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By Nick Hintz

12/22/15

Star Wars: The Force Awakens picks up some 30 years after the events of Return of The Jedi. This latest installment of the Star Wars franchise tells the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Bodega) as they get wrapped up in the struggle between General Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) resistance and the First Order.

This film has possibly had the most hype of any released this year, and perhaps of all time. Quite frankly, this film lives up to that hype. The second the credits began to roll, my reaction was, “Wow, that was amazing!” In the best way possible, The Force Awakens is a throwback to the original trilogy and it gets right many of the things that the prequels got wrong.

The story has just about everything you could want in a Star Wars film: battles, light saber duels, the struggle between the light and dark sides of the Force, and more. The film’s dialogue is certainly an improvement over that of its predecessors and this film is certainly full of moments of humor, drama, suspense and emotion. Some elements of the story do seem to be almost directly taken from A New Hope, yet the familiarity in some ways is almost comforting and the execution is done well enough to overcome any harsh criticism. The film provides a nice balance between paying respect to the old while introducing the new.

The new characters in this film are absolutely great additions to this “galaxy far far away” and are certainly well casted. Rey is an intriguing character and a strong female lead. She is set up to be one of the main leads of this new trilogy and her character is portrayed in such a way that it leaves you wanting to know more about her. Finn’s character goes through some of the most changes during the film, and it is interesting to see his character evolve throughout the film. The two of them go great together on screen and both Daisy Ridley and John Bodega are two breakout stars from this film and a welcome breath of fresh air into the Star Wars saga. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is truly a conflicted and complex character which he plays well. Having to compete with Darth Vader’s legend is certainly a challenge that this character lives up to. He is shown to be much more human than Vader and his struggle between light and dark is something that will be real interesting to see explored further. I do have to add that it is hard not to fall in love with BB-8. The way in which the robot moves and interacts with the other characters of the film really gives it its own unique personality and provides well placed moments of comedic relief. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want my own BB-8.

To the film’s credit, right from the beginning, these characters and their personality traits are introduced upon first seeing them on screen. For some, this is well before they even speak their name. The best part about these characters is that they are set up in such a way that audiences will definitely want to see more of them. In many ways the characters in The Force Awakens perfectly set up anticipation for the next films to come.

The classic characters, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Leia are used well as they are integral to the story. They are not simply there for nostalgia’s sake, but have an impact on the story. With a majority of the story involving Han Solo and Chewbacca, they serve as a great link between the old and new films and really set up the climax of the film. Leia follows a natural path for her, becoming a leader of the new resistance. The introduction of C-3PO is certainly hilarious and well fitting for his character. Luke Skywalker is also used perfectly in this film. However, for the sake of not spoiling it, I can’t say much more about him.

The film is beautifully shot. The imagery is perhaps almost as iconic as that of the original trilogy. If I may add a note, several scenes seemed to work out really well in 3D. The use of practical effects truly separates this film apart and gives it not only a real tangible feel to it, but also a certain believability to it. For example, having a real robot built for BB-8 instead of a CGI character was a great decision. It helped the audience to believe the character.

Of course the score goes without mentioning. Once again, John Williams comes up with legendary music for this new film. The score has beautifully written leitmotifs for the new characters and wonderfully blends in elements of scores from the previous films. It balances between showcasing the beauty of these foreign worlds to amplifying the characters’ struggles and the adrenaline of battle.

The Force Awakens touches on something that made the original trilogies so popular. After the introduction of these new characters and really this whole new chapter in the “galaxy far far away,” I really want to spend more time there and get to know more about this world.

The bottom line for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that it is arguably one of the best films in the Star Wars franchise. It has made me (and I’m sure countless others) fall back in love with Star Wars. Honestly, I can’t wait to see it again. For the first time since 1983, Star Wars fans have a film they can be proud of. There is only one question left to answer: when did it become cool to like Star Wars? Not complaining, just asking.

Image by Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Force_Awakens)