The story of a galaxy far far away is back! In 1977 audiences were first introduced to the Space Opera franchise still known today as “Star Wars”. It was complete with a battle between the dark and the light, technological advances, and introduced the world to the chosen one Luke Skywalker. Following commercial success and a Best Picture nomination, two sequels were released. However even after Luke won the battle against Darth Vader, there was a popular demand for more. Finally, in 1999 a prequel trilogy began. Yet there were still some key parts to the original story missing. That trilogy happened BEFORE Luke’s time. People wanted to know what happened AFTER the battle? What were Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest of the gang doing afterwards? It seemed as if we would never know. Luckily George Lucas listened to the fans and granted the wish for a sequel trilogy featuring members of the original cast by handing the series down to a new director. Now after all these years audiences can now see “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”. So does it live up to the hype its’ been receiving? More importantly, does it live up to the original trilogy? It is time to reveal all.
For those who have been dedicated fans of the “Star Wars” movies, it will be very pleasing to see that director JJ Abrams gives the series a fresh take yet stays true to the originals. The story perfectly sets up an introduction for new and old heroes as it is revealed that Luke Skywalker has gone missing as the new First Order rises under its leader Kylo Ren. Characters such as Leia are doing everything they can to bring Luke home. Yet it is shown that they are also aging and growing older. With a new empire and new antagonist, it means that it is time for a new generation of heroes to enter. In this movie, we are introduced to characters with quite interesting circumstances. The two main heroes are Rey, a scavenger who has had to survive on her own for years and Finn, a brave young man who has been disguising as a Stormtrooper working for Kylo Ren. It is fate that brings them together and with the help of Finn’s knowledge about the First Order, they’re off to find Luke. Yet they definitely are not alone. Along the way they meet iconic characters such as Han Solo and new supporting characters including Maz Kanata whose succeeds the late Yoda as a wise mentor. What’s also especially great about this storyline is that it like mentioned before, stays true to the original stories. This movie has a similar set up to the first Star Wars movie “A New Hope”. It’s not at all a bad thing though as it actually reintroduces the story rather than copy the first one particularly by connecting the personal lives of the originals with the new characters and gives background information for those such as Rey and Kylo Ren. It doesn’t give everything away though which is part of the beauty of Star Wars. It will definitely fuel plot twists and revelations in the upcoming sequels. In addition, the story is written to relate to audiences of today. The world has changed since the 70s and 80s. The franchise now has female characters in roles that were originally for men such as a Captain, a General, and Rey as the Jedi hero. Finn is portrayed by an African British actor. Although the series has featured African American actors before such as Billy Dee Williams and Samuel L. Jackson as brave characters, this is the first time we’re seeing a man of color as one of the main heroes. This movie even relates to world issues of this time.
"Star Wars” is also known for its incredible visual effects. The newest addition definitely follows the tradition. Viewers get to see a spectacular view of various planets from ones with nearly abandoned deserts to the ones with various creatures and landscapes. Even the headquarters of the First Order appears to be grander than the Death Star. When characters battling in space ships, it almost feels as if we’re in the ship with them including in 3D format. The movie also includes updates of effects from the original trilogy including a new look at the Millennium Falcon. Now considering this series has a lot of robotic characters and creatures, I must give my praise to this as well. Some were already part of the series but it was great to see designs of new computer animated characters. It shows the continuing creativity of what can be lurking in space. It was even interesting to know that some actors such as Lupita Nyong’o played their characters via motion capture. It shows how they contribute to not the voices of their characters but their actions.
With that being said, the characters as a whole were great to watch. It was a treat to see the most of the original actors return to their beloved characters. Harrison Ford still has his delightful charm and wit as Han Solo while still being conflicted by the effects of the previous war particularly on his personal life. Carrie Fisher also goes back to her roots as Leia Organa and still has the belief that there is hope out there somewhere. Now the rookies of the franchise had plenty to offer as well. Daisy Ridley proves a new strength in the franchises’ female characters as Rey. She is strong, independent and very intelligent especially considering she has been on her own for a while. She has great sense of right and wrong and can resist those for defy her including Kylo Ren. John Boyega brings charm to his character Finn. He easily displays his character’s courage and optimism. He provides some much needed comic relief and has great chemistry with Daisy Ridley. As the villain Kylo Ren, Adam Driver reveals a character who is actually not really a villain. Instead he brings a three dimensional character to the table who has been strong with the force before but has been in a way brainwashed into committing cruel acts and that they are the right things to do. He is dangerous and with his unpredictability comes unbelievable consequences. However, the character Supreme Leader Snoke mentions he is still in training. So it will be exciting to see where his character goes from here. I also thoroughly enjoyed the robotic and creature sidekicks particularly Chewbacca and BB-8. Chewbacca is still lovable and loyal to his friend Han Solo but this film sheds new light into how courageous he really is. BB-8 brings in laughs as well as a fresh personality in the type of character he is. BB-8 may be a robot but he plays an active role in the quest. He is also overly friendly yet serious about the mission which makes him near three dimensional. The characters, new or old, can capture all.
Unlike many sequels, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has as much strength as its predecessors and is able to effectively continue the story. It remains dedicated to the original story but updates it to give not just new twists and turns but also social change in its world as well as our own. As always the visual effects and design is top notch and thrilling. We also get to see characters that we have loved for years and ones who will soon reach the status of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader too. This is a groundbreaking about continuing hope beyond our galaxy. If the force is with you then this is the movie to see.