Film Review: ‘The Force Awakens’ is Astonishing; the Best Star Wars Since ‘A New Hope’

administrator1
By administrator1 December 16, 2015 10:55

Film Review: ‘The Force Awakens’ is Astonishing; the Best Star Wars Since ‘A New Hope’

By: Anthony Hernandez

Indeed, the Force is strong with this one.

The Star Wars saga returns to form with The Force Awakens. In every way imaginable, this film is a dramatic improvement over the much-maligned prequels and is exactly what this fan-boy has been waiting for. There is just too much good stuff jam-packed into this film. So, without spoiling anything:

The New Order has taken the place of the defeated and now defunct Empire while the remnants of the Old Republic are still hanging on to their last threads of freedom through the Resistance, led by General (formerly Princess) Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Newcomer Daisy Ridley dominates the screen as Rey, a scavenger living on a barren world who is waiting for the family who left her as a child. John Boyega, another newbie, plays Finn – a Storm Trooper who defects from the First Order to help the Resistance. They are joined later by Han Solo (Harrison Ford, who seems to be enjoying every minute of his return to the titular character), and his loyal sidekick Chewbacca (who hasn’t aged a day), all the while being chased by the new masked baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Ren is a Darth Vader wannabe who does all the dirty work for the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke (another motion caption performance triumph for Andy Serkis). It’s difficult to see where Driver is going with his character. On one hand he is a menacing Force wielder, on the other he seems like a child throwing a big (dangerous) tantrum – though in this case, it works. While he’s only occasionally fearsome – he’s relatable. Being only partially trained in the ways of the Force is perhaps why he seems so unpredictable. Much of his past is still a mystery (and will likely play into the next films).

Gwendoline Christie is unfortunately wasted as Captain Phasma of the First Order, while Oscar Isaac rounds out the new cast with his character Poe Dameron, the best fighter pilot the Resistance has to offer. And yes, Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker…but that’s all I am going to say about the matter.

In the more than capable hands of director (and fan-boy) J.J. Abrams, this film masterfully blends the old with the new, the epic with the intimate, and combines genuine laughs and heartfelt moments with some gut-wrenching tragedy. It is an overwhelming experience. Perhaps “too much” doesn’t count when we’re talking Star Wars

The film really never lets up on the action during its seemingly brisk 135-minute running time. Scene after breathtaking scene, incredible set-pieces, a visually spectacular mix of practical effects and CGI, and some truly emotional moments makes this the most effective Star Wars since A New Hope blasted across the screen in 1977. In fact, much of The Force Awakens emulates the original trilogy in all the best ways, while simultaneously delivering fans (old and new) something fresh, something wonderful. This is the film fans have been waiting decades for, and Abrams delivers on his promise.

The Force Awakens stands solid enough on its own – though much of the material seems to be old elements made new again. There are a few missteps here and there. Occasionally the dialogue is clunky, there are some unexplained elements (thankfully, long gone are the endless scenes of talky political maneuvering that makes the prequels seem dull in comparison), and a few minor plot contrivances – all of which are completely forgiven. The fact remains that The Force Awakens makes all its moves in the right direction; and though it may not be perfect, it still exceeded my expectations.

Most of The Force Awakens is all setup to something bigger (if that’s even possible after seeing this film), and that’s exactly the point. This is only the beginning – a grand start to a new trilogy; and it ends with, arguably, the most epic final shot of any Star Wars film. I can’t wait to see it again and again… and again.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 10.54.23 AM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Run Time: 135 minutes

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg

Director: J.J. Abrams

Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt

 

administrator1
By administrator1 December 16, 2015 10:55

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