Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

                            The 'Force' Is Strong With This One

        No intro, no story, just cutting right to the chase. (Also, spoiler-free)

      As always, I will start off with the acting. I'll start off with two of the original players. Harrison Ford brings his A-game as Han Solo. Even if there is a Han Solo prequel on the horizon, Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo and much like how Sylvester Stallone brought new dimensions to the role of Rocky in Creed, Ford brings new dimensions to Han Solo as originally, he was a cocky pilot with a heart of gold that was skeptical of the Jedi Force yet here, he showcases his traditional humor but has developed a new perspective on the Force. Carrie Fisher has a smaller role as Princess Leia and also takes the character into new avenues as she gives a slight glimmer of the character's spunk yet still feels more heavy dramatic weight on her shoulders. Now onto Luke Skywalker. the movie.

     Next, I'll delve into the new band of actors. First, Daisy Ridley as Rey. What a find this girl was! She steals the movie as she brings ferocity, humor, depth, and charm to the role and manages to hold her own against her veteran co-stars. I look forward to what the future holds for this young discovery. After seeing Attack The Block, I knew John Boyega was going to become a star and this film might very well do that for him as he brings humor and excitement mixed with deep dramatic pathos as former Stormtrooper Finn. I also loved Oscar Isaac as pilot Poe Dameron. He too brought a lot of charisma to the role, playing a young Han Solo without replicating Ford's portrayal. Adam Driver plays the new baddie Kylo Ren and I really liked his performance as well. Instead of playing a carbon copy Darth Vader, Driver gives us a villain that is not only a menacing threat, but also much more manipulative. Even though it's not human, I also thought BB-8, the new droid, was a delightful character.

      Another thing I liked was how director JJ Abrams was able to capture the old school magic of the franchise yet translate it into a modern-day canvas. While some plot lines or devices may be similar to the original 1977 film (droid carrying plans, main character lives on a deserted planet, etc.), it still doesn't feel like a carbon copy which is what I feared it would be. It does have the original cast, but they are mainly passing the torch to the new band of characters or the new generation. Honestly, if they had just made a cameo appearance, it would've felt like a cheap nod to the fans. So I'm glad that they had larger roles. Plus, by reintroducing familiar plotlines without it feeling like a total replication, that is how they are able to capture that old school magic.

      I also loved how Abrams used actual locations for the space setting. By shooting the desert planet scenes in an actual desert and such, it helps maintain a sense of realism in the midst of its fantasy setting. Plus, when the film begins, the action and plot is immediately set in motion yet just keeps going and I really loved that. That is not only a testament to the writing and Abrams' direction, but the editing as well. John Williams is back as a composer and I thought he once again delivered. All the craftsmanship on this film was done successfully. Even the CGI as I was able to figure out which creatures were practical and which were CG.


    Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a successful sequel that ranks up amongst the first two original films. It captures the familar old-school magic while also being perfectly translated into a modern day canvas thanks to its charismatic star turns by the new cast and the direction by J.J. Abrams. It was well worth the wait.

Grade: A+