Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review
Directed By: J J Abrams
Staring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 135 Minutes
Synopsis: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.
“A long time ago in a Galaxy far away” has never felt so relatable and so modern. This blockbuster of all blockbusters “busted” the notion that diversity does not sell. Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes the best of Star Wars, the best of JJ Abrams and mixes in some diversity and feminism to create the most intriguing and well rounded Star Wars universe. The Force Awakens kicks off a new trilogy of Star Wars films with a bang and will most likely be the most successful film of all time…until the next one comes out.
This is a film for everyone, if you are a Star Wars enthusiast, moderate fan or never saw any of the previous movies you will love this film. It is a modern remake of Star Wars: A New Hope that is relatable to people of all ages, sex, race and creates a feeling on inclusion that no film has before. As a black person who loves sci-fi so often we are not represented in planets or galaxies away from earth. The idea that all humanoids would be white is not only offensive but statistically close to impossible. This film also ignores the idea that a Woman could not be an action star and that you don’t have to sexualize her in order to get men to love the character. The chemistry between Finn portrayed by John Boyega and Rey portrayed by Daisy Ridley is magical and reminiscent of brother and sister as opposed to lovers. JJ Abrams decided to make the male protagonist somewhat of a coward with a good heart and the female protagonist as the badass who believes in herself but just needs a chance to shine. The movie also starred Oscar Issac a latino man who play Poe Dameron the resistance best pilot and cast Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in their familiar roles of Hans Solo and Princess Leia as 50th actors. The Force Awakens is a film that should eliminate these out of date, discriminatory practices in hollywood of not casting black leads, woman action stars, latino heroes, and older actresses in main roles. Carrie Fisher was beautiful and portrayed her character just as well if not better than she did 30 years ago and her age did not hurt the character and in my opinion it helped make her more likable and relatable. Going forward this franchise seems to be focused on diversity and inclusion and if the first film is any indication we all have something to look forward to.
A New Hope Remixed
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens is essentially a reboot of Star War: Episode IV A New Hope. It was not a copy cat but followed a similar plot line that took the best of that movie and added modern touches create the amazing beginning of a new trilogy. JJ Abrams has received some criticism for choosing to take plot point from the first film, but I believe it was the best choice he could make. Star Wars is a revered brand, but the prequel movies were not well regarded and most people consider the first 3 to be the “real” Star Wars. The first Star Wars was released in 1977, we have multiple generations of people now who would like the have “their” Star Wars. Children were walking out of the theater blown away by this movie and I can only imagine that what it felt like in 1977. This movie was needed to establish this universe, who are the good guys and the bad guys, and why we should care about these characters and he accomplished these goals masterfully. On a recent THR Awards Chatter podcast JJ Abrams responded to this criticism.
“I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!’ ” he says, adding, “What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards.”And he is absolutely correct. In order to tell this new story he must get people committed to this universe and hook people the way A New Hope did. And to be completely honest, this was much better than A New Hope. I know that may be blastphamous to Star Wars enthusiast, but this movie was more entertaining, more action, better character building, while still leaving tons of questions that need to be answered that makes you anxious for the next installment.
We all know a Star Wars film can only be as good as its villain and Adam Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren was fantastic. He was the young Darth Vader that we all wanted to see in Episodes I,II, and III. Driver showed so much range in emotion with his internal fight of light and dark and the ability to show weakness while still being skilled and scary. There is a scene where Kylo Ren receives some bad news and he basically throws a temper tantrum and destroys a computer system with his light saber. This scene was so important to me because you see that he is still young and irrational at the same time as being terrifying and dangerous. Driver makes you believe in his character and JJ Abrams gives you reason to invest in his story. Most films in which the villain is not the main star typically don’t give them a story arc to follow and invest in. Kylo Ren’s journey is not over and this film sets up some major questions to how he joined the First Order, why is he so angry, and why is he wants Luke Skywalker so bad.
Cinematography, Technology and Costumes
This film blew all other Star Wars Films out the water in regards to camera work and technology. Granted this film was released with 2015 computers and technology but they made great use of it, while going back to their roots of using real sets and props as opposed to all CG like in the prequels. The space fight scenes were beautifully shot with very timely cuts and from a distance that let you see the grandness of the planet and battle while feeling the intimacy of each fighter. You were able to see which fighters were who without back and forth cuts to the pilots. The light saber fight scenes with Finn and Rey and Kylo Ren looked incredibly real and not choreographed. It looked like 3 talented people who were untrained and unfamiliar with that weapon and that made the scenes feel more real. If Finn, who never used a light saber in his life were just a master it would take you out of the moment, but that did not happen. Everyone’s costumes were on point. The Storm Troopers upgraded costumes shined, Kylo Ren’s helmet was everything and a wonder homage to Darth Vader’s iconic helmet. I know a lot of Black women were upset because Lupita Nyong’o character was computer generated and I completely understand wanting to see representation of yourself on the screen, however her CG character felt like Lupita and felt real. The eyes and facial expression her character expressed made you feel like Lupita was on the screen and he acting came through the CG facade. And of course you can’t have a Star Wars movie without cool weapons and this movie did not disappoint. Kylo Ren’s light saber wit the lasers coming out the side was amazing and the best weapon in the movie was used by a Storm Trooper. I don’t know what that weapon was or its name I just know it was lit and and I think we will be seeing it going forward.
Although they are two completely different movies Star Wars: The Force Awakens along with Creed are the two best movies of 2015 and are movies you want to see multiple times and by on blu-ray. This movie hits on all cylinders in my opinion and if you have not seen it yet, your crazy, but its not to late.