The Force Awakens Is A Very Good Star Wars Movie

The Force Awakens Is A Very Good Star Wars Movie

“Oh my dear friend, how I’ve missed you,” says a returning character to another in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They’re glad to see each other again. I was, too.

Throughout the decades since we first met them, the metallic, furry and extraterrestrial personas of Star Wars have felt like larger-than-life acquaintances who’ve been gone a long time. They come back in stellar fashion in Episode VII, bringing with them new heroes and villains that point to a very bright future for the saga of the Force.

Star Wars movies have always been about generation gaps, about how successors to legacies rise or fall to their callings. In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker knew precious little about the father who fought in a war and was killed by Darth Vader, yet he had to follow in his footsteps. In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader has to choose between a father figure who taught him to wield power and a son he never raised. The same kinds of tensions move through The Force Awakens as well. It’s a movie about trying to find one’s place within a legacy and the ache that accompanies such a quest.

The new characters in the 2015 Star Wars film — set 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi — have grown up in the shadow of something too big for them to fully comprehend. Finn, played by John Boyega, makes a break from a life in service to something he’d been programmed to do. Daisy Ridley’s Rey scavenges just enough to get by on the planet of Jakku, dreaming of the return of barely remembered loved ones. Both characters have to figure out what to do next while running and fighting through the detritus of past battles that lies all around them.

It’s clear that J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and the other filmmakers who’ve assembled the latest episode in the Star Wars franchise have studied the films that came before them. Humans, robots and members of other alien races bicker and coo at each other in ways that make them feel like citizens in a vast interconnected galactic society. The landscapes here are covered in sand, snow and jungle, familiar environmental treatments for other movies in this lineage. But the sweep of the cinematography and the movie’s brisk pacing makes Jakku and the other new planets feel like more than just stand-in destinations on memory lane. Even though the structure of Evil Space Oppressor vs. Scrappy Grassroots Insurgency — the First Order and the Resistance, respectively — gets resurrected in The Force Awakens, the stakes of the fight are embedded in new characters who feel well rendered.

The awkward, maladroit chemistry between the key actors in the prequel trilogy will seem even moreso after seeing The Force Awakens. Where the prequels felt sluggish and heavy-handed, there’s a palpable liveliness to the performances in this movie. Most importantly, Episode VII restores that oh-so-important, quasi-religious feeling to the idea of the Force through characters that are struggling to believe in themselves. John Boyega’s turn as Finn offers up a fun, affecting mix of bluster, dread and reluctant bravery, while Adam Driver adeptly infuses Kylo Ren with a level of emotional dysfunction that catapults the character to the A-list of Star Wars villains. Boyega runs away with this movie’s broader moments, balanced by Daisy Ridley’s simmering combination of longing and fear. As Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaacs doesn’t get as much screen time as the others but comes across as magnetically affable whenever he’s in a scene.

The DNA of the last generation of Star Wars heroes is here in intentionally recognisable form. One character starts on a backwater planet, another pilots an X-Wing through the skies with preternatural skill, while a third uses bravado to cover up a checkered past. But just when you think you know where Poe, Finn or Rey might be going because of who they remind you of, the film crosses you up and subverts expectations.

There’s freighted baton-passing In this movie and the metatext that surrounds it. It’s a movie by people who studied Star Wars, deconstructed it and reconfigured it in very canny ways. You get the sense that Abrams — like the characters in the film — feels the weight of Star Wars mythology on his shoulders. But the film doesn’t feel cynical or calculated. Abrams turns that burden into a dance partner, nimbly choreographing the audience’s collective nostalgia to land on surprising new beats. With the way that the fandom has multiplied exponentially since 1978, it’s not really accurate to say that Star Wars fans are waking up from a slumber. Nevertheless, The Force Awakens feels like a new dream, an imagining that should fulfil the hopes of millions.


