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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Review

Holy crap – a new blog post on PhoenixWave and it’s a Movie Review for Star Wars: the Force Awakens! My last blog post was for the other huge blockbuster this year – Jurassic World – and I figure what better way to jump start my blogging for the new year than with this mega-blockbuster that’s on its way to reaching $1 billion in the US alone!

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!


The Set Up

Star Wars: the Force Awakens was my most anticipated movie of 2015 … no, really I said so here almost a year ago on January 9th. This was the absolute first time I went into a movie knowing hardly anything about the plot other than what the teaser trailer showed. (which was VERY hard to do by the way) The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after Luke tells Leia that they can’t make-out anymore and then takes off, Han stops being frustrated about the love triangle, Vader goes up in flames, Yoda and Ben are pissed that Anakin’s ghost is replaced by Hayden and the Death Star is blown to bits. If you can’t tell from the trailer above (which is awesome by the way) there are new characters being developed in this chapter, the key one being Rey. New baddies show up in the form of the First Order causing chaos in the galaxy and they’re being bossed around by Supreme Leader Snoake (I’m guessing he’s a Sith Lord) and the red lightsaber wielding Kylo Ren (the apprentice who wants to be a Sith Lord). Rey finds a droid, the amazing BB-8, that happens to have valuable information for the Alliance/the Republic and buddies up with an unlikely accomplice – a Storm Trooper who isn’t exactly what he seems. We’re also re-introduced to beloved characters such as Han Solo, Chewbacca and Princess Leia to help keep things familiar. Will Rey be able to deliver the droid in time or will the First Order get their hands on him first? (oh and did I mention that the First Order followed in the footsteps of the Empire and made their own version of a planet destroying weapon?? – yeah … more on that later)

A Long Time Ago …

I can safely say that I have never been so excited to see a movie – ever. I’m sure at some point people were close to just telling me to shut up because it seemed like every 5 minutes I’d find a way to bring it up in conversation. Sure, when I was eight or nine I was probably exploding with anticipation to see TMNT but you have to adjust for the “kid factor” when you’re considering that type of excitement. No, this time, it was pure OMG it’s F*CKING STAR WARS!!!!!!!!! – excitement! It was dumbfounding to witness just how much the entire world got swept up in the mayhem of it all. From grocery stores, to toy stores, to car lots, to infomercials on TV, Twitter, and even Instagram – you could not escape the marketing mega-giant that was Star Wars. It even had non-believers scratching their heads and start to second guess whether or not that they had missed out on something big. It’s not very often an event like this happens worldwide and creates cultural impact phenomenon. Which is pretty impressive in of itself if you think about it; because, not too long ago they made 3 movies that were meant to do the same thing and they completely missed the mark. Yet, the fanbase thankfully never died and the magic of Star Wars has held strong through the years. I think a lot of it had to do with the known fact that everyone knew that George Lucas was no longer involved and J.J. Abrams was now holding all of our heart muscles in his hands. And I would say that he massaged those heart muscles just enough to keep us pumped for the next installment.

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The Force Is Strong With This One

What are some of the things I liked about Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Well, I’m sure that it comes as no surprise, but I enjoyed a lot of what it had to offer. I would say that the anticipation and build up to see this movie was something that I wish I felt before all films I’d like to see. It was so much fun talking with friends and family about it right up to the Thursday night viewing. The fact that I had to park a good 150+ yards away from the theater in another store’s parking lot was impressive to me and made it all the more fun to experience. Then to walk into a fully packed theater, sit down, and pay witness to the cheers and applause as the screen presented what we had all waited for was something I might never go through again with another film – unless episode VIII can do it. (which it might)

As I seem to mention in almost every review I make, casting played an important part in the Force Awakens. Especially since the lead roles were given to a rather young novice actress and actor. Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, was probably the most important role that the entire future franchise of Star Wars was hinging on – and she did not disappoint – at all. Daisy was able to give Rey strength, intelligence, weakness, humor, and innocence effortlessly as if she had been playing her for years. It was somewhat cumbersome to come into the Star Wars universe and not know something about one of the key characters but J.J. figured out a way to pull us along without leaving any doubt (at least to me) about whether or not she could carry the burden. We know that Rey is somehow tied to Luke Skywalker – but how? Is she his daughter? Is she his padawan? Is she a cousin? Is she someone else’s daughter that Luke was to watch over and train much like Ben Solo? To have her past shrouded in mystery is something that Star Wars really hadn’t dabbled with before in the previous movies and I for one welcomed this change because it was compelling to have to question things once it was all over. She wasn’t the only one with a cloudy past, FN-2187 or Finn (played by John Boyega), was somewhat of a mystery when the audience is introduced to him. Thankfully, we learn a little more about his past, as well as the First Order and their Storm Troopers, as the film progressed. What was really interesting with his character is how the marketing for the film made us think that he was the Lightsaber wielding hero – even though he wasn’t even close – oh sure, he definitely had hero qualities – but he doesn’t have any business twirling a lightsaber. Enter the red lightsaber guy, Kylo Ren, the dude that so badly wants to be Darth Vader – or, at least pick up where he left off. (which, by the way, what exactly does this imply? – does it mean that he wants to continue killing all of the known Jedi in existence much like Anakin did before episodes 4,5, and 6 or is it something to do with what Vader was doing for the Empire much later? … I’m confused … )

