The wait is finally over. After 30 years we finally have our first installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, The Force Awakens. The countdown started in October 2012 when Disney purchased LucasFilm for $4 billion dollars and announced a new Star Wars trilogy. I've been anxiously awaiting the chance to see what direction Disney would go with these new films and how good or bad they would be. They can't suck again right?
I went into the theater to watch The Force Awakens with managed expectations, cautiously optimistic you might say. I loathed the prequels and wasn't going to let myself get fooled by another Phantom Menace. The Star Wars prequels were like hearing your favorite song preformed in karaoke by somebody who can't sing. The tune was familiar, it had similar elements and you knew the lyrics but something was off. The Force Awakens isn't karaoke, it's Star Wars!!
I was blown away! The first scene sets the tone for the film and right off the bat I was taken back to a galaxy far, far away. The familiar John Williams score cements the feelings induced by the classic good vs evil tale and as JJ Abrams said, "having John Williams is almost cheating. He creates feelings". The new characters are all great additions to the Star Wars lore. For me Daisy Ridley stole the show as the main protagonist Rey. Daisy was plucked from relative obscurity and given a lead role in one of the most anticipated films in history. She is no shrinking violet and she rises to the occasion. John Boyega as Finn brings energy, humor and chemistry with every actor he works with. I hate to compare the black guy to other black actors but it really seems like John Boyega is the British love child of Will Smith and Denzel Washington. Adam Driver to me has overall the best performance as the featured antagonist Kylo Ren. The character of Kylo Ren is complex and conflicted and adds a new dynamic to Star Wars villains we've never seen before.
My only real problem with the movie is the underuse of the secondary characters such as Poe Dameron ,Captain Phasma, General Hux and Supreme Leader Snoke. Not to mention one character from the original trilogy was disappointingly missing for most of the film as well but the characters absence is relative to the plot. Hopefully this will be rectified in Episodes VIII and IX due to the fact there will be less history to cover and more room for these secondary characters to grow. Even with minimal screen time these characters were able to impact the film in a positive way and I'm intrigued to know more about them. Espescially Poe Dameron played by Oscar Isaasc
The movie has flaws for sure but most of them were flaws I knew it would have. The overuse of Star Wars tropes was a minor problem but it didn't effect the viewing experience. There is tons of fans service as well but none of it made me cringe or take me out of the film. I knew JJ Abrams would go overboard to remind people that Star Wars is back and he did everything short of decapitating Jar Jar Binks with a lightsaber. Also saying this film is a callback to A New Hope is an understatement. The Force Awakens almost mirrors A New Hope but more effectively establishes the rhyming element George Lucas tried to pull off with the prequels rhyming the originals. The movie is a bit overstuffed as well but considering 30 years of history had to be covered, new characters introduced and old characters re-introduced that's no surprise either. Was it rushed at times? Yes. Was it inconsistent at times? Yes. Was the dialogue iffy in several scenes? It's Star Wars so of course yes.
The films ending was very satisfying for me and I walked out of the theater relieved that Disney delivered a quality Star Wars film that belongs with the original trilogy and excited about what Rogue One and Episode VIII have in store. I'll need a few more screenings of the Force Awakens and the filter of time to help me decide where it belongs definitively in my Star Wars rankings but I can say without hesitation it was infinitely better than the prequels and maybe better than at least one of the OT films. I expect Rian Johnson to deliver a darker and more sinister Episode VIII that mimics The Empire Strikes back much like The Force Awakens mimics A New Hope. All in all I had so much fun watching this film and isn't that what Star Wars should be about? Fun, not Trade Negotiations.