Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Issac, Adam Driver, Lupita N’yongo
Directed By: JJ Abrams

Depending on which generation you’re from, you’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Either you were introduced to Star Wars through its initial release, rerelease, prequels, or even more recently in preparation for Episode VII. There are going to be a lot of opinions on The Force Awakens from fans for years to come. Analyzing, breaking down, and figuring out just where this new film fits in with the “rankings”. Is it better than half of them? Any of them? All of them? The debate will rage on for years.

As perhaps just another pat on the back for JJ Abrams, or possibly as just “one more person” you know who liked it, I’ll say I think it’s far better than the entire prequel trilogy, and perhaps the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. Yes, I even think it might be better than Return of the Jedi. It’s almost impossible to really “get into it” without talking about spoilers, and since my review is being published so early, I’m not going to “get into it”. We’re going to lightly graze over the story, so as to not spoil major plot points for those still waiting to see the film this weekend.

First off, if you’ve read spoilers online, they’re probably half-true. I had read several spoilers online where some of it ended up being true, and others ended up false. So, don’t be mislead by what you read online. Even the most well thought out spoilers could be half full of crap. The new saga is clearly shaping up to have a trio of core protagonists, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac). I don’t feel like that’s a spoiler, but they’re shaping up to be the new Luke/Leia/Han for a new generation. I thought each new hero was set up rather well, and by the end of the film, all were true heroes, and earned their place in Star Wars Canon. There’s also a villain, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and depending on how you feel about him… well… I loved the film, and Ren is no Vader.

I think that’s the point though. He’s not Darth Vader yet, much like Anakin Skywalker wasn’t. He’s desperately trying to be as powerful as Vader, but that eludes him somehow. He begs for more darkness from his master, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis, doing some great motion capture again), but I think we won’t see that darkness until 8 or 9.

If you’re a parent, you’re going to be buying your kids a lot of BB-8 toys. He’s somehow an adorable version of R2D2. For a character that only speaks in beeps and sounds, he has a remarkable personality and offers a lot to the script, much the same way R2D2 did for the first six films. Don’t worry, R2D2 is back, as is C-3PO. The best part about being mechanic is you don’t age, something that keeps Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) on the sideline. True, Han has a few action sequences, but he’s limited by his age. His running is actually jogging.

I promised no spoilers (but this might be a tiny spoiler). The film goes to great lengths to make sure that Luke Skywalker is not needed for Episode 7. The Force Awakens is the official title, but it could also be called The Search For Luke Skywalker. The entire plot of the film actually revolves around trying to find Luke, so it would be a spoiler for me to say whether or not anyone actually ever does. But keep that in mind if you were hoping for tons and tons of Luke Skywalker action. The way the plot is set up prohibits that from happening.

One of the reasons I loved The Force Awakens is because it doesn’t feel entirely like a Star Wars film. The way it was shot, was not in a way to “mimic” George Lucas’s look in any way. This is a JJ Abrams film, 100%. It looks different, and feels different. It’s still very much a love letter to the original film, and it tells a great story with great characters. But this is a new story from a new director. Keep that in mind.

It’ll be fun to actually debate key plot points from the film later when everyone isn’t so picky about spoilers, but for now… may the force be with you.

FINAL GRADE: A

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