Star Wars: The Force Awakens [MOVIE REVIEW]

It is here. After all this wait, after all this speculation and after all these unfathomably good trailers - 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' has arrived. Is the franchise here to stay or does this feel like the beginning of yet another disservice to the title? Well I literally just got out of an IMAX showing and I feel ready enough to give my answer to the question.

All right Star Wars fans out there. You can all take deep breaths and calm down because 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is not the beginning of yet another trilogy as terrible as the prequels. This movie is great. If I was born back in the 70's and had watched all of the original trilogy movies in the theater I would not have felt the force as much here as I have since 1980. Yes rest assured, 'The Empire Strikes Back' remains the greatest Star Wars movie ever made (and I doubt anything will top it) but 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is up there with the best movies in the franchise and further emphasizes just how bad the prequels were. This is not to say this is a near perfect movie however, there are flaws to be found but the sheer and utter blast I had while watching it completely overshadowed all the things the back of my head were picking up. Of course I will still get to those things later on in the review - but not in a spoiler way. I will keep this whole review as spoiler free as possible because while there have been bits that were revealed through various sources - the movie does still thankfully have a couple of surprises up its sleeves so for your own sake, let them be surprises when you watch it.

Right of the bat, the opening title crawl is excellent. I know it is kind of silly to praise text but considering just how dull the entire prequel trilogy (and even 'Return of the Jedi' to some extent) were - this title crawl gets you excited and pumped about what is about to come which of course is what the classic Star Wars title crawl SHOULD DO. Naturally the audience (including me) erupted in applause when the Lucasfilm stamp appeared and then of course later when the epic John Williams score began. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had in the theater.

The real victors in this movie however are thankfully the characters. Both Rey and Finn played by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega respectively are fantastic and utterly destroys every performance given in the prequel trilogy and even tops several in the original trilogy as well. Their chemistry is perfect and they both have a whole plethora of standout moments both together and individually. Harrison Ford is not phoning it in here like he kind of was in 'Return of the Jedi', this is the Han Solo that we know and it is a very logical progression from where he was when we last saw him. He also gets things to do here the whole time which he really has not since 'The Empire Strikes Back'. He and Chewbacca (who is also great) have their banter again and you really feel like both of them truly have returned - and the same can thankfully also be said about Carrie Fisher as Leia. We also have a great new villain in Kylo Ren who I justifiably feared might become a little too close of a character to Darth Vader - but once I saw the movie it became very clear that this was not going to be the case. Adam Driver does a great job in the role and the script gives him a lot of memorable moments.

The plot is not that deep or heavy which might be the best direction they could have gone for a movie like this. The first 'Star Wars' movie was not very deep either but left the doors open for a heavier sequel with 'The Empire Strikes Back' (which it pulled of perfectly, of course) and this is no different. The things that are layered are only what really should be layered - which are the characters. I had no problem with the movie not focusing completely on the plot but the one we have is not exactly dull in any stretch of the imagination (but I would not give it an award any time soon).

This is the third Star Wars movie were I feel like the pacing is pretty much perfect. It does not waste any time as you never feel like it spends too much time or too little time on any of the locations. It also does not feel like it tries to skimp passed the character development to get to the action scenes. J.J. Abrams knows what is important and has thankfully decided to have that be the main focus.

If you do not want to know anything about the movie then you probably will have to stop reading right now if you do not want to risk anything. Now however I begin with the flaws of the film. For me some plot points felt a little too much like the original 'Star Wars' and hell even 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi'. I am talking plot point by plot point at times and I know George Lucas' classic "poetry, it rhymes" quote gets made fun of a lot (and it should) but I feel like J.J. Abrams might have followed it just a little too closely. However that being said, it is not annoying. There is just enough new things here to balance it out and by the end you are not exactly going to leave the theater thinking it is a clone of the original trilogy. There are also a certain scene in the second act that I could do without. It is not completely useless but when you look back at the whole thing it does stick out from the rest. The third act is were the flaws start to creep in the most though (I was even reminded of 'Terminator: Genisys' at one point) but again, nothing detracts from the enjoyment and honestly, a lot of the things throughout the movie that I thought were going to lead to flaws - only ended up being a diversion for greater things which was beautiful to see.

Overall, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is a wonderful return to form for the franchise with great characters, overwhelmingly enjoyable action set-pieces, lots of memorable moments and the most important positive of all - it feels like Star Wars again. This is the first good Star Wars movie I have ever seen in the theater (saw 'Revenge of the Sith' back in 2005 and 'The Phantom Menace' in 3D) and it certainly will not be the last unless my credit card says otherwise. Star Wars is back, and it is here to stay.


- Lucas


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