Friday, December 18, 2015


A long time ago (40 years, to be exact), when STAR WARS creator George Lucas began to piece together his galactic opus to the world, he did so by being heavily inspired by the power of storytelling and the intricacies of myth. The long-running behemoth of a franchise has veered away from those humble beginnings in the past decade, but with the seventh installment, THE FORCE AWAKENS, director J.J. Abrams gets things back to the origin, bringing STAR WARS back home at long last.

Thirty years after the events of RETURN OF THE JEDI, Luke Skywalker has vanished and the galaxy is facing a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. A young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) discovers a droid (BB-8) which may have Luke’s location, and she enlists the help of a defected Stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega), and an old space-smuggler, Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

THE FORCE AWAKENS is a film which embraces the idea that going backwards is sometimes necessary to go forwards. Gone are the progressive-thinking storylines of political turmoil and forbidden love stories, and in its place is a true commitment to galactic adventure.  It’s a back-to-basics approach, as AWAKENS borrows a little from the 1977 film by using the every-person who stumbles upon a key to saving everyone…but it’s not exactly the same. Director J. J. Abrams, working off a script by STAR WARS veteran Lawrence Kasdan, gives everything a clever spin which makes it all feel new. The usual and expected beats are there, but the re-working makes it all feel very fresh.

Abrams knows what the fans want, and he delivers all that and more. The old characters such as Solo, his pal Chewbacca (once again by Peter Mayhew), and the now General Leia (Carrie Fisher) not only get to bring back waves of memories and nostalgia for long-time fans, but are also given important tasks to do; the stakes are very high this time around, and as the plot unfolds every character is given a storyline. AWAKENS has a lot of humanism going on despite the magnificent space battles and locations. Real human stories are happening, making EPISODE VII the one film in the long series to have the most amount of life.

Abrams keeps the pacing brisk and the plot moves from planet to planet at light-speed, but things are organized well and never get confusing, nor do they bore. Visual effects are a treat with some well-realized CGI…which seems to be used sparingly as the practical sets and real-life locations are used often and well. For the first time in a long time, we’ve got a STAR WARS movie which is photographed beautifully; perhaps the best-looking of the series and by far the best-looking Abrams has produced. John Williams’ score soars with a beautiful mix of the old and new. The droid BB-8, an actual working model, is a revelation and conveys emotion despite communicating only in beeps and boops.

Acting is superb. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega get a ton of screentime and a lot of emotional baggage to get through, and they both pull it off brilliantly. Harrison Ford steps back into his old boots with ease and gives us a nice balance of the older Han and the old Solo. Carrie Fisher returns to Leia nicely…and Adam Driver, as our new galactic villain, is a perfect menace and a baddie that the world would now love to hate. The supporting cast of Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Domhnall Gleeson, and Lupita Nyong’o are all excellent.

There are some well designed twists and turns throughout THE FORCE AWAKENS, with plenty of moments to laugh, cheer, cry, and weep over. With everything that Abrams had to accomplish in one movie, he overall finds a way to explore the power of storytelling and forging a myth all on his own. Just as it did in 1977, that far, far away galaxy has exploded onto the big screen as a beacon of hope; lush with adventure and the magical whimsy that only cinema can provide. STAR WARS has returned home.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.