Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens Review (Spoiler Free)

There was a point very early on in The Force Awakens when I just knew that this was going to be one of the most pure Star Wars experiences ever. George Lucas said in an interview and I’m paraphrasing of course, “Disney wants to give the fans what they want and love with The Force Awakens.” And what better way to do that than to let a mega-fan direct it – J.J. Abrams’ love for Star Wars shines through in every scene and the love and effort poured into the movie is evident right from the first shot, which by the way is so reminiscent of that of A New Hope. Actually, the plot of The Force Awakens is very similar to that of that of Episode IV, but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I won’t delve into further details. Nostalgia plays a huge factor in this movie, not just with its beloved returning characters but also with so many easter eggs. I loved how they acknowledged the events of the previous movies to make the galaxy feel old and like it has many, many stories to tell. Nostalgia notwithstanding, the movie is excellent and can stand on its own two feet without resting on its laurels.

As much as I love and revere George Lucas, there is no way he would have shot this movie so beautifully

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Looks trashed, but I still wouldn’t want to go near it

Before getting to the acting, I want to touch upon the directing – the differences between the way the Prequels and The Force Awakens is so stark; as much as I love and revere George Lucas, there is no way he would have shot this movie so beautifully. Let me reiterate that, this is the best shot Star Wars movie yet – those long panning shots showing the grand scale of things, tracking shots through crowded areas and all the fight sequences were terrific. In the beginning of the movie, Rey is scavenging in a Super Star Destroyer (not a spoiler, it’s shown in the trailers) and as she’s walking out, the camera just zooms out and shows the once magnificent vessel of destruction of the Empire in its entirety. Rey was just a miniscule speck on the sand compared to it and this was the first time I got to appreciate the scale of such structures. There’s also that scene where there’s a showdown between the TIE Fighters of the First Order and the X-Wings of the Resistance (this is in the trailers as well) and the way they respectively arrived at the scene of the fight was amazing to watch – the TIE Fighters were flying with the sun behind them which made for such a beautiful sight and the way the X-Wings were flying just above the water was just as pretty a sight. I’ve never actually seen the X-Wings so close to the ground except for in the Battle of Hoth and it was a welcome sight after all the space dogfights.

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Wouldn’t want to be behind it as well

J.J. Abrams also utilized his signature lens flares, but he utilized them only occasionally and their usage was so apt that it just added this extra visual flair (get it?) instead of being a nuisance like in his Star Trek movies. George Lucas loved testing the limits of technology in his movies and it is most evident in the Prequels. However, I loved how J.J. used practical effects wherever he could, making it feel even more like the Original Trilogy.  J.J.’s contributions extend beyond his actions in the director’s chair – he was also partly responsible for selecting the cast and writing the script, ordeals which have made him, in my mind, one of the best directors of this century. I’m really sad that he’s not returning as director of Episodes VIII and IX, but on the other hand, I’m really grateful for how perfectly he’s executed his plan for this movie. He made this movie his own and I really can’t imagine anyone else directing this movie better.

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Han retains his sense of humour by calling BB-8 “ball”

Speaking of the cast, I am certain that these guys are going to hit it really big. Star Wars movies have a habit of casting relatively unknown people, sometimes it works out and propels them to perpetual stardom – Harrison Ford – and sometimes it doesn’t and propels them out of Hollywood – Hayden Christensen. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega – these guys are the next big things and they absolutely deserve it. Their performances were so good that I just couldn’t imagine anyone else playing their characters – that’s how much they owned their roles. For example, the movie managed to build such a beautiful camaraderie between Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) in just 4 minutes which is an incredible feat because it made it seem like they had known each other for years when in fact they had just recently met each other. Each of them killed their respective performances and set up these great new characters for a new generation of the Star Wars saga.

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These are the people that make The Force Awakens so great

BB-8 is the cutest droid in the galaxy

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was everything I could ask for – you can just see the internal conflict and complex emotions on his face. There are so many scenes where he doesn’t speak for a long time and these scenes rely on his ability to portray his emotions through his facial expressions and body language; needless to say, he does all this to the T. Kylo Ren is, I feel, the most human Star Wars villain and most emotionally vulnerable as well, so seeing him grow through this trilogy is something I’m really looking forward to. He has the potential to become as iconic as the great Darth Vader and go down in history as one of the best movie villains. For a villain to be successful, I feel, he has to make you hate him; you shouldn’t be rooting for him instead of the protagonist (this has happened in too many movies) because then the entire point of calling him the “villain” is moot. Kylo Ren does some really disturbing crap in this movie that made my blood boil with anger and therefore, he gets a thumbs up for being a badass bad guy. As for the other characters, Rey is like the new Luke while Finn and Poe are the new Hans, but they’re not (frozen) carbon(ite) copies of the original trilogy characters. They have their own traits and personal backstories that make them unique which really impressed me. They are all really likable and Rey goes down as down as one of my favourite Star Wars characters. Speaking of the original trilogy characters, seeing them almost made me tear up – nostalgia is a strong emotion, you know. Watching all my favourite characters in action in all their glory was so great and induced this swelling feeling in my chest – Han quipping, Chewie roaring and getting mad, C3PO being overtly voluble reminded me so much of Episodes IV, V and VI. Also, BB-8 is the cutest droid in the galaxy (sorry R2).

“Mutton chicken soup with roast chicken and mushroom sauce is very tasty and of course with some good old steak and mashed potatoes with fish fillet with cream  and caviar which is red of sturgeon of river fish .Believe me  I ate all of it on the day I watched ‘Star Wars’. I am a daughter of  Poseidon and blessed by Zeus and Hades, third in command to the army of chaos. I hate potatoes.”

(The last paragraph was written by my two cousins, Spiky and Tubby. I was too lazy to remove it, so there you go. Witness the creative talent of my cousins.)

I really thought that this movie would have lots of passing of the torch moments where the Original Trilogy characters burden the newer characters with the task of saving the always-in-peril galaxy. But, I was really surprised and delighted to find that the older guys kick just as much ass as the younger ones – they fight side by side and seeing the two generations mesh together so well was great. Seriously, watching Han and Chewie shooting Stormtroopers never gets old. Also, the last shot of this movie is one of the best of any movie and I was literally shoving all the popcorn into my mouth in the build-up to it.

Good music can make a good movie great and in this case, a great movie perfect

John Williams’ legendary score is back and with full force. It’s one of the things that makes Star Wars so iconic and to hear something that I grew up listening to and humming all the time in the theatre was great. There were booming crescendos and soothing diminuendos that suited their scenes better than a bowcaster does Chewie. Like I’ve said before, good music can make a good movie great and in this case, a great movie perfect.

I’ve heard a few people call this movie banal for copying a lot from A New Hope, but that’s all a load of crap. The basic skeleton structure of the two movies is similar, but the way the story is executed is wildly different leading to a very original story. This is Star Wars just as the fans wanted it and it is a blast to watch all the way through. The story is really engaging and intriguing and eventually, it does leave a lot unanswered even though it does answer a ton of questions. I do feel this was done intentionally though – to set up some really big reveals in Episode VIII. In that sense, it’s set up the next movie terrifically and it would take a monstrous screw-up to for the next movie to not be even better.

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The Force Awakens is J.J. Abrams’ love letter to his beloved Star Wars

The Force Awakens is J.J. Abrams’ love letter to his beloved Star Wars and in a nutshell, it was the perfect way to kick off the Sequel Trilogy. I’ve got a really good feeling about the next two movies. (Sorry, Han. Not a bad feeling.) Star Wars is back and the Force is stronger with it than ever before.

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