Wait … this review could possibly take forever and I’ve got other things to work on as I’m sure you don’t want to read me blabbing on and on anyways …

It’s like this …

The Force Awakens is A LOT OF FUN. PERIOD. It was even more fun due to the anticipation and the fans in the movie theater. It’s a wonderful way to re-introduce all of the existing fan base to the universe that we loved so much, and an even better way to get the new generation of movie-goers into the franchise and to bring them up to speed. If you’re someone who saw it and went in expecting an Oscar worthy film, then you should just be slapped. Furthermore, if you were someone who went in expecting to be astounded by the acting/writing then you should also be slapped. Go back and watch the original trilogy and tell me how good that writing is or how amazing of a movie they are as individual films? I’m talking Oscar amazing – not fun amazing. Too often I’ve heard people bashing Episode VII for everything it was never meant to be and it has become increasingly frustrating. Why is it that we judge movies so harshly now and can’t take them for what they are – entertainment!

Was the Force Awakens better than Episodes IV, V and VI? Probably not – though I could say I enjoyed it more than Episode IV and VI. (the Empire Strikes Back will always remain my absolute favorite Star Wars film thus far). The only thing that I will strongly fault The Force Awakens for is following the mold of the first trilogy a little too closely. What do I mean by that – well look at the following:

  • Bad guys and good guys are in a race to obtain the droid that is carrying secret information
  • Bad guys have weaponized planet that is very similar to the Death Star which was a weapon that destroyed planets
  • The masked bad guy basically makes a very similar introduction as with the first time we’re introduced to Darth Vader (though Kylo Ren’s intro is much more sinister)
  • Rey happens to live on a desert planet much like Tatooine (and she dreams of being something more – just like Luke)
  • A hero is tortured for information (presumedly Leia was tortured but we never witnessed it – would Vader have tortured his own daughter if he knew it was her?)
  • The heroes of the story eventually find themselves at a cantina of sorts in order to obtain infromation and to push the story further (which also helps to show other alien races exist outside of normal humans and wookies) …
  • The way the weaponized planet is destroyed is almost exactly like how the Death Star was destroyed (twice) and you would think that the First Order would have learned from the Empire’s mistakes by now …

And the list could go on with other little tidbits that are similar but those are the glaring ones that I can think of right now. Aside from the story being too close to what we’ve seen before I want to also say that having Kylo Ren take his mask off and look like a goth wannabe, whiny, “poor me”, little spoiled brat who had temper tantrums was a complete let down. I’m fine with him being a tortured soul with inner demons and turmoil, but the way it was expressed once his mask was off was almost laughable. I don’t fault the actor for this because I don’t think it’s his fault for the way he was directed to act. It just took some of the “oomph” and intensity out of the final fight against Rey. If anything that fight would’ve been ten times better had he put his mask back on – just to mask his whiny voice.

Sum It Up Lucas

Be a part of the experience – go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters while you can. It’s not just a fun and entertaining movie – it’s much more than that. It’s something that I’ll now be able to tell my kids about when they grow up – just as my parents did. About how I was there in the theater the night before the wide release – after years of waiting. About how the crowd cheered as the theater went dark and the music started playing. How we appluaded when Han Solo made his first appearance walking into the Millenium Falcon. How I could hear a grown man cry as Han was struck down by his own son. The list could go on – it was that memorable. And I guess that’s the point – it might not have been the “best” movie ever but it was easily the best experience I’ve ever had at the movies – and that my friends is definitely worth the price of admission.

Final Movie Rating for Star Wars: the Force Awakens: 8.5/10


Questions & Further Discussion

So what did you think of the movie? Who do you think Rey is? Who do you think her parents are? Will Finn become a Jedi? Will we be introduced to the rest of the Knights of Ren? Will Luke join the Alliance and fight against the First Order? Will Kylo Ren try and kill his mother too? Will C3P0 and R2D2 get more screen time together? So many questions … feel free to discuss in the comments! Thanks for stopping by.

 

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About Lucas Tetrault:

Lucas Tetrault is an Art Director who is responsible for the concept, design, direction, and end result of advertising, print, web, social, mobile, ui/ux and multimedia materials. When he isn't working at CS Kern, Lucas spends most of his time with his wife Celeste and their son Jacik. He might spend any other available time at the computer, watching movies, fixing his car, writing blog posts, sketching/drawing, messing with his phone or a plethora of other things. Lucas can't thank his family and friends enough for all of their love and support towards everything he does and has accomplished.



2 Comments to
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Review"
  • 1

    Great review Lucas! It seems we had pretty much the same impressions, as usual. And I’m in agreement – maybe not the best movie ever, but by far the most fun I’ve had at the cinema. Which is why I’ve been back three times since ;p

    As you said, Rey and Finn were top notch. I don’t think Finn is going to be touching another lightsaber (even if he wants to). There was nothing really to indicate he might be strong with the Force. If he was, Kylo would have likely sensed it and tried to train him up. As for Kylo himself, I think I liked him (just slightly) more than you did. He’s no Vader, but I like that he’s trying so hard to be. I’d say he’s under the impression Vader died trying to kill Luke rather than save him, so ‘finish what you started’ may simply imply that he wants to kill Luke good and proper.

    Alright, could talk about it forever still, but don’t want my comment to be longer than your review.

    Oh, and Vader cut off Luke’s hand, he’d totally torture Leia :p

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