Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations      HubGarden      Recipes

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Film Review

Home > Everywhere > Cinema | Film Reviews | Fun Things To Do | Movie Reviews
by Adrian Kmita (subscribe)
Writer and Osteopath. A Sydneysider traveling the world solving life's puzzles. instagram.com/AdrianKmita
Published December 18th 2015
The In Depth Non-Spoiler Review of Star Wars Episode VII
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII)
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII)

Not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away, executives at Disney and legendary director and producer George Lucas made a deal. The agreement involved the sale of the Lucasfilm production company and all its film properties to Walt Disney entertainment for a meagre sum of around 4 billion dollars. Fast forward to today in what feels like a jump to light-speed and we now officially have the release of a new Star Wars feature film. Episode VII to be exact, or more accurately the sequel to the Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars The Force Awakens - Han Solo played be Harrison Ford and Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew
Star Wars The Force Awakens - Han Solo played be Harrison Ford and Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew

The film titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been over 30 years in the making. While some people may be surprised by the return of the franchise, it shouldn't come as a shock. The desire from the fanbase has always been present. Moreover, in a interview conducted with Mark Hamill around 32 years ago, the actor recalled a conversation he had with George Lucas. At the time George asked his willingness to return to the franchise as an Obi-Wan Kenobi kind of character. The idea was for Luke Skywalker to act as a mentor for the future generation. The proposed date for the sequel was around 2011, which would allow the original actors to age naturally.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Finn, Han Solo and Chewbacca
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Finn, Han Solo and Chewbacca

Since that profound conversation, there have been three prequel films explaining the origins of the villainous Darth Vader. The films were responsible for an extraordinary revolution in the visual effects industry, including the early inception of what is now known as motion capture. However, the films also spoiled every major plot twist in the original trilogy for an entire generation of new Star Wars fans. In addition to this, all the prequels received mixed reviews from critics and the public.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - X-Wing and Tie Fighters
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - X-Wing and Tie Fighters

As the old adage goes, everything old is new again. The mass appeal of a sequel to the critically acclaimed original trilogy has provided a barrage of speculation in the media and an overwhelming anticipation for the new movie. As a result of Disney's investment, and George's reluctance to face the critics once again, Lucas took a step back from any involvement in the new movie. In his place he left producer Kathleen Kennedy as head of Lucasfilm. Kennedy's resume is extraordinary, working with film makers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg on movies such as Back To The Future, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, War Horse, Munich and E.T.. Under the recommendation of Spielberg, her first first course of action was to recruit acclaimed film maker J.J. Abrams as director for Star Wars Episode VII.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII)
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII)

Since then, the addition of screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, responsible for writing the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the inclusion of the legendary actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill, reprising their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, has made sure there is no shortage of talent for The Force Awakens. Peter Mayhew also returns as Chewbacca, along with fan favourites R2D2 and C3PO played by Anthony Daniels.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Rey and Finn
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Rey and Finn

The Force Awakens also introduces a brand new cast in the hopes of carrying the franchise forward in the future. The most notable additions include Daisy Ridley as scavenger Rey, John Boyega as stormtrooper Finn and Oscar Issac as daring pilot and rogue Poe Dameron. A special mention also has to go to an incredibly frightening and heavily conflicted Adam Driver, as the evil Kylo Ren. Each of the new lead characters is incredibly different, and all have a unique story arc that should keep audiences entertained for hours.

Star Wars The Force Awakens - Storm Troopers of the First Order
Star Wars The Force Awakens - Storm Troopers of The First Order

From the moment the Lucasfilm logo appears and the Star Wars titles drift off into space, audiences will feel the sense of magic once again. The return of the famous John William's score makes it all the more real, as the opening crawl explains the journey viewers are about to embark upon. It is classic Star Wars and channels the joyful child within. The premise for the film, which is explained in the opening crawl sequence, is about the quest to find the legendary Luke Skywalker. He has been missing for years and both the forces of the Empire, who have since transformed into the First Order, and the Rebel Alliance, now known as the Resistance, are seeking information about his whereabouts. To add to the complications, the First Order has grown extremely strong in his absence.

