From Disney and director J.J. Abrams comes the sequel to the original trilogy – Episode VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie, the film is scheduled for release December 18th, 2015.
In this continuation of the “Star Wars” saga, balance returns to the Force as the First Order, emerging from the ashes of the Empire, clashes with the Resistance, which includes scrappy newcomers as well as heroes from the former Rebel Alliance.
Bold statement proclaiming Episode VII to be the best of the franchise? Probably. Purists will argue The Empire Strikes Back to be the greatest Star Wars movie and they might be correct…. However, there has not been a better acted or well rounded movie in this franchise than The Force Awakens. It was beautiful. Director J.J. Abrams has helmed the finest movie of his career and finally brought justice to the fans of the original trilogy by continuing onward from the greatest science fiction franchise of all time.
The stakes were high and the bar was raised in every sense with The Force Awakens. The villains were more frightening, killing an unspeakable amount of helpless innocents… The heroes were more likeable as both Rey and Finn each have deep backstories that were ripe for exploration and the classic characters were reintroduced in ways that didn’t feel like a simple wink and nod to the camera. Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew as Han Solo and Chewbacca were astounding. The fan favourite duo are back in a big way and they really did eat up a massive amount of screentime here which was glorious because let’s be honest – Star Wars fans love their Solo and Chewie and The Force Awakens is the most you’ll ever see of these two in a Star Wars film.
What really helped to set the latest Star Wars flick apart from the rest of the herd were the performances. The talent assembled here is easily the most impressive yet with John Boyega playing the Storm Trooper Finn who winds up having a conscience, Daisy Ridley’s Rey the mysterious scrap herder who has the most secrets of the entire new bunch, Oscar Isaac as the cool as hell resistance pilot and the showstopper Adam Driver as the villainous Kylo Ren. Driver stole the film for me and I will be honest and say I was not initially excited to see him land this part. But he owned it and the intensity and humanity he brought to this role was essential to the movie’s success. Whereas past Star Wars villains were a little too robotic, Kylo Ren was truly human and this helped to add a new dynamic to the conflict because of this aspect.
Whereas I was always a little tired of the flight battles in the previous films, the way they were filmed here made them the highlights for much of the runtime. They not only looked intense and impressive but the way the camera zooms in beside the aircraft as they do a run and gun was so damn satisfying that it changed my mindset entirely. The use of practical effects and CGI when necessary was such a welcome change compared to George Lucas’ 120% fake prequels. The Force Awakens’ use of so many REAL sets, makeup and action really added to that special essence of this movie being a continuation of the glory days for the franchise.
If I had any sort of criticism it would be that all the same notes that the very first Star Wars film carried, were hit here as well and in the same kind of locations. Because of this — some of the set pieces were easily predictable. That being said – the way they were filmed and the amount of work and emotion backing them – still managed to move me in ways I’ve never been impacted during a Star Wars film. If you grew up watching these films as a child – you will be emotionally moved by moments in The Force Awakens. There is absolutely no escape from that I can promise you. If you felt your eyes welling up during the damn teaser trailers, the actual film will destroy you. Just let it out fellow nerds. Let it out.
The Force Awakens takes a little bit of time to get rolling, but when it does (just like that adorable little BB-8 bastard) it doesn’t stop. The action builds and builds until it explodes in the finest climactic battle of any Star Wars movie yet. I rewatch the classics all the time but I can tell you right now, I won’t be watching them as much as I will be re-watching The Force Awakens. It was a tour de force and not only one of the finest films of 2015, but easily the greatest Star Wars movie yet. Thank you JJ – you have restored the balance in the force.