Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: A+ (4 stars)
Kylo Ren will finish what Vader started in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

            Star Wars, what can you say about it that hasn’t been said already? It’s a phenomenon, full of creativity, memorable characters, action, and fun. Not only is it everything I want in a movie, but it’s been transformed from being a simple space adventure through the vision of George Lucas to the very definition of geek culture.
            Even if you haven’t seen a Star Wars movie, it’s impossible not to know about the franchise and the fan-base, it’s marketed everywhere, several video games and TV shows are made about it like Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars: Rebels, and even parody TV specials like Robot Chicken, Family Guy, and Phineas and Ferb, everyone knows Star Wars and it’s one of the biggest and most important franchises in film history
            And now we have, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment of the Star Wars saga as well as the first Star Wars movie released in theaters since 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (The 2008 animated movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the 2012 3D re-release of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace don’t count!) and the first Star Wars movie to be distributed under Disney after the acquisition of Lucasfilm LTD.
When I first heard they were doing a Star Wars: Episode VII, I was both excited and a little worried at the same time, I love the original Star Wars movies, who doesn’t, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi had memorable characters, exciting action, and fun and they left a big impression on a lot of people, including myself, but I was worried about the new film because it’s been ten years since Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005 and I didn’t want the latest film to go the route of the prequels (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith). But when I found out J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Super 8) was directing it and the original Star Wars movie cast would be reprising their roles, there was hope in the latest film.
And I’m not doing a Phantom Menace defense here, The Force Awakens does have the original cast back, Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones franchise, Air Force One, Ender’s Game) as Han-Solo, Carrie Fisher (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Fanboys, Sorority Row) as Leia, Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Luke Skywalker, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, and Peter Mayhew as everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca.
            30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker has suddenly disappeared and the information to his whereabouts lie in a droid known as BB-8 that joins up with a former Stormtrooper who has gone rogue named Finn (John Boyega-Attack the Block) and a scavenger from the desert planet, Jakku named Rey (Daisy Ridley). Together they decide to bring BB-8 to the Republic in hopes of finding their lost Jedi hero, but they better hurry because the new Sith apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver-Lincoln, Inside Llewyn Davis, This is Where I Leave You) and the new Sith lord, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis-The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Planet of the Apes franchise, The Hobbit trilogy) are hot on their tail to obtain the droid’s information about Skywalker and power up a new solar powered weapon to conquer the galaxy.
            Finn and Rey come across the Millennium Falcon, which hasn’t been piloted in years, where they meet Han-Solo and his co-pilot, Chewbacca who agree to help them on their quest to bring BB-8 to the Republic, find Luke, and possibly save the galaxy from total annihilation.
            Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was worth every minute of the hype, it doesn’t rehash the original trilogy for fan service nor does it rely heavily on exposition like the prequels, it’s a new Star Wars movie that manages to pay homage to the classics we all watched when we were kids and continue to watch even to this day. When I saw the trailers prior to releases of big films like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Jurassic World, people got excited and applauded at the beginning and end of the trailers, it was obviously hyped up like mad, but it delivered exactly what it promised and then some, the complete opposite of The Phantom Menace.
            The action is exciting, the characters are developed well, the addition of new characters that leave just as much of an impression as the original fan favorites, and a pretty cool villain. Besides the action and characters, the effects are a huge improvement over the CG heavy prequels, it was a strong mix of computer animation and animatronics and it challenges the eyes in the best way possible, much like what Jurassic Park did back in 1993.
            Seeing it on the big screen took me back to when I was a little kid in 2002 and watching all the original Star Wars movies on video prior to the release of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, but unlike that movie it delivered what I wanted and more. Much less stereotypical characters than in the prequels, no Jar Jar Binks, Jake Lloyd, or Hayden Christensen, it’s traditional Star Wars updated for the modern audience, in a good way.

            If you’re a fan of Star Wars, chances are you’re already seeing it, so I don’t have to say that you’ll enjoy it, because you probably already am. But for any newcomers to the saga, this is one to definitely check out, grab your Lightsaber and Jedi crew together, go to your local theater, and May the Force Be With You.

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