An Awakening: A Review of Star Wars The Force Awakens
By: Matthew Rembold
Note: this is a spoiler free review for this film
It has finally arrived. Perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year is hitting theaters drawing in fans of all ages. Star Wars The Force Awakens is drawing in fans without any end in sight. Box Office records are breaking at rapid speeds. Star Wars mania has begun. It’s time to see if the film can even come close to surpassing the large amount of hype that’s been buildup all these months.
At this point in the reviews, I’d normally give a quick synopsis of the plot, but for those who haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, it’s better to keep this spoiler free. The less you know about the story, the better. Since the trailers gave nothing away themselves, neither will I.
From the moment the iconic opening crawl blasts onto the screen, you’re set for a fast paced ride through the galaxy far far away. JJ Abrams was the perfect man to direct this movie as he keeps it very much in the vain of the original three films. Some people may take issue with how closely it sticks to the originals, but I did not. Abrams’ direction is great as it keeps the film moving at a quick pace so that the audience is never board, but also giving the viewers time to latch on to the newest characters in the saga. The action scenes are filmed perfectly as Abrams uses wide shots for every action scene to capture as much of the action as possible. No cheap, close up, shaky cam shots here; the direction is spot on for The Force Awakens.
In terms of acting, The Force Awakens receives top marks for the cast, old and new. Returning members such as Harrison Ford as Hans Solo bring their characters to life once more on the big screen. The real focus of the film; however, is on the newest members of the saga. To start, John Boyega is a funny and relatable hero in Finn, who I would give you more details about, but again…spoilers. Rest assured, he is a fresh face who gives an intense performance. You can see how excited he is to be a part of Star Wars just by his acting. Oscar Issac as Poe Dameron is also a memorable character who you simply cannot get enough of, and will no doubt be seen more in the following films. Adam Driver as the menacing Kylo Ren makes you feel for his character. The best villains in the movies are the ones you can truly get behind, and Ren proves to be one that will intrigue viewers to the end. The real star however, is Daisy Ridley as Rey. She provides a power house performance that will no doubt shoot her career into orbit. She displays a range of emotions like very few can and endorses you in her character. The less I say about her the better, but you will for sure see Daisy acting in many more films. She gives the Star Wars universe a strong female lead that has been lacking in the films since Princess Leia herself in the original trilogy. The cast, old and new, delivers as best as they possibly could.
Personally, I did not have many, if any issues with the story. I felt that it had launched the new trilogy properly even if that meant taking some elements from the past films. There’s one moment where something just happens very coincidentally and out of nowhere that threw me for only a moment at the end of the film, but in the end, I am hesitant to critique the story too harshly in certain regards. Some things might not have made sense now or in the moment, but they are clearly planning to continue this story and give us more details about this movie in the following two. I know that it might be a simple and easy explanation, but I want to see the following two movies before I get worked up over some details of the story in this one that might not have made sense now.
Overall I actually enjoyed the story in this film now, and I wish to see the next two to see if they improve this one. Clearly, there are unanswered questions in this one so that they are answered in the next two, but I also want to see if they provide us with answered to questions we didn’t even know to ask. The fact that I want to see the next two is a very good thing in itself and I’m glad that The Force Awakens makes me eager for the sequels.
Overall, The Force Awakens actually surpassed my expectations and gave me more than I could have wished for. When thought of simply as a movie and not this grand spectacle that has been built up for so long, it is still a very entertaining film. Some might complain that it is too similar to A New Hope, even taking plot points from it. While I can see these as valid complaints, I do not feel as if the elements taken from previous films are the focus of The Force Awakens. Yes, there are several points that clearly pull from the past, but the film acknowledges this while also making them take a back seat to the conflict between the characters. Aesthetically, there are clearly some parts of the original trilogy that are making a return to the seventh entry in the series, but these portions of the film are simply the means by which the film makers chose to bring their characters together.
I had a great time with this entry to one of my favorite franchises in film history. It surpassed my expectations, while also leaving me excited for the next one. There are many unanswered questions, but that’s a good thing because now I actually want to see an Episode Eight.