Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A Spoiler-free Review
Dec 23, 2015
| Rica Wiersema
“There has been an awakening.” In the newest Star Wars film: Episode VII, The Force Awakens, the battle between the “light side” and the “dark side” continues with the journeys of two unlikely heroes, Finn (played by John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), who are doing their best to live under the galaxy’s oppressive regime, the First Order. But when they both stumble upon a secret piece of information that is vital to the First Order’s defeat, they incur the wrath of a newly-arisen Sith lord named Kylo Ren. Their only chance at survival is to find the Skywalkers, rebel leaders of legend, who can help them save all the star systems from ultimate destruction and awaken the light side of the Force that has been lying dormant for several decades.
The result is a charming and exhilarating adventure that in many ways mirrors the very first Star Wars movie (later subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope). Young, lost people discover the great power of the Force that has been guiding their every move, and it all leads up to a final battle with rebel ships struggling to get past enemy defenses while a dramatic lightsaber duel rages between hero and villain. But the franchise has also evolved, featuring one of the most diverse casts in Star Wars history. Rey is female, Finn is African-American, and even pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the next main character, is of Hispanic descent.
Episode VII is a long-awaited return to what made the original trilogy so beloved by viewers – some might even call it an homage to the saga. While the film is clear enough even for newcomers to appreciate, it is the nostalgic references that make it a real treat. There are cameos made by many actors from the original trilogy, including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).
The dialogue between characters is simple and fluid, and believable. Director J.J. Abrams brilliantly immerses viewers in the story by creating ingenious new cultures and painstakingly constructing elaborate mechanical creatures, even if they only appear on screen for a brief moment. The special effects and physical puppetry make the aliens seem real and tangible, and one can feel the heart-pounding ride of ships of every shape and size speeding through space.
The similarities between Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Episode IV: A New Hope don’t end there. Audiences loved A New Hope when it was first released, but the film became all the more meaningful in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back with the shocking plot twists and revelation of Darth Vader’s true identity. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren’s identity is revealed to satisfy viewers for now, but many of the new characters don’t know much about their lost families…and who knows what drama will ensue. If the original trilogy is any indication, The Force Awakens is a masterful set up for the next film in the saga, which can’t come soon enough.