  • This movie actually looks interesting. Truth be told, the only Star Wars film I’ve seen in full is Episode II, despite my comments suggesting otherwise.

    The problem is do I have to watch the original trilogy first or can I just start with VII?

    No joke, I’m reluctant to look at the original trilogy as it just feels completely butchered to me. I have seen snippets of the original and as luck would have it they are mostly the scenes that have been redone with CGI.

    Then again it is blatantly obvious some scenes have been retouched and not in a good way which puts me off even further.

    • I saw VII last night. I have seen all the movies (anyone that has gone to a midnight screening of Star Wars probably should have)…but if you’re just going casually, in your own time, then I wouldn’t say you need to see the previous films. It stands well on it’s own, but it is better when you know the story behind some of the characters.

      • I don’t think legally they are safe; especially here. And given that I’m self-employed I’d rather not take the risk.

    • Truth be told, the only Star Wars film I’ve seen in full is Episode II, despite my comments suggesting otherwise.

      You’re dead to me…

      • Whoa whoa! Put down the light sabre for a second. Save it for Darth Jar-Jar further up.

        The main reason why I haven’t seen the original trilogy (as I pointed out) is I can’t legally get access to the movie in its original form.

        So humour me for a second, is it worth me seeing the originally trilogy with all of Lucas’ CGI mutilation or do I just go in with a clean slate?

        Because seriously, until it is reverted back to Han shooting first and they put the original band back into the cantina I don’t think I can enjoy the film as intended.

        • Yeah it’s worth seeing it, but if you can, I implore you to track down the ‘restored’ versions online, where some guy has put the effort into correcting a lot of the issues (Han shot first for instance) that changed characters and their motivations.

          • I know of the despecialized versions. It was actually covered just yesterday on here or Gizmodo.

            But it’s the legality that concerns me. We don’t have fair use laws here so I assume my getting such a version is a copyright violation (not a lawyer so don’t hold me to that).

            Following that, I’m a sole-trader/self-employed programmer. This means for all things law and tax wise, I get the benefits of a individual but the penalties of a corporation.

            Thus me getting a version from online could cost me over $300,000 for the offence plus any and all legal fees from Disney.

            But at some point I’ll give the DVD versions a try but it would be nice if a proper, digitally restored version of the theatrical print was released. Heck, there are that many release of Blade Runner so why not Star Wars?

          • If I were in your situation I would just watch the updated versions then afterward just read which things were a little different.

            If something strikes you as making no sense it was probably added later by old man Lucas.

          • Seriously man, it changes like 5 minutes of screentime over 3 films, heaps not a dealbreaker to watch the current ones.

    • It’s a great movie in it’s own right but I’d have to say you are missing something if you haven’t seen the previous ones some time ago and love the characters. The nostalgia doesn’t carry this movie but damn, it really adds to it.

  • The film looks a bit like comfort food for Star Wars fans. I’m planning on seeing it in a couple of weeks when the fuss has died down.

  • I had a chance to see this last night at midnight, but I had to decline due to an early start at work today and excuse me while I go and hate myself now.

    • I did see it last night, and I arrived at work at 7:30 this morning.. a lovely four hours sleep. I’m now trying to induce what your name is.

  • Great review, great movie. Really enjoyed it.

    Also surprisingly awake for having 4 hours sleep after midnight screening.

  • I’m going against the grain here. I hated it. For various reasons which I won’t discuss. But to put it brief I feel like JJ Abrams JJ Abramsed it.

    I tried liking it but couldn’t. Didn’t do enough different for me. That being said all the old faces rocked

    • see thats what I am afraid of. I did not like the Star Trek reboots, and I loathed Lost and Super 8.

      However I am reserving all hate and vitriol that is ready to be aimed at Abrams until I see the movie for myself

      • I went in only having watched on trailer, with no hype and next to no expectations.

        I enjoyed it. It was fun, I’d argue it could of slowed down in parts, I noticed one continuity error involving the colour of a robots arm changing. I don’t want to say to much more incase people see it as spoilers.

