Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens Review

SW Force Awakens

Before I head off to see Episode VIII tomorrow, I thought it would only be right to review this first, thus finishing off all the Star Wars films being reviewed on the site… well, until early next week when I review The Last Jedi, but you know what I mean! So “The Force Awakens” was a bit treat when it first came out, in fact leaving the cinema I would have voted it a 5 out of 5, but now my feelings have dulled just a little. Why? Well, why don’t you read to find out!

Official Synopsis:

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….”

Full Spoilers From Here On Out!

Cast of Characters:

SW Force Awakens 3

Not your usual police station line-up!

Rey (Daisy Ridley) – A scavenger located on the planet Jakku. She was abandoned there as a child and hopes one day to see her parents return…

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) – Han and Leia’s son Ben, who turned to the Dark Side and became Kylo Ren, now a high ranking member of the First Order. He wishes to find his uncle Luke and finish the Jedi once and for all…

Finn (John Boyega) – Taken from his family when he was too young to know and raised to be a Stormtrooper, given the designation FN-2187. Unlike he fellow Troopers, Finn (as he will soon be known) can’t bare it to kill innocent people…

Han Solo (Harrison Ford) – Han Solo soon drifted back into his smuggling ways after his son went all killy and evil. He still cares deeply about Leia, but can’t bring himself to return to her…

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) – Han Solo’s faithful Wookie companion, Chewbacca still gladly follows him where ever he goes…

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) – The former Princess of a now long dead world, Leia has buried herself into the job of building a Resistance to fight the constant threat of the First Order in order to try and forget the tragedy of what happened to her son…

Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) – The Resistance’s top X-Wing pilot, Poe is also one of General Organa’s most trusted soldiers.

BB-8 – Funny droid (classic Star Wars!) that belongs to Poe, though will soon find itself on a journey of its own…

General Hux (Domhall Gleeson) – Among the highest ranked members of the First Order, Hux is in charge of Starkiller Base, the First Order’s super-weapon, as well as often on the front lines alongside Kylo Ren.

Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) – One of the commanders in charge of the First Order’s Stormtrooper Legions.

Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) – The man at the top of the First Order, and the powerful Force user who coerced Ben Solo to the Dark Side and turned him into Kylo Ren.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – Luke has gone into hiding after his attempt to bring back the Jedi Order resulted in the death of all the new Jedi, baring the one who betrayed them all, Luke’s own Nephew Ben Solo… Not very heroic, really, is it?

The Good:

SW Force Awakens 4

That Light Sabre has seen some things in its day, let me tell ya…

What “The Force Awakens” gets absolutely right is introducing us to a trio of new and interesting characters. Rey is a hardened scavenger who turns out to be strong in the Force, Finn is a former Stormtrooper who had a change of heart and slowly grows some courage, and Kylo Ren is a villain who’s being tempted to the Light Side rather than the usual reverse, as well as trying desperately to live up to a false image of his grandfather. Out of the three, I find Kylo the most interesting. Not just the “feeling the pull of the Light”, but how… pathetic he is in a lot of scenes. When he takes off the intimidating mask he just looks like a somewhat geeky normal guy, and when he struggles to read Rey’s mind and just looks pissed off it’s great. In fact several points in the film he acts like a spoiled brat and throws a temper tantrum. It gives you the real sense that this really is a child who’s being manipulated by someone, and gives you almost a sense of empathy for him… Well, maybe until he kills his own father, that’s … not so easy to forgive.

Speaking of his father, Harrison Ford is back on fine form as Han Solo, bringing the character back to the lovable rouge he was in the first two films, rather than the generic hero he played in Episode VI. His interactions with Rey and Finn are good, but it’s the touching and sadly final reunion with Leia that’s just beautiful to watch. His death is tragic, being killed by his own twisted and manipulated son, but it’s good drama, and the exit from the franchise Mr. Ford wanted way back when. Also, I love the scene straight after where Chewbacca shoots Ren in the side with his Bowcaster, as he should after all this time!

