Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

“Chewie, we’re home.”

NOTE: I'm a fan. This is a biased review.

It’s no surprise that The Force Awakens was one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Countless memes and discussions have been floating around the internet ever since the epic teaser was released. It was as if 2015 began with so many things, and ended with only one thing: the return of one of the most beloved movie franchise of all time. And in less than a week, the movie has already broken most records without breaking a sweat.
All of this goes a long way saying how great the franchise really is. But the movie is another topic of discussion. And so after more than 10 years, we are finally blessed with a seventh installment.

The Trailer (just a mention)

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The Millennium Falcon in all its glory. What else do you need to show?

Mainly because it was cool on so many levels. Movie trailers are generally enjoyable but very few movie trailers are able to generate such an amount of excitement as the trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I mean the 155-second video literally had my veins pumped with excitement. It was almost impossible to contain my enthusiasm for at least 5 more days until I was able to actually see the movie.

The Music

I don’t know why people leave out the music whenever they discuss any of the Star Wars movies. Guys, please! The music is what gives character to the films. John Towner Williams, maybe the only composer I know till date who is ahead of the great Hans Zimmer. Having composed instant classics for several famous movies like Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, ET The Extra Terrestrial, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and several others, John Williams is a living legend. Let alone, any single one of these movie scores is nothing but epic. Every day I am amazed to see people harness their creative prowess but the power and substance of John Williams is nothing short of astounding. To create such a thing of beauty out of nothing is what amazes me every time. Star Wars is an endearing saga, and John Williams has done a fine job in ensuring that.

Story

If I were to describe Star Wars in one word, it would be ‘colourful’. There are so many memorable moments and so many unforgettable characters; it’s what makes the countless revisits to the series never boring. Of course, this post is meant for the Force Awakens and not the entire series, so I better get to it.

This point is more of a personal issue for me than a general opinion. The moment I learned that George Lucas didn’t have that much hand in the story, I was already depressed. Not that there aren’t any other good writers, but just that I wanted the whole thing to be from the one creator. I don’t care if it’s good or bad- I just want Star Wars to be realised the way its creator wanted it to be. Give me just that, and I’ll be happy. After that, this movie never felt like a George Lucas creation (though they leaned heavily to his technique and style in an admirable effort for consistency). And if there wasn’t George Lucas at the helm, it wasn’t going to be an original Star Wars movie for me. 
Nevertheless, that’s only my personal opinion.

So how was Force Awakens? Awesome!

Almost every aspect of the movie felt dead-right perfect. Right from the start the movie picks up the pace and I was practically at the edge of my seat throughout the whole run. The movie picks up some 30 years after the last movie in the storyline, Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi and immediately after the official trailer. What I mean to say is that the trailer perfectly builds up the hype and the movie grabs the same pace.

But again, there are a lot of annoying story threads left hanging:

  1. How did Rey end up in Jakku in the first place?
  2. What was the backstory of FN-2187’s battalion?
  3. How did Finn become so different?
  4. How was Kylo Ren manipulated so effectively?
  5. Who is Snoke?
  6. The First Order?
  7. What caused R2-D2 to activate?

And then there were some faults as well:

  1. The StarKiller Base? And please, people would have noticed.
  2. I expected a lot more reaction on the destruction of the StarKiller Base

Of course a lot is explained in the numerous books, animated series, games, in the expanded universe, but some of these questions still remain unanswered even then.

Characters & Cast

All the characters are worth mentioning here, both old and new. In fact, one of the most striking features about the movie is how there’s no big difference between the legendary characters from the original trilogy and the new cast.

Han Solo

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Han, Chewbacca and Finn, taken as prisoners look on as the Rebel Alliance makes a full attack on the First Order.

Undoubtedly the biggest star of the show, Harrison Ford returns with his same old good-look-charm and the rowdy cowboy attitude. Things never got boring with Han around and the same was in The Force Awakens. Actually, it was when Han Solo first appeared in the movie, that I felt the tension start to fade away. And even though he was revered by others as the legendary rebel fighter who fought alongside Luke Skywalker, he was still the same old Han. He never thought of himself as a legend (even though he was) and had always leaned toward his original hobby (smuggling), and that was what made his character so much enjoyable to watch.

[Major spoiler!] This one was a complete surprise. We never got to see Han’s softer, emotional side. His confrontation with his corrupted son, Kylo Ren was one of the most pivotal moments of Force Awakens. This scene is huge, comparable to the epic Duel on Cloud City, and the Duel on Mustafar. Han’s true character came flushing out right from the moment he called out his son, till the heart-breaking conclusion. You could see it all in his eyes. Harrison Ford is a true master actor.

Princess- uh, General Leia

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General Leia, taking up a leading role in the Rebel Alliance

I’m never going to be able to say this name right. The picture of the Princess in the gold bikini has somehow never left our minds ever since Episode VI, and we just can’t accept a general right away. All that aside, Leia is undoubtedly a strong woman and an able leader. Carrie Fisher’s character is a timeless beauty and all that is evident in The Force Awakens even after so many years (22 years in real life, 30 years in the story). She had a very limited screen-time here so there is nothing much that can be said here. Still, it was good having another familiar face.

FN-2187 “Finn”

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Finn looks over to Rey, as she gives him a helping hand.

