Movie Review: STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS – Welcome Back Star Wars
There are going to be NO spoilers here, no details or specific information about the plot, or the characters, or the events of the film will be shared here. And so a lot of this will be rather vague, focusing on the more tonal elements and the performance while still giving you a taste of how amazing this was.
WOW, where do I begin with this one? My mind is just all over the place. I don’t know how he did it, but J J Abrams has done it, Star Wars is back, for the first time since 1983. This was one of the biggest responsibilities to take on for Abrams, he was dealing with a franchise beloved by everyone and characters so iconic, everyone and their grandmother knew their names. Not only that, but he had to find a way to fit in the old cast we love with the new cast taking over the reigns in a way that didn’t make the film feel too crowded. And i have to say that he has done an absolutely AMAZING job with this movie. He managed to do everything with immense precision and attention to detail in order to try to re-capture the same tones of the original trilogy. Now did he manage to actually re-capture those same tones? You bet he did. While watching the film it definitely does feel like the original trilogy again, there is that sense of adventure, and mystery, and drama, some humour, and a near perfect balance of all of these, but there is still one thing it couldn’t replicate i will touch on later. The characters, both new and old were so, damn interesting and entertaining, just seeing Han Solo back again being the same old smuggler we know and love was amazing on its own. The new guys were also very well introduced characters and somewhat developed pretty damn well in the short time they were given. Performances were just amazing all across the board and make me even more excited to see what is to come from these young talents.
Lets start off with the characters, because there are a lot of them, between the old cast and the new young talent there are a tonne of people who demand screen time more than others and some who get it and some who don’t. But overall i thought the balance between focusing on the returning cast and the new guys worked very well, Han Solo for instance didn’t feel like he was just thrown in there as fan service and actually contributed to the main plot of the film. But the real focus of the film is on Rey, and Finn and introducing us to their stories and giving us a taste of the type of person they are. These were very fleshed out characters who you instantly fall in love with, much like the way you fall in love with Han, Leia, and Luke in ‘Star Wars’. Even Kylo Ren was a very compelling and commanding villain who was more than just a discount Darth Vader type character. I can’t really go into the characters anymore without getting into spoiler territory so i will leave it at that. The performances were also so damn good from the old and the new. Harrison Ford really captured what made Han Solo, Han Solo, and despite his age gave us exactly what you would think an old Han Solo would be like. And Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Adam Driver hit it out of the park with their incredible performances. They did such a great, convincing job at making their characters feel very real and not comical and you can really relate to them and understand their desires and their motivations and it really helps to suck you into the film.
As i mentioned before, this really does feel like an OG Star Wars film, it incorporates much of the same elements that made ‘Star Wars’, ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ so memorable and iconic but also stands on its own as the beginning of a new era. Everything is there, mystery, adventure, drama and humour are all blended very well to create something just as entertaining for new audiences as well as those who grew up with those masterpieces. Despite capturing the magic of the Original Trilogy, what it lacked was recreating the same awe and epic nature of those films. It does manage to do that at a few moments but overall it didn’t feel as grand as ‘Star Wars’. I am not holding that against the film really because that would be unfair as nothing can really have the same effect on an audience as that first film. The film was also very well structured and paced incredibly well from start to finish. It moves at a very fast but steady pace, always constantly moving from one place to the next and from one event to the next. In some films, it would get exhausting, but here, i only wanted more and more.
Visually the film was also just stunning. J J Abrams’ decision to use practical effects over CGI really shows and makes everything look so damn real. The scenery is amazing and all the practical shots of X-Wings, Aliens, the Millennium Falcon were so beautiful to look at. But having all of these practical effects does make the little CGI there is stand out a little. There is one use of CGI that is very noticeable, it only lasts for like a few minutes and then its gone but it does make you appreciate the fact that they didn’t do that the whole film. John Williams returns to score this film and it really is fantastic what he did with melding the iconic themes with some new stuff. There wasn’t really a new memorable theme like ‘Duel of the Fates’ in Episode 1, but it was just what you’d expect from a Star Wars score.
I really do want to go into more here but if i go further into the plot or the characters or anything really, it is heading into spoiler territory, so i guess until my Spoiler Review i will end it here. This is a return to form for Star Wars, it captures everything you loved about the original films whilst also establishing that this is the beginning of a new trilogy, with new characters. Am i going to see this film again? You bloody well bet i am. And will my opinion end up changing? Possibly slightly, but i felt that i got enough of a taste to give it what i think feels about right.