Star Wars The Force Awakens - Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver
Star Wars The Force Awakens - Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver

We are first introduced to four new characters almost simultaneously. The cocky rogue Poe Dameron is on a mission to obtain information about Luke Skywalker's location from a secret source. The source proves to be not so secret after all, with an impending invasion of First Order stormtroopers over the horizon. Poe's companion, the instantaneously lovable and infectiously entertaining droid BB-8 sounds the alarm and Poe must make a daring escape. During all the commotion we encounter an unusually reluctant stormtrooper who we soon come to know as Finn. He is extremely overwhelmed and is resistant to the situation he finds himself in, as his counterparts recklessly engage the small village on the desert planet of Jakku. The level of ruthless aggression and efficiency demonstrated during the stormtrooper raid is unlike anything we have seen from the previous films.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Kylo Ren Played by Adam Driver
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Kylo Ren Played by Adam Driver

As if things aren't dire enough, we are finally introduced to the immensely formidable Kylo Ren. His dramatic entrance undoubtedly draws inspiration from the dark lord that came before him. While his appearance offers a homage to Darth Vader, the imposing figure of Kylo Ren resembles the amalgamation of an ancient samurai and a black knight returning from the crusades. Both bits of imagery appear to be very deliberate, with the former paying homage to the Seven Samurai, and the later being clearly evidenced by his choice of weapon, an erratic lightsaber with blades in the shape of a broadsword. The dialogue to follow offers some insight into menacing man's origins, right before he establishes the level of power he possesses with the force. In short, Kylo Ren is more merciless than most. The scene aims to establish Kylo Ren as a dreadfully powerful foe, and it succeeds brilliantly.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - BB-8
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - BB-8

Meanwhile, Poe's companion BB-8 manages to escape the commotion with vital information to bring back to the Resistance. However, his predicament has left him alone wandering an unfamiliar world. In timely fashion we are introduced to another part of Jakku where we meet Rey. She is a scavenger working to collect spare parts for rations. While she appears to have an incredible sense of self reliance, she seems lost and lonely with a immense desire for greater things. The audience will undoubtedly conjure images of a young Luke Skywalker from their memory banks, especially during the moments where we catch her daydreaming while looking out at the distance. The parallels with Episode IV: A New Hope are undeniable. Due to a fortuitous turn of events, Rey and the remarkable BB-8 cross paths. The moment of interaction between them is blissfully brilliant, and credit must go to the creators for being able to get the most emotionality we have ever seen from a droid. From here the momentum increases its pace, as the pair cross paths with other characters and evidently the First Order.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Rey played by Daisy Ridley
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Rey played by Daisy Ridley

Debutante Daisy Ridley is undoubtedly the star of the film. Her sensational performance as Rey will leave audiences drawing parallels with the great Luke Skywalker himself. Her personality is infectious right from the beginning, and she is destined to be a fan favourite for years to come. Her scenes with BB-8 are particularly delightful, and her emotional range is of a wonderful quality.It becomes quite evident early on that she is the lead protagonist on a quest to discover who she is. However, while Daisy Ridley provides the clear stand out performance, her charisma is closely matched by an extremely unexpected source.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - BB-8
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - BB-8

If the amazing droid BB-8 isn't equally the star of the movie, then he comes in at a close second. The shear quality of personality that comes from the droid is simply amazing. What makes it even more remarkable is that all BB-8's dialogue is formed from a combination of beeps, trills and squeals, which are all understandable to the audience. BB-8's unique expression of body language is the real strength of the character, especially when compared to R2D2. The character draws you in to the story from his first introduction, and as an audience member you instantly care for his well being. In short, BB-8 is incredibly lovable and exceptionally vital to the narrative.

Star Wars The Force Awakens - Poe Dameron played by Oscar Issac
Star Wars The Force Awakens - Poe Dameron played by Oscar Issac

Oscar Issac as Poe Dameron leaves an extremely strong impression right from his initial introduction. He is essentially Han Solo if Han happened to be an X-Wing pilot, repackaged with a more suave demeanor and yet a more animated persona. His moments of witty banter and high level of enthusiasm are entertaining to watch. Comparisons between his character and Han Solo are inevitable, yet he manages to make Poe Dameron a unique character on his own. His performance is a stark contrast to the drawl interpretation provided by Harrison Ford. On the negative side, the character is underutilised in the film, which is purely a byproduct of needing to service the other characters in the story.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Finn played by John Boyega
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Finn played by John Boyega

