FINALLY!! After many years of speculation, ideas, thoughts and behind the scenes wrangling, J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands in theaters all over the world. I can safely say this film is as good as any of the originals from the 70’s and 80’s and is everything the films from the 90’s tried to be. Abrams has done a masterful job of not only following up The Return of The Jedi but expanding the Star Wars universe to being all inclusive to even those who had not been born when the first trilogy was released. The Force Awakens picks up thirty years after “Jedi” and a new, sinister Dark Side has emerged from the rubble of what was left of the old Empire.
Kylo Ren has replaced the dead Vader, complete with a new black mask and voice apparatus as he reigns terror on the Resistance. Everyone is looking for the illusive Luke Skywalker who has disappeared into thin air. It seems there is a map that will reveal certain things vital to defeat the new evil, The First Order. That is all I will say about the plot, since I want this to be a spoiler free review. What I can say is that this film is as fun and exciting as anything I have seen from a film this year. Beautifully shot and edited, Abrams has nailed what these films are all about; good versus evil, light versus darkness. He has fleshed out the new characters of Rey and Finn so well that it does not take long for the viewers to accept them into the Star Wars franchise with open arms.
Rey is played by the lovely Daisy Ridley, a British actress, who up until this film, had not done too much. That will all change now. Ridley’s performance is strong, sensitive and intelligent. She seems to understand the Star Wars universe and her performance is simply amazing. Finn is played by British actor John Boyega and he too, seems right at home and is terrific as a former storm trooper who wants no part of the First Order. Boyega, whose only big screen credit is Attack The Block, is also very smart and cunning as Finn who also seems to have a strong attraction to Rey from the start. Their relationship is well handled and Abrams is wise to keep it platonic, for now, just like Luke, Leia and Han’s relationships were written. Let the characters grow and when they do make a connection it is all the more believable.
ALL of the performances are fantastic. Harrison Ford looks great back in the seat of his Millennium Falcon with Chewie. He is in his 70’s and had not aged well in the last disappointing Indiana Jones film, but in this film he looks right at home. Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron, the Resistance’s best pilot and tactician. His performance is also very strong in a year which he was phenomenal in Ex Machina and A Most Violent Year. There is Academy Award talk for Isaac’s performance in Ex Machina and I would agree with that. Which brings me to Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Domhnall Gleeson (also in Ex Machina with Isaac) as General Hux. They nail it! Both are as deliciously evil and diabolical as anything we have seen from the original Star Wars, Empire and Jedi. Sniveling and arrogant, they represent the very worst of The First Order and they both are a joy to watch.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is J.J. Abrams show, though. He had an almost seemingly insurmountable task of even coming close to the originals and he has matched them every step of the way. The score by John Williams pulsated through my veins with electricity and I was like a kid again. This film is an exhilarating and thrilling experience with depth and characters, old and new, that have different dimensions wrapped up in a compelling story. This is the film that Lucas had tried to make in the 90’s. Although, they were not bad films, The Force Awakens surpassed those film. Everything gels on screen from the acting, directing and the screenplay also written by Mr. Abrams, himself. The visuals (mostly all practical effects, and not much CGI) are sharp, the cinematography is stunning and the action is simply awe inspiring. Abrams has taken his three year project and out-Lucased, George himself. This is a towering achievement and a must-see for just about everyone. One of the year’s best films.