. Warning major spolier, he is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa making Vader his Grandfather. His real name is Ben, and he was once a Jedi apprentice under Luke Skywalker. When Kylo turned to the Dark Side, Luke unable to forgive himself, went into (scenic) exile.
Kylo is part of the First Order, reformed from the remnants of the Imperial Empire. The First Order has an enormous fleet and an all powerful planet destroying Starkiller Base. But the First Order appears weak, undermined by internal tension and politics between General Hux and Ren. Both Hux and Kylo Ren serve Snoke (Andy Serkis), who appears as an enormous hologram. Episode 7 leaves us wondering when and how will Kylo give in to the light. His story, like Rey’s and Snokes, will keep us waiting for the next episodes in the Skywalker family saga.
Other characters in the mix include a new yoda-like character Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), to dispense wisdom. C3PO reappears in his usual inopportune, awkward fashion. R2D2 has been in low power depressed mode ever since Luke has gone into exile and only lights up at the end when there’s hope of finding Luke again. Chewbacca is back as …well the Chewbacca we know and love. Princess Leia, now General Leia. returns along with Han Solo. Together they share wistful looks and brief conversations about the past which old fans can nod along with knowingly. BB-8 is a completely lovable new droid and deserves an Oscar for so effectively pulling on our heart strings. Oscar Isaac’s plays a vibrant Poe Dameron, a seemingly death defying resistance fighter, who makes a miraculous reappearance after he crash lands in a stolen tie fighter.
If I could find fault in this film, it would be to say there wasn’t nearly enough of Captain Phasma who appeared so formidable in the trailer. Some fans are poking a finger at the cheesiness, others haven’t liked the jokes. But the Force Awakens has brought a new generation of cinematic legends to the screen and pays the deserved respect to its predecessors and many are remarking that it outshines them.
The Force Awakens is fast moving with rapid action and cuts with waves of sentiment. I’m given it 9/10 but am finding it difficult to fill in what it needs for that last mark.
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