It’s been about a day since I saw The Force Awakens, so with the dust beginning to settle, let’s talk in-depth about the pros and cons of the latest movie. If you haven’t yet seen the film, LEAVE THIS PAGE NOW, and then come back for the analysis afterwards.
(SERIOUSLY BEWARE I AM GOING TO SPOIL THE WHOLE MOVIE HERE)
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!
FINAL SPOILER WARNING
Seriously, some people might have missed the above message, so this is your LAST CHANCE to avoid spoilers – DO NOT READ ON if you don’t want the entire movie spoiled.
If you want a spoiler-free review, you can click here to read that. Okay, are we ready??
Rey and Finn
There’s no denying that The Force Awakens is a fun movie, and most of that stems from the two brilliant new main characters that we meet at the beginning of this movie: Rey and Finn, played fantastically by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
In a brave move that paid off, we don’t see any of our favourite heroes from the old saga, it’s just all about Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and the really cute, but seriously important BB-8, considering it’s him that’s carrying the map to Luke Skywalker.
As a result, we get to know these guys really well before getting into the bulk of the story, but the relationship that sparks up between Rey and Finn as they flee Jakku on the Millenium Falcon is fantastic. With hilarious and fast-paced back and forth dialogue, the two are instantly likeable, and in the midst of the thrilling aerial chase, it makes it such a fun sequence to watch.
Now, some people are definitely going to be disappointed with Kylo Ren as the principal villain of the new trilogy.
He’s a pretty menacing presence, and we see in various scenes that he’s extremely emotionally unstable when given bad news. Despite that, there’s no denying that he loses a little bit of that intimidating personality when he removes his helmet and shows his face as Adam Driver for the first time.
However, what we do get in exchange is one of the most fascinating characters in all of Star Wars, arguably even more interesting than Darth Vader. Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and General Leia, but has renounced his parents since he betrayed them and fell to the Dark Side. However, we can see that a general theme of the new trilogy will be Rey’s attempts to pull Ren away from the Dark Side, as it’s clear as day in some of the more intense scenes that he’s just not totally set on his dark path. – He’s one to watch as we move into Episode VIII and IX.
Supreme Leader Snoke
In effect, Snoke is just another Emperor, but we haven’t yet seen enough of him to say firmly that he’ll be following the exact same storyline.
He does represent, however, one of the issues that I had with the film. Despite J.J. Abrams’ huge success in using practical effects as much as possible, did they really need to go with a CGI monster as the Supreme Leader? In all of the Snoke scenes, he really sticks out like a sore thumb, and it just doesn’t feel like he should be in Star Wars, more so Lord Of The Rings.
If he’s not actually as massive as he’s seen in this film, and is just an enlarged hologram projection like the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back, then maybe they’ll go for practical effects on him, but I don’t see it happening.
Maz Kanata, the other main motion-capture character, didn’t stick out as much as Snoke, but still was a little too CGI-ified for my liking, but maybe, when Snoke is a bit smaller, he’ll fit in a bit more. This one remains a real unknown…
Han Solo’s Death
Okay, so the big spoiler for The Force Awakens is that Han Solo dies at the hands of his son, Kylo Ren.
This was most likely a ploy by Harrison Ford to get out as quickly as possible, but it’s still a believable and relatively well-handled death scene.
In a sequence reminiscent of Luke and Vader’s duel in The Empire Strikes Back, Solo and Ren confront each other on a thin walkway above a huge chasm. It appears as if Han has convinced his son to come away from the Dark Side, until Ren opens his lightsaber and stabs his father, sending him to his death.
For one of the saga’s most legendary characters, is it a satisfactory send-off? Well, I did begin to cry a bit when I watched it, but that was more out of pure shock, and I’ll say that it’s not really as good as it could have been. It’s without doubt an intense sequence, but for the wise-cracking maverick of the Star Wars saga, is it really the sort of death we would expect? No. But maybe, that’s what they were trying to do, and it was a bit of a shock, so I’m pretty 50/50 on this one.
The X-Wing Attack on Starkiller Base
From reading loads of IMDb message boards, I’ve found that the most divisive part of the entire movie is the finale, where a squadron of X-Wings attack and attempt to destroy the huge Starkiller Base before it blows up the planet where the Resistance is based.
Sound familiar? Well, yes, it’s pretty clear that this sequence is almost identical to the Battle of Yavin at the end of A New Hope, but I think it’s so similar that it’s actually more of a homage than just a rehash of the exact same thing.
It’s definitely a fun sequence, and if you’re wearing your nostalgia goggles, you’ll adore its similarities to the first attack on the Death Star, but it has to be said that it’s not the most impressive part of the movie, because it doesn’t offer you as much new excitement as the development of Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren’s characters.
The Lightsaber Fight
There’s a lightsaber fight in every Star Wars movie, but unlike the prequels, which often went overboard with them, The Force Awakens only features one climactic battle, just like The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi.
And, much like those two films, it’s not an excessively choreographed CGI extravaganza. It’s a dirty, gritty and hugely intense sequence in the midst of a snowy forest, which lends it a real sense of importance that really grabs you.
The best moment arguably comes at the moment after Finn is struck down by Kylo Ren. As Ren attempts to force pull Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber towards him, we see him struggle, because Rey is doing exactly the same thing! She succeeds, and begins an epic battle with Kylo Ren, eventually using her new-found Jedi capabilities to defeat him, and although it’s arguable that Rey got so good as a Jedi a bit too quickly, it’s still an exciting and impressive sequence.
So, Luke Skywalker was in this movie, for all of ten seconds. His mysterious whereabouts are the focus of the First Order and the Resistance, so going into Episode VIII, we’ve got a lot of questions that we’re dying to know.
Again, the way they utilised Luke here was a really, really brave choice, but I think it paid off brilliantly. He was a fascinating mystery from the first sentence of the opening crawl right up until the credits, so I have to praise the writers for making that happen.
At the end of the film, R2-D2 randomly wakes up (which is ridiculously convenient and will be criticised), and gives the Resistance the rest of the map to Luke Skywalker. Rey then travels to an isolated planet, and climbs a hill, at the top of which stands Luke Skywalker in a robe, looking as if he is the wisest he has ever been, continuing to train his Jedi skills to be the greatest of all time.
The film ends with a spectacular spinning shot of Rey and Luke looking at each other, as if he’s deciding whether or not to train the young Jedi (or looking at her as if she’s his daughter as some fan theories say (I do not believe this), so it’s pretty likely that Episode VIII will focus on Rey’s training under Luke, in a similar way to Luke’s training under Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.
Put simply, I can’t wait for Episode VIII, but The Force Awakens was definitely a great success story, and although it has flaws, it’s one of the most entertaining films you’ll ever see.