Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Directed by: JJ Abrams
Release Date: December 18th, 2015
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence throughout
Let me preface this review by saying I am not a huge fan of JJ Abrams. I was especially disappointed with the Star Trek reboots. So, having been a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I was hoping that he would do right by the franchise.
And do right he does. Gone is the clunky dialogue, the passable (but often weak) acting, the relentless CGI of the prequels, the pacing issues… I could go on and on. Instead, we are given a film that feels fresh and new. As another reviewer put it, it’s like “JJ Abrams is atoning for the sins of George Lucas.” We have Rey (Ridley), a young woman from the desert planet of Jakku, who takes the helm without the whininess and reluctance of A New Hope’s Luke Skywalker. Instead, she is bold, determined and resolute. We have Finn, born FN-2187, a stormtrooper who has a change of heart. Newcomer Boyega infuses the role with charisma and charm. We also have a new addition to the cast who isn’t human: the droid BB-8. Unlike R2-D2, he emotes rather well, and in doing so makes himself endearing from the get-go.
The baddies this time around are the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (played to perfection by Gollum, I mean, Andy Serkis) and his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Driver). For me, this is where the film fell a little flat. While Ren is capable of doing some spectacular things with the Force, as a man he comes across as weak and uncertain. (See the film to know what I’m talking about.) At the same time, we do see what kind of evil he is capable of, and believe me, it is a complete shock.
Without giving too much away, I will say that the film’s plot parallels A New Hope (unlikely heroes, impossible mission, mysterious bad guys) without feeling like a carbon copy. Instead, Abrams and Co manage to breathe new life into the franchise, appeasing already-fans such as myself and captivating new fans. Prepare yourself for a nonstop thrill ride (seriously, The Force Awakens never stops to take a breath) you’ll love just about every minute of. When it’s over, you’ll wish that the next film’s release date wasn’t so far away.
VERDICT: SEE. Again. And Again. And Again.