Image by LucasFilm
Allow me to start by saying that the Star Wars franchise will always hold a special place in my heart. A staple in my childhood memories were sitting in front of my television mesmerized by the original trilogy on VHS and as a film enthusiast, critic and lifelong fan of the Star Wars franchise, I could not pass up the opportunity to see a new generation take the controls of the Millennium Falcon and make their mark in a galaxy far, far away.
Essentially, the plot for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is relatively simple to follow. Thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire and while the Resistance fights to keep the ideals of the Old Republic alive, both sides are looking for a particular individual: Luke Skywalker.
Enrapt in the quest to find the last Jedi is a defecting Storm Trooper named Finn, a droid named BB-8, Poe Dameron, one of the Resistance’s most talented pilots, a scavenger named Rey, legends Han Solo and his Wookie BFF Chewbacca, and Luke’s sister, Princess-turned-General Leia Organa all representing the light side of the Force. The Dark Side also searches for Skywalker spearheaded by Kylo Ren, General Hux, Captain Phasma and Supreme Leader Snoke orchestrating everything from behind the scenes.
Image By David Shankbone (flickr), via Wikimedia Commons
Certainly writers Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt and director J.J. Abrams wielded a fine and exciting installment to the Star Wars legacy but ultimately I left with more questions than I came in with. The Force Awakens was unnecessary; there was no need to make this movie and the upcoming sequels that will follow because the central plot for Star Wars involving Anakin Skywalker and his ultimate Sith-destroying destiny is finished but leave it to Disney to simply wring every dime out of any property they get their hands on.
From all of the details, promos, trailers, and pressers I’ve gleaned from The Force Awakens I had questions going in like how did Anakin’s lightsaber get to (wherever you will find out about in this movie [I’m not spoiling a damn thing so find out when you see it]) from the depths of Bespin, why didn’t the Rebellion move quickly to reestablish the Republic, how is Supreme Leader Snoke associated with the Dark Side of the Force, where has Luke been all this time? Some questions were answered, and a surprise or two was thrown in but at the end of the film I had more questions like what is (a particular character)’s connection to the Force and Kylo Ren, is (another character) going to be okay, what happened to Captain Phasma, did Hux and Kylo survive? I saw a lot of plotholes in this movie.
I think this was a typical blockbuster designed to dazzle fans of the franchise with as many X-Wings, aliens, lightspeed sequences, lightsaber duels as possible to appease their cinematic Star Wars fixes but the central plot lacked an anchor; I could say that the central point of the film is to find Luke but by introducing the new members of the cast and reintroducing the old guard, it felt as though The Force Awakens took every scenic route on the map to get to its destination.
I definitely got a kick out of seeing Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels back as Luke, Han, Chewy, Leia, C3Po and R2-D2 again and I thought the new additions to the Star Wars family including John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o and Max von Sydow did a good job considering the material they were given. I felt that the script was a little unfair to some of the characters though like Christie’s Captain Phasma, Isaac’s Poe Dameron and Nyongo’s Maz Kanata.
Daniel Mindel’s cinematography, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey’s editing, Rick Carter and Darren Gilford’s production design, the art direction, Michael Kaplan’s costume designs; everything technical about this film were all crafted to make this as much Star Wars as possible with the cherries on top being the beautiful visual effects and John Williams’ iconic score.
I will be frank: I liked Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I truly did enjoy it, but the only things I took into the theater with me is my curiosity and questions. The curiosity about how J.J. Abrams could add to George Lucas’ signature legacy was sated but ultimately I still had questions that I would have liked to see answered before the credits started rolling and my mind shifted to Episode VIII and the first chapter of the Anthology series titled Rogue One.
I liked The Force Awakens but it wasn’t strong enough by my standards, still I would encourage others to see it.