Click here to read my review of the original 1977 Star Wars.
Click here to read my review of the spinoff Rogue One.
Oh, boy. I just don’t know what more to say about this achievement that hasn’t already been said by literally everyone else. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has already been hailed for restoring the franchise to its former glory, even though some still nitpick it for being too similar to A New Hope.
But you know what I say about that? I don’t care if it’s similar to the very first movie. In fact, it just makes it feel all the more like an old story told a new way for a modern millennial audience. The best part is that you don’t even need to be all into the franchise in order to love it: you can be male or female, young or old, Greek or Jew, yin or yang, and you’ll laugh and cry your way to the end.
The opening crawl is now as epic as ever before, not rambling on with political mumbo jumbo like the prequels did. Then it turns as intense as you’d expect when an army of technologically updated Stormtroopers from the First Order assault a base on the helpless desert planet Jakku, where a pilot from the Resistance is said to contain a map that leads to Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Knights.
The adorable little ball droid, BB-8, is left to keep the map safe from harm as it’s transported to the Resistance base. While he’s more of a comic-relief plot device than an actual character with fears and opinions, BB-8 adds the perfect dose of personality to make The Force Awakens the funniest of all the Star Wars features, and that’s based on cockiness, not a Gungan’s slapstick fart jokes.
Now on to the rest of Jakku, we are introduced to this new planet through the female scavenger Rey, who hunts through the skeleton of a fallen Star Destroyer in search for items worth trading. Her entire four minute introduction is done without any dialogue, relying on the delicate John Williams score and views of fallen empire battle stations to establish her place in the world.
Then at the heart of this barren junkyard of a planet lies a marketplace that feels like an interdimensional Morocco. While we may be too familiar already with the whole “desert planet” idea, it’s easy to see why the filmmakers are so drawn to it: the desolate landscapes add all sorts of narrative opportunities on the big screen that makes you feel like you’re there in the unkind environment.
One of Rey’s relationships is with the escaped Stormtrooper seeking redemption from life with the First Order. He is named FN2187, until named “Finn” by his new friend from the Resistance. Together they are playful and deep and casual, just like best friends of the opposite sex who mutually agreed on the friend-zone. That’s not to say though that there’s a possibility of a romance between the two in future movies…
Then there’s Han Solo. Yes, you heard right: Han Solo is a part of Rey’s journey against the First Order. But let me tell you, the father-like-daughter bond that they share is the heart and drive of this dark story. Who knows? Maybe future movies will reveal Han to be Rey’s father! They sure seem to be setting that up.
Even though it’s been a year since this film hit theaters, I still can’t get over how awesome it all looks! It’s not afraid to get on-the-nose political with its Nazi imagery, and keeps to expressing old cultural practices as the republic of this galaxy meets its demise (Midi-Chlorians not included).
Then there’s the First Order’s ultimate weapon, Starkiller Base, which is literally a much bigger third Death Star, but this time is more like a winter-forest planet than a space station. The different locations perfectly set the tone between the sand and snow and the green planet of Takodana, where the Resistance keeps their base, along with a nearby gypsy-like pirate whose castle is bustling with patrons much like in the Mos Eisley cantina. If you can just ignore a couple of weak performances and bad foreign accents, the grimy nature of the originals is as alive as ever in every part of the galaxy you’ll see here.
So George, thank you for selling your work into the hands of your fans.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will now live on in history as evidence that the fans of a franchise know how to respect their material and reinterpret it for everyone’s benefit. And best of all, this movie does not mean the end—for we now have Star Wars Episodes VIII and IX, and a Han Solo spinoff to look forward to. May the force be with us all!
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Web. <http://www.starwars.com/the-force-awakens/>.