Film Review: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2015

dir. JJ Abrams
★★★★★

[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.]

I have to say this, from the bottom of my heart — good job, JJ.

Wow, what a movie! No, what a Star Wars movie! How do I even begin writing this review when there’s so much to love?

I suppose I could start with the transitions. The film uses the vintage Star Wars PowerPoint transitions, which are kind of a metaphor for the film in itself. It could have been cheesy, rehashed fan service, but it stands on its own two feet, it’s a bit cheeky, and it pays beautiful homage to the original trilogy.

The film transitions really well between the main clusters of Dark and Light, and while some characters were not as well developed as others, I’m hoping that that will right itself a bit in the coming films, since, spoiler alert, it ends in a cliffhanger (literally? sort of…) There have been many claims that this film “passes the Bechdel test,” which it doesn’t really, but I don’t think that it makes much difference, because for the first time in the Star Wars cinematic universe there are multiple female characters with speaking roles that vary in age, race and rank.

Which brings us to Rey and her fellow new additions to the universe. Rey is a fantastic character, brilliantly played by Daisy Ridley, and while her development may have happened a little too fast, so did Luke’s, so it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that she proves to be a great match for Kylo Ren, who is also really fun, played by Adam Driver. Every scene with those two was packed with tension which made their fight really satisfying.

John Boyega doesn’t exactly steal the show as Finn, but he really brought his A-game, because his performance was completely unexpected, a truly pleasant surprise. I thought going in that each character would fill a role of Dark One, Rogue One, Pilot One, etc, but actually, it turns out that Rey, Finn, and Poe (Oscar Isaac) fit the whole mixture of them. And they are each their own character, which is even better. (And to be honest I’m kind of shipping Finn and Poe a little bit? It might be the rose-tinted goggles of slash shipping that I wear 24/7, but at least let’s hope that they don’t ruin a brilliant platonic friendship between Finn and Rey by adding a romantic subplot…) But another character who really stood out for me, and who I think will have a much larger role to play in the coming films was General Hux (Domhnal Gleeson) who is a wonderful opposite to Kylo Ren’s rage by being utterly cool and collected the entire time.

And while we don’t really get to know Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), or Snoke (Andy Serkis) that well (yet?) they were still interesting to watch, and each had their own moments. But I’m sure we were all more excited about the return of the original characters this time round. We have Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C3PO being their perfect sassy selves (and how well did BB8 fit in with all of them? what a precious little droid!) And of course, Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han (Harrison Ford) come back, to a more dramatic storyline than in the original trilogy, and each fill their roles perfectly still, and though I was saddened by Han’s ultimate demise, I believe it will certainly pay off in some way down the line. Luke (Mark Hamill) doesn’t really make an appearance until the end, though when he does, the scene is effective and causes an impact. Except for that last shot, which was a panning shot around ruins, as Rey and Luke stare at each other, and the camera effect really ruined the momentum of that scene for me. But the point had been made, and it got me really excited for the next one.

Finally, JJ Abrams really deserves a standing ovation for this film, because it absolutely felt like a Star Wars film that belonged to the original trilogy. There were no lens flares, and the film was simple and clean, and the script was really tight. The only problem that I encountered was with the 3D, because it seemed a bit superfluous, it didn’t really add anything to the film, except making some snow shots look kinda cool. And also the planet-destruction thing. What does JJ have against planets??

Anyway, the point is, The Force Awakens is an admirable return to a much-loved and yet slightly mistreated franchise. Its characters have character, its plot has meaning, and it has soul. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store next!

review by Mariana Duarte

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Film Review: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

    2015 in Film: a Retrospective « Filmology said:
    December 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    […] The Force Awakens finally, finally came out, and I was there at the midnight release, in order to review it here before the day dawned. If you’ve read my review, you can probably tell I loved that film. The […]

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    […] would think this movie would be a lot higher on my list seeing how I loved ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ but I don’t know. Maybe I’m still in Episode VII mode. Maybe I’m not feeling the […]

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