Star Wars: The Force Awakens

No other film in recent memory comes close to having the hype surrounding it than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s an excitement that has been building for years, and it finally culminates with the film’s release this week. But can a film with such massive expectations surrounding it live up to its namesake? There’s definitely hope.


I am not the biggest of diehard Star Wars fans (I’ve seen them all at least), but I found myself smiling widely as the familiar words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” appeared on the screen and the opening crawl accompanied by John Williams’ score began. Like I said, it’s difficult to not be caught up in the hype surrounding it. There won’t be any massive spoilers, but the general plot revolves around the fact that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared and the rebel forces, now known as the Resistance and being led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), have found new information that may lead to his whereabouts. They’re not the only ones looking for Luke, however, as the First Order have risen up out of the ashes of the Galactic Empire and want to eliminate the last remaining Jedi master.


The original Star Wars trilogy acts as the backdrop in The Force Awakens as its story is regarded as legend and myth. We’re introduced to a new trio of characters; the reformed stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), and the expert Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Poe is sent on a secret mission to the junkyard planet of Jakku to recover the map leading to Skywalker. He is followed closely behind by the First Order army, led by the imposing Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a warrior strongly trained in the Dark Side of the Force.


Even though there is a lot of new stuff to take in it all stills refreshingly familiar. The Force Awakens’ story mimics that of A New Hope in many ways. The entire plot revolves around plans hidden inside a droid, and the First Order even have a bigger version of the Death Star, a planet-sized weapon called Starkiller Base. There are plenty of other scenes and interactions that act as a throwback to the original trilogy and are sure to put a smile on fans’ faces.


What I like most about The Force Awakens is its characters, though. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac are all excellent additions to the franchise and show this contagious excitement as newcomers. It was interesting to see a stormtrooper with a personality. Previously I’ve never really thought about the person behind the helmet, and Boyega brings a new dimension to them with Finn. Ridley, too, is fantastic as both a scavenger and an untrained but skilled pilot. Not only is Rey more than capable of handling things herself, but she also has a curiosity about everything and everyone. While Finn and Ray are giddy with excitement, Poe is the calm and collective one who plays it cool. I was disappointed at how little screentime he actually got though, as I would have loved to see more of him. He’s great in the opening scene, but then disappears for a good sized chunk in the middle.


By far the most entertaining character is the spherical droid BB-8. Just like R2-D2 he only speaks in a series of beeps and whistles that somehow the characters magically understand. Still, despite not knowing exactly what he’s saying there’s a lot of emotion in his mannerisms and the way he moves. It’s all very entertaining, and oftentimes quite humorous.


I was actually a bit surprised at how much humor there is in The Force Awakens. The dialogue is sharp and witty, especially between Finn and Rey, and BB-8 steals every scene he’s in. It’s also great to see Han Solo and Chewbacca still up to their old tricks, as usual. There’s so much to take in that you’ll never be bored.


The Force Awakens isn’t without its faults, however. The film was written as the start of a new trilogy, and it somewhat staggers as a standalone film. There are plenty of gaps to be found, and while I’m sure the sequels will answer many of the questions left lingering, the whole “we can just answer this later” mentality feels a bit frustrating. It’s simply an introduction to a much bigger story.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings a renewed hope to the Star Wars saga after the mess that was the prequel trilogy. It’s full of fun and excitement, both new and old, with plenty of action, comedy, and even some drama that captures the heart and spirit of the original trilogy. The Force Awakens revitalizes the sleeping franchise, and I can’t wait to see where it’ll take the mythos next.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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