I enjoy the final light sabre duel, where Finn is soon defeated by Ren, only for the latter to duel Rey and eventually get bested. Now, Kylo had been injured by this point in the aforementioned Chewie bolt blast incident, but it’s still another sign that Ren isn’t all he thinks he is, and that Rey is something along the same line as Anakin in her natural abilities and connection to the Force.

Other things I liked include the Cantina-esque scene in Maz Kanata’s place (and the character in general), Captain Phasma looks “cool”, General Hux is easy to hate and Supreme Leader Snoke is a great cartoon-ishly evil boss villain, which makes for a good “bad side” to watch, and in general the action scenes, both on the ground and in the air, are really good. The ending is great as well, that cliffhanger of Rey finding Luke and the slow reveal of the now old hermit Jedi just as the film ends… brilliant, and it’s made the two year wait very excruciating…

The Bad:

SW Force Awakens 2

I still say Darth Revan should be pissed his look was stolen… if he still exists in the new canon…

Let’s get it out of the way, shall we? The Force Awakens borrows the general story structure of Episode IV (with an ending that’s actually more like Return of the Jedi), including a new Death Star like weapon, a droid with key information on a desert planet, and the young lead (or leads, in this case) ending up joining the rebellion/resistance due to finding an grey older man who eventually dies at the end by the hands of the black mask-wearing villain. I’m not going to say it isn’t disappointing not to have something a bit fresher after a several year wait, but I do appreciate that they built an interesting new cast while re-using the old framework, and in general it brought the Star Wars world back in line to where it was before all the Clone Wars stuff. Still, it does deserve a place in the “Bad” section.

I have to register my confusion at the idea that Luke Skywalker made a mistake that created the evil Kylo Ren, and then just buggered off and hid? He left he beloved sister and friends alone to their darkside-fuelled fate and buggered off? That’s just not Luke Skywalker in my book…

Out of the new cast, I can’t say I found Poe Dameron all that interesting. He’s like Lando in that he’s a great pilot and eventually a high-ranking member of the good side, but he just has no character beyond those facts. This is especially obvious when he’s in the same movie as Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, all of whom have layers of mystery and potential future paths.

Even though it wasn’t her fault, Carrie Fisher doesn’t exactly light the world on fire here. A long gap from when she last acted, plus not the best health, will do that to you. That being said, the scene with Han was still very touching…

Overall Thoughts:

SW Force Awakens 1

Finn seems to be having a lot more fun than Rey is…

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, if I’d reviewed this film as I came out of the cinema it would have been a 5 Star rating, but I’ll drop it to a 4. It has some unengaging and familiar story beats that hampers what is otherwise a great example of how to build the framework for some interesting lead characters, plus at the same time giving a great send off to a beloved older one. If the next two films in the core Star Wars series hit it big, this can be seen as a perfect example of a great, if not simple, starting point…

4 Star Watch

2 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens Review

  1. Brad R. Edwards December 20, 2017 / 3:21 am

    An enjoyable review of The Force Awakens. Bit too much usage of the ellipsis, there were a couple typos and the review could have benefited with the images being cropped. Your captions are quite funny though and I find your reviewing structure really nice to read. 🙂

    I agree with a lot of your points about the film, I hope your watching of The Last Jedi has changed your mind on Poe however; he’s just as much a hero as Rey in my opinion. Carrie does improve in The Last Jedi even if some of the writing surrounding her is a little rushed. If you had to sum up The Force Awakens in one word – what would it be?

    Like

    • Cold Cobra December 20, 2017 / 12:11 pm

      Thanks for the advice, it helps a lot! I’ll admit the typos is something I caught onto a few weeks ago, and I will, going forward, write the reviews in word first and then read it back to myself when I post it onto the wordpress sheet, therefore hopefully catching the non-red-lined mistakes.

      As for Force Awakens in one word? … “Nostalgic”. A powerful thing, but also bad to rely on too much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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