Just when you thought the saga ended, it has been restarted up with an official new installment of the Star Wars saga. The question is, how does it rate with the others?
Thirty years after the end of the Empire, a new evil regime has been causing more chaos in place of their predecessors. They are known as the First Order. In place of the Alliance is the Resistance. The Resistance’s top pilot is Poe Dameron, who has been tasked with holding a piece of the map that holds the location of the famous Jedi master Luke Skywalker, who has disappeared. When Poe is captured by the First Order, he gives the information to his droid BB8. However, Poe narrowly escapes thanks to the help of a reformed Stormtrooper, FN-2198, whom Poe names Finn. When they crash land on the desert planet of Tatooine, Poe is nowhere to be found and Finn looks for help.
Rey, a young scavenger on Tatooine, survives on the stuff she finds and sells. When she finds BB8, she takes him in and the next day, she runs into Finn, who is at the market dying of thirst. Noticing Finn’s jacket, she assumes he is a member of the Resistance. He is forced to lie but when the First Order attacks, Rey reveals she is quite an able pilot when he flies a junked ship, which turns out to be the Millennium Falcon. When the duo find themselves captured by a larger ship, they soon learn the captors are not of the First Order, but the now elder Han Solo and Chewbacca. When Han and Chewie are threatened by two rival groups over money, Rey and Finn help them escape. Eventually, they get the assistance of Han’s friend Maz Kanata, who has kept a secret in hiding and for one person, they will learn they have the power of the Force. Whoever has it will need it as they must new their newfound skills to the stop the First Order and their high ranking general, Kylo Ren.
Who would have ever imagined that thirty years after Return of the Jedi, we would return to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? George Lucas, creator of the saga, has no part of this as part of his deal with LucasFilm being sold to Disney and apparently, he had an idea to get the series going only to be rebuffed by the new owners. While it will be interesting to see how Lucas would have came in, this film has the tone and feel of the original trilogy (episodes IV-VI) as opposed to the prequel trilogy. Some of the credit must go to Lawrence Kasdan, who had co-written The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. One can only think had he not been involved, there is a possibility we would see something different. However, the film was in the capable hands of Star Trek reboot helmer J.J. Abrams, and being the Lucas fan himself, he truly does justice with the film’s tone.
While Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher return in the pivotal roles of Han Solo and the now Resistance general Leia Skywalker, the mystery surrounds Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. While the press did in fact announce his return, what capacity does Luke actually get involved? That’s to be revealed as the film focuses on his disappearance as he can help take on the First Order. Oscar Isaac, soon to be seen as the ultimate titular mutant in X-Men: Apocalypse, shows that he can play heroes and does it quite well as Poe Dameron, an ace pilot who finds himself a worthy ally with Finn, played by John Boyega.
Boyega’s reformed Stormtrooper tends to overdo it at times, but it seems necessary as he had seen one side of the war and finds himself on the other side and despite wanting to get out of the whole thing, finds himself loyal not only to Poe, but to his newfound friend Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. Rey is perhaps a cross of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. She is an ace pilot but also lives as a scavenger who constantly wants to remain home despite being having all the tools necessary to be an asset to the war.
Adam Driver is vicious as Kylo Ren, the new villain and general of the First Order. A Knight of Ren, Kylo wants to take the Resistance down and track down Luke Skywalker himself despite objections from General Hux, played by Domnhall Gleeson. Hux is perhaps seen as a First Order version of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, a combination of reputable class and sheer villainy. In place of the Emperor is the Supreme Leader Snoke, played with CGI effects by famous motion capture actor Andy Serkis, who also provides the evil one’s voice.
As with the Star Wars saga, expect lots of firepower, flying, and especially, lightsaber battles. There are a few duels here that make up more of the climactic act of the film. Kylo Ren’s lightsaber actually is red like Darth Vader’s, but even has red shoot out the sides of the handle and it actually looks quite nice. There are quite a few jaw-dropping moments in the film that will affect the war and the lives of everyone involved. And there is one that will change the course of the saga forever and one that will lead into 2017’s Star Wars Episode VIII, in which Rian Johnson will take over for J.J. Abrams. In the meantime, look next year for a spin-off to the series, Rogue One, featuring the likes of Diego Boneta, Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, and Donnie Yen.
Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is truly a worthy follow-up in terms of tone, story, and action. It is clear that despite Lucas getting rebuffed for his ideas and one may wonder what Lucas had in store, this installment truly has fallen in very capable hands combined with the talents of the newcomers and veterans. If you haven’t seen this and you are a Star Wars fan, then you best get to the theater as soon as possible as see this film.
WFG RATING: A
A LucasFilm Ltd. production. Director: J.J. Abrams. Producers: Bryan Burk, Kathleen Kennedy, and J.J. Abrams. Writers: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt; based on the original characters created by George Lucas. Cinematography: Dan Mindel. Editing: Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow, Gwendolin Christie.