After being out for over a month, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” has become the highest grossing film domestically and the third highest grossing film of all time. As of Sunday, it has earned nearly $2 billion dollars. But the question is: Is the movie any good? The answer is yes. As “Star Wars” has now been out for well over a month, this review will be filled with spoilers, so let this serve as a warning for that one person who hasn’t seen it yet.
Set thirty years after the end of “Return of the Jedi,” The First Order, a group created by surviving members of the Galactic Empire hunts for a map of the first Jedi temple, which is where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is hiding after the Knights of Ren, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), killed his Jedi in training.
After witnessing a massacre on the desert planet Jakku, a Stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega) decides to rebel. He is joined by Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger abounded on Jakku, and BB-8, a droid with the map in question.
To start, this film is gorgeous. The cinematography captures the scale and scope of the galaxy. The sets are visually interesting. The mix of practical effects and CGI used sparingly makes the world feel real.
The fights are interesting. The lightsaber fights feel grounded. The fight moves seem much more realistic. There is no complicated choreography in this film, which gives the fight scenes emotional weight and urgency. All of which makes the characters seem to be in danger, there is risk. The lightsabers seem to have weight to them, giving them a sense of power.
Much of what transpired between episode VI and episode VII remains a mystery. It helps to create an interest in what is happening on screen. It also helps to recreate that feeling the viewer was just dropped in the middle of the story, much like the previous “Star Wars” films. However, this is a bit of a problem when Han Solo confronts Kylo Ren at the end. It’s hard to feel the emotion of what is happening when the viewer doesn’t have context of what happened between the two.
The biggest problem with the film is that it hits much of the same beats of “Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope.” There’s the droid with vital information, there’s an enemy base that blows up planets, the X-wing fight to hit the self-destruct button and the rescue of the female member of the team on said base, only to watch the mentor figure get killed. This makes the movie predictable, especially in the third act. This wouldn’t have been as big of a problem if the advertisement didn’t make such a big deal of keeping the plot as much of a secret as it had.
The best part is how the new characters seem to be a play on the old characters. There’s the wide-eyed hero living on a desert planet, but where Luke was a farm boy with his family dreaming of leaving Tatooine, Rey is a scavenger of spare parts abandoned on Jakku, determined to stay, hoping that whoever left her will return. There’s a hot shot pilot, but instead of a smuggler only looking out for himself, Poe is a loyal member of the Resistance.
There’s a member dealing with the failure of a mission, but where Leia was a royal member of the rebel alliance captured sneaking important information, Finn is a Stormtrooper running away from the First Order after witnessing barbarism on his first mission.
Even the new villain, Kylo Ren, is an inverse of Darth Vader. Instead of having a calm demeanor hiding his rage like Vader, Ren is set off by the smallest thing, often destroying whatever is nearest to him.