Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The 419th film I have seen in theaters…

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THE BEST SINCE “EMPIRE”

SPOILERS! READ THIS REVIEW AFTER WATCHING THE FILM!

30+ years after the Battle of Endor, the Republic governs most of the galaxy. A remnant of the Empire, calling itself the First Order, has begun to rise, spreading across the Galaxy in hopes of restoring Imperial rule.¬†They are on a mission to wipe out the Republic, as well as “The Resistance”, a group of insurgents supported by the Republic and commanded by General Leia Organa. Also in their sights is the final end of the Jedi. On the desert planet Jakku, a map has been found that will show the location of Skywalker, who has vanished from the Galactic stage. The First Order and the Resistance are in a battle to recover the Map and use/kill Skywalker to further their aims.

That’s it. That is the premise and the basic action without spoiling anything too much. While it is tempting to tell the whole story, this is nothing more than is explained in the first few minutes of the film. Major Spoiler at end of review. Avoid.

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Daisy Ridley is Rey, scavenger on the planet Jakku. She gets thrown into the battle to get the map to The Resistance. She is SO good. This is quite the discovery. Her first major role in anything.

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Harrison Ford is Han Solo.

That sentence is all you need to know concerning his performance. This IS Han Solo.

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John Boyega is fantastic as FN-2187, Stormtrooper of the First Order. I am surprised by the turns his plot took, and especially where his story ended in this film.

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BB8 is TERRIFIC! It’s tough to top R2D2, but this little droid comes close.

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Th great Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron, ace pilot of the Resistance. He plays him very much like a cocky WW2 Fighter Ace. His role was smaller than I expected. Future installments should help his character.

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Chewbacca the Wookie is back…with HAN SOLO, as he should be. Chewie is use well here. It is great to see Peter Mayhew back.

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Carrie Fisher is General Leia. She’s got a lot going on in this story, and she does AMAZINGLY well. The years have been rough for her, but when she and Han are on screen, none of that matters. It’s Princess Leia and Han Solo, together. That’s worth the price of admission right there.

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A much smaller role that I expected, but impactful. Gwedoline Christie is the iconic Captain Phasma. I say iconic because she was a HUGE success based on looks alone. One of the coolest Star Wars designs…ever. She does a decent job, can’t wait to see her back in 8!

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Domhnall Gleeson is General Hux, commander of Starkiller Base. He plays the Snobby british raging fascist fanatic SO well.

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Returning in a much diminished role (think 3PO’s part in Episode I), it was wonderful to see these two still together after 70 or so years this saga covers.

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Appearing for a very short period is Max Von Sydow as Lor San Tekka. He might have an incredibly interesting backstory, one which I hope is explored in the future, through books/comics if not movies.

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Lupita Nyong’o is Maz Kanata, space barkeep! She runs a 1000 year old Pirate Castle/Cantina and is one of the more interesting characters introduced here. She knows things, has important things to advance the plot, and had better show up in 8! I amazingly could not find a decent photo of her, other than the poster image.

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Andy Serkis is Supreme Leader Snoke. “There has been an awakening….”. His character is friggin interesting as all hell! I do not know what he is, how he has come to the position he has, or what his backstory entails. All I know is that some shit went down, and he seems to be running the First Order. So Cool.

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Where the hell is Luke Skywalker? When people began to ask that after noting his absence on the posters, I knew it must be important to the story somehow. I just never imagined that it IS THE STORY. Hamill does not do much in this at all, so no one should hope for a Luke Skywalker story here. He is the Macguffin, the thing that everyone is after. That said, he was awesome to behold.

This is incredible. I could not believe that they pulled this off. The story, while similar to the original, added enough new stuff to keep me invested completely. The writing was the sharpest of the entire series. The dramatic scenes were gut-wrenching, (The feels!), the comedic moments were perfect. Not one bad joke in the film. The actors were all on point, thank you JJ, the effects were stunning and the creatures all cool.

Having real locations also helped this immensely. The final scenes of the film were pretty much no CGI/effects save one detail. It really shows in the final product. They were wise to emphasize it.

This movie pulled off the impossible. While I like the prequels, there was something clearly missing. It can all be summed up in one character. The only one I skipped in “The Cast” section.

SPOILERS>>> MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Adam Driver is Kylo Ren, Master of the Knight of Ren. He was talented with the force but had anger issues. He was sent to Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Temple to learn control. Instead, he was seduced to the dark side by Supreme leader Snoke and turned against the Jedi, destroying all that Luke had built. HE is the reason Luke is gone. HE is the secret weapon of the First Order. He is also…

Ben Solo.

Son of Han and Leia.

Grandson of Darth Vader.

THIS is what what wrong with the prequels. Anakin Skywalker needed to be a bit more like Ben Solo. Hell, Driver was even the right age back then to play him. He is, hands down, the most interesting character in this film. Driver is a gifted actor, and sold the hell out of this.

Kylo Ren is a dark side warrior who the force is calling back to the light. In the past, the characters fight to avoid the dark, he is the opposite and it is incredibly well done. He stole the damn movie. His scenes with Daisy Ridley were phenomenal.

This might be my favorite lightsaber battle of them all. It is easily the most beautiful one they’ve ever filmed.

See this movie. often.

I am off to screening #3 in a couple of hours and will see it again tomorrow in LASER PROJECTED IMAX 3D! My first time experiencing that.

My Rankings

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Star Wars
  3. The Force Awakens
  4. Return of the Jedi
  5. Revenge of the Sith
  6. The Phantom Menace
  7. Attack of the Clones

 

 

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