Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Spoiler-Free Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It's been a little over three years since Disney announced they were purchasing Lucasfilm and making more Star Wars films. After years of hype and speculation, the first Star Wars film without George Lucas, is finally here. This will be a spoiler-free review. However, I must tell you that the trailers and TV spots have given away absolutely nothing!
Star Wars is simply back! Forget the awkwardness of the prequels and trying to bring The Force into the scientific world, this is the return to the spirit of the original trilogy! While there is nothing better than seeing old friends from the original trilogy back on the big screen, it is truly the action, the humor as well as the energy that has been recaptured here.
The Force Awakens introduces to us a whole new group of actors who will move the franchise forward. The new cast will impress you. The dynamic between John Boyega's Finn and Daisy Ridley's Rey is wonderful. It feels warmly familiar and yet different all at the same time. They seemlessly blend in with the established cast of Han Solo, Leia and Chewbacca. But the real strength is Adam Driver's performance as Kylo Ren. Kylo is powerful, cruel and angry. BB-8 is a complete joy and if you haven't fallen in love with him yet, you will.
The Force Awakens also recaptures the feeling of A New Hope. That feeling that just in front of you is adventure and greatness. These things were definitely missing in the prequels. The same sense of hope and wonder from the original trilogy is here in The Force Awakens.
The familiarity here has as much to do with the dialogue as it does with the use of both practical and computer effects. Lawrence Kasdan brought that level of familiarity to The Force Awakens. Having rewritten The Empire Strikes Back and co-writing Return of The Jedi, no one understands the characters of Han Solo, Leia and Chewbacca better and it shows here. J.J. Abrams brings with him his clear understanding of tightly controlled storytelling, with a fantastic ability of setting things up and paying them off and a real feel for action. The lightsaber battles feel more fluid and realistic than even the ones we witnessed in the prequel trilogy. Even the X-Wing and TIE fighter battles have a real sense of physicality that not even the prequels could come close to.
J.J. Abrams and his team have created a film that lives up to not only the Star Wars name, but to fan expectations as well. But perhaps the films greatest achievement is that the film can be enjoyed without having seen the original trilogy. I cannot wait to see what both Rian Johnson and Colin Tevorrow have planned for the following sequels.