Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

The Force is strong with this one.

Star Wars The Force AwakensAfter all the anticipations, I’m more than happy to sum up Star Wars: The Force Awakens in one word: Good.  The franchise found its formal glory once again in the newest installment, and it features a driven story with welcomed new characters.  The overall plot works like a mystery that keeps the audiences guessing, and it’s definitely intriguing enough for me to want to explore more on the new universe established by Disney.  10 years after the disaster of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars is back and stronger than ever.

Although it’s a bit hard, I’m going to try my best to do this review without spoilers at all.  Taking place roughly 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens quickly lets us know the state of the galaxy and what moves the main characters forward.  The audiences are dropped into the sudden war between the Resistance and the First Order, and the same can almost be said about the new characters too.  It’s a journey of discovery, and the filmmakers made the perfect choice to have us alongside the ride to explore the vast galaxy.

Star Wars The Force Awakens 1The newcomers are easily likable right away.  Rey (Daisy Ridley) shines as the main hero of the new film, and she possesses all the qualities of a hero viewers can easily fall in love with.  A scavenger from the desert planet of Jakku, Rey also shares similar qualities to Luke Skywalker from the original trilogy.  No, I don’t necessary think this is a spoiler, but a particular weakness of the film.  We will talk more about it later.

John Boyega’s Finn is a sympathetic character viewers will fall for quickly.  Originally a Stormtrooper of the First Order, Finn quickly realizes he’s not cut out for the life of a soldier, and decides to help out the Resistance.  He plays out like an average Joe puts into uncomfortable situations, and it’s great to see him pulls through pretty much all the time.  The character also shares a great chemistry with Rey, and it’s another reason for us to root for him.

Oscar Issac’s Poe Dameron completes the trio of new heroes.  The character seems decent enough, but unfortunately, he’s hardly in the film enough for us to understand him better.  Seeing how much promotional material is put on the character, it’s possible we will get to know the character better in future installments.

Star Wars The Force Awakens 2The villain side also features some interesting and powerful players as well.  Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is everything it promises and more.  He’s a villain with a complicated past, and in many degrees, where he comes from and what pushes him forward as a villain are also part of what makes this film a success.  It’s also great that his special cross-guard lightsaber turns out to be an actual formidable weapon, and not just a silly gimmick.

Other than Ren, there are also General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).  Hux is formidable enough, and his rivalry with Ren shows an interesting dynamic of First Order’s internal structure.  However, other than Ren and Hux, both Captain Phasma and Snoke are seriously underplayed.  Snoke is understandable, being the final boss and such, but it’s quite a shame that Phasma is hardly in the film at all.  It’s a bit frustrating considering how much emphasis are put on Phasma in promotional materials, so how the character ultimately turns out is very anti-climatic.

Star Wars The Force Awakens 3But good news!  BB-8 is worth all the hype!  The new droid is lovable and he holds the key device that moves the plot forward.  He’s not just an over-promoted material for the film, and it’s great the filmmakers manage to find a way for the droid to communicate emotionally without a facial expression, something even R2-D2 cannot manage to do all the time.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill return to reprise their roles in the film as Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker.  However, other than Solo, the other two play more of a supporting role in the new film.  Solo returns to serve as the “old sage” type of character that guides the new generation of heroes on the right path.  It’s a very different role than how Solo was in the original trilogy, so it can throw viewers off at first.  However, considering how much time has past since Return of the Jedi, the change is understandable.  I’m not going to talk Luke Skywalker here, but it’s great to see Fisher returns as General Leia.

Star Wars The Force Awakens 4But it’s not about the original heroes anymore.  No, this is a new generation of Star Wars and it’s all about Rey, Finn, Poe and even Kylo Ren.  It’s great the filmmakers bring back the original heroes, as it serves as a proper torch pass from the original cast to the new ones.  It gives credential to the new characters, but it’s not like they really need it anyway.  The new characters are really great.

My biggest problem with the film is that the beats are way too similar to the original film, A New Hope.  It’s pretty much the same film with new characters in it.  For example, BB-8 is the lost droid with secrets similar to R2-D2; Rey is pretty much Luke Skywalker; Starkiller is Death Star, and Han Solo is Obi-Wan.  The film is a sequel, so it’s understandable it wants to follow a similar beat as the previous film.  However, it’s a little too step by step and the whole film feels too familiar to the original one.  They want to play safe after the prequel disaster, but this is a little too safe.

Star Wars The Force Awakens 5Overall, Star Wars: The Force Awakens deserves all the hype it receives.  The film has interesting story, great new characters and everything that makes the film a great addition to the franchise.  The biggest problem is the step by step replay of the original Star Wars film, but other than that, this is the film that will bring a new generation of fans.

– The Good:

  • The hype is real!
  • Strong plot.
  • Great new characters.

– The Bad:

  • Exact same beat as the original film.
  • Some character sidelined.

– Overall Score: 9/10