        In summery. Not the best Star Wars but certainly far from the worst.

        • my screening is at 1PM. do you know how much this wait is killing me despite me not liking ANY films by J.J. Abrams

          • will do. regardless of my opinion after watching this movie I thank yoda that J.J.Abrams is not in charge of Episode 8

          • I agree that it was very JJ Abramse’d.

            That being said it is pretty much a reboot, which is JJ’s thing.

            I was thinking about it this morning though and the easiest way to fix that feeling is to remove episode VII from the title and think of it as “the Force Awakens, episode I”.

          • You know I should not be writing on this so soon after seeing it, but the movie was good. It is in no way perfect. It does a lot of things better than all 6 movies beforehand but it also misses in some other aspects that make this a slightly weaker entry than A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back. There’s also a major gripe I have with one protagonist that goes against the lore laid out in all 6 episodes.

            BB-8 is definitely adorable and in no way annoying. I may just add a sphero BB-8 to my wish list now because of its insane cuteness

          • In one moment the arm is red in the next it’s yellow. But I guess you could argue that Snake just upgraded to the stun arm.

        • That wasn’t an error it will be addressed in the one shot Comic book coming out for that robot. you should check out the journey to Force awakens book collection thats been coming out recently

    • I hadn’t seen any spoilers and went for the midnight viewing, but I found it to be a predictable new age movie. With all the modern messages you find in all youth movies. You can see every beat coming from far.
      Loved Fin’s performance. He was like a modern Danny Glover.

    • I really felt that it was nothing like an Abrams movie, and was very much like early Lucas, except better.
      It felt like Star Wars, looked like Star Wars, had good characters and the right mix of old and new. The comedy was very ’77 star wars, restrained and in just the right places. The character were flawed and the movie was so much fun, while being dark and restrained. I was so impressed, and I was not expecting to like it.

    • well considering plot points were not talked about here- I would say this is safe from ruining your film watching experience

  • Caught a 3am session. Had 4 hours sleep beforehand and backing it up at work now. Great effort by Disney. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was great, especially the balanace between old and new characters.

  • I really liked it. It was Star Wars, but with enough new spin to make it feel fresh. It’s by no means perfect, but damn it was fun.

  • Saw it this morning. Pretty good movie but I felt they could have done more. They basically just retold the story of the original movie. So many similarities. Was hoping they would do something new with the story. Dialogue was also hamfisted.

    The girl that played Rey was really good though.

    • Exactly how I felt. It was more like a remake than its own movie using only elements from the old movies. Only the start provided something different and after the first 10min I thought it was heading in a totally different (and exciting) direction

  • Í thought it was pretty dreadful. Certainly better than prequels as far as acting and dialogue goes, but apart from that thought it was pretty uninspired and unoriginal. ray had way too much plot armor and was petty forgettable. Kylo Ren was pretty disappointing.

    it was scene for scene new hope, borrowing heavily on the Star Map concept from KOTOR1. Characters forget what they’re capable of. “I thought Luke Skywalker was just a myth!” but Han & the falcon? No wukkas. Can even fly it and knows all the instruments and tools and where everything is without ever setting foot inside. Gag. It has a planet size death star that the x wings take out at the end

    Honestly this is how it goes:

    Luke wanders desert on Tattooine.

    Meets up with mysterious guy, travels to a bar.

    Organises raid on Death Star, the Rebels launch in X-Wings, fly through the thinger and blow it up.

    Return for celebration.

    Swap Luke for Rai, Tattooine for Jakku, and Death Star for Planet Size Death Star that can blow up multiple planets at once

    I thought the comedy was pretty dry too. I forget black dude’s name but Fin seems best new character & is a pretty good actor too. Keen to learn more about the big bad.

    Hmm maybe dreadful too strong a word. I didn’t hate it, I was just super disappointed.

