In 2012 it was announced that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and without hesitation, the announcement was made that a new trilogy of Star Wars films were on its way starting with the then titled ‘Episode VII’ in 2015. Fans were both elated and a little worried that the franchise might become more in line with Disney’s ideologies. The fear around it was unnecessary as Star Wars was already the family-friendly franchise that many were against. It was because Star Wars was so family friendly that the people that harboured this fear were able to see Star Wars as kids and carry that love into adulthood. Despite the excitement and the fear, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in December, 2015 to the World’s largest opening weekend at the Box Office in history and, in my opinion, it was a pretty damn good film.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens ushers in a new generation of characters while having many of our old favourites return. The story centres around these new and old characters as they attempt to secure a map that would lead to the missing Jedi, Luke Skywalker. We see the state of the Galaxy thirty years after Return of the Jedi and we’re in a similar place. The Resistance, led by General Leia Organa is a secret, underfunded, unofficial army of the New Republic who was formed to combat the new threat in the First Order. Both want to find Luke Skywalker, the Resistance, to seek his help and the First Order to finish the Jedi off once and for all.
Our new heroes are engaging characters, developed by director and co-writer J. J. Abrams and returning scriptwriter from the original trilogy, Lawrence Kasdan. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a mysterious young woman who is clearly gifted in the Force, Finn (John Boyega) is a First Order defector who while trying to escape the regime helps the Resistance to combat them and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is the Resistance’s top pilot. Coupled with return appearances from Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han (Harrison Ford) the cast of good guys is very reminiscent of the ‘Original Trilogy’. With only one film in this new trilogy under our belts, I’m confidant to say that the characters were well fleshed out and we knew each of their motivations and intent – something the prequels did not offer very well. There have been many calls that Rey was very overpowered for her first outing in to the Force but I feel that most of that is an over exaggeration and everything fit with her character.
While Star Wars has historically shown what the villains are up to while the good guys are doing their thing, The Force Awakens shows them in a slightly different light. That most likely comes from (and here’s a spoiler for a two year old film) Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) being the fallen Padawan of Luke’s and the son of Han and Leia. The story has to spend a little more time with him so you feel a connection to him. He has conflict in him, a ‘pull to the light’ that Star Wars has never shown before and I think that’s where there is more depth to the villains. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is however a very black and white bad guy and he pulls off ‘Nazi’ in a pleasing and menacing way. We don’t spend that much time with Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) but from what we’ve seen in the trailers for The Last Jedi, that will hopefully be remedied in the sequel.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens sports a brand new look. The franchise now exists at the time that creator George Lucas always wanted it to. A time where computer graphics can achieve near reality and the film can become a fully immersive experience. If the first Star Wars film was created now, (the world of cinema and CGI would be a much different place, but that’s not the point I’m getting to) there would be no need for re-tooling and re-releasing ‘special editions’ because Lucas would have made them how he wanted the first time around (most likely). Everything is crisp and clean from the Lightsabers to the blaster fire to Maz Kanata (mo-capped by Lupita Nyongo). The Star Wars films finally feel as real as the can be, you don’t need the suspension of belief that you would have when watching the original films nowadays. All that being said, this film, Rogue One and every other Star Wars movie to come is here because of the 1977 original and ILM’s never ending push to improve CGI.
In the spirit of returning, as well as a writer and many cast members, John Williams a man who with out a doubt, helped Star Wars to become what it is, returned give the new trilogy that classic feel. He did not disappoint, the score for The Force Awakens is what I hoped for and some of these new characters’ themes have hints of old themes gone by which just connects the universe and wraps it all up in a nice package.
I loved this movie, did it beat The Empire Strikes Back? No. Did it take a little more than a few story beats from A New Hope? Maybe. But it definitely cleansed the palette after the prequel films and it opened up the Star Wars universe to bigger and better things. At the time of writing this we are two films in to the new era of films, The Last Jedi is just around the corner and Solo: A Star Wars Story is queueing up behind it. Until they make a bad one, which will probably happen one day, I will be 100% behind these new Star Wars films and I can’t wait to see more.
The good news is. Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out at midnight! Check back tomorrow for a review, but for now…
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Above Average