By Travis Martin
After years of waiting, after so many articles about it, I have finally seen “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.“ But does the film live up to the hype? Does it return the series to splendor? Has Disney and director JJ Abrams done Star Wars right? The answer: YES!
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a brilliant film that not only lives up to expectations, but skyrockets them past the stars. This film is so fantastic that it is worthy to be in the same high regard as the Original Trilogy. Seeing this film in all of its glory is a treat to behold. With a great story, strong characters, and amazing effects, a new Star Wars generation is being introduced.
Not delving too much into the story to avoid spoilers, the basic setup: Finn (John Boyega) is a stormtrooper who decides goes AWOL after see the horrors that his group, the First Order, and its leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) brought down upon innocent people. It is only after meeting Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) that Finn is able to escape and crash land onto the planet Jakku. It is their that Finn meets desert scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), a woman who is waiting for the return of her family. It is their chance encounter that their journey into the galaxy begins.
I will say that the story does move slight fast, and also does have familiar beats that are seen in “Episode IV: A New Hope.“ However, the sheer mystery of it allow the film to flourish with its humor, twists, and action that were written by Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt.
The protagonists in this film are awesome. Rey is a strong and capable hero who has her own form of baggage that she takes in great strides. Meanwhile, Finn goes through his own character arch from being an scared trooper trying run, to fully facing up to the First Order and forging his own identity. Poe Dameron is also a great character with a lot of potential, being like Han Solo if he had originally been a pilot for the Republic. The banter between these characters makes them feel fresh and alive.
Speaking of Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Han has a lot to do in this film, acting as a mentor to Rey and Finn. Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), now a general, is also given her time to banter with Han, which is reminiscent to the Original Trilogy. Although the reveal for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is dramatic in its own right, I wish there had been more of him.
Meanwhile, the villains have their own flare. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) has his spots to shine, but not that many, and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is not really given a whole lot. Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), although not shown so much, is someone I would like to see more. However, the real breakout character is Kylo Ren. Despite being behind a mask most of the time, Driver is able to convey the duality of Ren’s brutality and rage, along with his child-like fear and confusion. You honestly are not sure if you want to hug him or strangle him. If there is an heir to Darth Vader, it is Kylo Ren.
Practical effects also play a huge part in the film, as most of the alien characters will either be motion capture like, like Snoke and or in prosthetic like Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), or a combination of the two. This is also true for the droids and the especially adorable newcomer, BB-8. The action is also helped by the practical effects ladled into the CGI. There were times that I could tell that actors were standing in front of a green screen, but those are only one or two times.
I will say, that if anyone who had not seen the previous Star Wars film were to see “The Force Awakens,” then the movie would probably appear as a fun, but complex, sci fi-action film. However, this should not impede anyone from seeing this movie. If you want serious drama, humor, epic space battles, and a great cast, go see this movie. The force has finally awoken in “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”
Image by Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Force_Awakens)