Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens


After 10 years of waiting, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” offers a new hope for the franchise as experienced director J.J. Abrams strikes back with new characters, new equipment and a new plot.
The latest installment has been highly anticipated by fans with a promising cast of new and returning members, such as Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley as the new protagonists, Adam Driver as the new antagonist and Andy Serkis behind the CGI cameras. Returning cast members include Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
Audiences were teased by numerous trailers prior to the Dec. 18 release to the public, with jaw-dropping displays of world-class special effects and the mouthwatering soundtrack. These trailers showed off the new protagonists Finn and Rey alongside Han Solo and the new menacing antagonist Kylo Ren.
One of the questions the trailers left unanswered by the original films was that of the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the leading protagonist in the original trilogy and one of the most iconic Star Wars characters. The only evidence of his return in the trailer was a mysterious robotic right hand reaching out to R2-D2.
Much to the disappointment of Luke fans, his appearance in the film was limited to a brief appearance in the closing act. Despite the lack of screen time, though, the plot heavily revolved around Skywalker, who was played by Mark Hamill.
The structure of the film was very similar to episode four, “A New Hope”, including the presence of a super weapon and a droid who escaped the Empire with a secret message to be delivered to the Rebellion. Still, there are some minor and major tweaks to the plot. The Empire became the First Order, the Rebels became the Resistance, the Death Star became the Starkiller Base and R2-D2 was swapped with the new adored droid BB8.
But the major tweak is what the trailers kept top secret: the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Instead of a droid carrying plans of a new super weapon, it carried a piece of a map heading straight to Luke, as both sides raced to find the hidden Jedi.
If you have yet to see the film, several spoilers lie ahead. After the death of beloved character Han Solo, it was the identity of his killer that shocked everyone at the theater. The real identity of his murderer, Kylo Ren, was Ben Solo, son of Han and Leia. Kylo Ren’s origins were similar to various elements from the expanded universe that are no longer considered canon.
The presence of Han and Leia’s child was a theme of various expanded universe books as well as a mention to the existence of a Jedi Academy, which was present in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, by Kevin J. Anderson. Despite Jason Solo, from the Jedi Academy Trilogy, not being considered canon, main antagonist Kylo Ren offered various similarities to the Sith Lord from the novel.
With absolutely stunning visual effects, characters audiences instantly fall in love with and yet another great musical score, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” offers a new film for a new generation that reminds viewers of what made the original trilogy great. I can say with the utmost confidence that the new film is not the disappointment that the prequel trilogy was.
This is thanks to the return of screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who helped write the script for “The Empire Strikes Back”, which many regard as the best “Star Wars” film to date and one of the best movies ever created. Many credit him for his great script-writing ability, and many blame the poor dialogue in the prequel trilogy on his absence.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” received three Oscar nominations at the 2016 Academy Awards for sound editing, visual effects and original score.
The premiere of the next installment to this new trilogy may seem like a lifetime away, but “The Force Awakens” offers room for theorizing on subjects ranging from where Maz Kanata found Anakin’s lightsaber, who Supreme Leader Snoke is and whether Rey really is Luke Skywalker’s daughter. All of these questions may be answered in the next movie, Star Wars Episode 8, which is scheduled for a May 2017 release.