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Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens, or “A New Hope Part 2”

This review will be Spoiler free.

Finally. It has happened. We got a good ‘Star Wars’ movie. From the moment the opening crawl descends on us until the end credits hit the screen I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face if I tried. The Force Awakens is easily the best Star Wars film in decades, and while it does have some flaws within it- the film succeeds on almost every front.

The Story follows Rey, a scrapper from the desert planet Jakku, Finn, a renegade Stormtrooper of the First Order, and Poe Dameron, the Resistance’s ace pilot among others. The search for Luke Skywalker is the main thrust of the film as the opening credits inform us, “Luke Skywalker has vanished..” and his sister, General Leia Organa begins the search through trusted X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron. From there we are quickly introduced to the previously mentioned leads and spend some time getting to know them through their actions before stumbling into the lovable scoundrel turned rebellion hero, Han Solo. The first act does an impeccable job meshing the fresh with the familiar. Finn and Solo’s banter alone is gold, but it is a relatively small moment between a litany of lovingly crafted scenes and a clear respect and adoration of the original trilogy and the world it inhabited long, long ago.

Firstly, mother of God the amount of practical effects and production design showcased in this film by itself is almost enough to wash away those feverish nightmares of senate meetings and insufferable Gungans. But enough about the terrible Star Wars movies because this one is great! Maz, a new character, runs a ‘watering hole’ that Han and the new kids eventually arrive at and it is a feast for the eyes as every square inch is packed with puppets, costumes, makeup, and props. Kudos JJ, Kudos. Even BB-8 himself (herself?) was practically created. Robots and aliens aside the best parts about the film are the new characters and how they interact within the story and world. Rey is the standout performance, a young female lead that is incredibly capable and quickwitted? Yes please. We need more of her ilk in huge pop culture films!

As a villain, Kylo Ren was better than expected. He had layers that became more intricate as the runtime trotted along, and he was ridiculously powerful with the force. Plus he actually made use of the extra crossblades of his lightsaber, nice to see they weren’t just for show. As there were a lot of homages and familiarity throughout this film there was also another shadowy figure pulling strings in the background, Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke was but one of two CGI characters in the film, the other being Maz, and in a film with such a focus on the practical effects in the world, they stood out, and not in the best way. That’s not to say they weren’t interesting characters, just curious that they would go that route when other methods would have been more in canon with the Original Trilogy. A mild complaint in the end. There will be more to be known about Snoke as we get more of these films, but let’s hope, for the love of god, that its not Palpatine… somehow.

There is a very fine between good and evil in this iteration, and some characters straddle the line with poise, but it is an engaging turmoil that boils over onscreen for those involved. The New Order may be vague in its deliberate mission statement, but that’s okay, we all know this is the first step in a new trilogy and who wants to know all the secrets right away anyways. The film tantalizes us with homages to old but keeps us tethered to the story with the curious nature of, how will this unfold? What’s next? This is the first time in a very long time that we know not the ultimate outcome of the standing, or current, set of ‘Star Wars’ movies. The New Order’s ambitions may not be known in terms of their exact inner workings, but we do know they are incredibly ambitious with what they have created.

Starkiller Base. Is it basically a bigger Death Star? Sort of. Only way more impressive, that and it lives up to its name. I won’t go into further detail for the three people that haven’t seen the film and also happen to be reading this, but know this- It is visually, very awesome. Oh and the Dogfighting that ensues is beyond nostalgic, but also simply very satisfying to watch. That really is the core of why this movie works so well, at just over two hours long the film feels like an hour twenty at most, it’s cogs are constantly churning from action to well timed banter or spaceship battles/chases. The pace is a triumph, and more than anything else, this film is pure fun. It won’t win any oscars, and that is completely fine because all this film had to do was give us something new, something familiar, and something fun. The film succeeds on every front, and then some.

Star Wars is playing until the end of time in all theaters everywhere. May the force be with you if you’re on the internet and still haven’t seen this movie for some reason. In the end we all got a good ‘Star Wars’ movie for Christmas, go and enjoy it!

Final Score: 4/5

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