Movie Review: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Watch the trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens here:

 

In honor of the release of the ninth movie (technically) in the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, I decided to do a marathon of all the Star Wars movies. I had never watched them before, though I’d heard a lot about the grandeur and the goosebumps it induced. So when I did join the audience, I knew what they were talking about and why they did so.

The predecessor (in the episode sequence) to The Last Jedi, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is set 30 years after the Galactic Civil War where there is no Empire. In its place is the First Order, ruled over by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), the new Dark Lord. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is his apprentice and General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) leads his army. The rebel army is now called the Resistance and is led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and has the support of the new government called the Republic.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger who lives from hand to mouth doing what she does on a planet called Jakku. She comes across storm trooper Finn, who has just escaped the clutches of the Order by helping pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). The plan of the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, important for the Order to lay claim on the galaxy, is placed by Poe with his droid BB-8. The Order, detecting the presence of BB-8 on Jakku, launches an airstrike, and Rey, Finn, and the droid are thrown together. What follows is a story of confrontations and revelations that explain how history as we know it came together.

Daisy Ridley was touted to be the next Jennifer Lawrence, but I see more of a certain Keira Knightley in her. The eyes, the pout, the acting – everything reminds me of Knightley. I went in to the movie with a lot of expectations. But Ridley’s performance, I felt, was forced. [My husband retorted, “Because she has the Force.” I facepalm-ed.] Having said that, there is a fierce spark in her that is going to take her only upwards from now on. Murder on the Orient Express is a prime example.

The story of Star Wars: The Force Awakens seems like it has taken the most important parts of the original trilogy with a few different characters that are related to the earlier ones. It is a mix of all elements with the most important of all being the light versus dark debate that every character in the Star Wars Universe has going on internally. This gives you a heavy sense of déjà vu, but the overall outlook is fresh and awes you immensely.

Harrison Ford as Han Solo retains the charm, wit, and sarcasm as his character all those years ago. BB-8 has now replaced R2-D2 as my favorite droid. C-3PO hasn’t much to do and I am disappointed. Chewbacca on the other hand, seems stripped of all his hair. I like the Chewie from the original films.

The weird part of watching the original characters is how not ready I am to have to see them age. It feels like this person isn’t the one from so many years ago. This happened the most with Mark Hamill. As young Skywalker, Hamill was sprightly and charming in his own way. He is yet so, but it has grown deeper, as if I cannot recognize him anymore; as if I lost something as I watched young Hamill age into who he is now. Yes, I know this is what usually happens when years pass, but it’s just a feeling that I wanted to put out there.

The best part of The Force Awakens, however, is not the story. Instead, it is the way the spirit of the original trilogy has still been maintained. Star Wars: The Original Trilogy had visuals that were so realistic that they could have been made now and not way back when. There wasn’t much you could point out in terms of looking artificial or over-the-top. And The Force Awakens takes that legacy forward, using the technology of today and taking the effects and the CGI to the next level. The best part of it all is that it retains the essence of the original Star Wars movies.

Star Wars is, without a doubt, one of the biggest movie franchises to ever be made. And to get such a grand welcome back to the screen makes it all the more special. It’s energetic, it’s warm, it’s humorous, and it’s nostalgic. So many qualities that makes a highly worthy sequel. Director J.J. Abrams, who took over the mantle from Star Wars creator George Lucas, does as much justice to the film as Lucas did, if not more.

Though Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t match up to the awe that Star Wars of 1977-1983 created, it is, in its own way, a worthy successor to the original trilogy.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: impassionedcinema.com !

P.S. My chronology of reviews of the movies (as explained in my review of the original trilogy) will look something like this, based on timeline:

  1. Star Wars – The Original Trilogy (1977-1983) – Because it all started from there.
  2. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – (This post) Because it is the chronological sequel to the original trilogy.
  3. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi – Because it is the sequel to episode 7.
  4. Star Wars – The Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005) – It is here that the series jumps back before the events of A New Hope.
  5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Because it is the chronological sequel to the prequel trilogy.

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