‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ a love note to the original trilogy

by Trevan McGee on December 17, 2015

in Print Reviews,Reviews

Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives at a time when anticipation could not be higher. Yes, it’s only been a decade since the final prequel film, but since its announcement, The Force Awakens has been billed as a return-to-form for the series, with practical effects, far-flung location shooting and the reassembly of the original cast. In short, a Star Wars movie that feels like a Star Wars movie.

The Force Awakens succeeds smashingly in this respect. From the worlds to the creature designs to even the sound effects and rousing score, The Force Awakens feels like a sequel to the original trilogy, like it belongs in the same worn, desolate, oppressive, promising, fantastical universe as the one where a farm boy became a knight, found his estranged twin sister and toppled an interstellar empire with the help of a rogue smuggler and his hairy friend.

J.J. Abrams has done a tremendous job pulling this universe together, making it seem far-flung and livable at the same time. The new cast ranges from nothing-to-do to outstanding, particularly the three new protagonists, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac, whose dynamics are well defined and who each get a memorable moment or a great line. Our villains Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendolyn Christie do not fare as well.

The Force Awakens biggest problem is that its the first part of an already confirmed trilogy, and as a result doesn’t have a lot of room for its own story. And the story it does tell is definitely a familiar one. The Force Awakens never delivers a harrowing moment on par with the climax of Mad Max: Fury Road, but there are a few moments that come close. There’s actual emotion and humanity in this installment that was grossly lacking in the prequels, proving that there’s a big difference between emoting and emotion. Truly, the best moments in Episode VII come from the scenes where the talented, young cast are given room to live in their characters.

As a spectacle, as pure entertainment, The Force Awakens delivers. Its pace is near break-neck, but rarely feels rushed. The climax manages to feel bigger-than-life and starkly intimate at the same time. And people will be talking about the movie’s big plot points for months.

The fanboys and fangirls can sort out whether it’s the Best. Movie. Ever. or latest cog in the Disney franchise machine. But anyone who grew up with the original trilogy will find something to love about The Force Awakens. A sequel may be certain, but that doesn’t make waiting for it any easier.

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