Finn was cool. The new characters really gave life to the latest episode, and there is no doubt that their part in the new trilogy will be both interesting and fun to watch. A character of multiple dilemmas, Finn added a new dimension to the film with his own personal tale of self-realization and redemption. This is something I hope the subsequent episodes follow in detail without fail. Somehow the character of Finn feels like a kid at the pubescent stages of his life, where he starts seeing the world in a completely new perspective. One of the main reasons that Episode VII clicks so well to the viewer is because the movie shares Finn’s perspective. He was an average Stormtrooper bred to fight and serve, right from birth. And when he escaped the brutal First Order and crash landed into the real world he was up against a new world, all on his own. Everything was completely new. Similarly, for the rest of us, after more than 10 years, even the same ‘galaxy far, far away’ felt new in so many ways.

Another thing to note here is that Finn is the first non-user of the Force to wield a drawn Lightsaber, even use it in combat. Who knows? Maybe even he might turn out to be a Jedi later on.

Rey

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Rey, on the planet Jakku. Daisy Ridley is an instant star here, people.

A really good thing about the new Star Wars is that the new characters have more importance than the cast from old. And that doesn’t mean that the camera was focused on Rey and Finn the whole time. These two really owned the show. The latest episode has the best acting among the Star Wars movies.

Rey is a strong character. Stranded when she was only a child, Rey was basically on her own for her whole life. She’s clever yet brave, resourceful yet innocent, kind yet tough. A scavenger by profession, an engineer by passion, coupled with the power of the force, Rey might turn out to be the most powerful Jedi till date. Her discovery of the mystical power of the force is the main highlight of the film, aside Finn’s story of self-discovery. Another thing to be noted is that Daisy Ridley is probably the hottest Jedi till date. And if this new tri-series is really going to be the last, Daisy’s Rey surely is a fitting face of the final Star Wars ensemble.

It is to be commended how J.J. Abrams chose to stay faithful to Lucas’s style of directing. Disney wanted a ‘retro’ movie and after this outcome, I’m not complaining one bit. Also, the habit of picking up new unknown actors out of the blue and putting them at center stage is another thing that makes Star Wars so attractive. When you look at the posters, you only see Star Wars. Big and familiar names would always remind us of past performances and we’re already with another identity associated with that character. And no matter how much we try, we cannot flush that out of our system. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac are fresh new faces; As fresh to Star Wars as they are to the most of the viewers and Hollywood. That keeps the entire focus on the story, and the new ‘heroes’ not ‘actors’.
*Probably this is the only place where I feel that the actors are better termed as Hero as many ignorantly do so in Bollywood.

Kylo Ren

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Kylo Ren, as he uses the force to stop a plasma shot

Who comes up with all these names? Kylo Ren is the third new entry here alongside Rey and Finn. [Spoiler] It’s when you realize that he is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, you finally get to feel that this is a true soap opera- the history of the unfortunate Skywalker family, dragged into everything because of the power of the Force, and the dark side. In my opinion, future Jedi’s should take note: Never love, never get married; there’s a reason the old ones tell this.

Adam Driver is all great if you ask me. Loved the voice, loved the body language, love the turmoil. Kylo Ren is just as troubled as Finn and Rey if not more. What seemed like a dark new enemy, strong like Vader, eventually turned out to be a young boy still in his training. It’s when he was finally up against Rey that you get to see how much more training he has left. Rey will face Kylo Ren again, and he will be more prepared than ever to face his new adversary.

In a way, I was a bit disappointed to see another character like Darth Vader. Sure Vader’s one of the greatest villains of all time and it never hurts to have him around causing all sorts of chaos. But I wanted something more, something new from this series. I didn’t want a revisit to the original movies. That I can watch again by myself. What I wanted was an all-new Episode VII. Later when we finally see that Kylo Ren only got the dress and the scary voice right, I realised this is a real opportunity here. If his story follows the right direction, we could have a very interesting outcome. There’s no telling what might happen.
I just don’t want him finding redemption the same way as Darth Vader, otherwise this would be déjà vu all over again.

Visuals

Great as ever. I loved the post-processing. The movie felt both gritty and real and still retained the old fantasy world charm. These days, most movies (and games) are going for the darker atmosphere, and Force Awakens here is no exception. Nevertheless, it was pleasing to see all the old spaceships with exploding nostalgia.

In movies like these, there’s always a chance that the filmmakers could go overboard with all the tech at their hands, but that was not the case with this. Everything was just right.


There are so many parallels I could draw between this movie and the old series: Kylo Ren and Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Rey, Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi (but most probably not), Emperor Palpatine and Supreme Leader Snoke the StarKiller Base and the Death Star and so many others. But this is just the first of the new series, so I won’t dwell much on that.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a great watch for any movie goer, a must for any sci-fi lover, and for Star Wars fans? Well, you guys already watched this, haven’t ya.
With a great new story, wonderful new characters, a brilliant score, and the same old Star Wars Universe, The Force Awakens was a great conclusion to 2015. And with new people in charge of the future of the series, who knows what the future might hold.

May the force be with you.

4,5


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6 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)”

  1. Great movie and epic franchise. Hope we don’t have to wait for the next part for so long!!!
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  2. I recently saw this movie with my Dad and loved it. I also have the same questions you do- especially about Rey. I especially loved the end fight scene (spoiler ahead!!) with Rey and Kylo Ren. I am very excited to see what happens with Luke in the next episode.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You nailed the review, at least from my perspective from the seat in the theater in which I saw the latest installment. Loved the film, and I, also can’t wait for the next installments. It’s a cracking good series.

    Liked by 1 person

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