Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Where do I even begin to break down and analyze my feelings toward this film. For starters, this film has been my everything since it was announced. I’ve been waiting and waiting for it, pretty sure that it would never arrive. I tried to create fan theories as to what the film was going to be about way back and failed, because this film could literally be about anything and anyone, set on any random planet we’ve never heard of, featuring characters we’d never met. I honestly had no clue what to expect going into this film, even after watching all the trailers and TV spots. I knew the characters, the planet of Jakku, the cast, who’d be returning (mostly), and other little tidbits here and there, but I still knew nothing of the story. But I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed either. From the announcement of The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams has definitely shown us that he is more than capable of making a Star Wars film that we’d all love and cherish. Because of him and Kathleen Kennedy, I knew that I would love this film with a passion. A strong, loving, fantastic passion. A passion that, even after seven showings, would still be burning with a desire to see this film over and over again. This post will be me trying to breakdown The Force Awakens into one coherent review, but that’s simply impossible. Let’s see where this goes. (More after the cut.)
WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Force Awakens, from the start, has shown us little to no plot line. Yes, we’ve know about characters, settings, etc, but no actual plot line. It’s been one of the most under wraps scripts, with the actors barely able to take a script home to rehearse. So I’ll go ahead and sum it up right now with the opening crawl:
THE FORCE AWAKENS
Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.
With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother Luke and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.
Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts….
From the very start of the film, we see the story of The Force Awakens begins with Poe Dameron, General Leia’s “most daring pilot” and the Black Leader of the Resistance’s X-Wing Squadron. The opening line does begin with “This will…” and managed to set up the current state of the characters pretty well, at least in this side of the universe that deals with the First Order in a more personal level. It makes it easy for new fans to jump along as well as older fans to grasp what we’re facing and to just run with it, deciphering all the little details we’re presented with in these first few minutes. And while I didn’t know what the entire galaxy was dealing with, First Order wise, it is clear that this map to Luke Skywalker is more important to them than anything else and they will destroy villages, to start with, just to be mean and show who is in charge.
For a story we knew nothing about, I will give it to The Force Awakens for grabbing us immediately and never letting go. The Force Awakens plays out in such a way that even though your blind as to what is happening and where were going, the scenes, the special effects, everything just draws your attention to the screen. I didn’t think we’d jump straight into First Order/Resistance action, but it starts right up and doesn’t die down till the very end. It’s a thrill ride mixed with lots of emotions, character development, and general feels. As always, with Star Wars, you don’t just focus on one character’s story, you focus on many. This is just another factor as to what makes The Force Awakens unique, but for newer fans, this type of story telling could be jarring. But Star Wars is Star Wars and The Force Awakens managed to do this really well, just like its predecessors, going back from Poe to Finn to Rey to Finn and Rey to everyone else. It sounds like it could make for shaky story telling, but it works so beautifully. If you’ve ever seen a Star Wars film, you know. But for those new to Star Wars, have no fear. You’ll be able to catch on fast and easy and enjoy it like the rest of us.
We’re introduced to lots of characters within the first hour, if not shorter; BB-8, Poe, Finn, Rey, General Hux, Captain Phasma, Snoke (I may be off on this one, I can’t remember his exact appearance time), Han, Chewie, Maz, and that’s just our main characters we’ve come to know thanks to marketing. There’s loads of character in-between this all, specifically on Jakku. Lots of alien races we’ve met through action figures and the Journey to The Force Awakens books. Some of them are like easter eggs, while some are clearly visible. (Biggest easter egg of all the aliens? Constable Zuvio. He’s a blurry background character. I have two action figures of him. No, YOU have a problem.) The nice thing about The Force Awakens is that while we meet so many new characters, they all feel equally spread out. I mean, yes, Rey will have more scenes than Hux or Maz, but they felt proportionally added. Except Captain Phasma. She was dangerously underused, but I’m just hoping we get more of her in the future films because I think everyone would agree that more Phasma is a good thing.
While on the topic, let’s talk about the characters and the acting in The Force Awakens a bit more and there significance to the film and franchise as a whole.
- The Force Awakens stars our main lead, Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey. Rey can best be described as a scavenger turned Jedi by this point. Her “family” had left her on the planet of Jakku many, many years ago to fend for herself. She scavenges vehicles and spaceships nearby, taking what she can to sell to Unkar Plutt, the head guy in this little village of Jakku, who controls the food supply, apparently. Unkar (who is played by Simon Pegg) then gives her half rations for all her labor, which contain barely enough food for one meal, let alone the entire day. This her life and what she’s used to and even though you can tell by her face that it’s a tough life, she’s content on repeating these tedious tasks, as long as it means she can stay there and wait for her parents. That is until BB-8 comes into her life.
