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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (Spoiler-Free!)

18 Dec

So the day of reckoning has arrived (at least for us in the UK), Star Wars The Force Awakens has finally been released and I saw it in IMAX yesterday, and excuse the profanity, but it was some good shit. The wait for this film has felt like an eternity but I’ve seen in this new Star Wars film, and while a spoiler-free review seems impossible. I’m going to attempt it anyway. 😀

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The plot can be described as the following:

“30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.”

First thing I can say about this story is that it was really good. At first I thought this film would be just a retread of A New Hope, and throughout the film there’s certainly some call backs to that particular film, however as the story progresses it quickly evolves into its own tale with new characters, mythology and set up for even grander adventures in the future. What I loved about this film was its ability to connect with The Original Trilogy, but also feel totally fresh, exciting and unexpected. This film is full of humour, drama, mystery and intrigue, but at the center of it all it has heart. And for all the spectacle and larger-than-life elements, this was a very intimate and personal adventure for several of the characters involved and you could feel the emotion for sure. There’s also a lot of great references to the previous Star Wars films, and while you don’t have to have seen the previous films to understand TFA, you really can’t appreciate all of the subtle references or the dramatic moments involving the older returning cast members.

I have to hand it to J.J. Abrams and his team of writers for being able to pull this film off. This film really felt like Star Wars from a nostalgic standpoint, but it didn’t rely to heavily on it and created a lot of new material especially when it came to some of the humour and dialogue. Some of this material felt odd to be a in a Star Wars film, but it also helped the film feel relatable to modern film audiences. Also this film gets a little dark, sure it’s not the first time in this series, but certain moments were definitely violent and aggressive. Now this film isn’t perfect (although its pretty close), certain characters aren’t utilized to their full potential and certain plot points and mysteries you may be able to predict if you’re hardcore fan who has read the Expanded Universe/Legacy material or have speculated a lot online. But make no mistake, this film feels like the Star Wars you remember and it felt like a satisfactory follow-up to Return of the Jedi.

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Oh and the cast, they were great. A lot of these characters come from different backgrounds and this film did a good job of weaving them all together in coherent manner that felt natural. Firstly let me talk about Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey and Finn, man I adore these two. Rey was this smart, cunning and interesting scavenger, while Finn was a defected stormtrooper from the First Order who was brave, extremely funny and emotionally scarred. Both of these characters have great chemistry together, but their separate adventures were also very personal and badass. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was very badass, this character could have easily been a one-note villain, but there were layers to him, and discovering more about his personality and history as the film progressed was exciting and engaging. Oscar Isaac was great as Poe Dameron, just the definition of cool with a great deal of charisma, humour and confidence, and I have to give a shout out to BB-8 as he was one of the most adorable and humourous aspects of this film.

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And then there’s Harrison Ford as Han Solo, I loved him SO much. Ford, while certainly older, he felt like he hadn’t lost a step as Solo. This character was still just as charming, daring and hilarious as ever, however, he’d also aged and his perspective on certain things has changed a great deal, and while he was certainly used as a means to guide the new characters into this franchise, at the same time he had a key role to play and it was handled nicely. Carrie Fisher’s return as General Leia Organa was very nice too, Leia, while similar to the woman were known from the previous films, she’s changed too, she has a lot more responsibilities and it was cool to see a different side to her. Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata was another great new addition as she had such wonderful moments with some of the heroes, and Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke was quite fascinating, he was imposing, powerful and yet strange and mysterious too. The rest of the cast was either not given enough screen time or weren’t developed enough especially when it came to Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma.

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When it comes to the presentation, dear god I could nearly explode from the feeling of happiness this film gave me. Visually the film was beyond awesome. Everything from the gorgeous, pulsating space battles to the dirty/aggressive lightsaber duels to the lovely practical effects for the aliens and robots was stunning. What was great about this film was that it looked and sounded just like the previous films, but now with a swifter pace, a different style of cinematography, better use of practical effects and the CGI was clean, sharp and flawlessly executed. Oh and the music by John Williams, it was pretty damn cool. Now I will admit there weren’t any new themes that stuck out to me (like “Duel of the Fates” in the prequels), however the music is a mixture of new and old, but it has the Williams touch, that sense of magic and wonder, fear, intensity and joy that comes from a Star Wars film and it was a joy to hear it.

In conclusion Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to put it simply, the film just made me feel good. There’s a sense of satisfaction that I got after this film ended that I haven’t felt since The Avengers, all I needed this film to be was good and it exceeded my expectations in ways I never thought would happen. With an engaging new story, brilliant performances from the main cast members and stunning production values, Star Wars in back for fans new and old. Now the film does have issues and some fans will not be entirely happy with everything that goes down, but hell I really enjoyed myself with this film and I will probably see it several more times into the new year.

Critic Rating: 8.5/10

Fan Rating: 9/10

So are you going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and if so are you hyped or worried? And if you’ve seen the film were you pleased or disappointed? Please be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! 😀

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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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