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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ // Throwback Review: Bringing Hope Back Into The Epic Saga

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of the biggest anticipated movies to come out a few years ago. Looks like its time to reflect on it since The Rise of Skywalker is coming out. Here's my throwback review of the seventh installment of the saga!

When we all heard that Disney bought LucasFilms and there was going to be a new Star Wars movie on the horizon back in 2012, everyone and I mean everyone was pumped to the maximum hype to see how it will turn out. The endless possibilities of what the story should be and which famous person will be involved. It was only ten years since we last had a live-action installment that we thought was the last forever. But the seventh installment of the beloved science-fiction series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was all that people were talking about, and it hadn’t even come out yet. Since it finally came out during the holiday season of 2015, it felt like there was balance back in fans’ lives. 

What’s the Story: As a new threat to the galaxy rises in the First Order and their leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) from the ashes of the then Empire, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is missing where there has been no trace of him anywhere. Rey (Daisy Ridley), a desert scavenger on the planet Jakku, and Fin (John Boyega), a stormtrooper who escaped the First Order, join forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in search of restoring peace into the universe once more.

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Honestly, before this came out, I would consider myself a casual Star Wars fan since I never had the tight knowledge of every single thing that was going on in canon. I was still a kid when Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith came out but wasn’t interesting in the series just yet. I love the original trilogy and I always thought the prequels were underwhelming. But the excitement was there for me when this was coming out since this was the biggest thing to come out of the saga after thirty years. The morning the very first teaser dropped online, I had tears of joy when the reality hits that a new Star Wars movie was actually coming out. Seeing this on the Thursday opening night in a full house IMAX showing as a fan might be the greatest theater experience I’ll ever have. For that, it regains my love for Star Wars after sitting through one phenomenal sequel. Because not only is one of the best movies in the saga, but it’s also the best Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi.

No other director could handle this when co-writer and director J.J. Abrams did an outstanding job taking us back to this universe that we all love. This is the same guy that brought back Star Trek in a rejoiceful manner that was like no other. Right from the first words, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…,” and John Williams’ signature theme with the title pops up, it will be the most exciting moment in any movie that year as it gave me the feels immediately. Even if new fans of Star Wars don’t know what’s happening, they will have no problem gazing upon a new story in this universe.

Figuratively, Star Wars: The Force Awakens pretty much fixed all the problems that the prequel trilogy had that everybody complained about. Though Abrams, along with co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, still wanted to keep what George Lucas has already done, they were able to breathe new life with a lot of excitement and thrills throughout. His direction is breathtaking from scene to scene in perfecting a fast-paced, two-hour ride that doesn’t slow down. Also, Dan Mindel’s cinematography captures such gorgeous wide shots when the action is taken place. 

Every single action sequence is jaw-dropping just by how well-shot they turned out to be and feeling so immersed. Anything from a lightsaber battle to Rey and Finn in the Millennium Falcon being chased by TIE fighters never became boring for a single moment. The visual effects were useful when necessary and didn’t take Lucas’ approach with the prequels when he used an abundance of CGI with not a lot of real locations. Abrams knew what he needed to film with actual locations, practical effects, and a movie that feels genuinely real. It’s a shame that this didn’t win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects because these were very impressive.

Ford makes a tremendous return as Han Solo. I was rightfully nervous since Ford probably hasn’t cared about a performance before this, yet you completely tell that he’s fully committed to playing this stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder once again. His character has so much depth and just realized he experienced all of these unexpected adventures in this galaxy. In the first scene he shows up in the Millennium Falcon after getting it back and says to Chewbacca, “Chewie, we’re home,” everybody that I saw it with applauded, and it was a moment of happiness from this guy.

Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

This new cast isn’t great, their phenomenal. The one new addition to the entire saga that stole this entire movie is Rey. She has to be the best heroine in any film maybe since Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. There’s so much passion into thinking why she’s stuck on Jakku and wants to wonder who her family is and why she’s been abandoned. Ridley was just an unknown before she was cast, and this is the type of role that’s a real breakout for her career. She’s a strong leading woman who can do pretty much about anything that comes to her. Idiots would go ahead and describe her as a so-called “Mary Sue” just shouldn’t have an option on anything else in the world.

Not just her, but Boyega, known for starring in Attack in Block, as Finn has so much charisma who was so great. Immediately, you understand why he doesn’t want to become part of the First Order and wants to help out Rey on this incredible journey that comes upon them. It just comes to show that stormtroopers are actually humans inside those uniforms. The dynamic between Rey and him was so believable as two people who want to escape what they previously had before or want to search something more showcasing great character development right here.

And a real Star Wars movie isn’t complete without a great antagonist. Here, Kylo Ren, due to the thanks of Driver’s great performance, has a great screen presence with him villainous and an understandable character with a great motivation just like Darth Vader. He isn’t just another Vader, and what I love about this character is that he isn’t necessarily complete since he’s still in training.

In talking about the old and new cast involved, Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) was just so cool as this pilot for the Resistance. Then there’s the new droid BB-8, which was both cute and awesome at the same time. Thinking that this was going to be annoying and just there to sell toys was the exact opposite. Also, there’s Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke and Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata providing motion capture performances that might not be shown enough but prove to be more of a presence in the trilogy later on, hopefully. Seeing Carrie Fisher back as Leia, now a General, made me smile for the first time I saw it, and the scenes she shares with Ford were both comforting and a little emotional.

The interactions with the old and new characters are simply a blessing when that’s what I went into the movie wanting to see. I also need to talk about the humor since almost all of the jokes made me laugh. Nothing was like the bad prequel humor, but some moments happen to be funny.

Many people have complained about this being too similar to A New Hope, and I would argue that it’s fine when it’s trying to be a little different. Two other sequels that came out in 2015 are some thought of the same problem were Jurassic World and Creed; both are good examples of franchises bringing it back to new and old fans are familiar with the stories and characters we still love. Sure, some elements of the story might feel the same, but I honestly didn’t care because it’s there to give us a story to attach ourselves to without thinking too much about it.

Adam Driver in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Is The Force Awakens a perfect movie? It isn’t if I’m being honest. There are a few problems to think of when seeing it for the first time and subsequent re-watches. Fewer problems than the prequels, so to say. Out of all the new characters featured in here, I thought Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones) was going to do more and she isn’t in it a whole lot. The scene with the Rathars on the freighter was probably the one time the visuals kind of took me out of the scene while still being entertaining. And finally, Starkiller Base is just another Death Star that isn’t quite as threatening, even though it one-ups it by destroying more planets. 

Not that this is going to be biased a review because it’s Star Wars, but it’s personally the most satisfying and most anticipated movie experience since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. And this shouldn’t be one of those movies where there’s so much hate for it which is completely unnecessary to hate on just to be cool. There’s so much excitement throughout that it’s very unforgettable when it ended. Totally standing on its own, and though it might feel like reminiscent of A New Hope or any other previous installments to most, it just shows respect to the original trilogy without copying off it. 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t just a movie, it is an event for the ages. This is so much a brilliant and entertaining return to the saga in the best way imaginable. Fans of the most popular movie franchise won’t have any problems with this adventurous continuation that feels so much human within the story and characters that universally anyone can love. Abrams outdid himself by directing the best movie of his career and making something that can define a new generation for those getting into the saga for the first time. For a decade that came out with a ton of humongous blockbusters, this one might just be my favorite because I love it very much.

Grade: A

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1 comment on “‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ // Throwback Review: Bringing Hope Back Into The Epic Saga

  1. Pingback: ‘Star Wars’: Ranking All 11 Films From Worst to Best – DC's Take

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