Friday, January 1, 2016
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
Thank The Lord for relieving me and my family of the burden of doing everything we could to have little to no information of this film until we finally saw it. My dear viewers, you don't have the slightest idea how much of a relief it is. Anyway, I just finished watching it a second time, so I'm all ready to go to finally give you my thoughts about The Force Awakens.
Plot: It's been about 30 years since the events of Return of the Jedi, and Luke Skywalker has disappeared, while the First Order is looking to destroy him and the Republic. While Leia Organa is leading the Resistance against the First Order, a droid named BB-8 contains information on the whereabouts of Luke. So it's up to a former stormtrooper named Fin and a scavenger from the planet Jakku named Rey to bring BB-8 to Leia while they are hunted down by the First Order, lead by the powerful Kylo Ren.
It's not that this film beats the crap out of the prequels, it's just that it bathed the star-ways in their blood. Not only is it good, but the makers of this movie where very, very, very, VERY, smart with how they handled it. It had the right mixture of both the old and the new elements to the franchise, that showed that this truly is Star Wars the way the story should continue: with the Jedi all but extinct, the empire (loosely speaking) as a terrible, giant force against the republic, and best of all, The Force is a giant mystery that flows around life - none of that midichlorians crap.
I also like how things have changed since the events of Return of the Jedi. Instead of the Rebel Alliance, it's the Resistance, which is supported by the Republic. Instead of Princess Leia, it's General Leia. Instead of the Empire, it's the First Order. And instead of the Sith leading the First Order, it's...just two people who follow the dark side of The Force. In fact, the last part is the most interesting to me; that they don't make the main force of evil specifically Sith Lords (at least that we know for sure). They appear to just be Force Users that follow the path to the dark side, like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine originally were before the prequels titled them as the Sith. And as much as I love the on going fight between the Jedi and the Sith - whether in these films or the expanded universe, as my favorite aspect of Star Wars, I can't deny that this works much better for a seventh movie. It's more simple, it touches more into, again, what the villains were originally, and for all we know, Kylo Ren and his master could be a force of something darker and more destructive then the Sith somehow. Who knows?
One of the major highlights of this film's strength is the characters. The new characters were 100% likable almost immediately. It only took a few minutes into their first appearances, and already I was rooting for Fin and Rey, and I even got a few laughs out of BB-8. Then you have Kylo Ren, who is the most awesome villain in a Star Wars film since Darth Maul. His mask was cool, his big brooding voice fit him perfectly, and it goes without saying how awesome his lightsaber is. But he wasn't just simply some latest version Darth Vader. He had his own identity, where he is also more human and has much more of a conflict in what he believes. And of coarse, there's the appearance of the original characters: they played off with the new characters very well. It is great that the old characters weren't there just to be cameos because they're from the original trilogy. It especially was a lot of fun seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca again. In fact, as far as the original characters go, this was kind of Han's film more then anyone else's. Would I have liked to seen more? Absolutely. There were some new characters that did not get as much screen time as I would have liked - particularly Captain Phasma. And I personally was really looking forward to seeing more of Luke Skywalker. I know what they did with him was perfect for the sake of the story, but at the same time, I was sort of disappointed.
A lot of people view the story to this movie as basically just A New Hope retold. Not to say that it does every little thing precisely like that, but it has a lot of beats that are very similar to A New Hope. But the good news is that they did it the right way. It gives us a good sense of nostalgia that helps us become more comfortable - given how some of us feel about the prequels, but it also has the right changes that makes it its own story, which is backed up by how invested we are with the new characters. And what is really great, is that there's so much mystery to the story too. True, there are some things that are revealed sooner then you probably expected - most of which, I really appreciated that, that was the case. But there were so many things that were vague in this film (i.e. the formation of the First Order, Kylo Ren's full background, and like I said earlier, whether or not Kylo Ren and his master are Sith Lords or something more), that it leaves you desperately wanting more.
I was presently surprised about the humor in this movie. There were so many jokes that worked so well - some of them where still funny after watching the film a second time. I would go so far as to say that it easily is the funniest of the Star Wars films. This isn't to say that some of the other films didn't have their humorous moments, but the cleverness and delivery of the jokes in this film was on par with the comedy we get in the Marvel films. In fact, given that they both are owned by Disney, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some connection to how the comedy to these films have worked so well that they practically guarantee that their audience will laugh constantly.
The action in this film is great. And when I say that, I'm really referring to the lightsaber fighting during the climax. As much as I enjoy the lightsaber fights in the prequels - namely the fight between Qui-gon, Obi-wan and Maul, and the fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, I have to agree with my brother, Johnathan that this was much stronger. The fighting on the prequels is mostly just clashing swords with kicks and spins and so on. And while those fight are great to watch, the fights here are more like the duels between Luke and Vader in both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, in that it's more genuine in an emotional level. When you see these people swinging their laser swords at each other, you know that they are truly trying to kill each other. There's no special choreography or anything like that from the prequels, it's just these characters putting all of their emotions into either trying to kill the other person or trying to stay alive.
And that's my review for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. It has a smart story, lovable new characters - while still giving us some lovable moments with the original characters, the comedy is great, the action is terrific, it's a ton. Is there room for more? Yes. Do I understand if you think it's a little too much like A New Hope? Absolutely. But I think we can all agree that it is so much better then the prequels, and if anything else, leaves you wanting to see more. Some people say it's the fourth best one, others say that it might be better then at least Return of the Jedi. I think the latter might be a stretch since RotJ is a classic, but at the same time, I can't deny that I'm growing attached to this film. I've seen it twice in theaters already, and I am looking forward to seeing it many more times in the near future.