    • Completely agree 100% also hate the fact extended universe is now non cannon and the fact pretty much nothing about any of the characters was explained 🙁

      • Thankfully well eventually get more on that, but Disney and Lucas film won’t ever allow it until the movie launches sadly. Not even basic shit.

        Not to mention stealing the sun destroyer concept and Han and leias son becoming baddie. Also Ford’s Get-Out-Of-More-Sequels death irked me. THEN deciding to fuck the EU. Kylo better turn out ok.

        • I liked the way the Kylo character turned out. The acting in spots wasn’t brilliant, but his character is damaged. Far more damaged than Vader ever was, and I hope they play with that more. He could be something to be feared rather than a pantomime villain if they play it right.

          • Until we know more about his fall during his training with Luke, I can only speculate upon some of the reasons for his switch to the dark side, but he seems far more deranged than Vader/Anakin. Anakin fell through manipulation of his anger, resentment, and upbringing, but he was’t completely insane. Kylo seems to be a much different beast. His infatuation with Vader is fuelling his push to remain on the dark side, even though there is obvious conflict with the light within him. There is madness there, and I suspect we will see much more of it in the story to come.

          • Just saw it and i really loved this part about Kylo
            In all the other movies its often the good guy trying to resist the lures of the dark side. This is perhaps the first we’ve really seen the opposite be true. Someone trying so hard to remain on the dark side whilst resisting the light side. An entirely new concept as far as im aware 🙂

  • So, how about that lack of sleep eh? Is anyone else finding it difficult to string a sentence together today?

  • I just finished watching episode IV for the first time in about 20 years. WOW I don’t remember it being so good.. George Lucas is a bloody genius. He is like the Tolkien of Sci-fi.

    Funny thing the only thing I didn’t like were the edited and extra scenes with the computer animation… They stood out like a sore thumb.

    • I wouldn’t say soulless.

      They throw out all of the EU then rebuild a new story based off books written in the EU with some “twists”

      It is not the greatest but its definitely a decent star wars movie.

      It feels like theres aspects of the original saga that was good in its time but have been improved to keep up with modern standards and then theres a couple of issues wide enough to fly the millennium falcon through

  • @wisehacker Just saw it today at 1.30pm and really, it’s great. 3rd best in the series imho, ESB then A New Hope, then The Force Awakens. But please do watch the Original trilogy first. You’ll see more ‘easter eggs’, get more references, laugh harder etc if you know what’s being referenced. It’s a fantastic experience.

    • yeah, theres still some moments that drive me crazy, likewhen Rei could manipulate a stormtroopers mind on only her third attempt with no prior training and only just recently being aware of being force sensitive or how she was saying the Milennium Falcon could barely fly yet they pull off an epic chase through a star destroyer in it

        • it woke up with the lightsaber fully activated and putting a hole through the bed sheets. Oh wait- thats my bed. fuck

      • I’ve read a bunch of people concerned that she can do things without training, and I think it’s explained by currently-unrevealed backstory, not a fault in the plot. The flashback scenes hinted at more.

        My suspicion is that she’s going to turn out to be stronger than anyone, which is why she’s so capable even with little or half-remembered training.

        People are also freaking that she’s familiar with the Falcon despite “never having set foot in it”, when in fact she’s been one of those maintaining it for years, without knowing its name.

        • my suspicion is that she was the other Skywalker that Yoda talked about in episode 6… Especially with what we have seen in the movie compared to Leia’s abilities. As to who is the father… thats something I have been debating with my brother- the other person as passionate about star wars as I am in my “social circle”.I was not too fussed about the falcon thing because it was indirectly explained that she had been in the ship when she said it could barely fly and called it garbage like was said in Episode 4 ad nauseum. the only thing that was hurt was pride when she called her other ship a better escape vehicle. such a satisfying result to that scene

    • I agree BenWere Kenobi. It is the 3rd best in that order. The only thing giving it a push to 4th place is the ending of Jedi when Luke and Anakin have the last showdown. The music, the emotion, the dialogue. Brilliant. The non altered version though. (Take the “NOOOO” and eat a dick Lucas)

  • Far out, I’m still getting over the fact that Vader wasn’t actually Lukes father, that absolutely floored me.

    really paints vaders motivations in a different light during the originals.

