Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is the rebirth of the franchise helmed with a fresh new cast and carrying with it the nostalgia driven components that fans craved. With fascinating new characters and more than its share of mysteries The Force Awakens reopens the franchise to new possibilities.
The Force Awakens follows the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley), a mysterious junker who is seemingly stuck between the forces of good and evil, in this she meets Finn (John Boyega), a deserter of the First Order (the restored remnants of the old empire).
The Force Awakens launches audiences back into the magical world that they have been grievously missing for decades – with fresh faces, practical effects and the nostalgic art style that felt barren in the prequels. Audiences are offered up a slew of likable and dynamic characters that all have their own distinctive chemistry. More importantly you are granted a story that concludes in a literal cliffhanger and a variety of questions regarding the mysteries that this new set of films may be hiding beneath the surface. I found the decisions that director JJ Abrams made for the characters felt like the right ones to make. As for the base story, this is where parts begin to get shaky, as coincidental events begin to transpire in a continuous manner – as each event compiles it makes the story feel partially forced.
Which brings me to my next point, the story itself seemingly mirrors the events of a A New Hope, what with a death star-esk weapon, gifted individual born on a desert planet accompanied by droids, thrown into the middle of conflict and forced to save the rebellions. One could argue that this was an attempt to “play it safe” as to not veer too far from the originals, and one could argue that this is exactly what Star Wars shouldn’t do as things must be unpredictable; regardless, it still remains as a fun adventure with great character chemistry and fairly admirable plot twists.
The lead role of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley manages to capture our lead hero far better than Hamil did upon his first entrance into the franchise, her character remains emotionally relatable, funny, and sympathetic in a multitude of ways. Finn portrayed by John Boyega, a deserter of the First Order manages to strike a strong cord with all of the other characters as he bounces between humour and sometimes fear in a seamless fashion.
Another surprisingly likable addition was the robot BB-8, adding lots of laughs and added fun to the whole film. Harrison Ford reprises his role but doesn’t quite add anything monumental until his character reaches his most critical moment. Now we come to Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, he manages to start off as a menacing and terrifying brute – and then slowly but surely layer upon layer is peeled away to show the true nature of his tortured and conflicted soul; what a fantastic performance.
Visually this film was stunning, taking notes from the original trilogy and aiming for practical effects, real sets, and real locations throughout. The cinematography used to capture the magic of Star Wars had its moments of pure beauty and sometimes shifted back to the more blurrier and CGI backdrop styled visuals. I’ve never felt too insane about needing every detail to be practical, asking for such things is simply impractical.
Bringing the Star Wars franchise back to life is no easy task, considering it was arguably the most anticipated film of all time. Handled with pure confidence and control, director JJ Abrams has done a momentous job at doing what many thought couldn’t be done – continuing the great journey of Star Wars.