Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

For our first post of the New Year, we take a look at the highly anticipated new Star Wars film. Directed by J.J. Abrams and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford, the film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence

From IMDB: 30 years after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire, Rey (Ridley), a scavenger from the planet Jakku, finds a BB-8 droid that knows the whereabouts of the long lost Luke Skywalker. Rey, as well as a rogue stormtrooper and two smugglers, are thrown into the middle of a battle between the resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order.

9 out of 10

Star Wars Episode VII had the highest grossing domestic opening of all time, and has already broken 1.5 billion. It beat Jurassic World’s record of 13 days to reach a billion, which had the benefit of opening in China, the world’s largest country in terms of population. Star Wars doesn’t open there till January 9th. This movie is big. Really big.

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It is easily the most hyped movie I’ve been around for, shattering the excitement for Jurassic World, The Dark Knight Rises, and Avengers: Age of Ultron— some notoriously hyped movies of the past few years. Star Wars was going to be a major hit whether it was good or bad, which makes it so much sweeter when you realize that it is actually a great movie.

Admittedly, it has strikingly similar qualities to the original trilogy. From the trench run, to Adam Driver’s character (hint: he wears a mask), this film was either an excellent ode to the original or a carbon copy. I remember turning to Jenya in the theater and saying, “I think I’ve seen this before” at least 4 times. Regardless, it is still action-packed; there is hardly a single boring moment in the film. It is a fun, action packed two hours, if nothing else.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer

 

I loved the three new characters that look to be our new trio of heroes going forward. Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron portrayed respectively by John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac had great chemistry with each other (especially the first two) and are interesting characters that I am very excited to follow around in the next two films, wherever they may go. Boyega and Ridley, relative newcomers to the movie scene, were particularly excellent, doing an incredible job leading the film. Not to mention, the incorporation of older characters, namely Han and Leia, was done flawlessly. There were enough of them to make us nostalgic, but not enough to detract from the focus of the movie: Finn, Rey, and to a lesser intensity, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), the primary antagonist.

JJ Abrams does an excellent job balancing CGI with practical effects. There’s nothing outrageous like CGI Yoda or CGI Order 66ing. The graphic effects are perfect in the sense that they look great, but more importantly they feel real. The lightsaber duels are not too special, but they’re engaging and fun. Abrams knows exactly what he is doing, and it’s really quite a shame that he’s not going to be directing Episode VIII or IX. Hopefully it won’t fall apart… fingers crossed… very tightly.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2

Best of all, the movie is able to have a complete and cohesive story arc but is still able to set up two more films. There are plenty of questions that we want answered, plenty of storylines ready to be carried out, and plenty of original trilogy references to be made. Is Rey a Skywalker? What happened to Luke? How will the Kylo Ren storyline end? Just a few (spoiler-free) questions I am looking forward to having answered.

If you are uncultured and haven’t seen the original Star Wars, you can still enjoy The Force Awakens, though every Easter Egg and nod to the original is all the better if you have. This is my favorite movie of the year, as it provides a fun, exhilarating ride from beginning to end. Disney can have all my money if they keep throwing out gems like this. If you have yet to see this film, then stop reading this review and go see it. It could even be nominated for Best Picture, ya never know.
~Vig

9 out of 10

As I’m writing this, Force Awakens continues its surge past the billion checkpoint. I love it when my commentary doesn’t really matter! Alright let’s get going…

Did you like the original Star Wars trilogy? Great, you’ll love Force Awakens. End of story. Thankfully, there’s no prequel-esque treachery, no disgustingly excessive CGI and actually human sounding dialogue.

It’s Star Wars movie to its marrow. It has everything a diehard fanboy could crave: colorful characters and planets (Brought to life by a welcome return to practical effects), enthralling actions (Including some of the better dogfights and duels of the whole saga), and a giant, hulking space station that blows crap to smithereens (Carefully study your Star Wars history and take a wild guess as to whether it explodes by the end or not).

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That’s right. It’s more of the same on a bigger scale and, quite frankly, that’s what everyone wanted. Director J.J. Abrams played it safe with this delicate franchise this round and prevailed with especial gusto. The callbacks are precisely placed and as giggle-inducing as expected and, of course, our veterans of the original trilogy who guest in this one make a triumphant return to the universe (Each of them get their own cute little entrances to boot).

But that’s certainly not to devalue the brand new stuff: without spoiling, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega neatly carve out their places in the franchise as the headstrong Rey and the reformed stormtrooper, Finn, respectively. They’re incredibly likable and boast a chemistry that matches, dare I say, the original cast of A New Hope. All the while, Adam Driver proves naysayers wrong as the capricious yet calculating Kylo Ren (Emo? A little but just the digestible amount, I promise). As far as the new worlds go, Abrams’s team does a fine job of painting a post-war galaxy with some great set pieces that only boost the creative action sequences.

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It’s admittedly hard for me to criticize this one as a fanboy (Okay, you got me, I went on opening night. May’ve saved a seat for two hours and all…) but I guess the most I can say is that I did know what was going to happen about five minutes before at a time (For example: a group of rebels trying to free a prisoner? What could possibly happen?). However, that’s simply a consequence of the film adhering to the standard Star Wars formula, which is both this movie’s blessing and curse. I will say too that the rewatch value on this flick is a little low after all the reveals have been, y’know, reveal but I’d advise any viewer to just take it as it is: a beautiful piece of fanservice, by a Star Wars nerd for Star Wars nerds.

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At long last, one of our favorite fictional universes has been done its justice with a film that injects new all new, thumping life into the world. If you aren’t one of the millions who’s done so already, strap in and see it. When it’s over, I assure you all previous Star Wars-related injustices will feel like they took place long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
~Zach

 
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