Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens has finally been released for the viewing pleasure of the masses. The movie is grossing at around $529 million, just for its debut– the largest in history. The Force Awakens already had massive amounts of hype generated from it’s minute long teaser trailers released before the film, with countless theories and hopes created by fans with each successive scene cut in the trailers. Equal amounts of fear and hope surrounded the film in the days before it’s release to the public. Would it flop? Were fans getting another Phantom Menace? Or perhaps another Empire Strikes Back? Only time would tell.
As someone who has been lucky enough to see this film three times with various groups of friends, The Force Awakens meets the hype head on. However, let’s start with the bad for the purposes of staying objective and taking off those rose-tinted glasses we all likely walked into the film wearing.
The pacing of the movie is a lot quicker than one is used to seeing in a Star Wars movie, which ultimately draws away from the overall experience of the film. For example, in A New Hope, Luke watches a sunset as he contemplates what path to take in his journey and this moment is a beautiful one. The Force Awakens basically throws you into the protagonist’s shoes and you don’t slow down much until the very end of the film. If The Force Awakens were any faster it would not feel like a Star Wars film.
That said, the movie looks fantastic. All the props were physically made, many of the outlandish and amazing aliens seen in this film were actual makeup jobs and costumes that real people wore, and even the settings themselves were highly constructed.. This was a fantastic decision made which adds to the realism and intimacy of the film, allowing for an easier suspension of disbelief. The CGI was not dramatically overdone like in the prequels, which is truly a fantastic precedent to set for episodes 8 and 9.
Furthermore, the acting jobs of Daisy Jazz Isobel Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, and Oscar Isaac were all fantastic. Bringing in new faces to helm such an iconic franchise can be a gamble, but it certainly paid off in the end (hey, it worked the first time). Further praises also given to Adam Driver and Domhnall Gleeson.
First, the movie borrowed MANY elements from episodes 4, 5, and 6. The environments are all almost rehashed from previous films on the surface. Honestly, we did not need another Death Star like super weapon. Three times is a bit too many for a super weapon that is conceptually the same to be built and subsequently blown up in style by the dashing rebels.
Although the rehashing is a controversial topic I’ll tell you why it is good. Most critics ding the movie for not evolving enough and giving us a very similar plot and enemy as scene in Episode 4: A New Hope. I personally felt like JJ Abrams and the other writers needed to remind us with this movie what a Star Wars movie is at its core and ultimately why we love them. Star Wars is about the rising and evolution of one central figure and their responses to different tragic and fantastic events and discoveries-an ultimate battle in space between a clear good and a clear evil.
On the same topic of what makes Star Wars Star Wars, JJ Abrams almost had to redo things that have already been done. As far as the nation has come in all social issues since the 80’s, Star Wars is no longer a bunch of good white people and one Black guy who is pretty questionable morally in episode 5. Fans got a woman in the lead role where Luke used to be, a latino filling the shoes of the beloved -and missed- Han Solo. Not to mention a black man in another protagonist role, this time not morally questionable, much more prominent, and heavily hinted to be a love interest of Rey’s and vice versa. In essence, with a diverse cast audiences really still needed to see these new heroes doing similar things because our country has not solved issues of inequality and race, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens almost offers a glimpse of what true unity should look like. It offers a glimpse of the future in a comfortable, familiar setting so audiences do not feel alienated.
When it comes to fantastic moments, the movie definitely sweeps you up. I myself still get extremely hyped when I see those X-wings flying like deadly sea birds over the water to come and save our protagonists from capture by the First Order and Kylo Ren.
Watching Luke’s old saber fly past Kylo Ren’s hands right to Rey’s grasp really evokes a feeling of atonement and passage- as though in that moment when she meets evil head on she has already become much more heroic and akin to a jedi than ever before. No longer just a scrapper from Jakku. The fight scene is set up so beautifully as she stares down a wounded Kylo Ren as if it is the start of a match in Street Fighter and each combatant is introduced for the first time.
Finally, Han Solo’s death. He dies in the best way possible. He is a smuggler, a lady killer, a crack shot, and a beautiful gem of a character. He dies as a loving father trying to get his son back and the shot of them two on the bridge is epic. The silence following Han’s call to his son is an enormous one that presses on your chest. It was perfectly done.
So for the TL:DR, It’s high moments are fantastic and outweigh the re-hashed bits. It was a satisfying film and sets a very high mark for episode 8.