Review: The Force Awakens

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (SPOILER FREE)

By: Dave Clark

We've waited a long time for this day. Finally a new entry into the Star Wars saga that could be completely unpredictable. We've had the prequels and we knew going into them what the outcome would be. SPOILERS for the prequels: Anakin would turn into Darth Vader. Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda would survive. The Skywalker babies (Luke and Leia) would be separated at birth. The surprise and thrill of something new was kinda of taken away. Sure we were introduced to new and annoying characters, but the guessing game of "who is this" and "how important are they" were removed before we took our seat in the crowded theater. We've felt the disappointment for a few years and now, finally, we were ready to come home with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The plot of the movie, without giving away the big shocking moments was this: we are thirty years after the destruction of the second Death Star. Luke Skywalker is missing and as he's the last of the Jedi, the First Order is seeking to find him and destroy him. Meanwhile the Resistance (which is backed by the Republic) is seeking Luke's help in order to bring back peace to the galaxy. The First Order is employing a new weapon in their fight against the Resistance. It's a planet sized weapon, similar to the Death Star, only far more powerful. Using the power from a nearby sun, it focuses that energy and sends out enormous blasts that destroy whole planets. This weapon is called The Starkiller base. My issue with this plot and the pacing of the film is that it seems to fall in line heavily with the plot of Episode IV: A New Hope. Again, I will avoid revealing spoilers but that was really my only gripe with the film.

Because I don't want to spoil the film for anyone, I'll introduce you to the new characters appearing in the Star Wars universe:

Rey: Probably my favorite character of the film. She's extremely independent, having seemingly survived on her own on the planet Jakku. Her backstory is a mystery. She was left on the planet and she's stayed, waiting desperately for the return of her family. She's no damsel character by any means. She learns a little about her past, but mostly she learns that she will find everything she's looking for by looking into what's to come for her life instead of seeking her past. She does have a moment where she rejects this news. She isn't looking for adventure, she just wants her family back. She really doesn't want to be part of this bigger war, but at the same time she knows helping is the right thing to do.

Finn: Finn is an interesting character. His story and arc can take this new and exciting character a lot of places within the Star Wars universe. He's a Stormtrooper within the First Order when we meet him, and we learn that the troopers are not recruited in a general sense. They're taken from their families and essentially programmed and trained to do what the First Order wants them to do. Somehow, though, Finn begins to see that what they are doing is wrong. This revelation leads him down a road he is hesitant to join in with. He also provides a lot of great comedic moments in the film, but not to be labeled as the comedic relief, he also provides so many emotional moments as well.

Kylo Ren: He's one of our antagonists in this film. He's angry. He's chaotic. He's unbalanced. There's a lot of conflict within him and you can see that he doesn't make choices easily. He's hungry for power, but in my opinion, his hunger for revenge (or how he sees things, it's revenge at least) outweighs his thirst for power. He answers to Supreme Leader Snoke and works "with" General Hux in leading the First Order. He's also leading the hunt for Luke Skywalker. His lightsaber...if you can call it that...is very raw and I would describe it as a do-it-yourself lightsaber. The blade doesn't have the smooth and clean look of the classic lightsabers we've seen in the past. Much like Kylo Ren's state of mind, it's very wild and looks much like a blade of fire.

Poe Dameron: We actually found out a little bit about his parents if you picked up the Marvel Comics series Star Wars: Shattered Empire. Poe is the most skilled pilot in the Resistance Fleet. You get to see just how skilled he actually is in this film, and I really enjoyed his character. He's witty and smart and extremely brave and strong. However, we don't get to dig too deeply into his character in this film. I imagine we'll get to see more of him in future films, as this film focused mostly on Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren, as well as setting the stage for the viewer as to what's at stake for our characters. 

Captain Phasma: She's a high ranking stormtrooper within the First Order. She answers only to Kylo Ren and to General Hux. You can tell she's got some power and that she's a fierce warrior...however, we again don't get to see her much in this film. I was so eager for this character going into the film and I was glad to see what we saw, but there's a lot to put into this film and some things will be pushed to the later films in this new trilogy.

The music, of course, set the emotions and the tone and brought you back to a place of when you really enjoyed these films. John Williams returns to bring back those nostalgic feelings while adding scores for our new characters and their storylines to move the Saga forward. The practical effects along with the CGI didn't feel forced nor was it overdone. They both worked well together and brought me back to the original films' feeling. The acting was well done. Adam Driver had a tough task of playing this villain that could be over the top, but did a great job with the voice and his emotions. All the actors did a great job and had some very pivotal and emotional moments. It was great seeing Harrison Ford back as Han Solo, and we got Han Solo. It didn't feel like it did when we all sat down to watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where that version of Indy was just not the Indy we all loved and remembered.

We're set up quite nicely for the next film. We leave this film on a cliffhanger from a huge moment of the film. We're left with a lot of mystery and questions as well. What they did with not revealing too much about these characters and building their backstories as an important mystery made sure that we'll be speculating for the next year and a half. I loved this film. The Force Awakens left me feeling happy and feeling like a kid again. I instantly wanted to see this movie again, and have already seen it twice, with a third time in the plans. If you haven't, go see this movie. It's set up nicely so that you do NOT have to have seen ANY of the original Star Wars films to really know what's going on. Sure there's thing you should know, but at the same time, you get introduced to this world, these characters, and the Jedi and Sith in a way that brings new fans into the universe smoothly. If you have seen this movie, I urge you to not spoil the movie for those who have not. It's not too difficult to discuss the movie with those that have seen it WITHOUT giving away the big moments of the movie to those around you who have not been able to see it.

That's what I thought, we wanna know what you guys thought! Sound off below!