- Daisy Ridley. Daisy fucking Ridley. This is Daisy’s first film and how that is, is beyond me. For someone brand new to film to take on the lead of a Star Wars film and showcase that much talent is, again, beyond me. Daisy Ridley was a powerhouse and carried this film, in my opinion. She made Rey feel real, relatable, and vulnerable, yet very powerful all at once. Rey never felt out of place or unrealistic. Rey was the badass, force sensitive, badass that this franchise needed. I’m so grateful for Daisy Ridley and the magic she brought to the character. Because of her, and the writers, many girls will feel even more included in the Star Wars universe. And that’s the best part of this all.
- Finn aka FN-2187 is another one of the films main leads. Finn is played by the talented John Boyega and the character has such a mysterious past, as he was born into the world as a part of the First Order, that he’s just as much of a mystery as Rey. He was trained since he was a kid, after being taken away from his parents as a child, to become a stormtrooper, but somewhere along the way, realized his doings and the doings of the First Order were wrong and agreed to never kill for the First Order again. This is all shown first hand in the opening scene on Jakku during the Poe/Kylo showdown and you really get a feel for how much the First Order has messed with him mentally.
- John Boyega is a powerhouse as Finn, offering enough seriousness and funny moments to make him one of the most memorable characters in the Star Wars universe. Finn is charming, funny, friendly, and loyal, while his relationships with Poe, Rey, and even BB-8 feel so natural. This is the first film I’ve seen John Boyega in and I don’t know why. I can’t wait to go back through and watch his past films, as well as watch his future ones. Just like Daisy, John is a force to reckon with.
- Poe Dameron is a commander in the Resistance’s Starfighter Corps and is pretty close to General Leia herself. He’s a great pilot, a kind soul, and is plain fun. Poe Dameron is played by the charming Oscar Issac, which couldn’t have been cast any better. Poe was definitely my most look forward to character simply because I love X-Wings and all of his previous photos made him seem like such a badass. I didn’t really know what the character would be like though; more serious, maybe soft spoken, a real goofball? Turns out he’d be all of those things. Okay, maybe not soft spoken.
- Oscar Isaac is phenomenal as Poe, not that he isn’t phenomenal in all of his other films (Hello, Ex Machina…), it’s just that he brings so much life to Poe Dameron that you can’t help but feel like you could both be best friends while he teaches you how to fly an X-Wing. Oscar also played the character off as romantic (which is CONFIRMED) in certain scenes, so he obviously understands the character and what we want from him. Basically Oscar Isaac has already charmed the entire galaxy, along with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. I couldn’t ask for a better trio than those three. They’re simply amazing and while Oscar and Daisy barely have any screen time together, let’s hope that changes in the next film… because I’m sure none of us would complain.
Let’s move from structure and characters (as much as it pains me) to discuss story. Like I’ve said a million times in this post, The Force Awakens has kept its story under wraps. Yeah, some things got leaked here and there (if you’ve seen the film, which I hope you have, since you’re reading this, I’d highly suggest looking them all up. It’s fun.), but for the most part, most of the actual storyline stayed sealed. I had no expectations for where I wanted the story to go, other than Luke be involved. So my mind was free of judgement going in and this made the film that much better. I think having a predetermined mind space would damage your feelings toward this film, just like any other. Most people went in with an open mind and have just completely fallen head over heels for everything we were shown. We had multiple introductions, a middle, and an end that features a cliffhanger. Looking at it from a “behind the scenes” lens, I think The Force Awakens is definitely a contender for one of the best scripts of the year. (As well as best of everything of the year.) It was just so well done that even non-Star Wars fans are saying how amazing it was and that is a testament to how strong the writing is, as well as directing, acting, special effects, etc.
J.J. Abrams was scared to do this film. He’s made that very clear. But wouldn’t you be? No other movie has had the impact that Star Wars has. It’s known worldwide, it’s part of pop culture, hell, it’s part of basically everyday life here on earth. We know these symbols, quotes, and characters from the day we’re born. You may have never seen Star Wars but you sure know what a lightsaber is or what a stormtrooper looks like. This was a huge undertaking for J.J. and while I’m glad he knows and respects that not ever fan will be happy, you can tell he put a whole lot of work into this movie to make it special, to make it memorable. This has become way more apparent as the film has released, since we’ve learned of a few cameos that made there way into the film. Between Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz, and many others, this film is choke full of easter eggs, all of which are amazing and can be missed if not paying close attention.
This is the film of the decade and its shattering records like nothing. It’s changing the our future of Star Wars, all for the better and I’m just so glad that The Force Awakens actually happened. Even if you didn’t enjoy it as much as you would, just remember, we have a brand new Star Wars film. How crazy amazing is that? Many, like myself, feared it’d become another lost idea thrown into the trash, but Kathleen Kennedy has a dream for Lucasfilm and she single handedly helped make this, and all the future films, happen. And for that, I’m thankful.