For many of us, Star Wars is much more than just a science-fiction movie franchise. It’s a series of fun, exciting, adventure that shaped our childhood imaginations and sent our dreams soaring to the highest reaches. Despite the fictitiousness of the Star Wars Universe, the life changing impact that it has had on us, is very real, and our favorite heroes have grown to feel like some of our oldest friends. I am a Star Wars fan, like my father before me. And although these stories take place in a galaxy, far, far away- I think I speak for all of us when I say that the force is close to us, and it is strong, right here, in our hearts.
For the first time in ten years, Star Wars: The Force Awakens promises to take us back to that galaxy, far, far away on the big screen. And J.J. Abrams, the film’s director, faces a daunting task- To live up to the legacy of the original trilogy, and to live down the infamy of the prequels. He is the true chosen one.
Starting with the movie’s characters, Abrams and company did a phenomenal job casting for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It didn’t take me long at all to fall in love with the characters and the chemistry that they shared with each other. This applies not only to the many new characters that are being introduced in the film, but also to the original cast members who are reprising their roles as some of the franchise's most iconic heroes.
I will say that at times it did feel like some of the Force Awakens’ character development was slightly rushed, but I firmly believe that by the end of this trilogy we’re going to see a lot of the characters’ backstories play out- And I definitely understand the challenges of trying to introduce an almost entirely new cast of characters within a two hour movie, especially in a franchise that relies so heavily on the growth of and relationships between its characters. That all being said, I didn’t really feel like the rapid character development took too much away from my overall enjoyment of the film. I really feel like I left the theater with a pretty healthy amount of questions about where the characters come from, and more importantly where they are going.
In regards to the overall story of the film, I don’t have any huge complaints. The Force Awakens does a nice job building a foundation for the new trilogy and gives us a glance at the state of the galaxy in this new era. Although I do feel that certain plot elements should have been more drawn out, and others shouldn’t have panned out so soon. This of course directly relates to the film’s faster character development, as they really didn’t have time to spread everything out while trying to set the stage for several important backstories. While the story definitely could have been better, and probably should have borrowed a little less from the original trilogy, the movie still seemed to package together very nicely as a whole. But perhaps I’m just blinded by nostalgia.
With all the conflict that goes on in the Star Wars universe, it’s very easy to forget that at it’s core, Star Wars is a very light-hearted franchise. Amidst the classic battles and dramatic twists- Star Wars always seems to maintain this sort of playful charm. Star Wars: The Force Awakens captures this attitude perfectly, without coming off as too cheesy like the prequels did. The film allows for an appropriate amount of comedic relief and at some points it really feels like the characters are having just as much fun living in the Star Wars universe as we are watching it. This is one thing that keeps many fans coming back to the Star Wars franchise, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Star Wars: The Force Awakens stays true to this in every way.
Visually, I thought the movie was spot on. There was a really nice balance of both pratical effects and CGI , which is rare in today’s age as most movies tend to stick with the latter. Some fans seemed to be upset with the amount of CGI used. But I think it’s appropriate given the broad audience the movie is meant to appeal to.
That being said, as much as The Force Awakens is a Star Wars movie, it’s a different kind of Star Wars movie. It is the first of what I like to call the modern Star Wars movie. The film looks and feels very 2015. It’s very much what the original trilogy might have been like had it been created now instead of the 70s. With a lot of the visual and expositional elements catering to the modern day masses. The characters are a lot more relatable to the youth of today, and the rapid-plot development seems like an attempt to lock in our generation which evidently lacks the attention span that audiences had 30 years ago. The addition of all the CGI brings a layer of visual flair which only adds to the movie’s appeal to a more modern audience.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is very much designed to entertain post-millennials, while still paying homage to the core values that made us fall in love with this franchise so many years ago. With time, everything changes, and it’s important for us as fans to understand that in order for Star Wars to stay alive, it needs to evolve. No franchise can thrive on nostalgia forever. This being said, just as much as The Force Awakens ushers in a new age of Star Wars, it marks the end of an old age. And that’s okay, because it’s time for us to share the magic of Star Wars with a whole new wave of Star Wars fans for decades to come.
From a movie review standpoint, I’d give The Force Awakens a four out of five, because as with anything, there was definitely some room for improvement.
But as a Star Wars fan, I have to give this movie a solid 5 stars. It really hit every point it needed to in bringing me back to my favorite galaxy far far away. And as Han Solo himself said: “Chewie, we’re home”.
As the lights came up and the credits rolled across the screen- I found myself proud to be a fan of the old generation of Star Wars, and excited to be a fan of the new one.