Kylo Ren, Finn, Rey, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens (2015) *The Force Has NEVER Been Stronger* SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

Star Wars Episode VII, Finn, Rey, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega

I’ve been home now from my screening of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens for an hour now, and I’ve spent most of it staring at this screen with a goofy grin on my face.  I promised you a spoiler-free review, and I absolutely intend to deliver.  The only problem is: this may be quite short as a result.  You know you’re going to see it. If you’re reading this, you want the bottom line.  Episode VII exceeds any possible expectations.  Not only is it the best film of 2015, but it has only The Empire Strikes Back for competition as the best Star Wars film of all-time.  Go.  Go as soon as you can (because spoilers will matter and they will be so large as to make national news), and see it in the biggest format that you can.  It is an utterly joyous thing to anticipate something so much for so long and be able to be stunned at how much better it is than you could have ever imagined.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron, Oscar IsaacThe Force Awakens was withheld from awards consideration until after the review embargo on the film was lifted by Disney the day before its release.  Many awards went ahead and posited their nominees without it, and will look foolish.  The American Film Institute delayed their annual list of the 10 best films of the year and Star Wars made the cut (along with Spotlight, The Martian, Mad Max and many other of 2015’s gems).  I am not exaggerating when I say Episode VII should be Best Picture.  It’s brilliantly constructed, peerlessly acted, complete and utter hysterical fun, tragic and ruinous heartbreak and the best event film in recent memory.

Star Wars Episode VII, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Peter Mayhew, Harrison Ford

I have seen The Empire Strikes Back probably 150 times, conservatively, and The Force Awakens once, so it is presumptuous to call this the new best Star Wars film.  To my mind, though, those two are in a league of their ow, n, and no coincidence, both written by Lawrence Kasdan.  JJ Abrams and Disney have pulled off a master coup.  What you think you know going in from trailers, you don’t.  This film has, undoubtedly the best acting of any film of the seven, as the new cast endears themselves to you completely while the returning cast (Han and Chewie we get the most time with) is so good, so easily recognizable in their roles that it’s like coming home again.  Harrison Ford needs an Oscar.  This is the best Han Solo film and one of, if not the best, performance of Harrison Ford’s career.  He clearly had a complete blast playing this character to the hilt and it shows on the screen.  JJ Abrams made all the right choices, blending the best directing of his career with utilizing a blend of practical sets, old fashioned creature make-up, and filming in 35mm with motion capture performance, CGI and the latest techniques in F/X.  Every decision was spot on, and some of the best shots, including the unforgettable final one, of the series grace us in Episode VII.

Daisy Ridley, Rey, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I love the original trilogy characters, some more than others.  Despite its flaws, there are prequel trilogy characters I dearly love.  I love every character introduced in The Force Awakens.  Finn, Rey, BB-8 (LOVE BB-8!), Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Poe Dameron, and all the rest.  They are all completely at home in the Star Wars Universe.  Andy Serkis and Lupita N’yongo create motion capture characters as every bit as intriguing and instantly entertaining as their human and droid counterparts.  I’m blown away by Daisy Ridley.  That she has no prior film experience and lays down this level of performance astounds me.  John Boyega is so much fun as Finn.  Oscar Isaac is the galaxy’s new best pilot in Poe Dameron.  Adam Driver.  Oh my goodness.  Kylo Ren is a villain of such complexity and presence that I cannot wait to find out more about him.

Kylo Ren, Adam Driver, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

That’s exactly one of the things about Episode VII that’s so miraculous.  I walked in with a thousand questions and left elated with ten thousand more.  This is very much an opening chapter and an introduction to complex, riveting characters in a galaxy so much different than the one imagined in the Extended Universe or implied at the end of Return of the Jedi.  You can look at each character and imagine a myriad of ways they ended up the way they did when we meet them, and the most frustrating thing about the film is simply that it ends and we have to wait 18 months for the next episode.

Finn, John Boyega, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

This new galaxy is so rich, so detailed, so ripe for exploration that I can’t imagine how even two films can do it justice.  There was so much on the line with this film.  I don’t think there’s been a film in the history of cinema on which one company (Disney) had such a vested interest in the film not just being good, but healing the rift that has existed in the Star Wars fan base since the tinkering with the original films began in the late 1990’s.  My audience was applauding throughout the whole film.  We were spending time with dear friends, catching up after so long away.

Han Solo, Harrison Ford, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens is a very funny film, balancing the adventure with character-based humor that Ford, Boyega, Chewie and BB-8 provide in large doses to balance some of the most poignant, serious, startling and devastating scenes in the entire saga.  This was a film that affected me on every emotional level and I will cherish the experience I had watching it for the first time for the rest of my life.  This is special.  This is something that you have to go and experience if you have any love for the movies at all.  Quite simply, this is Star Wars, and I’m overjoyed that it’s back for everyone.  Flawless and I’ll not say a word more until you’ve had the chance to have your own experience.  I’d love to talk about it with all of you in the comment section, so let’s section that off as a SPOILER ZONE, so stop scrolling here and go and receive an early Christmas present at your nearest theatre.
10/10


BB-8, Star Wars Episode VII, Rey, Daisy Ridley

16 thoughts on “Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens (2015) *The Force Has NEVER Been Stronger* SPOILER-FREE REVIEW”

  1. Bob Iger is calling this one of the proudest days in Disney history, and the film has a 95% approval rating on RT, and still I couldn’t bring myself to believe until I read your review just now. I’ve been burned by event movies so often during the past few decades that I was trying to buffer myself by veiwing all the positive signs with skepticism, almost to the point of irrationality. I have a million questions for you, but I don’t want any of them answered. I can’t give in now. I won’t.

