Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

*****This is a non-spoiler review*****

It has been 30 years since the fall of the Galactic Empire.  And out of its ashes, the First Order attempts to rule the galaxy while a group of new heroes align themselves with the Resistance to help bring balance to the Force.  Our new heroes include Rey, a scavenger from the junkyard planet of Jakku.  Finn, an AWOL Stormtrooper and fighter, and Poe Dameron, the best star-pilot working for the Resistance.  Together, our heroes unite with the likes of Han Solo, Chewbacca and General Leia Organa in a space adventure both thrilling and all-encompassing of the “Star Wars” lore.

This movie was exhilarating from start to finish.  There was never a dull moment in this film.  The plot moved at a breakneck pace, while also allowing some quiet somber moments that feed off of our nostalgia.  As for the main plot itself, I won’t go into the details so check the spoiler review for the juicy tidbits.  All I can say regarding “The Force Awakens,” is that this movie is a high energy thrill-ride that has more fun in it than I can ever remember.  I was sold right from the very beginning.  I laughed a lot, teared up in certain places and had a huge grin on my face until the last frame.  “The Force Awakens” definitely hits home, and for an older generation of fans who have been waiting for a great “Star Wars” movie, this film is it.

The biggest fear that I had going into this movie was the new cast of characters.  I was particularly concerned with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as they are very new and inexperienced young actors.  However, they were the best part of this movie.  John Boyega was excellent as Finn.  He was funny, heroic, charming and really gave this movie its heart.  And Daisy Ridley who plays Rey, steals the movie.  She is outstanding and is one of the most badass women that I have ever seen in a movie.  She truly is wonderful and is going to be a mega super-star.  Oscar Isaac who plays Poe Dameron is also standout and I loved every scene that he was in.  Of course Harrison Ford playing Han Solo was every bit nostalgic, but he truly embodied the character.  He is still the smuggler, the space cowboy and the smoothie.  But he also is older, wiser and battle hardened as was Carrie Fischer playing Leia.

On the subject of characters, there were a couple of issues that I had with two of them.  First of all, actor Domhnall Gleeson who played General Hux was a little too cheesy.  I love Gleeson, (“About Time,” “Brooklyn”) but here he was a little too over the top for my taste.  He sort of resembled a caricature of a young Adolf Hitler.  The other character I was really looking forward to was Captain Phasma, the Silver plated Stormtrooper.  Her acting was fine, but she literally is in the movie for two to three scenes.  So I was expecting a lot more from her and we just hardly got anything.  Now the biggest fear that I had was the main villain, Kylo Ren.  He comes across as a new Darth Vader type baddie who could have fallen victim to being exactly like him.  However, the way they handled his character in this movie was brilliant.  They made him complex.  They made him human and extremely dynamic and Adam Driver was absolutely the perfect choice for Kylo Ren.  He honestly was my favorite character, alongside Rey.

Let’t talk about the direction.  J.J. Abrams had an enormous task in front of him.  He had to make a film that not only was better than the prequels but he also had to enslave a new generation of fans, while at the same time giving the older, hardcore fans (like myself) what they wanted from the “Star Wars” universe.  He did both and succeeded.  J.J. Abrams went back to what made the original films great.  He pushed the edge of technology with the special effects but he also went back to practical effects.  There were full-scale ships on set, puppets and new alien creatures with puppeteers in suits.  This movie truly felt more like those original films.  J.J. Abrams captured the spirit and the tone of what made “Star Wars” great so many years ago.

The John Williams score combined new themes and tones that captured this new universe, while also ushering in some of the old tunes from “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”  The merge of the new and the old was done really well, and it just wouldn’t be a “Star Wars” movie without John Williams conducting.  As much as I loved the score, the tone and overall adventure that the movie offered, the film wasn’t without its faults and I thought there were some issues with a few things that I will go into later in the spoiler review.  But I have to say, there were so few issues and they weren’t overly glaring, so I can forgive them because this movie delivered and that’s what I wanted.

“The Force Awakens” is the movie “Star Wars” fans have been waiting for.  There is so much love, heart and humanity that harkens back to the original films while also introducing audiences into where the future of this franchise is going.  The emotion is real and it is powerful and this movie will stick with you for days.  Before I go into the spoiler review, I want to see it again and marinade over everything.  My overall thoughts is that this is a movie experience that you do not want to miss.  Even if you aren’t a big “Star Wars” fan, go see it for the surreal adventure.  This is the most fun I’ve had at a movie in years and I cannot wait to go back and revisit this galaxy, far, far away.  Bring on Episode 8!

Grade:  A 

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