Set 30 years after Star Wars Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens returns us to the galaxy far, far away. In the aftermath of the Empire’s defeat, The First Order has risen and the only thing standing in its way is the former Rebel Alliance, The Resistance.
Is this a return to form for Star Wars?
Easiest answer, yes. We finally get a movie with events takes place after the beloved trilogy, so in order to return to form they needed to somewhat reboot the franchise with elements from the original movie. A lot of it might sound really familiar, but if it didn’t seem familiar then it wouldn’t be Star Wars. Yes, the prequel trilogy is still in the Star Wars family, however George Lucas got a little carried away with the prequel trilogy which only ended up distancing itself a lot from the original trilogy. We’re back on track, and I’m ready for more.
Ok, so was this a good Star Wars movie?
It was a good Star Wars movie, thanks to how it reminded us with how much we love the original trilogy. New characters were introduced and they were characters that we have a ton of questions about, even after the movie is over. This movie washed the slate clean after prequel movies that weren’t able to capture some of the original magic. The return of a heavy dose of practical effects is what worked so well in the original trilogy. With those practical effects back, we have a good Star Wars movie once again. It’s even more apparent how important those practical effects are, since The Force Awakens’ weak points are when CGI is unnecessarily involved.
The story played it pretty safe, were you ok with that?
I didn’t need them to do anything drastic, but instead I wanted to get a story that gives me a reason to care. Mission accomplished since they’ve successfully introduced several characters (Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren) that I’m engaged in. Some elements of the story might be recycled, but like I’ve said before, those recycled elements are exactly why I loved the original movies in the first place.
Who was your favorite new character?
I went into the movie really excited for Poe Dameron. I came out enjoying Rey the most. That’s easy to say since she was the central character. She’s certainly the Luke Skywalker of these movies, as predicted in our past trailer dissections. I’ll be very specific in saying Rey was my favorite part of this movie, even with so much mystery still surrounding her. She might be related to someone from the original trilogy, or maybe not. We know Poe Dameron has no relations to the original trilogy. That’s another story in the comics, as his parents were apart of the Rebel Alliance as seen in the Shattered Empire comics, and was alive during the events of the original trilogy. Thinking long-term, Poe Dameron, will be my favorite character for years to come, at least that’s who I’m still pulling for.
Did you dig Kylo Ren?
I think we’re going to have some really great moments with Kylo Ren, even better than what we got in The Force Awakens. He hasn’t even finished his training, which was a far cry from where Darth Vader was in A New Hope. He’s experiencing some growing pains in this movie, but that doesn’t stop me from liking him. That mask looks great on him, but I did prefer him talking without the mask on. Without the mask you can get a better grasp on the emotions surrounding him as he’s a very conflicted guy. His custom lightsaber looked great on screen, and his specific powers that are new for Star Wars, never seemed lame but more intriguing than anything.
How did you feel about the use of old characters?
The reason I was so excited was because the old characters were involved in this movie. That excitement shifts quickly to the new characters as they’re all somewhat recreations of the old characters, but so many questions remain about those guys. Even the old characters have a lot of questions to be answered which will need another movie in order for that to happen. Leia is still leading the charge of leading the Resistance, and those droids still pop up for their typical comedic relief. .Han Solo stole the show this time around, and while it was unexpected it was so much fun to still see Harrison Ford pull off the iconic Han Solo.
Did John Williams do a good job on the score?
John Williams nailed it. The music played wonderfully during pivotal moments of the movie. You can’t get any more classic than hearing the blair of the intro music as the opening crawl scrolls up on the screen.
How did you feel about the special effects compared to previous movies?
Special effects get better every year as new technology comes out. We certainly got some great looking special effects this one, especially when it comes to the Millennium Falcon racing through the remnants of the Battle of Jakku or X-Wings flying over the water of a mysterious planet as they get ready to do battle. The original Star Wars movies special effects were amazing for their time. George Lucas remastered those movies, though I wish the originals were never altered. Comparing to the prequel trilogy, the special effects look a bit more refined and very clean.
What did you think about the use of CG and real characters?
I loved the real characters more than anything. The practical effects is what makes Star Wars great, and when they do the practical effects for the characters they are a lot more easier to connect to. My biggest gripe being that Maz Kanata didn’t necessarily have to be CG, though the character still makes an impact thanks to the strong voiceover performance of Lupita Nyong’o. Making the big fan Supreme Leader Snoke completely CG was an awful mistake as it just comes off as silly and not someone I really fear at this point.
What is one thing that you saw, that we probably missed?
It was not only one of my favorite moments of the movie, but it can easily be missed. Spoilers, but when Rey touches the lightsaber formerly belonging to Luke Skywalker, she has a series of visions and within those visions you can hear Yoda, and then Obi-Wan say Rey, these are your first steps. The entire vision flashback was great as it not only gave us pieces of the new story, but also gave us the memorable “Noooooooo” after Luke discovers Darth Vader is his father.
Without spoiling it, what did you think about the ending?
The ending delivered exactly what I wanted. The need to want more Star Wars. They could have easily added 5 more minutes and we might have some more questions answered, but that might take away from us longing for more. We knew we couldn’t get everything finalized in one movie, so there’s no need to rush it.
Are you more or less excited for more Star Wars after seeing this movie?
I not only want more Star Wars, but I need it. I’ll easily get my fill of it with how many more movies are planned, but in the meantime I’ll be keeping busy in between the movies thanks to the comic books and books. This movie set the table, now I believe we’ll get something even bigger in the next few years that will have a very meaningful impact.
Final question, seriously, did it live up to the hype?
Yes, it lived up to the hype. If it didn’t I wouldn’t have seen this movie multiple times in the theater. There was so much hype for this movie since we were getting some of our original favorite characters (Han, Luke, and Leia) back, as their stories were once thought to be over but in reality they’re continuing. The movie was successful in giving us more of what we loved from the original trilogy, and giving us a reason to stay and keep watching as the story develops further.
Family remains to be a familiar story plot, and it's just as interesting as it was 30 years ago. The new characters are ready to take the driver's seat, as classic characters take reduced roles in the franchise.