John Boyega as Finn is highly entertaining to watch, as he negotiates his emotions while redefining his role in the universe. He plays a wonderful counterpart to both Rey and Poe at various points in the story, and his interaction with Harrison Ford as Han Solo becomes captivating to watch. John Boyega's character of stormtrooper Finn is the first of its kind in the Star Wars series, and he manages to make the role his own. While his character arc is not as interesting as Rey's, it should be of great interest to see how his character develops as the franchise progresses.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Captain Phasma
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Captain Phasma

On the villainous side, performances from Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma provide vital contributions to the story. Gleeson as Hux is incredibly manic, which is in stark contrast to similar incarnations such as Tarkin from Episode IV: A New Hope. Christie as Phasma provides a dreadfully imposing presence, yet on some level she is forgettable due to her characters lack of screen time. Hopefully the character can be fleshed out further in future films.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Kylo Ren Played by Adam Driver
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Kylo Ren Played by Adam Driver

Adam Driver's performance as Kylo Ren is amazing to watch. From his introduction he is exceptionally frightening and a formidable foe. Yet he is unlike Darth Vader in many ways. He is incredibly impatient and for the most part out of control, yet when required he is incredibly ruthless and measured. It is a credit to Driver for being able to juggle such a complex personality, while making Kylo Ren an extremely memorable character. His character will continue to be a fan favourite for years to come.

Star Wars The Force Awakens - Han Solo played by Harrison Ford
Star Wars The Force Awakens - Han Solo played by Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford's return as Han Solo is most welcome, as the swashbuckling rogue acts as a much needed mentor for the new characters. Chewbacca's role is also essential, providing much needed charisma, humour and emotion to the extremely fast paced narrative. As the story progresses it becomes hard to imagine one character without the other. Han Solo is a much different character from where we last left him in Return of the Jedi. He is back to his smuggling ways, while it seems like he has taken a step back from his role as an integral part of the Resistance. He also appears to be conflicted and perhaps not as sure of himself as he used to be, all while disguising any doubts with his usual cocky quips that made him so lovable in the originals. The reason for his internal conflict is fleshed out further as the story progresses,

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII)
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII)

Audiences with extremely high expectations for the return of the other members of the original cast may be left feeling disappointed at the lack of their involvement. Leia Organa played by Carrie Fischer and R2D2 are used sparingly in the story-line. If anything, they act more as sign posts rather than characters providing any sort of narrative drive. Luke Skywalker played by the legendary Mark Hamill, has even less of a role. This is all despite the fact that Luke's character essentially functions as the major desire line of the story.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Carrie Fischer as General Leia
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Carrie Fischer as General Leia

Carrie Fischer's return to the big screen is an incredibly warm experience. Without a backward step she steps right back into the role that made her famous with ease. Her interaction with Harrison Ford warms the heart, as the audience discovers the state of their relationship. Her presence as a leader is as commanding as ever, while her performance conjures a desire for her to have many more roles in the future.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - R2D2 and Luke Skywalker
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - R2D2 and Luke Skywalker

Without giving too much away, Mark Hamill's contribution is also a most memorable experience. By the end of the film it becomes crystal clear that his role in the future films will be a highly significant and of great importance. However, it has to be concluded that Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the film is incredibly underutilised. Perhaps the writers missed a golden opportunity to tap into a wonderful resource that they will never have the opportunity to draw from again.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Finn played by John Boyega
Star Wars The Force Awakens (Star Wars Episode VII) - Finn played by John Boyega

In conclusion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most fabulous of rides. Director J.J. Abrams has done a fantastic job with melding the best elements of the original trilogy with a brand new narrative that is fascinating as it is entertaining. Minor plot holes in the attempt to keep secrets for future films is perhaps the only flaw to this masterwork, with the exception of the underutilisation of characters like Luke Skywalker. The John William's score is fantastic and has many memorable moments, but perhaps lacks the gravitas of the original trilogy. Industrial Light and Magic have composed an opus in visual effects, which meld brilliantly with a plethora of practical effects and puppetry. Disney and Lucasfilm have constructed a fantastic foundation to build the rest of their future franchise upon. While some of the original cast are severely underutilised, the characters who are serviced adequately in the story are all wonderful and have a bright future. This is especially the case with Rey played by Daisy Ridley. It is a return to form for Star Wars, and the unlimited potential for this exceptional universe is exciting to imagine.



Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  169
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? Possibly the biggest film of all time, over 30 years in the making and sequel to Return of the Jedi
When: In Cinemas everywhere from December 17th.
Website: starwars.com
Cost: Price of a movie ticket at your local cinema.
Your Comment
Articles from other cities
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists
Questions