Star Wars The Force Awakens Review: Hey Kid, Hold My Torch
Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015 by Blade Brain Trust
Millenium Falcon? Check.
A compelling story with new faces supported by classic characters that honors the past without completely relying on it? Thankfully, check.
The Force Awakens is finally here and it’s already breaking every record on the book. That’s no surprise though. Give Star Wars fans a long enough drought and they’ll make any movie break records, regardless of quality. They did it in 1999 when they stormed theaters to make The Phantom Menace the highest grossing Star Wars movie of all time, and now they’re doing it again. However this time, they’ll probably leave the theater with a few less regrets having done so.
Star Wars is a generational tale, and much like how Luke tried to make amends for the sins of his father, Abrams may now atone for the mistakes of the prequels. Gone are the days of actors standing in an empty blue room filled months later with computer generated sets and aliens. Rather, we have on-location shoots, overheated extras in rubber costumes, and a charming ball droid that despite all logic is actually a physical prop for most of his screen time. That’s not to say there’s no CGI to be found here, it is Star Wars after all, but it’s used more sparingly and often to accentuate something real rather than replace it entirely.
Fortunately there’s more to see than just things to look at. Strong characters, both new and old, bring real heart to the film. All your favourites are back and in fine form, but make no mistake; they’re not here to run this race, just to hand off the torch with a running start. And what a start it is for them. The new cast is lead ably by John Boyega’s Finn, and Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who infuse their roles with charm and successfully capture the spirit of their predecessors without simply being a carbon copy of them. Adam Driver plays the villainous Kylo Ren, a man obsessed with recreating the archetype defined by Vader, and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron insists on stealing every scene he’s in with all the roguish guile his character exudes. However, if there’s a true star of the show, it has to be the heavily advertised BB-8. The little white and orange beach ball of a droid carries the movie (and a fair bit of the plot) while getting the lion’s share of the laughs, all without ever saying a word. R2-D2 can rest easy knowing his mantle is in good hands.
On the narrative side, if JJ Abrams goal was to recreate the thematic elements and storytelling beats of the original Star Wars, then mission accomplished. Maybe a little too well in fact. The first thing you’ll hear from raving fans is that this movie “feels” like a Star Wars film. There’s Stormtroopers, Star Destroyers, and even the lightsaber blades flicker just like they once did, but that may be its main flaw. In JJ Abrams slavish devotion to recreate the look and structure of the original film, he may have created something a little less timeless. For all the faults of the prequel trilogy, they at least have a completely original identity that will be remembered for better or worse. But if you’re not caught up worrying about legacies and just want an entertaining movie that recaptures the spirit of your favourite series, you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for.
There are many notable Star Wars quotes one could sum up The Force Awakens with. It’s certainly a new hope for the franchise that simply does what others may have only tried, and that makes it impressive, most impressive. How it holds up over time will depend on a certain point of view, but really, the feeling of watching this film now is best captured by Han Solo in that trailer from so many months ago. “Chewie, we’re home.” So are we Han, so are we.