Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Review

Short info:

Directed by: JJ. Abrams

Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford

Released: 26 December 2015

Genre: Science fiction/fantasy

No spoilers to be found here!

Even though I never was the biggest fan of the prequel-trilogy, I thought that Episode III finished the saga in a satisfying way. Very surprised was I then when the news about Disney buying Star Wars was released. Would it just a cash-grab, or would they treat the franchise with respect? As time went on, it started to look more and more promising. A young new cast? JJ. Abrams as director? John Williams returning to do the score? Almost the entire old cast back? Well, the time is now, the movie is out, how good is the new Star Wars movie really? Well, read.

The movie takes place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Some kind of new republic has been created in order to keep peace in the galaxy. However, the remnants of the old empire has created the New Order, led by Kylo Ren, and is bent on conquering the galaxy once more. The republic creates the Resistance in response, a military group trying to stop the new order.

This is only the back story to the movie, and as you can see, it’s very similar to the very first Star Wars. More on that later.

We are quickly introduced to our main characters of the movie, Finn and Rey. Finn is a trained stormtrooper within the First Order, but feels that he is fighting for the wrong side. It finally goes to far and he flees. He then meets up with Rey, a scavenger, on the desert planet Jakku. Rey lives a lonely life looking for machine parts to sell for food. Together they become wanted by the First Order and have to try to escape together. The characters are by Star Wars-standard pretty original, but it’s the acting that makes them the standout of the movie. John Boyega brings a lot of energy to the character of Finn, a very likable and fun character. The best performance however, is Daisy Ridley as Rey. She plays the character in such a mysterious, but also extremely lovable way. It is a well-written character on its own, but Daisy’s performance makes it a fantastic character.

Many people may brush Kylo Ren off as a simple Darth Vader-clone, but in reality he is so much more than that. Kylo Ren is the mysterious leader of the First Order, much like Darth Vader was in A New Hope, but he is also very much his own character. Where as Darth Vader was an experienced and calculating villain, Kylo Ren is younger and more prone to bursts of anger. It makes him a very different type of antagonist and Adam Driver’s performance makes him a very memorable baddie.

I can’t talk about the characters without mentioning Han Solo, who actually plays a pretty big role in the movie. It really is great to see Harrison Ford back in the role with Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca. His portrayal of Han Solo really makes the character seem 30 years older, and not just because his grayer hair. You sense that Han now is older and more experienced, but also suffered a lot of tragedies during the time between films. Being as old as Harrison is, he deserves major props for his efforts in the film.

I have been talking a lot about the characters of the film, but they are truly spectacular and my absolute favorite part of The Force Awakens. They are well written, acted and most of them see realistic and well-executed character development during the movie.

The original Star Wars was revolutionary for it’s use of puppets and animatronics, and with The Force Awakens they really tried to use them as much as possible. I think everything mostly works from a visual standpoint. It’s really nice to see the physical models of the droids and ships, it makes them look like they really belong there and it fits wonderfully. When the action begins the effects all look good and there are some really thrilling set pieces. There is a lot of CGI there, but I think it was all made with care and it looks great. There are some characters which are entirely computer animated, which makes stand out a bit from the puppets and real actors. I don’t think it was an awful decision to make them CGI, the effects look good and the can create some really visual interesting characters. But I don’t think it was really needed, they could have easily done them with practical effects, and that would make them fit in a bit better within the world they have created.

Like I briefly mentioned before, the story is a bit similar to the original trilogy, with the evil Empire/New Order and the rebellion/resistance. But the similarities doesn’t even stop there. I don’t want to spoil anything about the movie, but know this. You can tell that they wanted to honour the old trilogy, but in doing that I think that they almost went a bit to far. It is interesting to watch the New Order and Resistance duke it out, but it all feels a bit familiar. Both the movies even feature desert planets! Didn’t we already do a lot of this? I don’t think the prequels are masterpieces, but at least they tried to do something new with the story and setting. I get that we need good and bad guys, but couldn’t it somehow be a bit more creative? Did this movie need another Death Star? Not really, but since A New Hope had one, of course this one needs to have one as well. This is the major problem with this movie, all the small parts are great, but the sum of them feels a tad bit similar.

The Star Wars movies contains some of the best music ever written for films, but it saddens me to say that I found no new tracks particularity memorable. I know that it is a hard thing to beat, but you would think with John Williams at the helm that the movie would at least produce some remarkable music, but that isn’t the case. Of course it’s never bad, but I wouldn’t say that anything was great either.

When The Force Awakens was under development, it seemed like they added new actors to the cast every other week. And there are really a lot of big actors in the movie, my gripe with it is that most of them only has a minor role or cameo in the movie. Maybe they will be expanded upon in a director’s cut or sequels, but as of right now most of them has way to little screen time to be that interesting. I only consider this a minor flaw that doesn’t detract that much from the movie, but it still has to be noted.

I was very happy when the credits started rolling for The Force Awakens, I felt that I have seen most of everything that I wanted in a Star Wars movie. But that also made me realize that the makers of it also probably thought so and just followed a Star Wars checklist. Like I said earlier, everything is far to similar to A New Hope, some times it even becomes a bit ridiculous. The music is also a bit lacking of new interesting pieces and there are a bit to many minor characters not featured enough. It may sound like an just-okay movie, but where the movie as a whole may be seen as a bit of a disappointment, all it’s small parts really makes up for it. The characters are great, the acting is phenomenal, the writing is always at least very good, sometimes great and all the visual effects are refreshing to see. Overall, the movie is better as a sum of it’s individual parts than the whole picture and a movie that will certainly please most of the Star Wars fans and regular viewers as well.

7

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