Review: Star Wars – Force Awakens
Ten years have passed since the release of Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and we are now given Star Wars Episode 7: Force Awakens. Many Star Wars lovers cringe at the memory of seeing the prequels and in turn feared for how any future films would turn out. Thankfully, we got J.J. Abrams, famous for the rebooted Star Trek films, Cloverfield, Lost, Super 8, and many other amazing films, to direct the latest Force Awakens. But how did he do? Certainly there was an immeasurable amount of hype behind the film, almost too much hype as many other films praised before their release often failed to meet expectations.
Let’s go ahead and break down Force Awakens so that we might better review the film. Warning! There will be spoilers so if you have yet to see the film, I highly recommend seeing it as soon as possible!
Starting off with the aesthetics, the film looked wonderful. The stormtroopers of the New Order arrived on every seen with
their shiny, newly designed armor set, weapons, and looked just as menacing as the original troopers. The officers and the high command of the New Order looked very similar to the original as well with a few minor differences. On the loyalist side, the galaxy was awe inspiring and so were the newly designed black X wing fighters, command station, cantina, and the aliens themselves looked stunning and diverse, representing many of the less talked about species in the Star Wars universe. For our force users, their lightsabers danced across the screen in a fit of brilliant light in an expected yet enhanced fashion.
Personally, my two favorite scenes when it comes to how incredible it looked would be Poe’s blaster bolt being caught in mid air and held of a duration of time so we could see what raw, crackling energy looked like in a suspended state. The other scene that caught my eyes was the immense power from Star Killer, watching multiple beams of energy fire off to their targets in an attack that was so large it could be seen by neighboring planets in the solar system despite the time of day. Force Awakens gets major points for how amazing it looked.
Although the movie looked wonderful, this does not necessarily mean that it was a stellar film. So let’s taker another aspect, characters, and discuss them at length. The three main characters of the film were Finn, a renegade Storm Trooper, Rey, a deserted young adult who dismantles broken vessels for parts, and Kylo Ren, a Sith apprentice whose power is great but still unable to control his emotions enough to to destroy his enemies the way previous Sith Lords had.
All three were broken, incompetent on most aspects, yet had major strengths in other areas. Finn had blaster training, knew the inner workings of the New Order while Rey knew nothing of the galaxy but made up for it with her immense knowledge of technology, as for Kylo Ren he knew the power of the dark side of the force but lacked composure. I enjoyed the fact none of them were perfect and could resolve any situation despite the fact they never encountered it before.
On the other hand I felt that a few characters need more time to shine. FOr the New Order, two characters immediately come to mind: Phasma and the badass trooper who took on a light saber wielding Finn. Starting with Phasma, the previews for the film and even the beginning of the film displayed Phasma as a force to be reckoned with and was played by Gwendoline Christie who is commonly known for her role as the badass knight, Brienne of Tarth. In the film she only gets around 5 minutes of screen time and we never really get to see her in combat. For the anti lightsaber trooper, he defiantly yelled ‘Traitor!’ to one of the main characters and then fought him and won despite Finn weilding a lightsaber. Such explosive action should have been met with more backstory, the guy took a shot from Chewie’s crossblaster to the chest and it’s never talked about again. Giving this trooper a small scene showing he knew FInn before his leave of the New Order would have done wonder for the film, giving a small insight on the perspective of the troopers and how they feel about everything going on around them.
The plot of Force Awakens is what gets the most complaints. An evil empire is up to no good, unlikely heroes team up to fight against them, it’s revealed that one of the heroes can wield an ancient power, the gigantic space station capable of destroying whole planets has a single weakness which the heroes exploit, a beloved mentor dies, and the hero searches for a hermit who can teach her how to better wield her power.
Yes. It sounds very similar to Episode 4: A New Hope’s story line, but is that really a terrible thing? A New Hope copied a common storytelling device called the Hero’s Journey, granted it changed a few aspects in an amazing way but it’s not 100% original. Does this mean that Force Awakens could not use the same device? In my opinion I agree that many aspects were similar however Force Awakens gave us so much new content that it still feels original and fresh.
Aspects of the film that I loved were Kylo Ren’s struggle to fully commit to the dark side of the force and dealing with the fact he is no where near as powerful as Darth Vader. Finn defected from the Storm Troopers because he disagreed with the way they handled many situations. Rey refused to accept her force sensitivity and chose to live in the denial that someone would come rescue her if she continued her life as normal. These were conflicts only occurred because the moral compass of many of the characters were far more grey than black or white. In the original trilogy the compass was extremely black and white save for Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi when he changes his mind and defies Darth Sidious. It’s an aspect of storytelling that makes every single character far more human in many ways and I have to give them credit on this.
To wrap this up, I greatly enjoyed Star Wars Episode 7: Force Awakens because of the way it humanized many of the characters, updated aesthetics, introducing new characters while still highlighting older ones, and their inclusion of the New Order and it’s change in Storm Trooper culture. The few issues I had with the film were not enough coverage of the New Order, it’s politics, amazing scenes with no name characters that need to be expanded upon, and so on. I am confident that this new trilogy will be fantastic and I honestly can not wait for Episode 8 and 9 to be released!
What did you think about Force Awakens?! Love it!? Hate it?! Comment below!