Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens


I'll try to avoid spoilers for those who haven't seen it but prepare yourself as the Force is strong with this one.

As the opening crawl informs us, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has vanished, allowing the dark First Order to rise. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has been tasked by Luke's sister Leia (Carrie Fisher) to try to find the missing Jedi, a trail that leads to the planet Jakku. Before too long the First Order and Darth Vader obsessive Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) show up and Poe has to hide his info inside droid BB-8. Eventually the small droid finds a sympathetic human named Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a stormtrooper with a conscience, Finn (John Boyega) to help complete his mission.Some old friends, new enemies and a planet size destroyer also enter the picture as Rey and Finn discover that the old legends are true and the Force has awoken.

While that sounds complicated trust me, The Force Awakens isn't. In fact one of the joys of the film is how director/co-writer JJ Abrams and company make a film that doesn't get too bogged down in plot or exposition-no long winded scenes about trade routes here folks. The film instead tries to recreate the charms of the original trilogy and for the most part succeeds while setting up the future of the franchise. Now it's not perfect but for the 2 hour run time it didn't matter, this was Star Wars again.

What helped was the performances. Both Ridley and Boyega were excellent, bringing feeling and in Boyega's case a welcome sense of humor to his character. Driver also sold his character well, showing a man torn between the light and the dark and not in control of his anger. But the biggest surprise is Harrison Ford, back as Han Solo and selling it. This wasn't the grumpy Ford of recent movies but Han Solo, complete with his trademark wit and bravado. His interactions with Chewbacca (a returning Peter Mayhew) and Leia also brought a smile to the my face and he jolts the movie to life.

The problems I did have it with were minor-some intrusive CGI, maybe too much humor (even though compared to the painful humor of the prequels here it was more hit than miss) and one or two missed opportunities. I can also understand that some feel it's a rehash of A New Hope but otherwise Abrams delivers a successful film that does stand on its own.

I might do a more spoiler filled remake soon as I don't want to spoil anyone's fun as well as see it again since it might change my mind. But for now The Force Awakens is the Star Wars film you are looking for. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Rating: **** of 4.

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