Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens can easily be given the trophy for the ‘it’ film of 2015. With Disney promising the return of iconic characters Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and a bevy of other familiar faces, much was expected here. But is what we expected what we were given?

When I was younger, I used to be a big Star Wars fan but as I aged my interests diverged elsewhere. Nevertheless I was not about to pass up an opportunity to see a new Star Wars film. From the get go I was hooked onto the premise, Luke Skywalker is missing and everyone in the galaxy is looking for him, good guys and bad guys both.  Why is he missing? What happened in the many years between this film and the last? I thought Luke saved the galaxy but now circumstances seem to be just as bad as they were before. What is going on?
With the new film comes a set of newcomers, in Daisy Ridley and John Boyega who portray the characters of Rey and Finn respectively. The former being a lonely scavenger living on Jakku, (a planet suspiciously similar to Tatooine) and the latter being the first ever Stormtrooper to defect. Speaking of our white clad troopers, I was surprised to see they were quite competent at combat this time around. Gone were the days when you could relax under a hailstorm of Stormtrooper fire, they’re serious now. Yet I digress, Boyega and Ridley breathed colour and vitality into a pair of characters who at first glance appear to have nothing much going for them.

Noted director and writer J.J Abrams has created a film that could have easily have been a tragically grim story from the beginning but thankfully he has balanced this with light-hearted dialogue and humour that keep the mood just high enough during those serious moments. (There are enough of them). I was impressed how well Harrison Ford stepped into the shoes of Solo after so long, fans of his japes and ability to make light of the serious things will not be disappointed.
Yet this film is not perfect and the flaws are evident in an ending that did not feel like an ending. I won’t give specifics but the ending of the film feels like the beginning. The story ends on one of the most frustrating cliff-hangers I have ever seen; I feel like I’ve unwrapped the present only to find no gift inside. Now I am forced to stew as I wait until the end of 2017 for the next film. I had expected a cliff hanger but this one leaves little to no crumbs on the plate.
For experienced fans of Star Wars be prepared for the allusions to the previous films for they are frequent and many. Such as the First Orders penchant for blowing up planets (Seriously the bad guys are too liberal with those things) while some are less so, like Kylo Ren’s resemblance to Anakin Skywalker prior to his lava bath. I for one thought the references were pleasant, they did not ruin the film for me but at times I thought the film resembled ‘A New Hope’ enough that Lucas could call plagiarism. If the series follows this pattern I guess I know what the next film is going to be about.

The Force Awakens represents the revival of a franchise that has meant a great deal to those who have been riding the wave since its humble beginnings in 1977. As the director for this new generation, J.J Abrams had a lot riding on his shoulders. Now wearing the shoes of his predecessor George Lucas, Abrams proves he has exactly what it takes to fill them.