Star Wars: The Force Awakens
SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Recommended For: Ages 8 to Adult
Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence)
Thirty years after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire, Rey, a scavenger from the planet Jakku, finds a BB-8 droid that knows the whereabouts of the long-lost Luke Skywalker. Rey, as well as a rogue stormtrooper and two space smugglers, are thrown into the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order.
I used to be a huge Star Wars fan. I loved the saga. Then I fell out of it for awhile (long story). I didn't care all that much. When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, it came back into my attention, somewhat. I knew they were going to make more movies, but I didn't really think they'd be any good. Especially when I heard that one of the films they wanted to make was a Han Solo prequel (which I've now decided I'm interested in). I thought the Disney Star Wars movies would either be really good or really bad, if I thought about it at all.
When the trailers started coming out, I began to be interested. It looked like a pretty cool movie, but I was still apprehensive (this from a girl who doesn't understand why Jar Jar Binks is so hated). We rewatched the movies, out of order, part of the time showing them to a friend who had somehow never seen any of them. I started to remember how I loved the story. And I started to get hyped up about The Force Awakens. I couldn't help it. Movie excitement is catching. I got super excited about it when I made some kids' Star Wars costumes for the premier. And then when practically everyone we knew said it was fantastic and amazing and a must see, I knew I HAD to see it. I was very excited. Armed with a Carmike Cinemas gift card, I went to the theater prepared to be amazed. It did not disappoint. Unless you count the fact that it ended and Episode VIII doesn't come out until May 2017. EDIT: The release date has since been moved back to December of 2017. :(
It was the best made Star Wars movie of all time. The other movies have their technical faults, poor CGI, bad acting, dialogue the actors complained about, etc., but this had none of that. Technology is at the point where CGI doesn't have to look like CGI, and Disney isn't going to let their actors do a bad job. JJ Abrams is a FAR better director than George Lucas. (IMO, Lucas should have brought Spielburg on to direct the way he did for Indiana Jones.) Disney knows how to do a movie right. Yet, they were extremely careful to keep the same feel to the movie as the originals and the prequels. From the beginning crawler to the transitions to the star destroyers and x-wing fighters, this movie LOOKS like a Star Wars movie. And John Williams's score is as superb as ever. It seamlessly weaves old themes with new, creating a brilliant masterpiece of music. And ALL THE REFERENCES. This was a movie made by fans of the original FOR fans of the original, to be sure.
I'm only deducting a point because the theology of the Force isn't exactly Christian. I'm not going to give a treatise on that, you can find it in the Cosmic Humanist section of Understanding the Times if you're interested. But there was rather less of a lesson on it than in previous movies, which is kind of what I expected from Disney. The settings were great. It flowed naturally from the worldbuilding of all the previous movies, despite introducing new planets. I don't think any old ones were revisited. (Rey is on Jakku, not Tatooine, apparently the galaxy has more than one desert planet.) Lots of old ships were there, star destroyers, x-wing fighters, TIE fighters, the Millennium Falcon. If I hadn't been sitting in a packed movie theater, I would have squealed out loud when Rey called it "garbage." The most amazing thing about the movie is that the Falcon's hyperdrive worked every time. ;) I wasn't sure how I'd like the introduction of a new model of droid, but BB-8 is a fantastic little droid.
They did borrow a good bit from the original, but they did it so fantastically I didn't mind one bit. I have heard a person or two complain about that, but I've also heard people praise it for all its throwbacks to the original movie. So it's really a matter of opinion. And despite the throwbacks to original material, it has a TON of new material as well. It opens up so many new storylines, asks so many new questions, preps the viewer for an unfolding story that can't possibly be told in less than a full trilogy. I have to be careful what I say, because I'm sure there are SOME people who have managed to not see it yet, and for the sake of that small population, I want to do my best not to spoil it, but it was great. I imagine it's a very similar experience to that of the people who saw the first one in theaters, thrown into a new world with new characters, trying to sort out what in the world is going on, while the twists and turns confuse and amaze us. Only we have the advantage of knowing the backstory of the galaxy, and having a few old friends turn up here and there. Han and Chewie get the most screen time of the old characters, but R2, 3PO, Leia, and Luke do make appearances (and Luke is NOT the bad guy. For any of you who might be wondering). It was so good.
Character Development: 5/5
My sisters and I kept saying, the movie may be terrible, but the characters will be well developed because it's Disney and they develop their characters well. We were half right. The movie was not terrible, but the characters were well developed. I'd like to know more of Poe Dameron, I liked what I saw of him. Finn and Rey, though. Oh my goodness. They're the best. Finn is pretty awesome. The trailer shows many shots of him in a stormtrooper uniform, so I don't think it's really a spoiler that he is one. But he's different. The First Order doesn't use clones anymore, but they do condition kids from birth. You can see that in Finn, how they've inflicted simplicity of mind on him (it mostly just comes off as immaturity), but how much ability he has to overcome it as well. He definitely matures throughout the film. And he's so funny! I love him. And there's Rey. I love her. She's a strong girl and she can take care of herself, but she didn't come across as a "girls can do anything guys can" kind of girl to me. More as a survivor who hasn't had anyone to protect her, so she'd rather watch her own back than trust someone else to do it for her. But she isn't the sort who doesn't make friends easily either. Her friendship with Finn is the best. And they're clearly not related, so no twins revelation to sink that ship, Amanda. ;) I want to know who her parents are. I still think she's Luke's daughter. I enjoyed seeing Han and Chewie again. I'm not a huge Han fan, but he's matured since the originals. He's an old man who's seen a lot since then, after all. Kylo Ren. I hate that guy. I want redemption for him so bad, but he's such a monster. I can't stand it. But I want to see more of him.
I'm probably coming to the party way late with this review. Most everyone who wanted to see it probably saw it before I did, and that was a little more than a week ago. But if you've been living alone on Tattooine hiding from the First Order, get yourself to the movie theater and see how the Resistance fights back. Old fan or new fan, it's a movie you won't want to miss. I would love to see it again in theaters. I have to keep reminding myself that Captain America: Civil War is coming out in 5 months and how awesome it will be to see it for only $2.18 if I'll just save the rest of that gift card...