Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – review

The Star Wars movies evoke feelings of nostalgia for most of us. When I first heard a new movie was coming out I thought, “How can they make a new story that will be sentimental for fans while at the same time touching the nerve of nostalgia without crossing the line to just fan-service.”  It is obvious that J.J. Abrams is clearly a true fan. This movie is like watching a fan given reign to make what they feel would be a more grown up Star Wars movie.

Set about thirty years after the Return of the Jedi, Luke has gone into hiding. The Empire has become the First Order. Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, gets information on Luke Skywalker’s location on the desert planet of Jakku. Poe gives the map to his droid, BB-8. BB-8 escapes and makes friends with a scavenger girl named Rey. Together they must find a way off the planet in order to get the map to the Resistance.

The movie is beautiful and the mixture of CGI and practical effects is seamless. The acting is solid and the new heroes, Rey, Finn, and Poe are all fascinating and well-played characters that are a delight to watch and acted superbly. The action scenes are thrilling and the nostalgic cameos are used like a spice in a perfectly cooked dish.

There were a few welcome changes that I want to acknowledge. For instance, the casting of more female characters made the universe seem much more believable and diverse. It was also shocking to see blood in a Star Wars film. It added a level of darkness never seen before in the franchise. Creating more complex villains was a novel concept that really landed well. Kylo Ren, the film’s villain is a fascinating villain that goes from homicidal to petulant. It is interesting to watch the goings on in the life of Stormtrooper, which for the most part have been faceless minions for most of the films.

The Force Awakens is just what the franchise needed. It is Star Wars growing up and taking chances. Audiences are tired of movies playing it safe all the time and the prequels were all safe. You knew who would live and who would die by the end. In this this trilogy anything can happen. It is a great movie that uses silence and every shot to its advantage to tell a wonderful story. See it if you can.

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