On occasion we will publish movie and music reviews. Jimmy Connolly, a Blackbird Review staff writer, weighs in today with his take on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!
Star Wars is back. That much is clear after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not the wishy-washy and often derided prequels, but a new saga, a new Star Wars. JJ Abrams does a phenomenal job creating a distinctive, yet familiar, feel in the Force Awakens. Abrams did a particularly good job meshing new characters with old ones. A whole new universe was revealed to Star Wars fans but not without its faults. The Force Awakens revealed to moviegoers a new set of planets, characters and technologies but failed to capitalize on its successes. Anyway, I digress. Before I go any further, let it be known that this review contains spoilers. If you haven’t watched the movie, stop here.
The Force Awakens picks up thirty years after the Return of the Jedi (1983). A familiar situation, once again the Rebellion, called the Resistance, is on the run from the Empire and their super weapon. This time the Empire is the First Order headed by the shadowy Supreme Commander Snoke and Kylo Ren. Several unlikely characters meet up and get caught up in the fray. Finn, a former storm trooper, defects from the First Order and winds up breaking a Resistance leader out of detention on the First Order battle station. Rey, a scavenger on Jakku, ends up meeting a droid, BB-8, that contains information vital to the Resistance. Together these two embark on a journey to blow up the Star Killer base. Along the way they fight two organized crime syndicates, meet Han Solo and evade numerous encounters with Kylo Ren and the First Order. After a daring Resistance assault on the Starkiller base, the Resistance lives to fight another day. The movie concludes with an appearance of the original Star Wars protagonist, Luke Skywalker.
The Force Awakens does a wide variety of things very well. First and foremost, the new characters introduced in the film are original, funny and a breath of fresh air. Rey comes off as an unassuming and street smart scavenger while Finn might be the funniest storm trooper I’ve ever heard. Finn’s boisterous personality plays an integral part in keeping the movie light. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley excel in their respective roles. Both characters mesh well and none of the dialogue feels as forced as it did in previous installments. The introduction of BB-8 was also successful. BB-8 proved to be a worthy successor to the beloved R2-D2. Furthermore, Harrison Ford helps connect the new and old movies through his role a Han Solo. A classic gunslinger, Solo keeps hardcore Star Wars fan’s enthralled thirty years after his first appearance. On the villainous side of things both Kylo Ren and Supreme Commander Snoke were intriguing. Much speculation has arisen as to the true identity of Snoke. Some think that he is actually, Darth Plagueis, master of the Emperor from the Original trilogy. Only time will tell. Kylo Ren was excellent. Powerful, but also extremely unstable, Ren will develop throughout this new trilogy. As I watched the movie, I literally felt the light and dark side battling inside of him. The characterization of The Force Awakens was truly spectacular.
The Force Awakens opened up a door into a new galaxy unfamiliar to Star Wars fans. Fans are optimistic that future Star Wars film and content makers can exploit this brand new story arc. The introduction of Supreme Commander Snoke and Kylo Ren introduce new baddies that Star Wars fans can adore. The Force Awakens was also extremely visually appealing and well done from a cinematic perspective. The new Stormtroopers and their variants look amazing and introduce a whole new generation of soldiers into the Star Wars universe. Serving as a jumping off point for the film, Jakku provides an interesting backdrop to the story. Visible throughout various parts of the film, a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer echoes of battles past that have yet to be explained. In conclusion, much potential, this one has.
This film, like any other, did have some issues. At some points the plot felt too familiar. The Starkiller base was disappointing. You would think that the bad guys would learn that these gigantic space stations don’t usually work. I had hoped that JJ Abrams would find something better than a bigger death star. The resistance also knew exactly how to disable the Starkiller base without any real struggle. It just seemed kind of cheesy.
Another issue is what the film left out. The film was extensively marketed with toys, apparel, trailers and all the usual. Several characters didn’t live up to their marketing hype. Captain Phasma was a prime example of this as she looked awesome but didn’t really do anything in the movie. Numerous pieces of technology that were shown in trailers also never made it into the actual movie. Another issue is that of Luke Skywalker. Luke played a large role in one of the trailers but he didn’t have any lines in the actual movie. Fans were only treated to a minute cameo. For fans of the original trilogy, this was disappointing. These gripes were minor but not non existent. These detriments were far outweighed by the positive aspects of this film.
Overall, The Force Awakens was an excellent film. While I am writing a movie review, I don’t pretend to be a film expert. In my humble opinion, The Force Awakens would rate a solid nine out of ten. The Force Awakens is full of enough Star Wars nerdisms to satisfy harcore fans but not enough to exclude casual movie goers. This is a great movie and more importantly, a great start to a new Star Wars trilogy.