  • Loved the movie. It is definitely one in which however its best just to try and switch off to fully enjoy it.

    It was what i expected 🙂 also as the title states, it was very very star wars-ey. Epic space battles and light saber duels. Sure its not the best, but J.J has done a fantastic job setting up the universe/reboot.

    • I can’t say that the lightsaber battles were fantastic- but they were satisfying in a way that none of the others have been

      • Previous movies it was like dance choreography and noone was trying to really hit anyone, just a range of flurrying overly fancy moves. Here it was great, there was intent, savagery and butality with the pokings of the saber into shoulders, small slices, injuries constantly happening. It was brutal, raw and far more satisfying

        • On that note, rei was trying to use the lightsaber like a pike, not a sword

          Sure the fights in the prequels were choreographed but it added to the sense that the Jedis were elite and not just anyone could be one.

          • I’d say that worked to a large degree but for the fact as the movies went along, they changed from elite to ‘matrix syndrome’. Watch the difference between Matrix 1 and 2. Matrix 1, they’re fighting but it looks convincing, in 2, they’re literally punching to miss and look flashy. By episode 3, they definitely got to that point.

            With Rei and the sword, she was using it in a very crude way, sort of a pike, sort of a fencing sword, but it definitely worked. I really liked the stabbing parts, it was different and more effective

  • Busy week at work so I missed the midnight screenings (yet I managed to see all three prequels at midnight!) but will be taking two older kids out on Saturaday to see it – I cannot wait!

    • trust me- even with the spoilers given away- it is not going to detract from your experience at all because all the spoilers people have been bleating are so fucking obvious minutes before they happen- but in a very Star Wars way. This movie is deserving of the Star Wars title

  • So I just want to say this *spoilers follow, not a joke or comment on general aspects, read at your peril*

    Can we stop with the awful lead in to otherwise possibly tense scenes? The moment Han and Leia are talking almost expositionally about the past in an overly sentimental way (I blame the script, the acting was very solid all the way through the film, even though I had a lot of qualms about a few of the casting choices for some of the new cast) I knew one of them was going to die and the moment Han gives Chewie the detonator I knew it was going to be Han. I hate that they make it all so bloody obvious and it ruined what might have been a great scene. That’s all I really wanted to say. I’ve never been particularly invested in Star Wars to be honest; maybe awkward story structuring is part of the charm to some (the same way I assume the wipe fades are) so maybe I’m missing something, or maybe I just don’t get Star Wars. It was a solid film though all that aside.

    • Nothing is perfect, this is 10x better than the dribble of a prequel trilogy we were served. Movie is a great addition to the SW universe, even with all of its petty faults.

      • Oh, I definitely agree, even I (as someone that never really “got” Star Wars) can see that this is a great film over all and the love for the franchise is clear. I find this sort of situation crops up way too often in films in general though, I don’t care much about spoilers for a lot of major films because they lead in to major scenes in such an obvious way that I can often predict with a reasonable amount of accuracy the rough plot point . Of course it’s not happening in every film, but a lot of the larger films seem to think that unless the audience can predict exactly what’s going to happen the event in question will confuse them.

        I dunno, I guess a lot of the major film releases just can’t surprise me and I become a jaded and cynical creature that consumes all of the foreign language and independent films over the big releases.

        • My problem is, when you know a spoiler all you can think about is the spoiler…. so 2 hours of going, when is X going to happen. But yes agreed, watching it you can generally pick some major plot points and “spoilers’ a few minutes ahead of time.

          Goddamn I loved this movie.

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