FILM REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a force to be reckoned with! J. J. Abrams delivers the goods and so much more, ensuring this film exceeds all expectations and tops all of the hype.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first: “Yes” I am a huge Star Wars fan but I can promise you I didn’t watch this totally under rose tinted glasses but with an open mind to what I experienced. It was a visceral heart thumping rollercoaster ride and an excellent love letter to the originals, making this a great vehicle to launch the sequel trilogy to a whole new level. Do not get me wrong, the originals will always hold a special place in my heart but The Force Awakens is a fantastically well-made first step.
There is much gravitas to the film that it’s hard to share any of the details without spoiling *something* for someone, but I will do everything I can not to do that. The one thing that I can tell you is that if you think the trailers have given the story away, you couldn’t be more wrong. I walked into the cinema thinking that I had an idea of what the film would be about, who would do what, etc. but I had quite a few questions – Who is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and what’s up with his mask? Why has Mark Hamill’s role been shrouded in such secrecy? How does Finn (John Boyega) go from being a storm trooper in the First Order to crash landing on Jakku? Who is Rey (Daisy Ridley) and how does she fit in? What’s the big deal about the pilot Poe Dameron that Oscar Isaac is portraying? Granted, I had a few questions, but I thought I had a pretty good grasp of things going in. Needless to say, I left the cinema with my mind completely blown. I mean the trailers always give away the plot and the good parts of the movie, right? My hat goes off to J.J. Abrams and the cast and crew for being able to keep such a tight lid on all of it like they have.
To start this spoiler review off proper, the cast was amazing. After the hit and miss casting in the last three films that we saw I was worried that the newest cast members would fall prey to the same mistake. Rest assured that all of them turn in fantastic performances with Daisy Ridley possibly turning in the best performance from the new generation, although Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is bound to shock and he is most assuredly one of my favourite on-screen villains in a long time. Kylo sounds absolutely badass also and he carries the best lightsaber in the saga’s history in my opinion. The blade is absolutely brutal, you’ll also find out exactly what those smaller blades on the hilt can be used for. Although it’s been over 30 years since the original trilogy, it was great to see some of the old cast back together in the Star Wars Universe. Harrison Ford gets plenty of screen time and reminds us of why everyone loves the cocky smuggler Han Solo and some of the scenes shared with Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa were quite touching.
The special effects are a sight to behold, showing us that more practical effects over CGI are what make the Star Wars films stand out. The trailers showed off some of the greatness to be seen, but only give a sample of the awesomeness that is featured in the full release. The X-wing and TIE fighter sequences are absolutely breath taking, as is the first flight of the Millennium Falcon, which we had a brief glimpse at in several of the trailers and TV spots. Yes, the Corellian freighter looks like it can still make the Kessel Run in less than fourteen parsecs (you’ll see what I did there *after* you see the film). The lightsaber battles are as intense as they come and are as emotionally driven as you’d expect from the series.
The story is extremely well written and pays homage to the films before more specifically, with several scenes and pieces of dialogue referencing the original trilogy. As I mentioned earlier, the story does answer quite a few questions that viewers will have going into the film, but it will raise some too and leaving them, presumably for Episodes VIII and IX to answer. Saying that however the story does cover a lot of ground and the pace really picks up in the second act, but hits the perfect pace for a fantastic third act. My only slight issue with the story is that Poe (Oscar Isaac) does not share as much screen time as the other new additions to the franchise. I have a feeling that this will be rectified in the future instalments, similar to the unanswered questions that are raised.
John Williams is back with an absolutely amazing score. From the opening sequence to the end credits, this film sounds like Star Wars and will pull at your heart strings a time or two as the music and the scenes sync beautifully together. The overall sound design too is on fantastic par with all the great Star Wars sound effects that you have come to love over the years, plus some fantastic new ones. Did I mention that Kylo Ren sounds badass? There are probably kids that will have nightmares from his voice alone.
The film also has its fair share of humour, similar in tone to episodes IV, V and VI. Some may think there is too much, but I thought the timing of it alleviates the tense moments to perfection. Most of the cast have their little moments of comedy showing the light side compared to the real dramatic parts representing the dark side of the film (pun very much in intended).
Needless to say, this is a movie that you absolutely must see. Will it disappoint? I honestly don’t see how that’s possible. Yes, the film has a tremendous amount of hype behind it and there are some rather zealous fans out there, but to me it lived up to everything I wanted to see in a new Star Wars film and even surprised me at times. To me it ticked all the boxes and it captured most definitely what made me fall in love with Star Wars in the first place from a young age. Rest assured that The Force Awakens exceeds all the hype in my opinion and I can guarantee I’ll be making the trip to the cinema more than once to experience it.