Let me preface this by stating that this will be a rather short review, so as not to inadvertently give away any plot points. Please bear with my vagueness.
Recently, many classic and popular movies have received sequels or reboots in the past few years, including fan favorites like Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World and the upcoming Zoolander 2. But the stakes and expectations have never been higher than for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, taken on by Star Trek’s J.J. Abrams.
Based on the audience for the film, it was clear that Star Wars attracts all ages and genders, which is quite fitting based on the nature of the film. J.J. Abrams (who also directed Super 8 and Mission: Impossible III) makes sure to bring back what we loved about the originals (including the characters) and update it for a more modern following.
Nevertheless, this film was pure nostalgia. When the opening titles hit the screen juxtaposed with John Williams’ iconic theme, it felt like the universe I loved since I was a kid was welcoming me back with open arms. The plot of the movie is set 30 years after Star Wars VI, as newcomers Finn (John Boyega, Attack the Block) and Rey (newcomer Daisy Ridley) join the battle of the Resistance against the evil First Order. They meet both old and new faces along their journey. I was surprised by how funny the movie was, at least compared to the originals. In addition to the typical tear-inducing and nail-biting moments, I also laughed out loud more times than I thought I would have.
Seeing the original trio- Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill- in their historic roles is immensely satisfying and redeeming; J.J. Abrams makes sure to give these moments the hype and importance that they deserve. It is great to see them interacting with the new characters which serves as a metaphor for the film itself. All three of the new stars, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley, work together wonderfully and are written well into the story. However, I must specifically commend Daisy Ridley’s performance and character, for it is her journey that is the true heart of the film. Ridley has great screen presence, which shines through her character, Rey, and easily captures the audience’s attention and love. I look forward to seeing her further develop in the next movies.
Overall, the film was fantastic and greatly entertaining for audiences that have followed the series since the original 1977 classic, or seven-year-olds who have just discovered the universe. There is, unfortunately, a couple of problems that stopped it from reaching The Empire Strikes Back levels. At times the movie seemed almost a little too much like A New Hope, which is not necessarily bad. It is great to experience the magical new film, but some of the plot points and characters are almost lifted out of the originals. I also questioned some of the plot decisions, which seemed a little too cheesy or unnecessary. Part of this problem was with the villains, which were underwritten and not original enough as Darth Vader.
Nevertheless, J.J. Abrams gives the audience what they want. He recognizes the mistakes made in the prequels and makes sure not to make them. The main reason he was able to excel at this is by making Star Wars VII a sequel to the originals. We all feel in love with the original characters, like Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, not with the prequels.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
I feel almost guilty for not giving a 5 out of 5 review, but the reason was the plot, which I felt could have been stronger and slightly more original, while still making sure to keep the magic. The film was still well-made and compelling, and definitely worth a trip to the theater. I feel like the other sequels will have more success, like this was just the A New Hope to the superior The Empire Strikes Back. The end of the film left a lot of questions, which it will hopefully deliver upon.