    Except I do have one non-spoilery one. Will TFA be an enjoyable experience for people who don’t know a thing about SW? I’m sure the fanatics like us will enjoy the film a lot more than the uninitiated, but I’m wondering if knowledge of the previous films is anything close to a prerequisite, or if TFA is as good an introduction to the galaxy as ANH.

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    1. Yes. The pop culture permeation of the main characters is such that even nonfanatics will totally enjoy this as a brilliantly made film and a new hope for a new renaissance in our favorite playground. The crawl tells you what you need to know and I think this will cause a lot of people to want to know more of the back story that exists if they don’t already. We’re going to have so much to analyze and theorize until Episode VIII but tonight was one of the best moviegoing experiences of my life.

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    1. Snoke is quite possibly the weirdest part of the movie. People are suggesting he’s Darth Plageus, or a new incarnation of Palpatine, but if that were the case, why would he hide his connection to the Sith?

      It would have been very easy to leave Snoke out of this movie entirely. There must be a big revelation pending.

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      1. Snoke is someone known to the inner circle over the past 30 years because both Han and Leia referenced him. All we saw was a hologram. I do not think he’s 25 feet high. I think that was a total Wizard of Oz homage. I think, currently, he is Darth Plagueis. I think he’s been sitting back and orchestrating this since Palpatine attacked him. Plagueis was always very wary of his apprentices and always played a long game. I think a big revelation is coming but the duality of Rey and Rens respective training looks like the backbone of 8. I love this movie so much I can’t stand it.

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  2. If Star Wars is my favorite film series of all time, and TFA is the best Star Wars movie ever made, does that mean TFA is suddenly my favorite movie? I guess it does. My faith in Hollywood has been restored. My doubts about JJ Abrams were all completely warranted, but that’s only because before this movie, he never made anything to suggest he was capable of making this movie. Boy did he step up to the plate.

    Some thoughts before I go see it five more times…

    Somehow this film was a total homage to ANH, and yet felt fresh and different. The story seemed to organically flow from the end of ROTJ. I would have liked some more context about the politics of the galaxy (the Republic and its funding of the Resistance) and I wish the threat of the First Order had been more quantifiable (are they some kind of junta?). But after the reception the prequels got, I can’t blame Abrams for taking the focus off politics entirely. And his approach mostly works.

    The new young heroes were likable and sharply drawn. BB-8 is the coolest cute robot ever. And I wonder if Kylo Ren’s obsession with Vader is meant to be a commentary on obsessed nerds, particularly those who claim to be devoted to Star Wars. It would be great if that were the case, but if not, still a great villain unlike any we’ve seen in this galaxy thus far.

    I can’t believe how Han went out, not in a blaze of glory, but in heartbreak. I’m glad he and Leia split up for a believable reason. I am so happy that my beloved characters actually evolved in 30 years, even Chewie. I wanted more R2, but Luke? His role in this movie was perfect. To think I was worried he was going to turn to the dark side.

    Did you notice that moment when the blast doors open, and Han immediately opens fire? Wow was that a barbed jab at Lucas. I suspect his recent lack of enthusiasm might have stemmed partially from that.

    Compared to the CGI creations we’re all so used to, the creatures were amazing. The novelty of CGI was great back in the days of The Mask, but it got old real fast. By my count there were only three CGI creations in this movie. Out of those, Snoke looked like a cartoon, and the tentacle monsters were typical rubbery illusions.

    But Maz Kanata was great, and a perfect example of a character who could not have been created any other way. Meticulous care was obviously taken, by people who I’m sure have the same reservations about CGI that we do. I don’t want CGI banished, but there is something undefinably wonderful about trying to figure out how practical effects are created. There’s a slight breaking of the fourth wall that enhances a film.

    I just can’t believe how good this film is, and I am suddenly worried about the next guy taking the reigns, because Looper pales in comparison to The Force Awakens.

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    1. Ok breathe lol and its late here so Ill respond more thoroughly later and I’m thrilled you loved it. Rian Johnson has been working with JJ Abrams on the transfer for months, JJ is still producing the next film and Johnson is an even better writer than Abrams and just as SW obsessed. I promise I will answer all the rest later but 523 days until we pick up from that gorgeous final shot. Btw feel free to tell me I totally nailed the reason for Luke’s disappearance months ago lol.

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      1. Sorry if I was gushing, but I’ve been wanting to see this movie for decades, and I can’t believe it was worth the wait.

        And you indeed nailed Luke’s disappearance. I didn’t think one failed apprentice would be enough reason for him to go into hiding, but I didn’t foresee all his other dead students.

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      2. Plus just who that failure would be. I’m fasinated by Kylo and am so curious as to what went so horribly wrong in his training that Luke missed it or couldn’t stop it. Everyone or thing OT got such fantastic entrances, but Luke’s reveal and the final 2 minutes are among my favorite moments in the saga.

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  3. Wow – you really did love this! Happy to see how much you enjoyed it. I did too, although it’s definitely only my fourth favorite (nothing will ever beat the original trilogy for me). But I was surprised at just how much I love the new characters already. 🙂

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