I am now into the new trilogy of my Star Wars marathon and the two movies that lead up to Rise of Skywalker. The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film that Disney produced after they bought Lucasfilm. When it came out in theaters in December of 2015, I was ecstatic to see my first Star Wars film in theaters and I had a blast watching it. I loved it when I saw it for the first time and upon revisit, it is still a movie I have a lot of fun watching.
The Force Awakens takes place thirty years after the Galactic Empire was defeated in Return of the Jedi, and now, the First Order has risen to power and look to destroy the New Republic. Finn, a stormtrooper, helps a pilot named Poe Dameron escape from the First Order. After they escape, Poe and Finn get separated. Finn then, runs into Rey, a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku and they work together to get the droid, BB-8, who is carrying a map to the vanished Luke Skywalker, to the Resistance.
The film stars Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Harrison Ford, who returns to reprise his role as Han Solo. Ridley is great as the lead of the new trilogy. She plays a character who is hopeful, eager, but ignorant as she has spent most of her life as a scavenger. Watching her discover her own power and learn about the world she is seeing for the first time is a joy to watch.
Boyega does a great job of portraying a character stricken with terror and fear. He is a stormtrooper who does not agree with what the First Order does, and he decides to leave them. The fear he has while escaping the First Order is powerful and it creates a story not seen before in the saga. The development of his character is also very satisfying as he starts to stand up to the First Order and fight back.
Ford returns as Han Solo and it is glorious. While Solo is older, he still has the roguish personality we all know and love from his character from the original trilogy. While he takes on the Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan in A New Hope, mentor role in this movie, he still maintains his personality and is a joy to watch him interact with the new stars.
Adam Driver plays the main villain, and he is exceptional. What is great about Ren is he is not some purely evil villain who just wants to control everything. He is a person with great power who is conflicted about his true nature. While he has committed himself to the dark side, he still feels good in him along with fear and his inner battles make for a great character and villain.
As this was the first Star Wars movie produced by Disney and the first one in ten years, the look of the movie was much different than any movie before it, and it looked phenomenal. It did a great job blending practical and modern CGI elements. The fight and action scenes looked as great as ever. There is one scene where Poe is wiping out many First Order ships and the camera does a great job tracking with the ship, fully displaying his dominance and how incredible of a pilot he is. Also, Ren’s lightsaber looks amazing. The design is unique as the blade takes a t-shape and the light looks unorderly as it signifies the instability of Kylo’s spirit.
One aspect that must be address is that it is very similar to A New Hope. Both movies involve a battle between good and evil, a desert planet with someone not realizing their power, and they run into a droid with key rebel intel, and then the rebels take on the enemy’s planet destroying base. While some may find this to be a problem, I think it is fine. Back in 2015, the most recent Star Wars movies were the prequels, which were not well-received by the fans. Disney had to reboot the franchise and had to play it safe so they could build up the next generation of fans. It was a good movie and it brought many fans on board. It was the right move for Disney to make, but luckily the unique aspects of The Force Awakens made it memorable.
My two main issues with the film is the rushed introduction to the world and the lack of Captain Phasma. My problem with the introduction of the world is it does not establish what the First Order is and how they arose to power. The whole original trilogy dealt with the Rebel Alliance taking down the Galactic Empire. Now, there suddenly is a new empire and a new republic. We get little context of how this happened, and we never see the New Republic before it gets destroyed. That scene as a result has little to no impact as we never got to see what the New Republic was like.
Captain Phasma is also criminally underused in the movie. She is a superior in the First Order and has an awesome shiny outfit. But she is on screen for less than 100 seconds and is literally thrown in the garbage toward the end of the movie.
Overall, The Force Awakens is a satisfying return to the saga and a great way to start off the new trilogy. It looks great and has a great blend of new stars and old stars returning. I recommend watching this again before Rise of Skywalker releases in theaters as it is a great and fun movie to watch with your family.