Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a thrilling movie that will entertain even the most cynical Star Wars fans. The film lays a solid foundation that will hopefully act as a springboard for future entries. Its strengths are its compelling characters and fantastic action sequences. At times it feels overly reliant on past star wars films, yet this does not detract too much from the movie.
The film begins 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The Galactic Empire has been replaced by the First Order, which seeks to eliminate the Resistance. First Order commander Kylo Ren attacks a village on the planet Jakku where a droid, BB-8, holds a map containing Luke Skywalker’s location. BB-8 escapes the attack and meets up with Rey, a junkyard scavenger on Jakku. Meanwhile, the captured resistance pilot Poe Dameron escapes with the help of Fin, a stormtrooper who becomes unable to kill for the First Order. Rey and BB-8 eventually meet up with Fin on Jakku and the three flee Jakku in the Millenium Falcon. They encounter Han Solo and become players in the conflict between the Restistance and the First Order.
Rey and Kylo Ren are the most interesting new characters. Rey is arguably the hero of the film. Her journey takes her from being a scavenger on Jakku to being Luke Skywalker’s Padawan. It’s insane how quickly she jumps from obscurity to being the most important person in the galaxy. She is able to pilot the Millenium Falcon better than Han Solo and seems predestined for greatness as a Jedi.
Adam Driver plays Kylo Ren. He is the antagonist of the film and a complex villain. At first he appears wholly consumed by the dark side. However we learn that he is the grandson of Darth Vader and seduced into the First Order by Supreme Leader Snoke. Kylo Ren struggles to fully embrace the dark side and this torments him. Adam Driver excels in this role. We assume that a monster hides beneath his mask. It’s shocking when he reveals his handsome face. Kylo Ren is equal parts terrifying and attractive. I give credit to whoever casted both Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley because their characters are what makes The Force Awakens entertaining.
The film sometimes feels like a direct rip-off of the original Star Wars films. At times The Force Awakens feels like a direct remake of A New Hope. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does feel unoriginal. The purpose of The Force Awakens is to establish a foundation for future films. It does not introduce any themes or ideas that leave you feeling changed. It keeps itself in the safety of what made A New Hope such a great film. If you can borrow your storyline from a predecessor, you can avoid the pitfalls that come with creating a brand new plot. Ultimately this is my greatest gripe with The Force Awakens. It makes no effort to change the Star Wars legacy in new ways. It is comfortable existing in safe and familiar territory.
This does not detract that much from the film. The Force Awakens is still a truly entertaining movie. It is a spectacle to behold and it will leave you wanting more. Whether or not you are a Star Wars fan, it’s likely that you will enjoy The Force Awakens.